Mogilev University

Really enjoyed and was impressed with the students in Eastern Belarus at the teacher’s college.  After some introductions, I shared about the importance of taking risks, living life for all it’s worth and not settling for the status quo.

Around 50 students, almost all female, took notes and asked several interesting questions.  As I shared some basic ideas on how to take an idea to the next step in the form of a business plan, I could see in the eyes of several students the creative wheels turning.

This generation is a global youth culture.  The youth arising out of every country is being shaped by the same concepts, music, movies, clothing… Less and less cultural identity is found by the geographical space you live.  The internet has truly changed everything.  Yet, this generation is alone – the irony of being overly connected and yet deeper relationships lacking among so many youth.

This is such a rich Christian Orthodox culture, may God water the seeds of Gospel truth all around this incredible country.

Collins also was there, but for 3 days with Broderic and a group from Minsk.  They performed in a local cafe at night and enjoyed building many new friendships.

I’d love to return to Mogilev.  I see the potential, especially with the 1000’s of open-hearted youth in college, for a Cafe or creative space.  I was told by several people this is a depressing area, and that the suicide rate is higher than other cities.  I didn’t feel this personally, I felt hope and a bright future with these young hearts.

I had some interesting conversations as well with police that stopped me mid-way at a checkpoint.  I got to sit in a police van with 3 officers and share pleasantries.  They were intrigued by a Texan driver’s license and were in no rush to let me go.  It ended well and we shared some good laughs.

We’re entering the final 3 weeks at YFM.  I’m teaching this week on business as well as some other theological topics.  I’m looking forward to seeing the students movies they have put together, and also hearing from some of them during the week as well as we turn the tables and have some of them share!

Have some cool news coming soon about creative space in Kiev – but will be later!

Bruce & Deb

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Open Doors

I just sent out our private newsletter from Minsk.  If you didn’t get it, feel free to message me on FB or email me at bruce@liftupyoureyes.org to be added to the list!  I think I have most of you but the email has much more detailed information.  

This week I returned from Kiev scouting trip and checking on things in Rz.  It was so cool to see the Cafe again!  I was happy to see that they have added a few new menu items and have been actively trying to save money as well.  It’s still such a challenge to serve our community and also not lose our shirts.  I have to admit it was AMAZING to sleep in my own bed for 2 nights.

During the trip I attended one evening at Steiger’s missions conference for youth in Kiev.  It’s amazing to see so many familiar faces from Minsk among this crew of 70 or so leaders.  After we flew back to Minsk, the entire Steiger team, including leaders from +5 countries used our houses in Rz (ours and Deb’s dad’s) for their planning and prayer times.

Although Rz is over an hour from Kiev, these guys were super thankful to have a place to house poor college students and young adults that live as missionaries in Ukraine.  Over 50 stayed somehow between the two houses – It was surreal to see Instagram blow up with photos from our kitchen and neighborhood.  Cool to serve this emerging ministry.

We spent an evening with our friend Zhenya from Hope for Orphans in the University area of Kiev looking at possible Spring ‘creative space’ spots to reach the +30k students there.  We are praying and believing God to take active steps to start a base there that can work alongside and expand the ministries in Minsk into the Russian speaking world.  If you’d like more information on this, as we are also praying for partners (not just money), email me.

Deb and I were able a few weeks ago to take a 30 min flight over to Vilnius, Lithuania.  Hopping out of the country help us save valuable ‘visa days’ which are limited to only 90 per year in Belarus.  I’ve already used 70.  I love this girl.  Isn’t it amazing that no matter how long you are married, you still feel you are married to the one you met?  Thankful to journey with an adventurer and free thinker, even if it gets me into all sorts of un-requested situations.

Kids are good, but they are asking about ‘home’.  The other day Abbey asked, “How much longer until we go home to Ukraine.”  I said, “3 weeks”.  “Is 3 weeks long?” she asked.  “For you Abbey, it’s really long yes.”  Time.  Subjective thing it is.

Speaking of time, it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow.  We decided to bite the bullet and attempt do make some traditional things tomorrow and invite over our kids (the older ones in Minsk apartments) and Adrienne from PA.  It’s not a holiday here so not quiet as cool, but I’m thankful there isn’t any Black Friday insanity.

Open Door!  This Friday I’ll be speaking in a City 3hrs to the East called “Mogilev” which is near the Russian border.  The State University there has permitted a team to do music and speak to their English students on business.  Collins and Broderic, as well as a few other YFM students are there now – and I’ve been given the topic and sub-points of my topic by the professor before hand.  It’s very controlled.  I’m thankful one of the bullet points however stated, “your personal story’.   I shall follow the teachers instructions!

Thanks for checking in, blessings from Belarus – 3 weeks to go!

Bruce & Deb

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Off to Ukraine!

I’m not sure I’ve ever gone 3 weeks without blogging before.  I hope someone is still out there!

We have been so jammed packed busy with daily college routine, classes, guest speakers, events, kids, uber’s and yes, late night hockey games.  We feel very blessed, and thankful for the many new friends here in Minsk – it’s been a really cool time, and opportunity to grow in new ways too.  New context always brings new fresh perspective doesn’t it?

The kids tonight found us on the couch, a rarity the past few weeks.. so they decided to give us a hairdo. I’m supposed to be ‘DanTDM’ and look much younger per Noah.

I’ll be sending out an exciting email update soon!  Some cool news coming down the pipe for worship platform LIT, and also some new creative spaces for growing what God is doing in the Russian & Ukrainian speaking world.

Deb did NOT want this photo posted, but I figure our blog is fine right? Abbey is her stylist.

So, for now, just a note that we’d appreciate prayer for Deb and kids as I leave them for the next 4 days on a quick trip to Ukraine.  I’ll be taking Brent with me, visiting the team and friends there, also Steiger Conference and making sure our house is still there – winter is closing in.. time to make sure things are good to go!  I’m really excited to connect tomorrow night with our Club 180 youth as well.  Miss them a lot.

We have snow here, here’s a few from our window at the house we are renting.

Each week we pose with the YFM students and speaker… this Monday we had Jan and Sally with us!

This past month so many things have happened.  Some really great weeks with guest speakers.  God is doing amazing things in hearts, and we’re really growing in community with this crew of 12-14.  We are saying goodbye to Elsa from Vladivostock tomorrow, she’s been a real asset as my ‘PA’ (our little joke, but she has been a great personal assistant).

Two teams, two stories, two writers, producers, and actors.. videos coming soon! Tonight a crew showed up forcing me to be an ‘angry’ dad. Easy.

The students are currently making a series of video projects which they’ve written, and are producing under the tutelage of our good french friend Jeremy from Heroic Nation.  This week we have a wonderful professor of theology teaching Hermeneutics (how to read/interpret the bible).  God has really blessed these YFM students with so many different topics but more importantly, teachers that genuinely connect and care.

Our partner Peter just hosted another event last weekend at the Philharmonic, a personal concert that showcased Christian artists from around the Russian speaking world, including more famous Russian songs and personalities that many knew.  Even Elsa sitting next to us was surprised to recognize some of the songs that were written by the team here at XDH.

We have some plans in the works for some more music production and prayerfully moving in that area, as well as some more cafes in the works – we will need God to touch hearts and fuel this, walking on water in some real ways.  There’s such an opportunity to impact culture for Christ, reach youth with hope and vision for their lives –  we can do so much for so little compared to the west right now – this is good soil for sowing folks.  Take it to prayer and join us if you aren’t already involved financially.

At least 600 showed up to enjoy Christian concert at the very same place we hosted LIT – we’re jumping in there now every chance we can 🙂

During this time, we had the honor of hosting Jan Brunk and Sally Knox.  Jan obviously for those that follow our journey is the widow of Dave, they both pioneered the ministry here that we are stepping into for this next season.  There was a neat moment in the night that honored their investment and moved many people.  Also Nona, who is another board member for MIR was there – and we had a number of long, and fruitful meeting mapping out trajectories, what we feel God is showing us, and all left anticipating this coming year.

Noah’s 2nd client.. the coolest little girl on the planet.

There are many challenges, but God is unstoppable.

Love and miss y’all.  Happy Thanksgiving.. is that over or still coming.. I have no idea.. but someone fed me turkey the other night.. it was a pleasant surprise.. don’t see that bird too often ’round these parts.

Email us if you don’t get our monthly email with more specifics.

Bruce & Deb

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Освещать, часть 5 – Он наше убежище

“Господь — твердыня моя и прибежище мое, Избавитель мой, Бог мой, — скала моя; на Него я уповаю; щит мой, рог спасения моего и убежище мое” (Пс. 17:3).

Жизнь – это буря трудностей. Порой тяжелые времена кажутся бесконечными. Буря надвигается на нас волнами, и часто пытается залить водой и раздавить. Жизнь раскрывает нашу человеческую природу, нашу слабость.

Мы крошечные корабли в бесконечном океане. Утомленные временем, событиями, и даже трагедией, мы носим наши переживания в глубине души, скрывая от других. Постоянное движение утомляет, мы желаем отдохнуть.

Что значит “Господь – моя твердыня, мое прибежище, мое убежище?” Разве Он не наша гавань, покой, безопасность? Бури и бесконечные надвигающиеся волны не могут противостоять Ему. Он сильный, в Нем защита, Он непоколебим.

Чрез Христа как через врата мы выходим на открытую дорогу к гавани для наших душ.

Вы знаете, что удивительного в благодати? Для того, чтобы войти в это место тихого и настоящего покоя для души не обязательно обладать духовной силой. Для этого не обязательно достигать определенного уровня развития характера или проходить специальную трехступенчатую программу по снятию стресса.

Напротив, в противоположность человеческим усилиям это означает просто сдаться. Признайте свою потребность в этой гавани, поднимите белый флаг и припадите к Иисусу Христу!

Слово Божие учит нас, что раскаяние, смирение, сокрушенность являются необходимыми условиями для вхождения в эту гавань. Не здоровые имеют нужду во враче. Те, кто плывут, полагаясь на свои собственные силы, никогда не смогут узнать исцеляющей и восстанавливающей силы Христа. Настоящая слабость состоит в том, что вы не обращаете внимания на урон и стресс, который обрушился на вас.

В то время, как мы возвращаемся к бурям нашей жизни, Он хочет, чтобы мы были исполнены Его Духом, Его присутствием, и находили радость в Его силе.

Я благодарен за то, что могу прийти к Богу, который знает все, который заботится обо мне и стремится к тому, чтобы снять груз с моего сердца.

Он мой тайный портовый город, мои ресурсы я получаю даром, и в любое время я могу прийти туда и обрести покой.

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Lit Worship Recap

What an incredible night!  Final count, 1280 (mostly youth) showed up to worship Christ in the center of Minsk this past weekend.  Only 860 were allowed in, max seating capacity in the Philharmonic.

The evening started with Collins and Angela opening up with an acoustic set.  Beautiful to hear the voices echo in this historic place.  Then, Sergei and Taras (500km runner) shared for a few minutes, welcoming everyone and reading the Prodigal Son parable from the book of Luke – in commemoration of the 500yr anniversary of the Belorussian Bible.  These were incredible moments.

Yan and the XDH crew led the main time.  It’s hard to put into words.  Even the short video (from my iphone, more coming from better camera soon), doesn’t do justice to the sense of awe, unity, and faith encouragement that took place.

I got messages from Ukraine over the next 24hrs how LIT literally ‘lit up’ social media in Russian speaking world.  So cool to scroll through and see the many photos and comments from this generation – they are thirsty for God’s reality.  Many commented on how amazing this could be done in the center of their city.

My favorite comment was from the ‘grandmothers’ that work at the Philharmonic – they were greatly impressed with the audience of young people, and said how polite and respectful everyone was.  An important testimony.

You can look at more pictures and coming video over at www.litworship.com if you’d like.  Our prayer is that God would open up doors in Russia next, we’re praying about St. Petersburg as a location for Lit Russia.  We don’t have the resources for this yet, contact us if you’d like to help see more worship in more places – Let’s do this!

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