What is Latvia like?

Latvia is small country on the Baltic Sea with an area of 64,589 or 24,937 sq.miles. A former Soviet state, it has recently joined the EU but has been badly hit by the financial crisis.

What is the present state of the work?

There is a national IFES movement in Latvia, with 6 Latvian staff workers and 2 volunteers. LKSB want to develop work amongst international students, which has existed for a number of years in the country.

International students in Riga

In Latvian universities, there are about 2600 international students, and most of them are studying in the capital city Riga. There are:

  • Long-term students, who mostly study medicine. Most of them come from Sri Lanka, Germany, and Norway

  • Short-term students.

  • Exchange students who come for 6 months to a year. Most of them are European. 

Brief history of International ministry in Riga

From about 1996 to 2000 missionaries in Riga International Church were praying that ministry would begin with international students in Riga

2002. J (Pakistan, Christian man) arrived in Latvia to study medicine. He thought there must be a way for churches to reach out to students from abroad. He started to invite his Asian friends to church

2003. Three InterAction workers arrived to start international student ministry. They started with small group Bible studies every Friday. Out of Friday Bible studies different events started to happen, including events with talks about life, spiritual questions, talent nights, international nights, Olympic games etc.

2005-2007 International ministry is handed over to a Latvian girl after she trained in England as a volunteer with Friends International.

2006-2008  We begin to face more resistance about "religious things".  In 2007 we decide that for the first semester we'll focus more just on relationships before "religious things." International attendance begins to wane, and the team gets smaller as well.

2008-2009 International Café stops because students don't seem to be responding in the long term, the capacity of the staff team shrinks with fewer staff, and the location for "International Café" does not suit students in the centre of town, as it is a bit out of the way.

Since 2010 there is no staff worker for international students in Latvia, but a small team of Latvian students and volunteers continue to organise Bible studies, excursions, international nights and other events for the international students. Still, LKSB are looking for InterAction workers (co-worker or a team) to support and grow the international student ministry in Riga.

What are the main areas of ministry?

There are several areas of ministry:

• Evangelism. It is carried out by every possible means, but especially through personal friendships and evangelistic Bible studies.

• Encouraging young national believers to serve the internationals, learning from them and helping them grow in Christ.

• Including believers from other countries who are studying in Latvia into the ministry to their fellow students.

• Helping pioneer student ministry in unreached universities and other cities as well.

What about accommodation, living costs, courses, jobs?

Teams live in private apartments, or possibly in student dormitories. Usually accommodation can be arranged for team members before they arrive, but it may sometimes be necessary to look for an apartment after arrival.

The economic situation makes it difficult to predict costs with accuracy, and all the figures given here could rise significantly in a period of 12 months. The costs are: approx. US$600 a semester for language courses, US$200-600 a month for accommodation, plus US$300-400 a month for other living expenses. In addition there is the cost of travel to and from the Baltics, and costs of visa (if needed) and insurance. It is also wise to budget a little for personal ministry expenses and up to US$200 for IFES team training conferences and travel.

It may well be possible to obtain part-time teaching work but this should not be expected to provide much income. 

What special requirements are there for joining a Year Team in the Latvia?

Visas: For some nationalities a visa or residence permit is necessary.

Language: Learning the national language is a major priority for ministry: it demonstrates serious respect for the local culture. Team members can either take language courses at university or privately. It is generally possible to gain some conversational ability by the second semester, and this makes ministry and living much easier. However, good English is also needed to work with the international students.


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