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Charles (“Chuck”) David Kelley is founder and president of Bridge Builders International. Prior to starting BBI in 1994, he served in pastoral ministry for 21 years in churches in Texas and Oregon. Chuck is the Chairman of the Board of BBI’s Latvian branch, 'Nodibinajums Partneri' (Partners Association Latvia) and Dean of International Relations of Baltic Pastoral Institute in Riga, Latvia. Chuck is a Latvian-American with dual citizenship has been working on behalf of Latvia since 1985 when he first visited the land of his mother and grandparents. He is one of the founders of the Latvian Evangelical Alliance and currently serves as a member of its board of directors. [1]

Chuck has degrees in cultural anthropology, biblical studies and intercultural ministry from Biola University and Dallas Theological Seminary. He has also studied at Oregon State University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of Latvia. He served several congregations in California, Texas and Oregon in various pastoral positions for 21 years for establishing BBI in 1994.

In 2003, the President of Latvia conferred on Chuck one of the nation’s highest honors, The Gold Medal of Honour of the Order of the Three Stars, equivalent of knighthood, for his contributions to the spiritual development of the land.[2]

Chuck is married to Nancy Kelley and together they have four grown children and seven grandchildren. Chuck and Nancy split their time living in Philomath, Oregon and Riga, Latvia. In his free time Chuck enjoys painting, playing the piano and composing music.

Early life

Chuck is a Latvian-American; his mother was a Latvian immigrant and his predominantly absent father was the son of a Missouri politician. Chuck was raised in Los Angeles in his grandparent’s home.

His grandfather–Karlis Wilhelm Zingers (Charles William Singer)–committed his life to Christian ministry when he was twenty, serving in the military in Latvia. He was serving as a Baptist pastor when he and his family fled a Russian-occupied Latvia in 1944, living in refugee camps for several years, until finally making their way to the United States. Chuck’s grandfather worked tirelessly for many years after to help other needy refugees escaping a war-torn Europe, and in 1963, he officially launched the International Refugee Mission. Chuck served on the board of directors of IRM from 1977–1996, which it merged with Bridge Builders International. Chuck sometimes traveled across the country with his grandfather as he preached and raised money for refugee pastors. He grew up with a love for learning Scripture and world missions. In 1973, as he was preparing to graduate from high school, Chuck made his first overseas mission trip with his grandfather to Germany, Belgium, England, France, Italy and Switzerland. He continued trips to Europe in the summers during his studies at Biola.

Ministry

After studying at Dallas Theological Seminary, Chuck was called to youth ministry at First Baptist Church in Corvallis, Oregon in 1980, despite assumptions by his grandfather to take over leadership of the International Rescue Mission. Later he became senior pastor at Kingwood Bible Church, a Mennonite Brethren Church in Salem, Oregon. His early life in ministry was focused on how he could bring people together, particularly across denominational lines. During those years he served as president of the Greater Salem Association of Evangelicals, an affiliate of the National Evangelical Alliance.

Chuck then returned to First Baptist Church as senior pastor, determined to expose his congregation to a missions worldview, traveling three weeks a year on missions trips, and educating Christians on the global church. His first mission trip to Latvia was in 1985. After attending Lausanne II in Manila, Phillipines, in 1989, Chuck had rekindled some of his grandfather’s relationships with Latvian pastors and began his lifelong dedication to building bridges in Latvia.

In Latvia, Chuck and his colleagues began the Partners Association as a non-governmental organization in Latvia. Established in 1998, its Latvian name is "Nodibinajums Partneri." Chuck later started Bridge Builders International (BBI) in 1994. In the U.S., BBI is an Oregon-based Christian ministry that focuses on the nation of Latvia. The vision is to see Latvia transformed by the love and power of Christ. BBI brings all sorts of people together to form vital partnerships and use their gifts, networks and resources to encourage and strengthen Latvian leaders, pastors, students, youth leaders, orphans, churches, schools, and camps.

In 2007, Kelley was one of the founders of Baltic Pastoral Institute in Riga. He currently serves as Dean of International Relations. His teaching subjects include, theology, Biblical studies, homiletics and missiology.

Painting

In 2004, Chuck invited Thomas Kinkade to come to Latvia as a part of a weeklong summer outreach project. During those five days, Chuck was mesmerized as Kinkade transformed blank panels into an impressionistic landscape in a matter of a few hours. Kinkade completed five landscapes during that trip including one completed as a “paint off,” where he worked side-by-side with Dr. Aleksejs Naumovs of the Art Academy of Latvia. After that visit, Chuck met Dr. Naumovs and asked him to teach him to paint. Chuck continues painting today and has created more than 300 paintings in several styles. He is considered among the noted list of Latvian artists. Chuck says, “Painting is my ongoing journey to experience and express values that are intrinsically important….creativity, beauty, and peace.” He is an exhibiting member of the Corvallis Art Guild.

Awards and recognition

What others say about Charles Kelley

Robin Jones Gunn: “What I love about [Chuck’s] book is the evidence that God delights in accomplishing his purposes in his time and in his way with his children. Charles Kelley has experienced this delight of the Father. With authentic integrity he tells the story so the rest of us might enter in wholeheartedly and share the wonder.”[3]

Brother Andrew: “Spreading the Glad News to the people of Latvia and Eastern Europe–that’s what this [Chuck’s] book is about. Exciting. Glorious. No one can stop God’s work, as long as we carry on courageously.”[4]

Luis Palau: “Chuck and his ministry, Bridge Builders International, have worked in Latvia for years. While a handful of evangelists and I had the incredible opportunity to present the gospel at Hope ‘99 and see several thousand make commitments to Christ, Chuck has had a continuous, lasting impact on this country that so desperately needs the Lord.”[5]

Thomas Kinkade: “My own surprising connection to BBI began because of my church’s relationship with a church in Riga, Latvia. This deeply enriching relationship of over seven years is a result of Chuck’s vision to pair U.S. churches with churches in Latvia. These partnerships are helping to rebuild Latvian congregations after fifty years of Soviet occupation and persecution of believers.”[6]

"The breakdown of the Communism and the building of a new Latvia was one of the most breathtaking adventures one can hope for. Underneath all of the apparent political changes it was time of spiritual rebirth and renewal. Chuck Kelley was with us. After fifteen years many of those Awakening idealists have gone aside but for Chuck Kelley our society’s spiritual renewal is still an amazing and hard challenge – even more important now than ever. It is what this story is all about." Dr. Jānis Vanags, Archbishop, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia

"Chuck Kelley has done more than any other person I know in order to assure that the Good News can be heard by every inhabitant of Latvia. He has also had unique mission to share it also with presidents, ministers and other politicians. He is my example in loving God, people and Latvia." - Viljams Šulcs, Director, Misijas Pakāpieni (Mission Pakapieni)

Stacy Rinehart: “BBI has made a significant Kingdom impact in the nation of Latvia. I know of no other nation where the Body of Christ is so unified across denominational and traditional lines. This is largely due to the steady influence of Chuck Kelley and the overall ministry of BBI.”[7]

Bibliography

References

  1. Kelley, Charles (2004). Surprised by the Father's Plan. Philomath, OR: Bridge Media Group. pp. 20–59. ISBN 0-9767091-0-4. http://www.bridgemediagroup.com. 
  2. Kelley, Charles (2004). Surprised By The Father's Plan. Philomath, OR: Bridge Media Group. pp. 257–261. ISBN 0-9767091-0-4. http://www.bridgemediagroup.com. 
  3. Kelley, Charles (2004). Surprised By The Father's Plan. Philomath, OR: Bridge Media Group. pp. 4. ISBN 0-9767091-0-4. http://www.bridgemediagroup.com. 
  4. Kelley, Charles (2004). Surprised By The Father's Plan. Philomath, OR: Bridge Media Group. pp. 8. ISBN 0-9767091-0-4. http://www.bridgemediagroup.com. 
  5. Kelley, Charles (2004). Surprised By The Father's Plan. Philomath, OR: Bridge Media Group. pp. 12. ISBN 0-9767091-0-4. http://www.bridgemediagroup.com. 
  6. Kelley, Charles (2004). Surprised By The Father's Plan. Philomath, OR: Bridge Media Group. pp. 13. ISBN 0-9767091-0-4. http://www.bridgemediagroup.com. 
  7. Kelley, Charles (2010). What Mission and Ministry Leaders Say About Bridge Builders International.

External links

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