My mentor, the late pastor Jānis Mednis, used to say, “The biggest problem with Latvians is their nearsightedness.” Most Latvians who left Latvia during World War II were not really looking forward, but back to Latvia. Up until 1991 when Latvia regained its independence, this seemed to work for most of them.
Then the focus suddenly seemed to change. Those who wanted to could go back. What about those who didn’t or couldn’t anymore? For them, a new purpose was needed. Surprised by the Father’s Plan by Charles David Kelley offers a new purpose and way of seeing for us all.
For most of us our vision is probably a bit too small or nearsighted. Whether we believe in God the Father or some other deity, we are probably not surprised enough in a good sense by His or life’s plans for us. We tend to settle for too little, too late.
This book will encourage you to see and do otherwise. As Kelley writes, “Surprised by the Father’s Plan is the story of one man called back by God to minister to the small country of his ancestors halfway around the world. It tells my whole particular story in detail not to suggest that my life is of special significance—or to nudge everyone into specific action in Latvia—but to show that God can also use you in surprising ways, in your community and throughout the world.”
These surprising ways for Kelley include a great-grandfather in Latvia, who threw his own son (Kelley’s grandfather or “Papa”) out of house and home when he became “a new boy” through faith in Christ at the age of 16; growing up with “Papa” in Los Angeles and hearing his stories of how he escaped the Nazi and Communist armies; missions trips back to Europe with “Papa” and a growing heart for world missions; becoming a pastor of an American congregation and visiting Latvia for the first time; leaving pastoral ministry to develop and lead his own missions organization called Bridge Builders International, and how God has built bridges with Latvia in many and various ways, culminating in Kelley receiving an Order of the Three Stars in 2003.
Many positively surprising developments have been taking place in Latvia, as in the rest of the world. The press does not pick up on many of them. This book fills a gap.
It is not a book on philosophy, or even theology. It is a personal account of how God helped one man of Latvian descent, and many others with him, realize bigger plans.
The surprising aspect is that God takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.
Many Latvians and others wonder why they are where they are, or dream of being back in Latvia or somewhere else. This book shows that you don’t have to go back or elsewhere to go forward with God and His plans for you. He uses every circumstance and detail of our lives to paint His own picture. Even the cover of this book illustrates the point. It is a painting by Thomas Kinkade titled, “Sunset Over Rīga,” which was part of a unique week in this artist’s life spent in Latvia with Kelley and his team.
“Unbelievable” is how the author sums up his time in Latvia. Whether you are a believer or not, this book will better prepare you to be surprised by the Father’s plan for you.
Surprised by the Father’s Plan
Charles David Kelley with Kristen Zetzsche
Philomath, Ore.: Bridge Media Group, 2005
On the Web
The publisher of Surprised by the Father’s Plan is Bridge Media Group, based in Oregon. EN
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