Riga Main Square. Photo by Evelyn Apinis

“Here I am, send me!” – Evelyn & Kaspars Apinis

Evelyn Apinis grew up on Hiiumaa, which is Estonia’s second biggest island. She was born to a Christian family and made her own decision to follow God when she was 12 years old. She joined Kärdla Baptist Church where she helped with children’s and youth work. Evelyn was 17 years old when God called her to be a missionary but it took Evelyn a while to answer God’s call because she was really fearful of how her future would turn out. She spoke no language other than her mother tongue of Estonian and thought that becoming a missionary would mean living alone in the jungle and learning languages that no one else had learned. Still, after some time, Evelyn said to God, “Here I am, send me!” Strangely, she did not have any particular country in mind, but just had a calling to mission work. It was many years later that God said there is no actual country where these people live – they are people with disabilities. If these people were to live in one country, it would be the third biggest country by population (after China and India) and the least evangelised country in the world. To gain some experience in mission work Evelyn spent three summers with OM (Operation Mobilisation – a mission organization) and worked among people with disabilities during her study time. At 2001 Evelyn graduated from Tallinn Pedagogical University with a degree in social work and she was ready to start mission work.

It seemed a good idea to go to Bible school after graduation and, to Evelyn’s great surprise, she found herself in YWAM Latvia DTS (Discipleship Training School). Youth With A Mission is an international movement of Christians from many denominations dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world. Also known as YWAM (pronounced “WYE-wam”), its calling is to know God and to make Him known. Their many ministries fit into three main categories: evangelism, training and mercy ministry. YWAM is currently operating in more than 1,000 locations in over 180 countries, with a staff of nearly 18,000. There are no paid workers in YWAM and everyone is responsible for their own needs and finances.

Evelyn never thought that she would live in Latvia – it was just the place for her DTS. But during the school God told her that Latvia would become her home and the place to start the ministry for people with disabilities. It was also clear to her that it would take some time for this to happen and so, in April 2002, she joined YWAM Valdemarpils. For most of the following six years Evelyn worked as an administrator in the YWAM office and library. It was during her DTS time that she met her husband-to-be and they were married on 5th April, 2003.

Kaspars Apinis was born into a non-Christian family in Dundaga, Latvia. He found God (or, as he likes to say, God found him) during a YWAM Latvia event when he was 20 years old. His church was linked to YWAM but he never thought to join YWAM or become a missionary. It was during the summer of 2001 that Kaspars heard God speaking in a physical voice calling him to join a DTS. He obeyed, left his well-paid job and completed the DTS. After that he worked for a while in YWAM Valdemarpils initially as a volunteer and then in January 2003 he applied to join the staff. During the next five years Kaspars had a variety of roles – driver, outreach team leader, DTS staff, small group leader and maintenance team leader.

In 2005, while far away from civilisation in Uganda, on Lake Victoria’s Namiti island, God called Kaspars to become a physiotherapist for disabled people. Kaspars obeyed and in 2006 started part-time studies at the Latvian Academy of Sport Education from where he graduated in 2011 as a physiotherapist with a degree in sport science.

Evelyn and Kaspars began mission work among people with mobility disabilities in 2007 by organising a two-day camp. Because of Kaspars’s studies they moved to Riga and joined YWAM Riga in 2008. Their work with disabled people developed under the name of Wings for Wheels (W4W). W4W organises summer camps, disability awareness programmes in churches, physiotherapy, home groups, counselling and networking.

The third member of the Apinis team is Rasmus who is born in 2009 in Hiiumaa, Estonia. Rasmus speaks three languages (Estonian, Latvian and English) and uses all of three for communication. His mission work involves going to school, communicating with people, showing hospitality, being gofer, teaching table games…

Karola was born in 2016. She speaks two languages (Estonian and Latvian) and also understands English. Karola helps us to keep focus on the family and not solely on work.

Rebeka was born in 2018 and we believe she will become a singer or event leader or somebody else who needs a strong clear voice! Our baby girl is learning to find her place in our missionary family.

Photo: Evelyn Apinis