Debriefing our US Tour

Always love visiting Life Center in Harrisburg, PA – we left Bronwyn there!

Well, we’re back in Canada and the dust is beginning to settle from our whirlwind extravaganza.  So many things in my heart to share, but I fear I’ll lose most of you if I start to ramble.  My wife says I ramble.

We rambled from Toronto down to Memphis on our first leg.  Stopping in to visit our long time friend Chris Bennett and his cool family who pastor Renewal Church.  I always enjoy the fellowship, rich with practical theology, politics and the state of the American church.  I’m excited to have Chris come and share to our YFM Missions program in Minsk this fall!

Bennett family in Memphis, always encouraged and fed well 🙂  Chris will be teaching at YFM this fall!

Speaking of America and politics, this became a theme throughout our trip around the US.  So much fraction and division, more than I recall in my 15yr tenure in Texas – it seems the media has thrown in the towel on objective reporting.  The results have swept into churches, and thru social media revealed and promoted those divisions of thought.   Many, many churches and ministries are struggling, which I don’t think is a bad thing.

In struggle folks cry out to God, and the muscles of faith get a decent work out in times of difficulty.  

From Seattle to Memphis, from Texas to Pennsylvania, God’s people are digging in, shaking themselves from the clothing of political parties and asking really good questions.  Join the cause – step 1, turn off your TV networks 🙂

I’m rambling.

Merging our Crossroads and MIR worlds – these folks help champion mission work.

TEXAS – we enjoyed 3 worship gatherings with our home sending church Crossroads.  We stayed at Bo & Beth Boldings who have been and continue to be a steadfast support for our family and mission.

Collins joined us in Texas for a really cool weekend of worship. He’s now coming to YFM too!

We were blessed by the Strahan family who offered at no cost the use of their new Vineyard & Reception Barn (really nice!) for our main worship night among supporters.  God touched several hearts, including our own as we worshiped, led by Collins who flew down to lead us.

It was a neat time of renewal in many hearts as we gave space for the Holy Spirit, much like we do in Ukraine – God never disappointing when we carve out time for Him, especially in group setting like this.  Worship is never a bad decision!

Aaron and Amanda are stepping out in faith and seeing God work – we will see them soon too in Ukraine 🙂

We not only visited with old friends, but even really old friends from CFNI days as our friends the Renfro’s came for the weekend.  They are praying about possible opportunities to do missions work in Armenia.  There were several families and individuals that expressed Holy Spirit encouragement in the area of full time foreign missions work, it was cool to listen and pray with so many!

Sunday I was able to share to the church, and bring out whole crew up on stage for a bit.  I’m amazed each trip back how quickly families grow up.  I wanted them to see the full impact of our own crew these past 9yrs.  Jan was also able to share for a few minutes, did a great job too!  Our hearts desire was to fuse our families world with the Brunk’s historical supporters and family.  Seattle and Texas visits really merged our worlds in some meaningful ways – thank you Jesus!

Monday evening the Bolding’s hosted a dinner for some more supporters, a mix of Crossroads leaders and MIR board member/advisors.  We had a wonderful time of worship.  Jan likes to say that she’s a worship junkie, I tend to think the team God is assembling are not only junkies, but suppliers and dealers.  Everything changes when the Holy Spirit shows up, His presence is our gift.  We want Jesus to empower everything, from our decisions to our gatherings.   One night in Texas God was stirring in my heart all night.  I awoke with in my head and heart – “Without the Holy Spirit, we have no ministry.”

Pithy is not happening in this update, sorry Deb.

Good News!

We received during our travels, an incredible surprise in a matching $15k pledge for MIR.  The donor gave us one month to raise the other $15k, and it was designated towards our new operational budget, which means helping our family in the fall, visas, travel for our staff and several other existing ministry costs.  We had been till this point operating by faith, casting vision and trusting the Lord.  This is such a huge thing for us.

Deb with her brother Deryk. Deryk & Anastasia are a big reason YFM is launching this fall.

Within a week, without even the time to tell folks via our blog or email about this, we had already raised $12,500, with just 2 gifts!  Then, during the past 3 days, the remaining came in, and more!  So we’re heading into this coming year with budget to execute many of the projects and new vision on our hearts.

Just 2 months ago, we were analyzing the closure of both the charity and the liquidation of the property & potentially the Bible College in Minsk.  God has shown us He is not interested in that happening.. He’s making it clear that as we fuel worship, discipleship among the emerging church in the Russian speaking world, He will fuel His mission.  Cool.

Harrisburg, PA – We wrapped up our US weekends at Life Center.  The first YWAM team that served with us 3 yrs ago is from this hub of spiritual life.  When we first swung thru this area back then, our hearts were very heavy from challenges in Ukraine and a feeling of lostness in our mission – the timing of meeting with Pastor Charles and Anne Stock was a monumental encouragement.  This time thru we were excited to share the story of what God is doing in our lives, and were given the stage, literally at both services.

Claire and Abbey were digging worship this Sunday afternoon in PA.

While there our friends the Myers family helped us host a (wait for it…) worship time and gathering for any interested in YFM – and we got our first 2 students!  I should say, Bronwyn has been really effective in helping us communicate the new school, and connect with the younger generation.  She’s a natural recruiter.

Speaking of Bronwyn, she’ also going to be a student at YFM, and we’re up to 3 English speaking students, the first internationals coming to Belarus!  We are praying for 5-6, and looking for an incoming class of 15-20.  Getting sidetracked.

Bronwyn was offered a job and place to stay right beside Life Center!  She will be working with the church as well and staying for the summer, saving up money and visiting her *cough* boyfriend as well who lives just 45 minutes East.  God loves that girl, and her daddy is having a rather challenging time letting go… sing it with me..

Jeremy & Lidi from band Heroic Nation. If you are from the County, you will recognize the red barn across from my parents. Jeremy is going to teach at YFM this fall on filmography & media!

We raced back to Prince Edward County to meet our friends Jeremy and Lidy from the Band Heroic Nation… if you read our blog at all, you’ll know these guys were part of our huge event last month in Rzhyschiv.  We became fast friends in Ukraine, and just so happened they were touring in Montreal so we planned a quick visit and … wait for it… worship night here in Picton.  We hosted it at my brother Trevor’s renovated barn – we just used facebook, we didn’t know if 5 or 50 would come – it’s not the most open area to the Gospel.  We did however have a really cool night, around 30 ended up there, and several received prayer and encouragement – many struggling, I felt strongly to share the Gospel and the nature of God in Christ.

For many who reject God, they are rejecting a false idea, a misrepresentation of God.

To get the clearest reflection of who God truly is, we must allow Him to identify Himself.  He came in Jesus, He is the reflection, no other.  If we mean to reject God properly, we must understand and reject the person of Jesus.  Anything else is simply a rejection of a false idea, a false god.

Our mission, not just as a family but as the church, is to correct the assumptions.  We bring Jesus to light, we point hearts of men to One who incarnated Himself, dramatized the person of God before the world, then died for it, hanging on a tree.  Reject Him, but don’t dare misrepresent Him!

Thankful for these two role models in life and ministry – Charles & Ann Stock of Life Center Church.

We are now excited to rest for a few days.  We begin next week working on academic course material, budgets and all the fund stuff associated with starting a new college missions course.  Deb will be flying down with Claire and Abigail to see her parents in Florida in a couple weeks, then we will be aiming our sights back to Ukraine and Belarus middle of June.

So much more I want to share!  We have World Challenge coming to see our Widows ministry in August.  We have the founding lead guitarist of the band Skillet coming to Minsk to tour our facility in July to talk with us about their music college www.visible.edu – It’s sounds astoundingly close to the desires on our teams heart.

Our quickest stop, but so cool to catch Matt Mason for a quick catch up – still working on him teaching at YFM! 🙂

We have a pathway to forge for planting new Cafes in Russian speaking world.  We have investors willing to walk with us through it, and need wisdom and timing.  So many families, at least 3 very serious families with history in Coffee and business are excited to journey with us at some level in planting these conduits of community and mission.

Thankful to be in Canada for a few weeks, enjoying family, and praying for the Lord to continue leading.  He loves the generation emerging in Ukraine and Belarus, we feel it, we want to champion them, get behind them, help them reach their generation for Christ!

Rambling complete.  Press into Jesus folks, He’s alive, He loves you and knows your needs.  Let me finish with this really good quote along those lines… because the ‘answer’ to those needs doesn’t always feel great, but is great.

“Jesus always gives his gifts in a way in which His glory is best promoted, and our eternal interest secured.” 

Bruce & Deb

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BC & Seattle

Last week we left the 4 youngest with my parents for the week, and boarded a plane for British Columbia.  Our visit to Canada’s furthermost western Province was a double blessing as we caught up with family and saw the most incredible views (when the sun was out).

We’ve since driven to Victoria, BC, hopped on a 3hr fast ferry to Seattle, and have been spending time with our new friends.

The church at Lake Samm is in Bellevue, the birthplace of Microsoft.  It’s pastored by Curt Brunk, the brother of Dave Brunk, founder of Christ for the Nations in Minsk and the ministries we are helping to lead.

Jan Brunk, Dave’s wife also lives here now and is surrounded by an army of servants, caring and missional families.  On Saturday evening all of the Brunk kids (in their 20’s) flew and drove in to meet for a special gathering with our family.  It marked the 2yr anniversary of Dave’s passing.  Our kids were able to meet and hear some stories of the Brunk kids, who have experienced a lot of the same upbringing culturally.

We’ve been hosted by a sweet family, the Lee’s, who have given us their Honda Van for our running about the Seattle area, as well as feeding us like kings.  Also so encouraged to meet some of the Brunk’s closest of friends, supporters and family.  There’s a real sense here that our merciful God has connected our families, for the purpose of pushing ahead, not losing ground, and fueling the work of the Kingdom in the former Soviet Union.

Finding a community with this sort of history and respect for pioneering movements is humbling, exciting, sobering – Jesus is at work, His heart advancing through His people.

Thank you Kesia Lee for the great Photo!

It’s becoming clearer.  We are called, as a ministry and family, to connect and fuel mission.  To champion and encourage others with vision and humility to see Jesus touch hearts.

We have been blessed and challenged by a legacy donor a few days ago with a matching $15k gift.  This means that if we can raise $15k (by June 1), we will have infused, or rather God will have infused, $30k towards logistical needs for MIR – of which are many!

The cool news, is that today a generous family donated $5k towards this matching pledge.  So without even telling anyone about this pledge yet, we only need $10k before June 1.

This will be a significant help this coming year with all the projects and needs before us – please pray for this!

If you’d like to help us towards this matching pledge, please click here!
*all gifts are tax deductible.

At Lake Samm, the church took an offering to sponsor the upcoming new (and original) Worship Album that Yan and the guys are producing in Minsk.  If you read our blog, you know how excited we are about this project and looking forward to making it available across social media and engaging the youth with some powerful new music.   If you’d like to help fund the outreach / concert phase of this, you can visit the MIR site for more info.

We also have our first couple potential students for YFM, Bronywn manned the table in the foyer with bracelets and stickers.  We met some fellow CFN graduates and also YWAM folk as well.

Friday night, at 10pm, in the main sanctuary, there was a youth gathering of Russian speaking youth gathering for worship and prayer.  It was incredible.  To walk in from the street, outside Seattle of all places, and to walk into the presence of God, the same presence we feel and experience 1000’s of miles away in Ukraine and Russia.  I thought to myself, “How many english speaking youth are gathered on a Friday evening from 10p-12a for meeting with Jesus?”  God is raising up this generation, I’m telling you, it’s something legitimate.  We felt at home in that moment, like a fish back in the water – these are the people God has called us to serve.

Tomorrow we meet with a cool family that has been to Kiev and already looked into possibilities of starting a Coffee Shop/Restaurant in the past.

We’re also meeting with the Charity accountant who’s also a family friend of the Brunks.   I’m enjoying not only meeting incredible personalities and people that love Jesus, but also have a tremendous amount of practicality and wisdom.

Bronwyn led an English/Russian worship song at the end of our luncheon – sweet!

We fly out Tuesday to Toronto, grab our 4 littles, and start our 2 day driving trek to Texas for our next weekend.  We are stopping at Memphis to see our good friends who we miss – and hope to also see a few more folks along the way!

Thanks for checking in, praying for us and the work of the Kingdom in the Russian speaking world!

Bruce & Deb

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Arrived in Canada!

So we’re re-packing, adjusting to time-zone, and getting ready to begin the first leg of our family tour.  The kids are absolutely loving Nana’s house with the large backyard wonderland and perfect weather!

We still haven’t seen Broderic, he’s 3hrs north in Ottawa and set to graduate from his course at Augustine College tomorrow.   We can’t wait to re-unite our family, first time in 16 months.

Tucker designed the #YFMGO logo 🙂

We are launching officially our new MIR website on Monday, May 1st, as well as kicking off our social media campaign for the new YFM – Year for Missions course in Minsk.   Youth can get a sneak peak at yfmgo.org!

We have rubber bracelets, stickers, t-shirts to give away during our trip to prospective youth along the way – in an effort to raise awareness of what God is doing in our world, and the new opportunities for youth to be trained for missional living in a very unique setting overseas (in Minsk, Belarus).

We have lots of stickers, just ask for some!

I’m really excited about how we’re approaching this new program.  It’s designed by missionaries, for the type of culturally relevant ministries that are hungry to receive laborers, even crying out to God for them.

The course will not be for the faint of heart, or western individual thinking it will be a cool Jesus adventure.  It will strike to the heart of the Gospel, it’s simplicity, and brutal transparency.  We want to raise up a generation that is gripped by the grace of God, compelled intellectually and emotionally to care because they dwell in the love of God themselves.

We’re excited to announce that in Texas, Collins ODwyer will be flying in to lead us in worship.  Will be cool to see Collins again and believe God will use him in our times with our sending church and MIR legacy supporters and friends.   Several Dallas, Austin and San Antonio friends are planning to make the trek to Longview as well.  Cool!

We are currently looking at options for Yan, the worship leader in Minsk at the church/school to fly to Harrisburg and join us for the weekend there.  I have felt the Lord push me on this, to make the steps for it, that He wants to connect hearts and expand the Kingdom through some connections there at Life Center and through worship.  Yan is in studio the past two weeks as we have (MIR) sponsored the production of his first worship album in Russian – we are entirely excited, I know the Lord is going to greatly use this tool.

Thanks for checking in – We just heard that 20 Steiger youth leaders are headed to our place in Rz tomorrow for a 2 day retreat.  May God refresh and encourage them and our Lighthouse team continue to serve without us well!

Bruce & Deb

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Preparing to Launch.. Ourselves!

Some of the youth of Club 180 that meet regularly at the Cafe, studying the Gospel of John, the life of Christ – Pray for Vova (red shirt) as he leads the next 2 months, and these amazing young hearts.

Ready or not.. here we come!

In less than 5 days, our family will embark on a 2 month journey around the US and Canada!  We are busy cleaning, packing (well at least the suitcases are out), and tending to various ministries for our departure.  This the only the 2nd time in 10 years we’ve all journey together to the US – and we are hungry!

Quick update on Lighthouse.

The Cafe is enjoying a spring ‘bump’ in business as folks are out in their gardens, getting supplies downtown, and more students are generally outdoors.  The park is open but without grass so the kids mostly playing on the half-pipe (creating all sorts of games with it).

The economy is still in really rough shape though, and we all feel it at some level.  The average salary for our area is down under $200 US per month and those with jobs all feel very fortunate. As the ministry side flourishes, the business side is still rather terrible, but God is providing.

We continue to feed +35 widows and visit them each month.  Our youth continues to occupy the 2nd floor with music lessons daily, Club 180, and a mix of many other things through the week.

Our forest next to the house is a sanctuary for me, especially in the spring. When burdens mount, I meet the One who takes them in this place.

Our younger kids are ultra excited for the trip, especially those in Ukrainian school who get to leave a month early!

Bronwyn and Broderic, our two eldest haven’t seen one another for 16 months, it’s been neat to see their anticipation growing for the reunion.  Broderic will be graduating from the apologetics and church history course in Ottawa, Canada – we arrive a couple days before it and hope to go.

After his graduation on the 29th of this month, the next day we fly to British Columbia to visit my sister’s family.  It works out really well because they are just a few hours north of Seattle where our first ‘weekend’ will be with MIR Ministries as we share to a founding church and begin our ‘tour’.

US Family Tour – May 1-22

Lock your doors… here we come!

Our ‘tour’ will take us from Seattle (May 5-8), back to Toronto where we drive down to Longview, Texas (May 12-16), then back up to Harrisburg, PA (May 20-22) before we complete our month of travel and connections back up in my hometown of Picton, Ontario, Canada for a couple weeks of rest Lord willing.

We also intend on trying to fly Deb and a couple kids out to her parents somehow who are currently in Florida.  Neil is still recovering from surgery and unable to travel like they had hoped.  We’re also praying we can connect with some ministry partners in Minnesota in early June.

I detail the above in hopes that some of you who are in areas we mentioned will make an effort to come see us.  Our ultimate desire during this trip is to re-connect with hearts, to encourage, and allow God to work as He desires.  We would love to tell the story of what God is doing in the Russian speaking world with anyone who is interested, we would love to hear what He is doing in your life too.  So give us a shout and try to connect!

We are already receiving emails from friends who feel a burden growing to plant a Coffee Shop, to get their churches involved, to join what God is doing over here – it’s really cool.  As we direct MIR as a US Charity, we now have the means to bring in other missionaries, to grow a team and platform for others to connect to their mission.  It’s so cool to see friends step onto the water in faith and begin to say, “Yes” to whatever God has.

New International Missions Program!

We are about to launch some new ministry plans that are daunting, but exciting.  One is a new missions program in Minsk starting this fall.  We have been busy planning the logistics, the course curriculum, and media development for recruitment.

We have a new website, some video, social media and some goodies to spread around the US/Canada among youth – here we come!   Look for it May 1 as we launch – please pray for us and the new missions program called, ‘YFM – Year for Missions’

We’ll be targeted both English and Russian speaking world, which makes creating the content more tricky, as well as many political hurdles but we are moving ahead by faith to pioneer a new form of discipleship in our part of the world.

I’m most excited about a few of our own youth who have begun to walk with God, that this course would be a huge blessing to their spiritual growth – but we’ll need sponsors from the West as none of them have more than a few bucks to their name, neither do their parents.  Amazing investment opportunities for the Kingdom.

Vikente recording drums for new Worship Album this week!

We’re also sponsoring a new Worship Project in Russian, the guys are in studio this week – it’s going to be amazing and I believe truly impact the youth in the Russian speaking world.  It will launch as well online and in iTunes, and we hope to raise some fund for taking the team on tour this summer as we use this vehicle to promote YFM and attract students.

The school by the way is for all nations, not just Russian speaking – so if you know someone 17-25 age range with a missional heart, help us tell the news once you see it come online!

We are currently fundraising for help sponsoring the band to go on outreach this summer around Belarus and Ukraine – we are partnering with Steiger Worship Ukraine, and need around $2,000 for the team to travel, do 4-5 concerts and reach 300-500 youth if you’d like to contribute.  Outside our trip/personal costs to visit churches, it’s probably our most pressing financial need for ministry – visit www.mirministries.org (the donation system is live, you’ll see ‘worship’ as a category and all giving is tax deductible).

Please pray with us?

  1. Jesus watch over Lighthouse Cafe, our students, leaders in place.  Guide and grow the fruit that you have made, and provide for all their needs!
  2. Jesus watch over our properties, our home, vehicles, all that you have blessed us with.
  3. Jesus keep us in health as we travel, grace us with joy, patience, love.  Let us be salt and light everywhere we go, to see you, to be bold, humble, and walk through every door you provide.
  4. Provide for us as we travel, housing, gas, food, and fuel your mission for the awakening we are experiencing in the Russian speaking world.  Connect us to your Kingdom, the people, the callings, the resources.

Meet Zhenya, he’s from Kiev, serves with Steiger youth ministry and is a humble, gifted musically young man. He and several others are joining us this July as we host our 2nd Intern program.

Thank you everyone for your love and support… look for the launch of the new MIR Website May 1, the launch of the new YFM Missions Course, the new Worship Album – and look for us, we’re coming for you!

We’ll be contacting our Texas friends for more information on a dinner and weekend plans – we so look forward to that!

If you’d like to donate and support us for our trip, please click here. 

With Love,

Bruce & Deb

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Worship Nights – Video Promo

One of the most anticipated events in the area for young believers especially, is our monthly worship nights.  It’s become a mixture of area youth groups from other villages, and our own Club180 youth, any of whom are still taking small steps of faith in Christ.

This video, by our friend Ivan, captures some of the spirit of the evenings. Thank you Steiger Ukraine for leading us in worship and for coming all the way from Kiev and other distant locations!

 

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