Fall Arrives!

Our custom lighthouse slide, without the slide.. our kids are loving climbing on it but the park is not yet open to public.

Our custom lighthouse slide, without the slide.. our kids are loving climbing on it but the park is not yet open to public.

The cold weather has swept in along with rainy overcast clouds.  Leaves are turning quickly preparing for their final glorious declaration.  Winter is coming, get ready or suffer the consequences!

Yesterday we had a full return of students for music practice on the 2nd Floor of the Cafe.   Several drummers, guitarist and aspiring ‘hey I’ll try anything’ students hanging out and making a lot of noise.  In the end, we managed to play something pretty cool together – it was a special moment and sign of potential this semester!

This past Wednesday we met for the first time in our normal 180 format.  We had a nice turnout of new folks and a few of the regulars.  The schools here are so random, sending some students off to work without warning – so we rarely have the same crew.  I was able to spent 30 minutes on the nature of sin, our brokenness and need for a Savior.  For many, I think it was their first time hearing about God’s redemptive work – why Jesus came.

We are focused this year to pray more for the students, for God’s spirit to awaken the inner dead, sleeping spirit of man:

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  Eph 4:13

The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I become aware of His work in the journey that is salvation.  He draws, He opens the heart and prepares it for moments of revelation.  We must be faithful to pray, and join Him in this effort, however all we can really do is elevate Jesus and the love of God through His death and resurrection.

Our town gathers to celebrate it's birthday - they say it's +860yrs old but I have a hard time verifying these sources, but it's still very old!

Our town gathers to celebrate it’s birthday – they say it’s +860yrs old but I have a hard time verifying these sources, but it’s still very old!

We, or rather God doesn’t need more mentally convinced followers, we need passionate undone soldiers who have been moved to total surrender both in mind and spirit.  This salvation thing is a spiritual and mysterious work isn’t it?

We need Him to carry the words of the Gospel deep into the recesses of the dark heart and whisper, “Lazarus.. come forth!”  Without it, we’re trying to make a leopard simply change it’s spots – the leopard needs to be come a sheep, he needs divine renewal, a new heart, to be born again.  God teach us to wholly lean on Jesus power, boldly proclaiming Him as the rightful King of every human heart!

img_1806

Just returned from driving a bunch of kids to the Pentecostal church here for a kids event.  There were +200 kids crammed into their new building – it was something to behold.  Only 20yrs ago, or even 10, something like this would be unheard of (to be allowed to gather in a ‘sect’ non-orthodox government controlled church – hundreds of little hearts hearing about Jesus and eternal life.   My kids were in there as well, oblivious to the emerging change taking place in the hearts of this generation.

We are planning a worship evening this Sunday night and have heard of several different groups planning to come.  Our planned worship leader is very sick, and now we pray for direction!  We’ve been meeting each morning for prayer and believing God to continue fanning the flame of passion and opening hearts for the gospel.  Please pray with us!

We have some new staff to introduce you to soon!  Also a new website about to be launched for the Cafe and various ministries.  I’m excited to be able to communicate more effectively, although we’ll continue to blog here –

Thank you for your support guys!

Bruce & Deb

Posted in Bruce Posts | Leave a comment

Bronwyn’s Outreach

Bronwyn our eldest daughter is currently in Germany at a Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission.

This specific course is called “Marriage of the Arts” and combines those gifted in music, illustration, painting and photography.  Those of you that have witnessed Bronwyn’s creative gifting emerge the past few years, and maturing heart for God’s heart, know this type of environment is a perfect place for challenge and exploration.

Bronwyn's Fundraising Page - Here you can give a few dollars and help her raise the amount needed for her 2 month mission trip.

Bronwyn’s Fundraising Page – Click Here to give few dollars and help her raise the amount needed for her 2 month mission trip.

As she puts herself in positions of growth, one of the ‘stretching’ experiences is trusting God for money.  This school was her decision, and the funds she needs rest on her faith and God’s mercy!

At the completion of the classroom phase, she along with +40 classmates will be taking their creative gifts to the nations for a 2 month outreach from December – February.

She needs a total of $3,000.   This covers everything, from airfare, lodging, food and outreach expenses.  She needs $200 immediately (like yesterday), and the rest before November 15 in order to participate.

Please consider both helping at any level and investing in Bronwyn’s faith journey!   Click on the photo of Bronwyn to give.

The funds you donate come to me directly, and we pass them on to the school.

Thank you supporters and friends!

Bruce & Deborah

Posted in Bruce Posts | Leave a comment

Pizza Outreach Update

Last night we hosted our 2nd welcoming event at Lighthouse Cafe for the incoming 1st and 2nd year college students in our town.  These are mostly 15-17yr range students, many from area towns and villages that live during the week in Rzhyschiv.

fullsizerender-3We never know exactly how many students will come.  Last year we had about 80 show up, this year +130!  This event is about building bridges early with these precious lives and also sow seeds of hope.  Along with our missionary and youth leader partners, we are praying and believing to see a move of God among this generation in Ukraine.   Pray with us!

fullsizerender-2Credit to our amazing staff that started making pizzas 5hrs before the event – by the grace of God we had just enough pizza for everyone.  Besides acclimating students to the Cafe, our after school creative courses and making them feel welcome, we were able to also unveil a sneak peak of the skatepark.  Though the park is not officially open, we do have an amazing halp-pipe out back thanks to Shane Paxa (helper credit to Josh Neibert and Nazar!) –

Vova (new youth leader in area) sharing to the crowd about the love of God and ways for them to get connected this year.

Vova (new youth leader in area) sharing to the crowd about the love of God and ways for them to get connected this year.

After the pizza we setup sound out back and were able to each share about the opportunities available to students to grow in their understanding and experience with their God.  Most (maybe 95%) of these students have a cultural religious understanding of God and the Bible through Orthodoxy, but very few know the message of salvation in Jesus through faith or have experienced His life changing power.

It was great to see students visiting the 2nd floor as well, where the music courses take place and 180 meets.

It was great to see students visiting the 2nd floor as well, where the music courses take place and 180 meets.

I was reading yesterday in John, after Jesus fed the 5,000.  The followers witnessed a miracle and wanted to know how they could also perform such amazing works. Jesus reply was this, “This is the work of God, that you would believe in Him whom God has sent, and in Him have eternal life.”  Jesus was like, “Guys, it’s not about physical miracles, it’s about faith in me, it’s not about doing cool things, it’s about relationship with the Father through the Son.”   May we stay focused on the essentials of faith in Christ, life in the Son, wherever we live.  I think God blesses where the simplicity of the Gospel is being shown and shared.

Creative courses start next week.  Thanks to Vova for an amazing print design piece that outlined for each student places of engagement through the week from Bible Studies to Club 180, music classes etc.

fullsizerenderLast picture, Brent on the halfpipe showing some skilz haha.  Many students then joined in, and we are working with Shane to register the park with the International Skaters Association for future partnership and club.  It has so much potential!  We still need skate equipment however, practice boards and safety equipment if anyone is inclined to help financially – click here.

Also, we just found out our home church has online giving for those wishing to support us one time or regularly but needing a tax receipt – please note you must state on the ‘special instructions to the seller’ link that it’s for UKRAINE MISSIONS – not Bruce & Deb personally.   http://www.ccclongview.com/about/giving

Bruce & Deb

Posted in Bruce Posts | 1 Comment

Skatepark Progress

Today the workers completed the stone half-wall which will act as the Kid’s Zone perimeter.  It took 3 weeks to build, 2 weeks longer than they said, but I’m really happy with it.  It will help protect the kids and parents from the crazy flying skateboards, and provide a barrier to the parking lot.

It has however put us behind schedule nicely.. we wanted to be open Sept 1, but it’s looking more like end of the month.

img_1661

 

The long metal piping is for an arch sign we still have to make.  You can sort of see the soon to be walkway along the side towards the asphalt pad and halfpipe which is nestled around the back left garage area.

We have spent to date $7k of the $7k raised (halfpipe, asphalt pad, dirt work, fence and Lighthouse playground equipment).  We have accomplished a lot for the amount we are working with, and it’s going to be really cool as soon as we put in the kids stuff.

However we still have a few things I think will be really important out of the gate, and with our budget spent, we’d love a few more sponsors to jump on board:

  1. The outside perimeter fence to purchase/install  ($800).  We’ve already dug the trenched, poured cement and bought the metal posts, but it will cost another $800 for the actual metal fencing, and installation.
  2. Kid’s Area Grass ($600).  We are putting stones down for the slide area, but it’s going to be muddy if we don’t get some grass in quickly.
  3. Safety Equipment ($500) – for 8 youth (knee, elbow pads and helmet). We will provide free of charge if they sign in (and take some lessons.. from Brent!)
Helmet, Elbow and Knee pads - around $50 per set. Consider helping us limit broken bones? :)

Helmet, Elbow and Knee pads – around $50 per set. Consider helping us limit broken bones? 🙂

If you would like to help us complete those items please click here, any amount would be wonderful!

The other day in Kiev I found some decent and affordable safety equipment and purchased a set.  Here is our neighbor Vladik, posing with the actual gear purchased… as he ‘drops-in’ the pipe of death.  These kids are fearless.. remember when we all lacked such wisdom?  🙂

Speaking of the half-pipe, it has already started drawing dozens of kids – and some adventurous parents.  Unfortunately we’ve had now two broken bones already, Clark our son, and now crazy Vlad.  We must start a wall of fame.

img_1641I’ve been in touch with metal sign makers in Kiev for our soon to be large posted RULES and also an insurance company for liability coverage… what have we done! 🙂  I’m also rush ordering a large tarp to cover it until the rest of the park can be completed..  last night we had around 8 skating on it, most from our Club 180 youth.

Speaking of 180, the students returned this week and we held our first gathering last night.  It was so cool to have so many returning students.  I heard a couple times how much they all missed being together  – we shared a quick update on the summer, and then from scripture, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” – our eyes, especially of the envious young, are too often fixed on getting a new phone, or some temporary earthly ‘thing’.  Yet, Christ is the ultimate treasure and we would be wise to make Him or aim, here, and now!  We are believing God to raise up leaders among these young men and women in Ukraine.

Last night we started back up Club 180 - so great to have Josh Neibert here with us as well, he shared a couple songs.

Last night we started back up Club 180 – so great to have Josh Neibert here with us as well, he shared a couple songs.

Next week we will host, together with Shane & Jem and Vova the newly appointed Youth leader at the Pentecostal church a FREE PIZZA PARTY for all incoming 1st and 2nd year college students.  We head out tomorrow morning after prayer to the area colleges once again to hang posters, invite students and greet the directors/teachers.  If you read this, please pray a special prayer of blessing over this and the upcoming party – it will be quite an event again I think, we expect at least 100 and believing God to connect us all, as He sees fit to many precious young lives among our area ministries.

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-5-56-40-pmfullsizerender

 

Thanks for checking in!

Bruce & Deborah

Posted in Bruce Posts | Leave a comment

History Makers

Wittenberg Castle Church

Wittenberg Castle Church

I’ve just returned from a memorable three days in Germany.  The original intention was to safely deliver Bronwyn, our 17yr old daughter to the Nuremberg YWAM base for her Discipleship Training School (DTS), which took place without a hitch thankfully.  I couldn’t get an immediate return flight at a decent cost, so ended up having 2 days to spare.. what to do?

While much of what I saw and experienced is still soaking in, and most of my photos are already on facebook, I’d like to document some of what the Lord impressed upon me during a whirlwind tour of this amazingly beautiful, and historically rich part of Europe.

Germany has been for me, a certain molded stereotype.  I suppose it’s from WWII, and the limited understanding through Hollywood and various documentaries.  When I was about to leave, even my 9yr old son Noah was worried about my trip exclaiming, “You are going to Germany?!  Are they still bad?’ – Noah plays too many video games.  The mold was to be broken as I interacted with both history, the kind and polite people (I got lost many times).

What immediately impressed upon me was how affluent Germany is.  In many ways, it’s more advanced and impressive than anything you’d see in the US.  Incredibly smooth roads, even in the many very old towns.  Everything seemed to be automated as well, which threw me for a loop as I attempted to figure out even the bathrooms.   You don’t have to pay for your gas before you pump (trusting!), and there are few if any speed limits on the major highways.  They expect you to self – govern, go figure!  There’s a certain respect (for laws and humanity) and freedom in place that surprised me.  I realize this is still relatively new, and the brutal history of the past war is still eerily present in many unspoken memorials and museums.  Speaking no German, my charade skills were seriously put to the test.  Fortunately some Russian helped in a pinch, though confused the poor hearers as this American, lost in a small German village switched to Russian for directions.

I had rented a hatchback, 5-speed, economic little car and I intended to redeem the extra few days.  Redeemed and then some!  It was an incredible 48hrs, traveling back in time to interact with history that has shaped my own personal faith and the faith of millions.  I put +1500km on that little engine in 2 days!

FullSizeRender-1

Far left you can see the Castle Church in Wittenberg, then in center two statues of Luther, and Melanchthon.. and the far right the church they would preach in together.

First I traveled to Wittenberg, about 5hrs north of Nuremberg.  Huge accident on a major highway forced all of us through Rural Germany – I was happy to see it!  Did I mention how fast Germans drive?  It felt like a Rally Car event through the countryside – I found myself yelling “Whooo Hooo!” like the guys from Top Gear.  Driving was again fun!

Arriving just before sunset, I was astonished at how well preserved it was.  The Castle Church, where Luther, on October 31, 1517 nailed his 95 thesis after being declared a heretic for his infamous challenges to then corrupted ‘Church’.   His lesser known but brilliant companion Melanchthon, their homes, studies – preserved.   I could have spent several days here, but I had to keep moving.

Typical town passing through - I was stuck on a little bridge and took this photo - I wanted to stop but no time!

Typical town passing through – I was stuck on a little bridge and took this photo.

I had a lovely dinner outside on a Cafe patio, with a view of the famous church.  The Germans have really fresh, but tasty food with a wide variety of cuisines available.   I was among 100 or so tourist, most of the elderly variety.  An Italian gentleman with his wife was as wide eyed at the surroundings as I – and asked me to take their picture.  Everyone there, if they were a tourist, was there to pay homage to men of faith, and the God that emboldened them forward. This leaves an interesting feeling of unity and harmony among everyone in the town – folks from every culture congregating to witness where such doctrines like the “Priesthood of the Believer’ and “Salvation by faith alone” re-emerged in the Gospel.

These were men that swam upstream, and lived in continual threat, outcast and knew mostly difficulty.  They were thrust forward by something greater than the promises of temporary happiness on earth – conscience.  They possessed a ‘faith convinced’, an inward passion to do right, no matter what and entrust to God the results.

IMG_1600I reluctantly left Wittenberg, wishing for only another few days and my wife to somehow teleport to me to enjoy it together.   I had another historical and inspiring place to visit!   5hrs to the East, nestled by the Czech border and Poland was a small, unassuming community called, Herrhut, where the Moravian church began, and my personal hero of the faith, Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf lived and led.

You can learn more about the Moravian missions movement, and this inspiring history here if you are interested!  This dude blazed a trail, and was so humble going about it.

http://www.moravian.org/the-moravian-church/history/

I was still basking in the experience of Wittenberg, so visiting this place on the very next day was a bit overwhelming.  What century was I in again?  1700’s, ok so about 200 years ahead.  The reformation was still in effect happening, it caused all sorts of heartache for families, division, and much persecution towards those ‘breaking away’ from the established church.

My heart was stirring with the importance of obeying and trusting God.   I was able to visit a museum, the original church (re-built interior due to the Soviets pushing back the retreating Germans, the entire town was scorched).   The graveyard was probably my most favorite part of my visit to Herrnhut.

This is where Zinzendorf originally walked with his wife, on top of this hill lies the Cemetery to right - the village of Herrnhut 1km.

This is where Zinzendorf originally walked with his wife, on top of this hill lies the Cemetery to right – the village of Herrnhut 1km.

I’ve always felt drawn to cemeteries.   I still visit them here in Ukraine (my wife probably wonders where I am sometimes!)  I don’t think this is a morbid thing.   I think that death, and even those lives now completed on earth, speak to us.   Death is the most sobering and unifying thing of our existence.  We will all die.  Yet, we are now, at present, alive.  The deepest questions seem to be allowed to surface when you allow yourself elongated moments pondering the real questions of life.  My faith and corresponding theology is put to the test each time I walk around and consider the brevity and meaning of life.

I think as a culture today, we avoid death like the plague, but we shouldn’t.  We are, I think, required to think upon death and allow our faith to rise up to its awkward and ugly face.  A solid theology, one based on the life and resurrection of Jesus will have no problem removing deaths sting, so that each one of us can smile at it and even embrace it when it comes.   This is nonsense to the one who constantly avoids deaths reality and refuses to stare intently at it.  In short, what do we really believe?   Where does our hope truly lie?

IMG_1615The sweeping views of the Moravian cemetery, complete with 1000 or so identical gravestones of the believers from that first 100 pioneering years, is, well, moving.   These men, women and children were part of a missional movement that led to over 100 missionaries being sent from their tiny village in the first 25yrs, and +1000 missionaries over the next 75.   Literally the four corners of the earth were felt by the spiritual awakening that took place in the hearts of the believers in this town.    It’s called “God’s Acre’, and I believe it is.

Bronwyn arrives early so gets to pick her own bunk..

Bronwyn arrives early so gets to pick her own bunk..

I dropped off Bronwyn, my own little history maker!  She’s with a crew of 70 or so similarly aged, passionate creative types.  She is however sharing a room with about 10 other girls and a bathroom with 30!  She will be sharing in some suffering 🙂  I’m so proud of her, and know this is going to be an incredible opportunity to meet with God regularly and grow in Him and build some lasting friendships.

 

This was the funniest little hotel we stayed at. This greeted us in the hallway..

This was the funniest little hotel we stayed at. This greeted us in the hallway..

On the way home to Ukraine, I wrote down some questions that were immediately present in my mind.  I’m still mulling them over, but they are fresh and I wish to document them.  They center around the lives and work of those who inspire like Luther, Zinzendorf, Bonhoeffer (highly recommend this book http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7501962-bonhoeffer) , I finished it on audio while driving around Germany, adding to the historical effect.

  • Be God’s, not mans.
  • Life will go on without us, leave breadcrumbs for the next generation.
  • “Preach the Gospel, die and be forgotten”  Count Zinzendorf
  • Will God smile at my grave?
  • Persecution, Resistance, Misunderstanding – will by nature accompany any real work for the Kingdom.
  • Focus on sweeping, grand, revolutionary change – not nit picky small stuff.
  • Prayer, Faith, God’s Word, the Holy Spirit – we have all we need.
  • Be the Worlds.  Incarnate Christ.
  • Christianity conceals within itself a germ hostile to the church – morality and religion.  Through pride, they attempt to circumvent God’s Way through faith alone in Christ by attaining God some other way(s).
  • “Where the people of God pray, there is the Church”  – Bonhoeffer
  • We must critique the church in order to keep it from dead forms.  Reformation is like Repentance is not only an event –  it’s a dynamic, fluid call to form into His image.
  • “Flee to His wounds and you will be safe!” Erasmus

Perhaps some random quotes above, but we all desire to live a life worth living don’t we? We can all confidently look into deaths abyss and be free from fear in Christ.  These men lived for eternity, they set their hearts on passing THROUGH death into reality.  I look forward to meeting them, but not yet!

There’s work to do for our King.  Be encouraged friends.  You are not alone, He is with you – lean into His arms, surrender and be filled with hope in believing.   I really enjoyed my 2 day journey in Germany.  I already miss my little girl.  Life is a gift.

Bruce & Deborah

Posted in Bruce Posts | 2 Comments