YWAM Russia Conference

I have been asked to speak at the upcoming Annual Conference for YWAM Russia this April 16-20, 2018 in Vladivostok, far east Russia.

I would really love for Deb to join me, but it will cost an extra $830.  I’m already scrambling to fund my own flight.

I looked into sending her by train, it’s only $400, but would take an astounding 14 days of travel.  Sounds like a dream to Deb, isolated with tea and books… but no.

This will be my third trip to Vlad.  Deb has yet to join me. We have several friends that would love to see her as well.

Bronwyn reluctantly offers her last hrvnya (est value $0.04)

We have a week to get her ticket, if she’s to come.  If you’d like to contribute towards it, click here

Thank you for considering!

Please pray for me regardless, for the conference teaching times, the worship, safety of the missionaries traveling from all corners.

Bruce & Deb

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InterVarsity Mission Week

Yulia is the director of CCX Ukraine and has served with them for 11 years. She came to Christ through this ministry. It was cool to meet up for lunch!

This coming week in Kiev there will be 4 days of on campus discussion and teaching related to the Gospel.  The theme is ‘Myth Busters’ and incoming speakers will share on common misconceptions of Christianity.

Our YFM team will be connecting and serving, and possibly playing at some evening Cafe outreaches.

As many of you know, we worked with Katya and CCX Belarus, which is unofficially serving students.  It’s much harder to do public events and outreach in Belarus compared to Ukraine.  Ukraine for example, has 28 full time staff/missionaries, Belarus only a couple.   In Russia, once had dozens of staff is down to only 8 as the government clamps down on western influence.

Pray for CCX/InterVarsity, they bring solid evangelical teaching, apologetic and relevant opportunities directly to the next generation on the campuses here.

Bruce & Deb

 

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Why Kiev and Why Now?

It was one of those milestone type events.  For some, a group of new and old friends gathering for dinner.  For me, the beginning of some visible, significant Kingdom synergy.

A shared space, with common vision.  So many gifted, and energetic leaders emerging.  The physical ‘space’ we desire represents a no-less real spiritual ‘space’ opening up before us in Ukraine.

As a collective set of ministries, we represent a wide range of experience and expertise in areas of evangelism and discipleship.  With our connections outside of Ukraine as well, we’re able to, we believe, draw in potential resources together and make this a reality.

There are more partners to come, and some couldn’t make the dinner.  It was nonetheless a wonderfully encouraging time and as one leader said, “I don’t even know some of you, and it’s like I’ve known you all for years.”

It’s difficult to describe the complexity of Ukraine right now.  From my perspective, in light of our desire for a new platform in the capital, I’d like to try.

I feel it’s important for the western Church to grasp the opportunity in Ukraine.

The culture is experiencing, I believe, something very unique in it’s recent history. There was the initial fall of communism in the early 90’s. Ukraine, like all Soviet-block countries experienced an almost immediate breakdown of systems and services.  Some countries stabilized better then others. Countries like Poland & Latvia began to develop fairly quickly, seeing fruitful results economically, politically, and socially rather quickly.

We gathered first for a time of food and fellowship.

Others, like Belarus, immediately incubated themselves from sweeping changes and maintained a socialistic iron fist.  Russia, the enigma that it is, seemed to open up for a season, only to regroup and lock down.

Ukraine however, has continuously been leveraged against, hampered and kept from it’s potential.  Through forced dependence on natural resources, antiquated laws which deterred serious foreign investment, and puppet regimes, Ukraine has continued in an endless state of instability.  I believe instability was by design, the end game ultimately as displayed with the continuous fighting in the East.

A strong united Ukraine, in any regard, is a serious threat to suppressed people.  I believe the greatest fear of the closed countries next door is the embedded ideologies in Christendom, basically this;

There is a Creator and ultimate authority.  His values displayed in Jesus are humanities ultimate rule.

For the first time in our 10yr journey, we sense hope in this emerging crop of youth. For one, they recognize the world has changed. That they are part of a global youth culture, without borders.  The struggles are real, but so are the opportunities.

Our Bible College interns on their 2nd month in Ukraine, visiting with Peter and I.

 

 

In an unstable environment, we look for anchors to hold us secure.  For Ukraine, the next generation is starting to believe God not only exists, but knows and cares.

This is a powerful combination.  The good news mixed with faith.

As I type, 170 youth are gathering in Kiev for 5 days for a conference on impacting their culture for Christ.  Some of my own kids are there, as well as our YFM team.  There’s one thing you can’t say about Ukrainian new believers – that they are apathetic.  They will launch themselves en mass into the streets of Kiev this Saturday, to declare Jesus in all sorts of creative forms.

They can do this, without fear.  They will be rejected by individuals, but they will also be received.  They don’t  however fear police, cameras or government agents – it’s their country, it’s their generation. This cannot be understated the boldness rising up among next generation youth in Ukraine.

For the first time in generations, Christianity can breath on the streets of Ukraine.

Believers here who’s parents only knew incubation and fear, are exploring fresh and innovative ways to communicate and share the eternal unchanging message of hope in Jesus. They are, as a whole, uninterested in riches of this world, partly because those riches with their temptations are so far out of reach.  They aim for higher things, like meaning and purpose. They are content with so little, yet can do so much with what they have.

They don’t need huge budgets to pull of impact events.  They ‘get’ their generation is looking for answers, and personal connections are currency.

Side note and sort of off topic – really well done artist animation of the ‘rat race’ on the opposite extremes of capitalism, we showed our youth last week and sparked some interesting discussions:

Back to Ukraine.

Older, established western funded mission organizations would be wise to recognize a major shift in the Russian speaking world.  I’d encourage them to recognizing that something even more legitimate and potentially lasting than the fall of communism – an indigenous church is rising up – and it’s not content with impacting inside it’s borders.

Already, we’re seeing Ukrainian young adults venture into other countries as short term missionaries.  They are landing in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Poland, Brazil, even the US!

The challenge for our generation as existing leaders is to lay down foundations of life giving theology, teaching from scripture the things that will sustain them for life.

They are so energetic, sprinting in evangelism they haven’t the tools or perspectives to run effectively the marathon of life.  This goes for their leaders as well who are often only a few years ahead of them and just as green.

Many youth are lacking concepts of biblical marriage, family, work, and managing of money.  Most still live with their parents, as the economy around them is unable to support independence.

We have, I believe, an opportunity and mandate as the family of God to share our resources, to fuel where the Gospel is flourishing.

We can’t do this without significant financial help. We need more church partners, businesses, those that God has blessed with resources to impact for Christ.

When I talk about a new creative platform in Kiev, please realize we aren’t speaking about a fun place, or even a place that already exists.

There’s nothing like this in Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus.  We believe it could be a model to take into these countries however, so we are proceeding with great faith, and believing God for great things.

To  jump in and donate (all giving is tax deductible) please visit our US Charity HERE.

Bruce & Deb

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Greatest in the Kingdom

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, Jesus began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”  But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. [Mark 9:33-34]

Jesus and His disciples walked a lot.  We can imagine the stories, laughter, arguments, and silent pondering as His motley crew worked their way around the countryside.  This particular journey was marked by a question that made it’s way into Holy Scripture.

“What were you guys arguing about back there?”

Silence.

Motivations brought to light through a simple, disarmingly penetrating question. This is Jesus style.

When people openly attack, or criticize us, our natural defense mechanisms kick into place.  We put up walls, we guard, and often lash back.  Unlike direct statements, questions have a powerful way sneaking around our defenses, and allowing us to consider alternative truths.  The right question can stick with us for days as we chew on the heart of the issue.

Jesus question arrested the disciples.  Silence. Crickets.

The funny thing is that Jesus knew the answer already.  He knows the hearts of men, he knew the hearts of the religious before they asked their questions & there’s nothing to suggest He was oblivious to their prideful speculations.

“Which one of us is most awesome?”

Surely they were anticipating an earthly Kingdom, and vying for positions at the top of the food chain. Their concepts of authority, of recognition, of power, respect, all earthly in nature.  God’s new Kingdom was being revealed before their eyes, they hadn’t quite gotten it yet.

I love that Jesus doesn’t light into them, rebuke and directly shame.  You wouldn’t blame Him for something like, “You guys are so selfish, you seek your own, you love yourselves, how can I work with this?  I’m outta here – Earth to Father, beam me up.”

What y’all talking about back there?

Ouch.  Silence.  Conviction.

Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” 

I don’t think Jesus is directing a natural, good desire to be ‘first’.  I think He’s striking at the very desire in the first place.

Think about it.  Is there such a virtue as trying to be the BEST servant?

Many a church leader will encourage folks to serve, to stack chairs, to clean toilets and not seek the limelight because in the economy of the Kingdom, the less recognition the higher the pay grade.  Folks can end up, as a result, striving to be the best chair stacker, or recognized as the most spiritual servant.  The end result may be more folks ‘serving’ the danger is still pride.

We’re not commanded to compete, we’re commanded to love.

Trying to be the best, even in something as virtuous as serving someone or thing, defeats the goal of love.  Love is not striving for attention, love is free from ‘needing’ a response or recognition.

Love is the end, it’s a verb culminating in itself.

I’ve been thinking about what Jesus is really saying here.  Yes, we can certainly see the Kingdom is upside down from this world, that serving is more valuable than being served.

However, if our motivation is to be the best, or even better than anyone at anything, we’ve missed the Kingdom motivation of love.  This goes for being the ‘best church’ or ‘best ministry.’

Love does not seek it’s own.

As we love God, and serve one another, let it end with that. There’s nothing greater than being like Christ who gave Himself up for us.

If you are determined to be great, go ahead and wash the feet of your brother or sister, silently serve behind the scenes without recognition.  Just remember, if you are desiring greatness, you are already in fact last!

Jesus came not to be served but to serve.  As love, He has no rivals.  Let us love like Christ, and spend our energies on knowing Him more intimately, and sharing Him more effectively – together.

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Not an animal.

The following is an excerpt from our email update this week. To subscribe to our updates please email me at bruce@liftupyoureyes.org


Incredible testimony shared on the delivering power and love of God!

He spent years continually intoxicated.

This is nothing extra-ordinary in Ukraine. According to the World Health Organization, Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus each rank globally in the top 5% of most inebriated countries.

To put that into perspective, by age 15, well over 90% of the population has begun drinking.

The average amount consumed per year, per person of ‘pure alcohol’ is 17 liters in Belarus! That’s close to 200 bottles of wine or 1,500 shots of vodka, per person, per year!

One in three men drink ‘heavily’ at least 4 times per week, and it starts between 12-15yrs old on average.

 

This past Sunday we visited another new church in Kiev called, “Eagles Church.” It’s two years old. There are so many new ministries & youthful churches popping up.

Ironically, the church meets in a popular night club.

During worship, I saw this one guy dancing away to the side. I did wonder for a moment if he was a little too happy if you know what I mean. In a major city, you never know what guests you’ll have come to your event.

As it turned out, this young man was on tap for giving his testimony before the sermon. As he began to speak, you could tell immediately he was not only sober, but a man who had been filled with living water.

What struck me, and moves me even now as I type, is that for an entire year he said he heard this ‘voice’ repeating in his heart and mind:

“You are not an animal”

The distinct voice of the Holy Spirit! The clarion call weaving it’s way through the myriad of condemnation and pain.

You are not a wild beast, but a man.

Whatever vice we find ourselves in, it kills our joy, robs our judgment and makes us so much less that what God intended. These words whispered hope, broke his chains and ushered in the miracle of new life in Jesus.

He’s now completely free of his addiction, found the love of his life in church and living as God designed him.  He has reason to dance.

This is what God is doing in Ukraine.

God is overpowering the destructive ‘template’ of post-soviet Ukraine. God, not the schemes of men, is rallying churches, partners, businesses, and even fashion designers to turn their creative tools into weapons, bringing Christ’s Kingdom to their generation.

God has put incredible favor on our growing team.  We are hosting a dinner on March 6th with the Ukraine leaders from:

YWAM
Steiger
Hope for OrphansOM
Lighthouse
XDH Minsk and more.

Our purpose? To unite in prayer, and dedicate this new work to Christ.

Pray for us! I believe what we are embarking on is a generational work.  We don’t as of yet have the financial resources, but we are excited and believing God will provide in the right timing.

There is legit excitement among partners who’ve yet to work together before; to be more visible in Kiev, to take full advantage of this post revolution freedom.

He’s calling us to assemble as one body, one army, and to disciple this generation in Ukraine.

Friends near Black Sea in Ukraine hosting worship for +1000 youth the day we returned from Russia. They are asking for financial help to continue renting places for more worship.  Much of the religious community in Ukraine doesn’t want to touch this emergence. We must encourage it!

Mir Ministries, the charity we are serving with, has again the humble opportunity to fuel significant Kingdom growth in the Russian & Ukrainian speaking world.

I’m so confident & enthused by this.

Cool meeting this week, unplanned (by us) with Valera (Steiger) and fashion designers Max and Margarita (Komashnya).  Increased Kiev outreach and platforms growing that touch culture – salt and light vs incubated religion.

It’s why He’s furnished us with the wisdom of partners and resources beyond our own abilities – to pool together and put a dent in this wicked kingdom of darkness.

We are starting a base in Kiev.
This Mir base will launch serious mission to the Russian world.
Join us!

For more information about our mission to the Russian & Ukrainian speaking world, and to give, visit our Charity website – click here.

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