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

Latvia was under Soviet rule from 1944 to 1991. After declaring independence from the Soviet Union, freedom of religion and worship was restored for the first time since 1941. However, years of German occupation (prior to Soviet occupation) have resulted in a negative association with the Lutheran Church. In addition, due to their strong Pagan history, Latvia was one of the last regions in Europe to accept Christianity and the people have a general mistrust of religion. Although the culture is not anti-religion or anti-Christianity, this overall wariness can make it difficult to reach Latvians with the message of the Gospel.

Through careful nurturing of initial contacts, SON has been able to form a trusting relationship with key church leaders in Latvia. Since 2004, SON has partnered with St. Gregors Education Center in Saldus and Striki Primary School to help restore the Lutheran Church and to share Jesus Christ with the people of Latvia.

View Opportunities

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: 1,862,687 (July 2021 est.)

Population growth rate: -1.1% (2021 est.)

Capital City: Riga

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

Ethnic Groups:  Latvian 62.7%, Russian 24.5%, Belarusian 3.1%, Ukrainian 2.2%, Polish 2%, Lithuanian 1.1%, other 1.8%, unspecified 2.6% (2021 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: 75.65 years / male: 71.19 years / female: 80.33 years (2021 est.)

Religious Groups:
Lutheran 36.2%
Roman Catholic 19.5%
Orthodox 19.1%
other Christian 1.6%
other 0.1%
unspecified/none 23.5%

SON’s Work in Latvia

Ministry Partners and Camps

SON Partners: SON Full-time Residential Missionary, Pastor David Michael Carrillo (DMC), SON Ministry Partners, Pastor Raimonds Mezins and Daina Zandberga, Headmistress of Striki Primary School

Where we work: Saldus & Striki

What we do: English Bible Camps & Life Camps for teens (view opportunities above) Discipleship Education Conferences for pastors and church leaders

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.

Full Time Missionary - Pr. David Michael Carrillo

In 2010, SON sent Pastor 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 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

You can support DMC directly through the SON Give page: