Stories in the Missional Journey of Bruce & Deborah Crowe

Category: Bruce Posts (Page 2 of 200)

Bruce main blogger and general updates

Disconnected in a connected world

Feeling Disconnected?

In Paul’s first chapter to the Romans, he writes, “I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – or rather, so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

Our world is changing rapidly. Some missiologists liken the present to the age of discovery (15-17th Century) when much of our unknown world became known. When significant cultural shifts occur within a short period of time, we can loose our moorings. Our mental models that served us seemingly well, are uprooted and a sense of anxiety creeps into social systems.

During the age of exploration, fear gripped nations. Read the history! Instead of celebrating new opportunities, folks hunkered down in sometimes fierce opposition to change.

I think most would agree that with all our connectivity, the world is feeling quite disconnected

The Piri Reisk world map dated around 1513 was a popular map. Within 50 years, our world was revealed to be quite different.
As believers, we can take comfort in history. We’ve traversed highly anxious periods of change before. The challenge, it seems, is to remain meaningfully connected in the world Jesus loves, rejecting the lure to hunker down and isolate. As comfortable as isolation can feel at times, it represents a failed opportunity to be the preserving salt of the Gospel for our generation.

The Spirit is always at work in the world Jesus loves. Our invitation is to participate in these new places and spaces.

Our world is shrinking, our cultures are synthesizing, cross pollinating. Wars, refugees, immigration, combined with ease of travel and connectivity, our world is changing before our eyes. How can we become and remain connected to the global body of Christ in this hour? If we’re not intentional about entering the lives of the global body of Christ, our perspectives will be unwittingly shaped by our immediately surrounding sub-culture.
Our call, I believe, is to become effective global believers, united not by flags alone, but by the unifying blood of the Eternal Son.
Paul understood this. He was eager to come and share his teaching and testimony to the Roman Jewish and Gentile believers. Yet, his posture was to learn and be encouraged by the faith of diverse friends. Paul understood the vision of heaven; a united creation, from every tribe, people and language (Rev 7:9) and the reality of experiencing it here, and now, on earth as it is in heaven.

Those of you that know us, a constant theme of discussion and exploration has been how we can adapt and be the church for our generation. This is what gave birth to Lighthouse in Ukraine, and now we find ourselves in Romania, among locals and refugees asking the same question.

Maybe you are also eager to explore new ways to connect, to encourage, and be encouraged?

I’d like to invite you to connect with us, our leadership team and Ukrainian staff, we are meeting on the last Saturday of each month. It’s informal, intercultural, translated, one way you can remain connected to the global body of Christ in this disconnected world.

We Invite You!

Saturday, June 25th
10:00am MDT (Colorado Springs)
11:00am CDT (Dallas)
12:00pm EDT (Toronto)
7:00pm EEST (Ukraine + Romania) Link:
*English & Ukrainian Translation

R&R in PA

Nice little visit from Bron before the wedding. June 2022 in PA.

We’ve been in the US for 2 weeks already. The first week I was pretty sick and lost my voice for what seamed like an eternity for someone that likes to talk! I don’t enjoy hopping in and out of difficult cultures. I’m getting too old for this. I’m very thankful for the safe, comfortable and naturally gorgeous ‘home’ to return to, especially in this season of unrest, but 2022 feels like a short-term mission trip so far, and I’d like to be planted, root and bear fruit in one place. I’ve often said, or thought at least, we creatures are designed for flourishing in one culture, and while travel broadens and can be exciting in spurts, too much roaming lacks the necessary rhythms that help us flourish.

View of our beach at Eagle Rock in PA. It’s about a 20 minute walk from our house.

So we’re home. Funny. When we go to Walmart or venture outside our mountain oasis, we’re startled by most of our surroundings. The language, the attitudes, the prices! Our kids are enjoying the time, and we’re enjoying them. We’re hoping to setup our house here for short term rentals, our original plan before life became upended from this war.

A goofy crowe Zoom – always fun to see our kids.

We do need to rent it out, we can’t afford to have it sit, and there’s plenty of things we need to update and those things cost. I had a contractor come out to give me an estimate on a driveway issue, it was five figures! I laughed (inwardly) in disbelief. I could fly over some Ukrainian friends to do it and still save money I think.

Last week Noah turned 15yrs… we had our first game of Bocce ball.

We saw Bronwyn, but for a day this week. Next time we see her is in 3 days. We’ll be driving up for the wedding in Rochester, actually Fairport to be exact. My parents will be driver around Lake Ontario to join us. Broderic and his family, Brent, Tucker and our crew will all travel to the same hotel. It’s a small wedding, might be the smallest I’ve been to. It’s not because I’m cheap either, just for heritage sake.. she’s decide to take the money and go on a nice honeymoon vs blow it on entertaining others. That’s my girl! We’re not suppose to really just dress up, but just enjoy the backyard festivities and celebrate life – L’Chaim.

Life. Brief. A gift. Lived best backwards, ensuring the valuable gives way over impulsivity and shortsightedness. Does it matter if we finish well? To whom? I read Ecclessiates this past week, it was rather depressing. I’m thankful to have studied a little of the wisdom books at Fuller. Instead of shoehorning unappetizing bits of truth in my mouth for forced digestion, I understand now this writer was postulating inner uncertainties, thing that nag and grind inside when we consider this life. I don’t need to be reminded how depressing life can be without the loving, personified Creator in Jesus. Life is not about enjoying one’s labor, or laboring for enjoyment. Jesus has liberated us from the chains of unsatisfied pleasures, the constant pursuit of vain empty things never intended to bring the rest our souls desire. We are liberated for something, or rather someone. To know our Creator, to become united in character through a life-long, and perhaps even eternal path of formation. We’re being remade, in a process of undoing. Perhaps that’s the real freedom Jesus ushered in. It’s not just a liberty from our fears and things that bind us up and drag us down, but a liberty for a pathway, a relationship that will completely redefine our expectations in this life.

Stacking wood so it can dry this summer/fall.. will we be back this fall / winter? Prepare!

I’m on a journey. As a husband, father and son. The road is not so clear as it once was. The certainties less affirming, the invitation to surrender and trust my Creator might be the only thing I can be assured of. It’s not an easy season in life, this descent seems lonely and steep. It’s journeyed on through letting go, striving no longer works its deceptive magic. I don’t know if I have the strength to cease striving, the faith deep enough to rest in the arms of the Great Shepherd. In some ways, it feels like life is only beginning.

I look forward to seeing my kids. My grandson Byron. Life. The rhythm is all around, inwardly and outwardly.

Fuller graduation, watched online, wish I could have walked the stage, but I’m officially finished with my Master’s and having paused the doctoral program.

May 26th, 2022

This may have been the longest (a month) since I posted to my blog since I started it some 15 years ago. I’ve found myself navigating a new city, country and rhythms, and not given a lot of time to personal process, but more ‘ministry’ updating. I’d like this to change, as the Lord is grinding away in my life, revealing, convicting, shifting my reality in such a way that I’d be amiss to leave such things out of what has otherwise been my personal, family, unfolding story space – whether I intended it to be this or not.

So, let me get an update out of the way so ‘ministry’ life enjoy a little continuity with my personal life for those that may enjoy context like I do

On Sunday, we will gather the family (Deb and I, Clark, Noah, Abbey and Claire) and head to the airport for our flight to JFK. Tucker will hopefully meet us, and take us to our place at Eagle Rock in PA. We’re heading back for Bronwyn’s and Logan’s wedding. I can’t hardly believe it, typing it makes it even more surreal. Our first born daughter is getting married.

We had originally planned to return to the US in September, and planned our rental houses around this here in Cluj. Instead, we booked round trip tickets to fly over for the month of June, and will extend out our September return tickets sometime into the future. We are still uncertain what the immediate future holds for our family and ministry over here. We feel quite divided. After returning from Ukraine last week, the affirmation that the Spirit is at work and my heart is still very much there sort of leaves me second guessing any long term purpose here in Romania. We have been useful the several families and lives over our time here, holding physical and communal space for refugee friends, but what is next?

Some of our Ukrainians that first arrived at the start of the war are now planning to return to the Kyiv region in June. They are longing for home, and these particular ladies and families have apartments unharmed by the war. The problem is that the food, gasoline, and other infrastructure issues are quite unstable, so I’m not sure they really understand how unpredictable Ukraine is still. As much as we all would like, we simply can’t ‘wish’ Ukraine back to a place of livability. I feel for the elderly now abroad, particularly those who have no way to return even if they wanted, or have no home to return to. The anxiety, fear, pain they must be experiencing on a daily basis. You can run on adrenaline for a few months, but we’re into month 3 and see a different situation now among both hosting countries (attitudes, capabilities to sustain relief efforts) and those frankly tired of being in positions of helplessness – it’s debilitating to not participate in life, to work, to produce, and simply be living on handouts and the kindness of others for too long. It robs of dignity and and respect. It’s not just humbling, it’s inhumane. We are created in God’s image, I think, to co-create, to hold space, to serve others, to cultivate a little part of our world which gives us and other meaning. Rob the human of that opportunity, and you’ve robbed the person of their imago Dei.

So what’s next? Romania is truly a beautiful country, a mix of Euro-Slavic-Eastern blend. It reminded of of where Ukraine would be if left alone to flourish another 10 yrs.. at least before the war. It’s the poorest country in the EU, but if Ukraine were to join the EU, it would become the second poorest:) Clark and Noah have enjoyed living in the city, at least within 10 minutes of the center. They have friends, music lessons, and its been really cool to see them develop themselves in some new ways either socially or skillfully. The girls enjoy twice weekly gymnastics, if you call it that, more like some little monkeys going around these little stations, doing jumps, little kicks, or twirls. They take it quite seriously, and look forward to it each time.

We have been hosting weekly community style group in our home here. We’ve enjoyed it, some new friends, and old ones from Ukraine. We miss our Lighthouse community. There’s simply no way to replace the mileage under the hood with long invested relationships. When I was back in Ukraine, I had some conversations that were like a glass of cool water on a hot summer day. They deeply nourished me, reminded me of who I am. Friendships are rooting, they anchor us in our identity and allow us to fully chill, and just be. I wish we could simply fast forward these new friendships, but alas, relatedness is a slow speed, a journey with required milestones, some of those milestones include trust, vulnerability, and the pace that intentionally has that deeper place in mind. I’m pretty sure most of the west forgoes these relationships because they neither have the time nor vision for such meaningful friendships. It’s a blessing of eastern cultures, the journey is understood and usually welcomed.

Last week we went to see a space in the center of Cluj that a friend has rented.It’s in the bar/club district, and this old bar they’ve secured for two years is a place they hope to occupy with believers to shine for Christ in this sphere. Their vision is quite similar to Lighthouse, and this ragtag crew has had enough of religion, and been mostly ostracized from it anyway. They love engaging people, and work with gypsies and others on the fringes of society. They are still quite religious however themselves, not seeing the mental models still in place in their vision (e.g. they envision church services eventually in this space.. the default teleological end of us Christendom shaped believers). Love, not folks going through our protestant liturgies should be our end right? But they have a really good start, a vision to unpack, I’ve offered myself to them, and the learning I have compiled over my Fuller season would be so enjoyed by this group – how to hold this space for Jesus without sliding into religious forms and being right back where they started.. folks are tired of institutions, but institutionalism if not replaced by a missiological framework (missio Dei) will keep the church going in circles instead of being the revolutionary force that we are

Didn’t mean to start heading down that path. I need to write more, there is so much in my heart and mind. I feel, however, that my current ‘position’ as a charity director, and now one that has some resources to dream forward with, is not a position that is bringing me life. I am daily acting more as an ATM dispenser, channeling resources to Ukraine, to widows, to projects, refugees, and I’m honestly quite miserable doing it. It’s a honor to distribute, to bless, and steward finances, but I am a starter, a pioneer, and I die a thousand deaths when I’m stuck managing and maintaining. I found myself in this eerily familiar place as a business owner with Cypress, then EDsuite, then Lighthouse, I find myself again at this bridge with Mir as a charity. I am praying and working towards divesting myself and our family as the exclusive and even primary leaders for stewarding it forward. We have started adding some more friends with missional hearts to our Board, and beginning the formation of a leadership group of both Slavic staff/leaders and those partners in the West that have a heart to see the kingdom grow in our generaiton.

So what is next? We will journey in a purposeful transition. I will use my ‘change dynamics’ and divesting style of leadership to walk with others toward the next stage, with pace, discernment with others, and I pray, the clear leading and affirmation of the Spirit. I don’t have an end in sight per say, but I know I’ll be freshly dependent on the Lord for provision (how we will feed our family I’m not sure), but we have been there before! I’ll take the challenge of trusting God in this next season over being sequestered in a structure that isn’t for me. I am proud of Deb and her formation and learning into a Spiritual Director. I think it would be cool if we began to serve together in this area more in the future, perhaps as a spiritual formation ministry, with various types of mentoring, coaching, direction.. I’m looking now at a trauma course which I think would be quite useful to have in our toolkit in this new context. I’m not sure if we’ll live over here in Romania in the coming season, or the US, or if Ukraine will become stable enough to live inside again for our entire family?

One step at a time, each day I pray will have the grace and leading of Jesus. I hope my heart will become and remain sensitive enough as not to rush or be impulsive. I can sense a growing dissatisfaction with my current place in life, I realize part of this is due to the war, and the being quite clearly displaced and anchored.. but this feeling began months before the war, as I began concluding my Fuller journey. Our life is in segue mode, and I can’t say I’m enjoying it. I am, however, learning to be content with my fears, and uncertainty. It’s from this place the Lord will meet me, grow me, and Lord willing use us all for His glory.

I’m a looking forward to the time away, and anticipate a break from social media, and a place of listening the Spirit, enjoying our family, and perhaps blogging some more as I process this uneasy stage. Transitions are interesting. Rarely do we notice we are in one until it’s over and we look back. I’m learning how to sense them earlier, the looking back, the looking up, the things required before looking forward.

Bronwyn is Engaged!

Our first-born daughter, Bronwyn Leigh Crowe, aka Brown-pony has accepted the proposal offered by Logan. We have enjoyed getting to know Logan this past year, and honestly have never seen Bronwyn so happy.

Nobody knows just yet when the wedding will be. They are a creative, and I think a little spontaneous so I suspect it will be different. Our family will be back in the US this fall, so I hope it all line up for everyone to be up north celebrating.

This couple makes me smile.

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