Although this Baltic country was less affected by Soviet rule than many of the other countries where SON Network serves, many challenges still exist.

Years of German occupation have resulted in a negative association with the Lutheran Church and there is a strong presence of Paganism. Through careful nurturing of initial contacts, SON Network has been able to form a trusting relationship with Lutheran Pastor Raimonds Mezins, Director of St. Gregors Christian Education Center in Saldus, Latvia. Under his leadership, this ministry has continued to grow to meet the unique needs of pastors and ministry workers serving in former communist countries. In addition to this already huge scope of responsibilities, Pastor Mezins also leads Saint Martin’s Lutheran Church in Saldus.

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Country Snapshot

Area: (slightly larger than West Virginia) total: 64,589 sq km (24,938 sq miles), land: 62,249 sq km (24,034 sq miles), water: 2,340 sq km (903 sq miles)

Population: 1,923,559 (July 2018 est.)

Population growth rate: -1.1% (2018 est.)

Capital City: Riga

Independence Day: 4 May 1990 (declared); 6 September 1991 (recognized by the Soviet Union)

Ethnic Groups: Latvian 62%, Russian 25.4%, Belarusian 3.3%, Ukrainian 2.2%, Polish 2.1%, Lithuanian 1.2%, other 3.8% (2017 est.)

Languages: Latvian (official) 56.3%, Russian 33.8%, other 0.6% (includes Polish, Ukrainian, and Belarusian), unspecified 9.4%

Life Expectancy at birth: total population: 74.9 years / male: 70.4 years / female: 79.7 years (2018 est.)

Religious Groups:
Lutheran 19.6%
Orthodox 15.3%
other Christian 1%
other 0.4%
unspecified 63.7%

SON’s Work in Latvia

English Bible Camps/Life & Adventure Camps

SON Network takes teams to Latvia each summer to serve as teachers in our English Bible Camp and Life & Adventure Camps. We are particularly honored to partner with Daina Zandberga. Daina is Headmistress of Striki School, a local public school dedicated to teaching Christian principles through the Montessori method of teaching. Daina came to a relationship with Jesus after experiencing the hope and love of Christ through SON Network short-term missionaries teaching an English Bible Camp at her school.

Full Time Missionary - David Michael Carrillo

SON Network deploys Pr. David Michael Carrillo (DMC) as a full-time “Music-sionary” to Latvia. DMC is a talented musician and recording artist and often uses his original music when preaching and teaching. He has been serving as a full time missionary since 2010 and works all over Latvia and neighboring countries. Additionally, he leads morning prayer and devotions at Striki School several times a week as well as being the campus chaplain. DMC has unofficially adopted three Latvian children abandoned by their own fathers and is raising them to know their heavenly Father. He travels with SON Teams throughout the summer adding a special element to our camps.

Read DMC’s latest blog post here:   DMC Blog

Regional Learning Center

One of the effects of communism was the loss of understanding of what it means to be the church in the world. Since 2017, SON Network has been honored to host an event for pastors and church workers which brings partners from all over the former Soviet Union to learn things like making disciples, missions and outreach, pastoral and congregational care, etc. These conferences also provide an opportunity for fellowship and relaxation which is a privilege not often enjoyed by pastors and church workers in this part of the world.