October Happenings

Concert & Outreaches

Lydie, from band Heroic Nation performing this week in Rzyschiv, Ukraine

I can’t believe the month is almost over! Our friends from France have just left for the airport. We hosted a couple outreaches in Rzyschiv this week, one at Lighthouse, and the other in our culture building. Between the two events around 150, mostly youth, came out. 

Jeremie, with his son Roman sharing about the Father’s love for us.

I was hoping for more at our main concert, we could have done a better job inside the actual colleges drawing out the hundreds of youth that sit in their dorms. Always learning for next time! A lot of new faces however came out to both events. Our Mayor was so supportive as well, actually helping us advertise.

Diana, from Kiev is a young woman who has recently joined our Lighthouse team, performed her original song, “Stand” which will be on our upcoming LIT Album.

Those that came were treated to various artists from Ukraine, US and France. We shared a couple of short videos, and sewed seeds of hope in God’s love. A couple things specifically blessed me:

  • An official from the City has asked us to help organize the artists/bands for the town’s annual outdoor festival.  It’s a great opportunity to reach +1k hearts with Christ-centered music.
  • It was cool to see young believers from different churches slowly growing in number, together dancing & enjoying one another.
  • One family came to me afterwards and the husband looked fairly serious, I was a bit nervous. He thanked me for hosting the concert and explained that although he was Orthodox, he accepts that we are all serving the same God. It touched me, he was very sincere.
  • Sveta, who is on staff with us now as creative and admin help organized the entire event herself.  She did a great job taking the vision and organizing talent, logistics, the schedule, advertising. I’m so amazed by the capabilities of this next generation.
Forest walk with our friends. Our kids enjoyed having some new friends to play with!

Next Event: LIT Minsk, November 16

In a few weeks we’ll be gathering with 100’s of thirsty youth in Minsk for an evening of worship. For those of you that receive our newsletter, we will update you on the challenges and requests for prayer. We don’t post specifics on our blog. We have our friend Charisah again joining us, as well as Collins, and the XDN band from Minsk. Pray for Belarus!

If you don’t follow us on Instagram, go to @litworship do it! Lots of photos and videos there.
Last year at the Philharmonic was such an incredible moment.

What’s Next?

  • Christ for the Nations Texas missions director Bryan McLemore & his wife arriving tonight at 3am for a two day visit. We are networking to receive 3rd year missions graduates for intern placement.
  • We have hired two new staff at Lighthouse and prayerfully transitioning our business to integrate more with our mission.
  • Mir Ministry budgeting for 2019. We need more partners if we’re to continue to reach this generation for Christ – pray about monthly support please! Tax deductible giving at www.mirministries.org
  • I want to take the train to Slavyansk, Ukraine in Eastern Ukraine (towards the war zone). We have some open doors for worship, orphan / widows care program. Additionally, it’s a place a new partner is dreaming of of possibly opening a Cafe platform like Lighthouse. Pray for this! I am waiting for my shoulder to heal a bit more.
  • Widows Care, so much is happening! We are building an online database and system with World Challenge, and piloting for Russian speaking world. This ministry will double in 2019 and include Russia!
  • Continuing to look at Kiev housing for hosting mid week events for leadership community. Found one place we are praying about near YWAM base. 
  • Speaking of YWAM, will be teaching at the Kiev base in a couple of weeks, first time!
  • LIT first worship album is about 50% finished, we have 2 songs left to record in the Minsk studio. We hope to release it in the new year.
  • Visible Music certificate program has hit some snags as we register our Ukrainian students. The international requirements are costing our students $150 more than expected, which is a huge expense for them. We have 5 students, if you’d like to help sponsor one or two, please let us know! This is a Christian discipleship course as well.
Meet Andrew & Dar Draper from US – they found us via a CFN friend from 1993! Amazing hearts, serving transitional orphans and we’re praying about launching a Cafe together in Eastern Ukraine as a platform for discipleship and community.

Leadership Weekends

We have a series of Mir Leadership weekends planned quarterly and “Refresh” weekends through the New Year. They are similar ‘getaways’ targeting next generation leaders, with focused teaching on rest, grace, learning together and listening to the Holy Spirit. Whether leaders are working with us directly or indirect, our growing desire is to see the Church in the Russian/Ukrainian speaking world led by healthy, vulnerable, flourishing men and women.

The church is not made up of spiritual giants; only broken men can lead others to the cross” (Bosch)

Meet Alexia, from Kiev. She’s a rather intelligent business woman whom God is using to provide consultation to businesses, and marketing strategies (eg. Crowdfunding etc.) to charities inside Ukraine that have great ideas but little funding. She feels drawn to partner with us in some way – and we do too!
Claire received a special gift from Canada last week for her birthday.
Finishing my Fuller Seminary paper, it’s the consummation of two semesters. It’s been a challenge to finish with all the activity and guests, and with a sore arm – but by the grace of God I’m 99% finished!  Now I have another paper due in 3 weeks on Biblical Missiology.

Enjoy some quotes from my past few months reading on character formation and leadership:

“Creating an emotionally healthy culture and building a healthy team are among the primary tasks for every leader” (Scazzero).

“When we release control, we entrust others to act in ways that may not fit with our idea of how they should act. We take the risk that whatever task or responsibility we have released will not be done in accord with our design” (Lingenfelter)

“Christian community is made of people who gather around the transforming presence of Christ so they can do the will of God” (Barton)

As a leader, our focus should be “Attending to the spiritual formation of each individual leader” (Barton 2012, 37) and “to make sure that each individual is on the journey from spiritual blindness to spiritual sight” (Barton)

In the deepest mystery of his being God is an intimate relationship, a fellowship, a community of love” (Johnson)

“A spiritual mind is one that rejects all forms of deceit such as pretense, exaggeration, misinformation and lying” (Fryling)

“We often pray for wisdom while we are already attached to some outcome we think is best… Cultivating the habit of discernment means we are always seeking the movement of God’s Spirit so we can abandon ourselves to it” (Barton)

“Spiritual formation actually happens as each essential dimension of the self is transformed to Christlikeness under the direction of a regenerate will interacting with constant overtures of grace from God” (Willard)

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Armed. Can’t wait.

The boys removed my stiches last week – it was a fun time and all went well.

I’m 3 weeks, rehabbing my shoulder. I start to see some good progress, then something will happen that sets it back.  The human body is a finicky thing. Very thankful for the prospect of having both arms back. 

Things I still can’t do:

Crack the ice tray.
Squeeze hug my girls.
Sleep in any position but back.
Make coffee.
Dry myself in less than 5 minutes.
Drive (sort of).

So cool to meet Philip & Jan Yancy last week in Kiev.

First world problems. I get it. I’m able to type now with both hands, arms resting on the desk. This helps me get to work on a daunting list. We have a lot of events in the works, outreaches, worship events, leadership meetings. I’ve also got 2 rather large papers to be written looming. 

Walking around the local cemetery the other day.  It’s a place I go to when I need to feel rooted in what matters, reality. 
‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’ Soren Kierkegaard

If you told me last year this time I’d be reading books on leadership and absolutely loving it – I would think you were crazy.  I’ve leared away from the topic, believing it to be a category of learning reserved for corporate american.  When considering ‘Christian’ leadership, my gut feelings were negative mostly, that the church had only been negatively effected by western concepts of success and organizational strategies.. so why read any of that stuff?

Last night Club 180 youth, all but 2-3 professing born again followers of Jesus, the rest on a journey of discovery. We stayed home, allowing Dima & Lena to embrace larger role – they do a great job creating space for the Holy Spirit.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve been reading about personal formation, as a leader. I’ve so needed this. Healthy, sustainable rhythms, still growing into these. Leading not only from example, but exemplifying love, elevating those around me, believing in and entrusting those to their giftedness, allowing failure (in my self in others) but maintaining a learning posture.

Our new Lighthouse sign – looks amazing at night, pictures coming soon!  Thank you eKreative for your generosity in donating it!
Cute Claire loves her little kitchen and refuses to use plastic pretend food –

I’ve just finished Haley Barton’s book on building discerning communities. Her ministry goes into toxic or ‘stuck’ leadership groups and helps them navigate from dictatorship style models to safe, open, vulnerable groups that learn together how to wait on the Spirit, listen, and discern together the very real will of God.  If God is to be leading our work, mission, or churches, surely God has both desires and wisdom for us – but we need to create the space for the Spirit to actually be heard.  That takes intentionality, work, willingness especially on the part of the leader to be ‘indifferent’ in the results – to be open fully to the resulting group decisions to look vastly different than the leaders wishes – that this is what it means to lead – not to get your own way, or have folks follow you ‘blindly’, but to influence everyone to move from darkness (ignorance) to light (revelation) – as a group, if there’s any meaning to be had in missional community or family.

I need to post some of my writings, I don’t know why I blog here about stuff I’ve already written on. 

Anyway. We have Collins off in Minsk recording with Peter and the crew as we attempt to finish the LIT worship album before end of year. We’re sponsoring some other events in Minsk as well in a couple of week before LIT – some dude from Hillsong coming and teaching some classes for area worship leaders.  I’m more excited about stuff outside of the local churches myself, but I have to remember it’s where most of the family of Christ hangs out. Why is that? Why do we spend so much time with believers – aren’t we all called to make new disciples?  Who didn’t get the memo?

Working on a new widows care online system for World Challenge, that we will prototype in Eastern Europe.  Excited we’ll have team members from Ukraine, Belarus and our first from Russia next month together for prayer and planning – as well as developing the ministry more together. God is with us in this, our budget has been doubled for 2019!  More hands and feet to those waiting for the love of God.

This weekend a couple of cool things.  One is a dinner we are hosting impromptu with some friends, some just asking beginning questions about meaning, life, purpose and I think holy ‘anxiety’ working in their hearts. Then, Sunday we are visiting a church in Kiev, the pastor is a motorcycle driving, tatoo’d up guy that is in charge of the Cities tatoo fest which attracts +10k each year.  During our kiev trip we are looking at 2 potential houses to rent, finally found a couple that look really good for hosting some evenings soon.

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Bethel Worship in Kiev

It’s been ten years since we’ve seen anything like last night in Ukraine. 10k mostly youth gathered from many denominations, areas of Kiev and even neighboring countries gathered to worship Jesus.

Well, worship Jesus, and see Jeremy Riddle. For those that don’t know Jeremy, he’s part of the Bethel Music crew, written such songs as Sweetly Broken, and Fall Afresh. The Ukrainian culture, and Christian sub-culture is still very hungry, and I’d say increasingly so since Maiden, for western culture.  A fairly limited amount of foreign music groups tour through Ukraine these days, so when someone comes in, it tends to make a splash.

This is something that is both useful, and troubling. If the incoming group pushes an obvious cultural colored agenda, it’s troubling. If the incoming group recognizes it’s limitations and respects the indigenous context, they can use their ‘attractiveness’ for larger kingdom purposes.  It’s a balance, it’s hard to judge last night as either good or bad, but a mix of both – in my opinion.

Flashy stages, rocketing choreographed smoke, and all the boom a million dollar sound system can project does not guarantee anything of spiritual significance.  In fact, I would argue those things, in the hands of proud or shallow Christianity only assures an emotional ‘only’ experience.  I’ve lived the charistmatic fun, danced with the best of them and used to consider loud preaching a sign of spiritual ‘anointing.’  Being in a crowd of 10k that hoop’d and holl’rd on cue as the many preachy voices from the stage instructed, brought back many fond memories.  It also left me saddened that for many, they will return home empty, when the gospel is so incredibly jammed packed with everything they need to flourish without the emotionalism.

I was sad that a vast majority last night, I believe, were not interested in yet another western hyped up ‘church service’. They were hungry to wait on the Lord, to focus and give a solid 2-3hrs to declaring Christ as King. The depth of spiritual hunger here is real, it needs a steak, not a cupcake.  Passion, with Louie G. ten years ago did a much better job of exploring the meaning of life, and the revelation of Christ with lasting depth – I still remember his message ten years later – I doubt anyone could remember anything from last night among the 60 minutes of random sermonizing. Last night, for me, was a dazzling display of missing the mark.  Of youthful, immature leadership under the spell that crowds mean success, that huge shouts mean Jesus is super happy.  This is the world of charismatic, Pentecostalism that is sweeping nations. We need to create spaces where hungry hearts can go deeper, and not become mesmerized by well meaning, but superficial Christianity.

Yet, along with the hyper emotionalism, is an innocent expression among the Ukrainians, they will do, say, and believe what folks say about God.  Hunger is hunger. As we left the evening, taking around 20 with us, I was curious how many of our own uncultured ‘in Christianity’ would and will respond.  I don’t know yet – we love our crew, and excited to keep journeying with them in the depths of the gospel, which is not only compelling to the deepest depths in the heart, but changes lives, not just excites for moments. 

Can we have both?  Can we worship in masses and celebrate the King with added technology – I think so. It’s a challenge, it’s something we must do with spiritual sensitivity to the existing work of the holy spirit in our nations.  To swoop in as foreigners, to assume the people are both expecting and desire an American style worship gathering is unwise. There have been times in our worship gatherings where I’ve been super uncomfortable as an American, lengthy pauses, intermittent talking and discussion – it’s been healthy for me to learn that worship is not only beyond ‘music’ , but beyond our forms, and is found in the mundane discussions of friendship, of being transparent and vulnerable – and waiting on the Lord for more than 5 minutes. 

A night of the holy spirit should, I think be primarily about waiting, like the disciples revealed to us. Not anticipating any specific outcome, but to avail ourselves afresh, to lift up Christ, our nation, our friends that don’t know the King. It’s about being, resting, and tasting a piece of heaven in a variety of settings.

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It is finished! Gas heats up Cafe.

After five years of documents, frustration, payments and waiting, the Lighthouse Cafe was permitted to turn on our gas heating yesterday!  Natasha, our administrator was in complete shock, because we’ve repeated this ‘routine’ each winter and always seem to come up short with required permits or inspections.  We did meet last week with our friend who works with the gas company, and maybe he pulled a few strings, we don’t know, but we’re so pumped!

Liza Asheichyk from Minsk, daughter of Peter and Inessa is a talented artists we are excited to have with us this week!

For those that have followed our crazy adventure of migrating through Ukrainian bureacracy and corruption, you know we already gas for the Pizza oven (it took only 3yrs!).  However, each winter we have been left scrambling to heat the Cafe, using pellet stoves and expensive electric units.

Today I walked into the Cafe and noticed all the windows were open. The staff had no idea why the place was so warm when it’s a chilly fall day outside. The heated floors had the tile nice and toasty, so we know it works!  It’s now turned down awaiting the chilly months ahead.

So excited to provide a warmer place, and hopeful it will be less costly too!

In other news, Liza from Minsk is finished tracing on our exterior wall some art (hands holding fire of some sort) – she’s begun spray painting! We need a better set of stairs, these would not pass any inspection whatsoever in the west.  Sigh.  Looking.

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