Pride in the preservation of their language and traditions in the midst of repression and control by a foreign power has bound the people of Lithuania together for many years. Located on the coast of the Baltic Sea, this northern European nation was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. It was also the first republic to declare its independence from the USSR in 1990. However, The Soviet Union did not recognize this declaration until 1991. After all remaining Russian troops were removed in 1993, Lithuania began restructuring its economy in preparation to join both NATO and the European Union in 2004.
A love for folk dancing, nature, national holidays, and language is what binds together the 3 million living in Lithuania. Their heart language, descriptive and abundant in nature words is one of two remaining languages in the Baltic Branch of the Indo-European languages. The economy is predominantly agricultural and consists largely of growing flax, beets, and potatoes. Only in recent years has Lithuania become more commercialized, including industries such as metal and woodworking. Substance abuse and suicide plague Lithuanian society along with the great social injustice of trafficking women for prostitution.
Eighty-five percent of Lithuanians are Christian, with the majority being Roman Catholic. One of the last European nations to become Christian, Lithuanians managed to hold on to Roman Catholicism despite the Soviets banning all religious expression. Thanks be to God, Lithuanians now have the freedom to worship, and new Christian groups are emerging. However, only one-sixth of Roman Catholics attend church regularly. While freedom has brought growth in the Church, it has also allowed materialism, hedonism, and nihilism to increase, as well as opening doors to cults and theological error. Equipped Christian leaders are scarce, as many train abroad and do not return. Several Christian organizations have training centers ready for men and women to be called by God, that He may set forth Godly leaders in the nation.