Nynke Zaal – Latvia
Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to Him! (Ps 128:1)
As the oldest of five children, I grew up in a Christian family in the Netherlands. When I was 18 years old, I promised God that one day I would go to serve in His Kingdom where He wanted me to serve – all these years, I thought it would be Africa!
After years of God reminding me of my promise, in 2008 it was time to fulfil my promise. With the certainty that I could take six months of unpaid leave and because money was at this point no issue, I finally dared to take a step. God had spoken many times at various prayer meetings and at conferences. Bringing all the words together it became clear that God took my promise to serve Him wherever He wanted, very literally: I wanted to go to Africa, but He chose Latvia as my destination!
In January 2009 I went to Smiltene in Latvia for a week as a guest at David and Ilze Jones – David is the pastor of The Father’s House. This first week was all about meetings. David had scheduled several home visits for me and sometimes I was with a family for up to four hours. I was so touched by their hospitality and how they opened their homes and hearts to me! After that week it was clear: I would spend my six months in Smiltene. I was moved to tears the first time ever I set foot on Latvian soil and I cried when I had to return home. God showed His love for the people in Latvia and my heart was full of His love for them.
In May 2009, I went for half a year to Latvia to serve at the church plant in Smiltene. We had talked about the things I could do and again God showed what it meant to serve Him, where and how He wanted.
During these months (on Tuesday evenings) girls came over for a prayer meeting, and this was started at their request! Also, ladies were visiting me weekly for talks and prayers and every Wednesday I went to the youth group. The girls loved to come over to my place and hang out, to chat…just to be. Some of the boys started to ask when they could come, so I also organised a few boys’ meetings as well. David encouraged me more than once to step out of my comfort zone. He asked me to teach at a youth evening and also on the following Sunday to the church – my first time ever! I was experiencing the leadership of the Holy Spirit in every meeting and in every conversation I had. God provided for all I needed during this period: translators, help when I felt poorly, transport and I was happy. I was not homesick at all!
Meanwhile, God started to show me that this was just the beginning. A Bible scripture that I received often was Joshua 1:9. and I began to realise that He had called me to Latvia for the longer term – He was asking me to leave everything behind.
It was interesting how God not only prepared me, but also other people for my next step. Even non-Christian colleagues told me that they believed I would go back to Latvia. They and others said to me they believed I would serve young people and women. I was given words of encouragement – I would be a restorer of families and a mum for many. How special this was: God already had stirred my heart for youth and also strongly for broken and vulnerable women.
So, after returning to the Netherlands for a year or so to work – but with a couple of visits to Latvia besides – I knew it was time. On December 13th, 2010 I emigrated to Latvia to an unknown future, with no clarity yet about my finances, but in obedience to God.