Belarus Update

Bill, his daughter Cheraya, Deb and i in Kiev exploring potential creative spaces.

This week we had the privilege of hosting some friends from Texas from our board.  Making future plans for ministry and projects.  We’ve merged our leadership team and now have an amazing group of mature, caring, and spiritually minded folks – feel very blessed!

This past week we hosted a widows outreach at Lighthouse Cafe – here’s a little video update!

YFM students graduated this weekend, here are some of the girls. Sorry you couldn’t be there Adrienne 😉

I’m in Minsk now, spent the past few days in meetings.  The weather is sunny and warm – a stark contrast to the 3 months of rain, fog and generally dreary weather.

In the center of Minsk hundreds of youth gather and play volleyball in large circles down by the river.  It was picturesque.

I’m amazed at how youthful Minsk is – I’m convinced it’s the youngest capital city in Europe, but I haven’t the facts to back that up.  When I walk around the City though as I did this morning, it’s hard not to feel old.  That represents some significant Kingdom opportunity.  God is working in Belarus, there is an emerging movement of youth and Kingdom growth potential – despite the efforts by many forces to contain it.

We’re making some changes in our ministry, tying up some historical ministries that served so well in the past, but have lost steam over the past few years.  It’s encouraging to see how God ebbs and flows in human history, seasons, movements, partnerships – I’m looking forward to making new history for the Kingdom in the Russian speaking world, and doing that with more friends and partners.  Doing stuff alone is not fun.

Downtown Minsk – this central area is where we hope to host another worship event – in the background is the arena we are hoping for (pray!).

 

Katya serves in many neat ways in Belarus. Can’t be too specific.

When in Belarus, you must eat beef, we missed good beef in Ukraine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids haven’t been in an Orthodox church in a long time, so they found it really surreal – Abigail asked me, “Daddy, is this where a princess lives?”.

My seminary course is reaching it’s first quarter close.  I’ll be flying to California for 10 days of seminars and learning.  Will be meeting my fellow cohort, 30 or so from around the world.

Missing Deb and the kids. I hear the little girls are sick.  So thankful for a loving wife who bears the weight of family while I’m serving in this capacity.  This past weekend we rented a boat from a friend and took the kids on the Dnepr, to the old church on the island.

It’s been challenging as the first quarter is all about taking inventory of our experiences, assessing our values and convictions in new light, and proactively planning each ourselves our next two years of course selection relating to globalization, leadership, culture etc.  I never imagined I would be reading this much, but really enjoying the content and finding refreshing ways to approach challenges before me already.

Back in Ukraine

Great news!  A ministry south of us that does programming business and other creative ministries donated our Lighthouse Sign!  A Ukrainian mission partner donated it!  How cool.  Love how God is working in Ukraine.

We’ve toured a few potential creative spaces in Kiev, but nothing that fits our vision and budget yet. We’re considering a few different business models, and still praying through this.  One idea is an event space, like for receptions, concerts, conference – with a coffee shop area that would open during rental.

We also want a few offices for combination English, creative, music things as well as possible start-up partnerships.  Like with Lighthouse, everything we put our hands to we want to all possible to create synergy in mission and business – to sustain and not ‘need’ western hand outs continually.  So many great ideas, talented people, surely God can guide us to producing a sustainable model in Kiev which could double as a place of missional community – My dream is to see these platforms emerge across the Russian speaking world.  We have the armies of youth around us, we just need God’s blessing – pray!

Thanks for checking in!

Bruce & Deb

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Все, что нужно нам

“Как от Божественной силы Его даровано нам все потребное для жизни и благочестия, через познание Призвавшего нас славою и благостию, 4. которыми дарованы нам великие и драгоценные обетования, дабы вы через них соделались причастниками Божеского естества, удалившись от господствующего в мире растления похотью, –

5 то вы, прилагая к сему все старание, покажите в вере вашей добродетель, в добродетели рассудительность, 6. в рассудительности воздержание, в воздержании терпение, в терпении благочестие, 7. в благочестии братолюбие, в братолюбии любовь. 8. Если это в вас есть и умножается, то вы не останетесь без успеха и плода в познании Господа нашего Иисуса Христа” (2-е Петр. 1:3-8).

Бог желает разделить с нами Свою природу.

Он знает, что мы испорчены, несовершенны и отчаянно нуждаемся в обновлении. Вот почему Иисус сказал народу после сверхъестественного насыщения их желудков хлебом и рыбой “Если вы не будете пить мою кровь и есть мою плоть, вы не будете иметь части со Мною”.

Чтобы “поглотить”, “усвоить” духовную природу Бога, необходимо поверить во Христа и родиться свыше.

То, к чему Бог призывает нас в Своем Слове (например, верность, честность, непорочность, любовь, смирение), – это не произвольные внешние законы, которые мы можем применять в наших жизнях без сверхъестественной Божьей работы. ДНК в сердце Бога, проявленной в совершенном образе Христа, становится доступным через жизнь, смерть и воскресение Иисуса Христа. Он никогда не просит нас быть тем, кем Он Сам не является. Он желает, чтобы все мы становились похожими на Него, меняясь изнутри и преображаясь снаружи.

Мне нравится этот отрывок в послании Петра, потому что здесь основное внимание фокусируется на истинном Евангелии, на силе Божьей, не на реакции человека. Сам Бог дал нам это незаслуженное драгоценное обетование спасения – прошлая, настоящая и будущая природа славного спасения! Он не только проложил путь к искуплению, но и приглашает нас стать на него и посредством силы Его Духа идти, жить, обновляться.

Это как будто Бог вручил нам упакованный чемодан, фактически переполненный, застегнутый на молнию, но он раскроется, как только мы взглянем на Христа. Через познание Его, говорит Петр, нам открываются великие дары внутри чемодана, и так мы можем “облечься” в данные качества Бога (Римл. 13:14).

“И облечься в нового человека, созданного по Богу, в праведности и святости истины” (Еф. 4:24).

Обетование? Петр говорит, что мы не останемся бесплодными, мы не будем прожигать свои жизни, если мы свою энергию отдадим на то, чтобы познавать Иисуса и получать духовную пищу во Христе.

Он будет восполнять наши силы, воодушевлять, оживлять нашу веру и дела. Бог будет использовать нас, направлять, показывать нам новую и плодотворную работу для жатвы на Его поле.

В чем наша задача? Не стать религиозными деятелями или моралистами, сосредоточенными на внешних факторах, но всей силой стремиться познавать Христа! Им мы живем, движемся и существуем (Деян. 17:28). Именно Он облекает нас.

Христианство – это личность. Иисус – это революция сердца, замена старого на новое, а новое – это Тот, кто все совершил. Давайте погружаться в этот драгоценный дар, становясь сердцем Бога для народов.

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Everything we need

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:3-8

God’s desire is to share His nature with us.

He knows we are broken, incomplete and in desperate need of renewal.  This is why Jesus said to the crowd after feeding their stomachs miraculously with bread and fish, “Unless you drink of my blood, and eat my flesh, you’ll have no part of me.”

To ‘ingest’ to ‘consume’ the spiritual nature of God is to believe in Christ and be born again.

The things that God calls us to in His word (e.g. faithfulness, honesty, purity, love, humility) are not some random outward laws we can apply to our lives without a supernatural work.  The DNA within the heart of God, as displayed in the perfect reflection of Christ becomes accessible in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He never asks us to be something that He is not.  He desires us all to become like Him, inside out.

Be holy, ‘as I am holy.”  How?  By ‘putting on’ Jesus, by participating in the divine nature of God in Christ, through faith.

I love this passage in Peter because the focus is, as it is in the true Gospel,  on the power of God, not man’s response.  It was God who ‘gave’ us this unmerited precious promise of salvation – the past, present and future nature of glorious salvation! He’s the one who not only made the way for redemption, but now invites us in, through the power of His Spirit to walk, live, be, something new.

It’s like God has furnished us with a packed suitcase, it’s over-packed actually, zipped up but ready to burst open once we look to Christ.  It’s through knowing Him, says  Peter, that we are introduced to the great gifts inside the suitcase, and are able to participate in ‘putting on’ these attributes of God (Rom 13:14).

The promise?  Peter says that we will not be unfruitful, we will not waste our lives, if we spend our energies on knowing Jesus and receiving the spiritual food in Christ.

He will fuel our energies, lift our souls, enliven our faith and deeds.  God will use us, place us, introduce us to new and fruitful work in His harvest field.

Our job?  Not to become religious doers or outward moralists, but press into knowing Christ! In Him we live, move and have our being (Acts 17:28). It’s He that clothes us.

Christianity is a Person. Jesus is a revolution of heart, old for new, and the new is the One who made it all.  Let us dive into this precious gift, becoming the heart of God to the nations.

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Help us buy a sign?

Goal: $1,000

US Donation Link
Canadian Donation Link

It’s been on my to-do list since we opened Lighthouse Cafe, to get a proper store front sign.  As a ministry, all of our available funds go to keeping the actual cafe operational, legal and our staff paid.  So, not been able to.

To date, we’ve been using banners, and after a while, they look weathered and rather terrible.  One guy recently gave us 4/5 stars on Google maps commenting, “wonderful cafe, it’s a shame the owner don’t have a better sign.” 

We’ve invested so much inside the Cafe, it is a  shame the exterior doesn’t do a better job of drawing folks in.  We’ve been busy in other areas the past year that I haven’t given it much thought. Ukraine doesn’t place a huge amount of importance on exterior things, especially in rural communities that still look like they did 50yrs ago!  However, we’ve become a little tourist town over the past few years, and the outside revenue represents an opportunity for our Cafe to become more sustainable.  We have more competition as well, with 3 other Cafes (2 are non-alcoholic, they’re copying us!) and two more restaurants.

Drawing of the sign, our plans are to complete the facade of the building sometime as well which will make it look even nicer – covering the ugly old bricks.

The economy is still in terrible shape, we could really use your help.

I’ve contacted a sign company in Kiev, and a lit, fiberglass sign with turnkey installation is going to cost right at $1,000.  They will actually come from Kiev (90 minutes away).

It will light up at night, which will be super cool as we are in a great location across from the bus station.

Help us light up for Christ and more customers?  Please don’t think you need to give a large gift, every dollar is one we don’t have! 🙂

 

Donation Instructions:

*US residents who would like to support specific projects (vs just our family), please use our MIR Charity donation form for tax deductible receipting –  click here!

**Canadian residents, use our Canadian charitable option and choose “Bruce & Deborah Crowe”-  click here!

**we’ll notify on social media once goal is reached – any additional funds received for sign we will put towards the facade which we would love to cover/insulate for next winter.  

For those that don’t what we do, short little promo of life inside the Cafe 🙂

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Disconnect

This past Sunday, our family decided to try and experiment.  We disconnected.  From morning till night, not a click, game, or phone to hand, for anyone.  At the end of the day, we gathered to debrief and discuss the experience.  The results surprised me.

“The day seemed to last forever.”

Although our older kids have recently left the nest, we still have 5 here with us on most days, ages 3-16. Our kids love gaming, and as a former avid gamer their dad has a soft spot for finishing levels.  What’s different today however is that they are playing other real live players and often friends online.  When I say, “time for bed” or “go cut the grass”, I’m now met with an apologetic on how that would be rude and will hurt their rating if they don’t finish.

Whether it’s video games, apps, netflix cartoons for the kids, or my wife and I scrolling on our iPhones, our entire family is continually connected and it’s exhausting.  As parents, we’ve never been big on timing controls, or even content filters. Our philosophy has been to equip our kids to govern their time and eyes, because once you leave this house, the world is pretty much unfiltered.  However, unlike keeping innocent eyes from porn, the issue of addiction to our gadgets seems more complicated.

We need our phones, or do we?  We can’t function without our apps, calendars, reminders, and instagram connections, or can we?  What are we losing out on through our constant connection?

‘Research shows people now touch, swipe or tap their phone on average 2,617 times a day.’ – source

Our disconnected day was incredible.  We called it our ‘soul rest’ day, and we committed not only to laying down all forms of technology (even the kitchen, Deb was excited about that), but also doing only those things which caused reflection, consideration, and awareness.  Essentially using the principles of sabbath rest, allowing our soul to breath.  The result was reconnecting with the neighbors, a whole lot of laughter and a day, in the words of Bryan Adams that ‘seemed to last forever,’ in a really enjoyable way.

I expected whining, some mid-day rebellion, but instead found my family hunkered down together in the living room at the end of day reflecting and being a family.  It was convicting, eye opening, and we’ll be practicing this again next Sunday.

If you are interested in some challenging articles related to the social engineering taking place on platforms like Facebook, and the purposeful re-wiring of our brains – check these out, you might be more enthused to try your own experiment after reading!

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/04/has-dopamine-got-us-hooked-on-tech-facebook-apps-addiction

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/feb/12/is-facebook-for-old-people-over-55s-flock-in-as-the-young-leave

 

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