MountainWings A MountainWings Moment #4108a Wings Over The Mountains of Life God Is In Control As told by Aivars Ozolins
Life is a process, I have learned. But more importantly, I’ve learned that God is in control of that process.
Sometimes when we look at our lives and see the problems or challenges mounting up, we don’t always understand what is happening. We ask “Why?” That’s how it has been for me. In the back of my mind, I had the feeling that God was calling me but it didn’t seem to be working out. But as I look back at my life, I can see everything falling into place. God has been in control, the whole time.
As most of you know, I grew up in Latvia, which was under communist rule for 50 years – until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Since my early years, I have felt God calling me to the ministry. I wanted to study theology and work for the church. But in Latvia, there was no theological training for pastors. They were just trained on the job, with senior pastors coaching the younger ones.
When the church wanted to hire me as a pastor, the KGB said no. You see, at that time, all pastors had to be approved by the KGB. I had started to study English and had friends in the West, so the KGB didn’t like the thought of me being a pastor, possibly bringing in ideas from the West.
My friends in the West knew that I wanted to study theology and contacted a foundation that was willing to sponsor my studies. This foundation didn’t know how to approach the situation, so they sent a letter to the Department of Education in Latvia. The Department of Education didn’t know what to do with the letter, so they sent it to the KGB.
I was summoned by the KGB, who laughed in my face saying,
“How are you going to get out of this country? Don’t you know there are
soldiers with guns at the border?” It was a bitter experience – being there,
and even though I had the money to study, I couldn’t get out of the country.
So I started to study English at the Latvia State University. I pursued my education by correspondence in order to avoid some of the problems. For an Adventist, getting an education was extremely difficult due to Sabbath observance and the fact that Christians just weren’t accepted.
And life went on. I married Juta and we started our
family. By that time, the political situation started to change, and the
restrictions started to lessen. Gradually, it was easier for people to leave the
A sponsor in Finland made another attempt to help me with my education. Although it was still difficult, it seemed more realistic. I saw some chance to get out, so I spent the whole year knocking on the doors of many officials. But everyone kept saying, “No, you can’t go as a student.” Finally someone suggested that I go as a tourist. “We’ll let you out if you go as a tourist,” they said.
So, in 1989, we packed the car and left Latvia to travel to England. At that time, Aldis and Kaspers were ages three and four, and Elvins was on the way. The trip was an adventure in itself. We had just enough money to pay for the ferry from Belgium to England and even had to carry the gas to fuel our car with us. During the four-day trip, we saw many evidences of God’s guidance and protection.
Three years later, I received my Master’s degree in Systematic Theology from Newbold College. While there, I got the idea to come to California, to Fuller Theological Seminary, from a Newbold professor who was a graduate of Fuller. I applied, and we started the next page of our adventure.
This year I will complete my Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies. During my time here, I have had many other experiences. For three years, I was the pastor of the Russian-American church. Then I worked at Fuller in various capacities – as Academic Advisor to doctoral students, Assistant to the Dean of the School of World Mission, and Teaching Assistant. Although I am frustrated that it has taken so long to complete my education, I have learned a lot – not only academically, but also experientially.
I see that God has been preparing me for ministry and letting me minister – both at the same time. It has been a growing experience all the way. And I believe that coming to Vallejo Drive is the next step in this process as God continues to guide me. I am excited about this church and see so much potential in it. I know God will do great things here.
The GracePlace, Spring 2001