SILUTE, Lithuania (BP)–Neither Milton nor Lara Magalhaes had heard of Lithuania when God began calling them to serve there through the International Mission Board.
At the time Lithuania –- located between Poland, Latvia, Belarus and the Baltic Sea in Eastern Europe — was still under Soviet control.
Lara was 11 when she started praying about what God wanted her to do with her life. Two years later she inexplicably felt certain she was to be a missionary in Eastern Europe. In 1990, Lara met Milton and discovered he shared her heart for the region as well as her confidence that those countries, though under communism at the time, would be free when God said it was time live there.
A few years later Milton, now married to Lara, was pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Ennis, Texas. Both he and Lara were still seeking God’s direction regarding exactly where to serve with the IMB when Lara told Milton that God had revealed to her an answer.
“I said, ‘Well, where?’ and she said, ‘I’m not telling you. He told me, now He’s going to have to tell you,'” Milton recounted.
Later he was praying with a church member for guidance when a radio station that quietly had been playing suddenly went static. Somehow, both he and his prayer partner heard, “Lithuania,” and they thanked God for his clear answer.
“It might be amazing to hear this, but it truly happened,” Milton said. “I called the IMB immediately and told them we had chosen to come to Lithuania, and only after that did I call Lara.”
“Why didn’t you call me first?” Lara asked. “What if it isn’t the same place?”
“I said, ‘It’s Lithuania, isn’t it?’ and she said, ‘Yes.’ She was already crying on the phone when I said the name,” Milton said. “That is how we came to Lithuania. God called us here, very clearly.”
Milton, Lara and their two children desire to see others join them in pointing Lithuania’s 3.6 million people to the Gospel. Their goal is to plant a dozen churches within the next 12 years.
“Anyone who is a believer, has a heart and a passion to see the lost won to Christ, and can be flexible … can be a volunteer,” Lara said.
Cliff Smith, missions pastor at First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., is one such individual. The church has committed to a long-term partnership with the Magalhaeses in Lithuania because he said he sees how members of his church can make a difference in the country.
“[God’s] Word will prevail. We’re simply instruments,” Cliff said.
Church musician Camp Kirkland and Global Missions Project, an organization that overseas opportunities for Christian musicians, also are joining in the work. GMP is planning to take several choirs and instrumental teams to Lithuania during the summer of 2009 to draw individuals to the Gospel through music.
Other volunteer opportunities in Lithuania include working with Vacation Bible Schools, youth camps, choirs, witnessing campaigns and evangelistic/theological training.
Natalie Kaspar is a writer with the International Mission Board based in Eastern Europe. Milton and Lara Magalhaes can be reached in Lithuania via [email protected] The Global Mission Project can be contacted through www.globalmissionsproject.com.