•  to rest
  • to surrender
  • to receive
  • to trust

We just returned from a week, a full week of uninterrupted time with Deb and Jesus. We went to sunny Egypt. Found direct flight from Kiev, on our first charter flight for $300. It took three days to truly remember how to detach and enter true rest of body and soul. 

Physical rest is the easy part. Spiritual rest is a bit more tricky. For that, we need a vision of Christ as sabbath, of death to striving, and life in Him. I’m thankful for the refreshing nature of God, He makes old things new, and restores our soul.

Upon returning, I’ve got a clearer pathway for Lighthouse moving into the winter. Specifically, of creating space for our staff together under more intentional discipleship. I’ve made some staffing changes, and God has brought some new hearts as well. Nobody likes change, we like our rhythms and routines. That noise you hear is some of our staff groaning as we strip away the comforts that keep us from growing, and the light of Christ starting to shine on hearts that need it. We all need to be uncomfortable, it’s the place of growth particularly in relationships.  It’s the leaders role, I’m learning, to allow others to be uncomfortable when necessary as it relates to their growth, but still intentionally communicating love, and acceptance not based on perfection, but willingness to continue in the light of God’s pruning rays.

I’m trying to finish my final paper for the year at Fuller. Still plenty of semesters ahead on this journey on my MA, but really looking forward to this Christmas break – to set down books, to receive back Brownyn and Broderic from America and be present. 

Rattling around in my heart is a needed trip to Slavyansk, Ukraine. It’s closer to Donetsk, and a region that was devistated by the war initially with Russia, and continues to struggle to get back on it’s feet. We have partners in this area for worship, widows ministry and now a potential Cafe platform. The timing, and unrelated connections that have come together point to God’s sovereign design. I’m unsure of our families role specifically right now beyond walking by faith, and being available for the Kingdom’s influence in this region. Please pray with us about that!  It’s quite far away, and an overnight train, much closer to the problem areas, compared to our comfortable region near Kiev.

We have teams planning some widows expansion trips to partners in both Ukraine and Belarus. With this Russia issue currently in the Azov sea, it makes working there a bit more tricky.  I haven’t blogged in several weeks and I’m realizing as I type just how poor of a job I’ve done documenting what God is doing in and around us in this season. I feel less of a need to detail things, or even promote – We have legit needs, but God knows them, and He knows my limitations.  I’m focusing more on people, hearts, community and team development – and also 2019 prayer, direction with our Mir crew of about 15-20 right now. As we go deeper in community and personal formation in Christ, may God’s mission naturally extend through us, and whatever resources we need may the King provide – He has plenty! I’m thankful some more people are helping us communicate and in a week or so we do plan an end of the year promotion to help communicate our needs, and thankful we have a matching pledge coming!

Kids are sweet, healthy. It’s dark and snowy, fire is on, warm house. Thanks for checking in.

Bruce & Deb

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Lit Minsk Recap

+750 gathered November 17, 2018 at the State Philharmonic – our 2nd Lit Worship in Minsk!
100’s of youth from around Minsk in one public place is a rare event for believers, they look forward to this all year! 
Such energy in and around the building on the night of Lit. 
Some powerful declaration that Christ is King over Belarus, led by some incredible young talent from Belarus, Ukraine and US. 
On two occasions the event was close to being cancelled.  Even during the actual worship and prayer managers came close to pulling the plug as it’s officially illegal to do in public without specific permission. God protected and allowed this night to take place! 
Mir sponsored the event, and we thank all who prayed for us! The team in Belarus did a great job organizing and creating space for the Holy Spirit. It was like fresh oxygen in the hearts of the next generation.
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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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