Compared to Tulsa’s reluctant change in weather from a warm summer to an also warm fall, the day Denise and I landed in Riga, Latvia, in early October 1991 was bone-chillingly cold. Ten years married with three young sons waiting for us back home, Denise and I were preparing to move our family to a new home halfway around the world and to embark on the biggest shift in our lives and calling to date. It wasn’t just the weather that was cold in that part of the world — the spiritual temperature there after 70 years of socialist-communist rule was in need of the Holy Spirit’s fire!
On that first trip together, Denise and I rented a house and bought a Soviet-made car, putting down early roots in advance of our big move to the former USSR the following January. I wish I could express to you in this short space just how quickly ministry got started for the Renner family when we all arrived. It was nothing short of miraculous, and breathtaking, that in just one year’s time, we were not only training Soviet students who would one day become serious spiritual leaders across that region — but we also started the first Christian TV network there and founded a church to help build a foundation under the lives God had allowed us to reach through television.
And we have not slowed down since! A couple of years ago, I sensed it was time to put our story in book form to encourage others that God has a unique plan just for them that He really wants them to fulfill. So I wrote what I consider to be “part one” of my autobiography entitled, Unlikely — Our Faith-Filled Journey to the Ends of the Earth.
Unlikely. It’s such a fitting title when you consider our small beginnings and all the twists and turns that occurred before we finally stepped into our full-color world of obedience and adventures with God, who wanted to show Russian-speaking souls His love, attention, and special care.
But what I really want to say is that, although we have faced many difficulties and challenges to our faith and to the plan of God along the way, we could not have taken even that first step without the generous support of faithful partners who heard the call with us and responded every bit as obediently to what God was asking us to do.
As we continue our celebration of 30 years in the former Soviet Union, without a doubt, it has been 30 glorious years of ministry with you! Heaven has laid to your account, with ours, every soul we have reached and discipled for God’s Kingdom — and we say THANK YOU for walking alongside us in years past and in the years to come.
Your friends in Christ and for the Gospel,
Rick and Denise Renner