Our 2nd week is now underway for Awaken 2015. We had a great turnout for the initial classes late week, with over 50 students and 90 actual sign ups. Most of the workshops will be hosted on our 2nd floor during 3-5pm, however a few will be held remote (photography) as well as at the town’s cultural building.
Today the students came back and filled the 2nd floor en mass. Our heart is to give, to love on these students. We’re not trying to get them into church services or more Christian activities. We want to value them and pour into them – with the desire to pull out of them untapped talent and gifts. Obviously opportunities will present themselves, but I’m convinced the best kind of outreach is when your ‘end game’ is placing value on people – that’s being like Christ.
We’ve met now 6 times on the 2nd floor for worship. Each evening we’ve hosted a different mix of believers and visitors, usually around 15-25 plus our team. It’s been snug in our main room, but never too crowded. Some have come every time, others just once. Everyone we’ve talked to wants to return again as their schedule allows. Each evening the team designates a worship leader for the time, who brings their own style and focus. We’ve had multiple instruments playing, to just one guitar and even an incredible 15-20 minutes last week of just Ukrainian voices that carried on like an angelic anthem – it was deeply moving. Worship is about engaging our creator – and I believe this is happening in a fresh way for many.
It’s been on my heart to see unity beyond occasional ‘services’ that churches do together, but genuine worship and prayer together among the emerging body of Christ – the church in Rz, though pretty small in number, is alive and there is a passion and hunger that is real. So many more need to be awakened to the presence of God and let go of forms of religion. Literally thousands in our town have no concept of the love, joy or hope in Christ, this must and can change! If the 2-3% protestant Christian population here become 10% or even 20%, it would be a spiritual awakening that would shake the fabric of the culture.
Para-church ministries aren’t anything new in the West or even in larger cities here in Ukraine, but we feel like we’re forging new ground by not being ‘a church’ but rather serving ‘the’ church, strengthening and encouraging the family of God. I can totally envision God birthing, if he’s not already, a missional base or discipleship hub of some kind here with the Lighthouse. We’ve already been in talks with YWAM Kiev about hosting a week of their DTS on the 2nd floor, just as a secondary location for their school which could be combined into more outreach – for now we are thankful for God working and continue to trust Him for the next steps. For now, what we’re doing feels right, focus on God’s Kingdom, His people all around us, and for His Spirit to break out of the predictable boxes we too often put Him in.
The church, the household of faith, is God’s instrument to win the world. A healthy, diverse and unified body is a potentially powerful witness to the life that is in Jesus Christ. Our town has a long way to go, but God is at work. Nothing is impossible for God. We’re praying big prayers. Could God use our little town to showcase His love to the Nations? Could an army of passionate soldiers go in and out from here, impacting a generation? Everything starts with a seed.
This coming week we’ll be busy with the workshops, responding to the many needs that arise along the way. We’ll be nightly worshipping and praying for God to awaken His people and draw more to Himself. 3 more weeks to go, seems like a long time but I know it will fly by.
We’ve already witnessed some very powerful heart changes. I won’t go into detail on our blog, but we praise Him for revealing Himself in some incredible ways to some people we’ve been praying for a lot lately, that God has put in our lives. If we’re able, we’ll try to video some testimonies along the way – it’s always best to hear directly from the person in these situations, allow them to give the most glory to God.
We’ve enjoyed the team here from YWAM. We appreciate their expectation to hear from God in many situations, from direction for prayer meetings, to outreach opportunities. They really want to follow the Shepherd, and it’s encouraged us to stay alert as well, listening and not just charging ahead with good ideas.
It’s always interesting having a group of foreigners doing life with you for a season. I’m admittedly not the best tourist, but glad we have Ukrainian friends and helpers to proudly explain and help them understand their new context. For some of the team it’s the first experience outside of the US – while others have travelled quite a bit. I don’t envy their ‘stretching’, even if the houses are actually quite nice or food is pretty good. New environments, new routines, new people, languages.. it all adds up to become a challenge for anyone after a few days. So far they are adjusting like champs.
The Cafe itself has been extremely busy. We’ve doubled in customer count since the team arrived. It used to be an uncommon thing to find all our tables full, but the past few weeks it’s been quite normal during lunch. The beautiful weather helps for sure, the town is alive again with activity. Today I talked to a guy that spoke english quite well – he was working for the past year in Spain, providing for his family. He’s returned and couldn’t believe how nice the Cafe was – he said his wife had been talking about it and enjoys coming. Thankful for Dema and the staff, they have been truly stretched and continue to grow with all the growth. Now that we don’t have to pay for heat, we should be able to break even this month!!
Thank you God for loving us. For giving us your Spirit. For sending Kingdom resources to help advance your heart. Thank you for the family of God, here and abroad. Thank you for praying with and for us.
Sorry no picture this blog! We’ve been posting to facebook and encourage you to check them out there.
Bruce & Deb