Guna Shields – Latvia / UK
I grew up in Latvia when it was part of the Soviet Union and knew almost nothing about God and was not particularly interested to know, because people around me largely rejected the existence of God. He was never spoken of so my understanding of him was unclear and to my mind neither he nor the church was a particularly attractive concept. In my teens however I started to question whether there was in fact a “Higher Power”. I explored the practices of Hinduism and Latvian pagan religion but just became even more confused.
However, when I was 19 I left home and moved back to the town where I was born, where I lived alone; but someone I met there invited me to the local Baptist church. By this time it was 1993 and the situation in Latvia had changed both politically and spiritually. At one point I had been confirmed in the Lutheran church, even though at that point I hadn’t really read the Bible and didn’t really understand what Jesus Christ had done for me.
In December 1992 I went to a Christmas service at the Baptist church. I was pleasantly surprised by the the young people in the church, who appeared genuinely joyful. I understood that they had what I had been seeking for the previous few years. I started to read the New Testament and after about two months everything fell into place in my mind and I accepted Christ’s offer to me.
I became a Christian who genuinely prayed that I would be able to find and walk in God’s will for my life. God specifically led me to join several Youth With a Mission (YWAM) training courses and then to join a Frontier Year Project with a New Frontiers church in Nottingham, UK. There were quite a few obvious examples of God leading. However now, 20 years later, I feel “stuck” here in the south-east of England. For years I have thought of gathering up what I have gained in terms of knowledge of God and going back to Latvia. That however hasn’t happened yet.
Latvia still has a massive place in my heart and life. I still believe that God has a blessing for Latvians whether in Latvia or across the globe. But I have to accept that He alone knows who, when and where!