The past few weeks have been some of the most busy, yet God-inspired weeks of my life. I hesitate to write such a bold sentence, but I must give God credit and thank Him for very specific answers to prayer. If you have a few minutes, read on!
At times it’s been overwhelming, and for the first time in weeks I feel as though the dust may be settling, and I have the time to now share some of the cool things God has been doing.
In preparation for our trip to the US/Canada Deb and I talked about not ‘checking out’ spiritually. Sometimes our ‘vacations’ end up being times of feeding the flesh, the very opposite thing our hungry spirit desires. To be refreshed doesn’t mean relaxing or ‘vegging out.’ Sure, those things are great and we need times of physical rest. Real spiritual renewal however comes from seeking God, laboring IN God’s word, digesting the words of life that bring conviction, joy and power. We came back from Ukraine determined to see God work in our lives during this time. What was I thinking!? 🙂
The main burden I was returning to was with my work. For several months Cypress Interactive (web design company I started 7yrs ago) had been feeling the effects of the economy and losing momentum, good new jobs and technical vision. In a world where technology is moving very fast, a company like Cypress can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. This weighed heavily on me personally and I wanted desperately to see God reveal some solutions. Being in Ukraine full time, it’s been so difficult to maintain both worlds, the ‘ministry’ around us is very real, and the needs are growing with missionary and church leadership needs. While Deb and I’s heart is fully in Ukraine with what God is doing, working in two time zones was taking it’s tole, and my prayer was daily a request that God would answer with some help or resolution.
The obvious answer was to hire someone and/or make some significant re-structuring in the company. This isn’t the sort of thing you do quickly, and I didn’t want to do from afar. It kept coming back to God though, He led me to start this thing, He led us to Ukraine, He can bring the solution! I didn’t really pray with a lot of faith to be honest, it was more of a cry for help! I praise God for hearing my prayers, and want to share a few of the specific ways God has been answering. I trust they will encourage you in your struggles, and like me, increase my awareness of God; He truly does know and care for us.
When I arrived in Texas we hit the road running with Church meetings. After meeting with our church leaders/elders we quickly realized that our family is truly blessed! We have an amazing group of friends and inspiring church leaders that have the interest of our family, but even better, the interest of Ukraine and the church in RZ at heart. Crossroads prays for all of us in Ukraine, they labor in prayer, and are sending over the most valuable of Kingdom resources in this. I was able to preach on Sunday to the growing congregation (about 400 now) and re-connect in many ways with new and old friends.
We then met with friends from Louisiana who had driven a total of 14hrs to visit with us for one day. We met with another family we’ve known for years, they direct an orphanage in war torn Juarez area for a few hrs as they just happened to be returning to Mexico that day. We met with our supporters for dinner and able to share more detailed information with the ministry in RZ, the missionaries we are serving with and the church that is growing there. Instead of being a little picture on the back of a church wall somewhere, we were treated like rock stars, and you know what, it was cool! We talked about how to best serve the Kingdom of God in that area, church planting and discipleship, and were asked questions like “how can we better serve you all there as a church?”. That is what churches should be like folks, and we are excited to help more people get exposed to the work of God in Ukraine.
This all happened in 2 days. On day three things really started to take off. I was scheduled in to the Kilgore City Council meeting the next night, to give an update on the Sister City deal. Just hrs before I was given the contact information of another city 4hrs west of Kiev that wants to become a partner city as well. Remember the mayors from Ukraine that came through East Texas a few months back? Well, one of those mayors that I talked to via Skype is wanting a visit. I presented this before the Kilgore council and they approved me taking this next step, and gathering more information from this town. So when I get back to Ukraine, I’ll be going there and meeting with the mayor – possibly another “in” to another town to make a difference for Christ. Pray for this!
This update is really long, sorry guys. I can’t just bullet list this. I then had lunch with Bo and Jason. Jason is a former Microsoft guy who owned an IT/software training business about 2 yrs ago. Bo wanted me to meet him because Jason was someone of considerable technical ability, energy, and possibly time (trying to decide whether to start another business, with a heart for missions). We had lunch, and it was nice. I was so burdened with Cypress, and the fact that after 3 days I hadn’t even had the time to get with my guys and make progress on our many issues. I didn’t really consider hiring Jason, I honestly just wanted to get the lunch over with and back to my world. That night God woke me up around 4am, I felt as though God was speaking very directly to me. I wasn’t supposed to miss this opportunity to bring on Jason, and that God was affirming me to trust Him in it. God was encouraging me that He was going to show Himself in ways I’m not used to.
This was the beginning of a wild week! Within 2 days I had met with Jason, hired him and threw our poor guys at Cypress for a loop! I’m not typically a fast mover, especially with business, but I was certain God was testing my faith and this was our next move. The guys at Cypress have been great, they are all believers and have been praying together for several areas that needed attention. I couldn’t say enough about this group of faithful men that have sustained and grown (in some areas) a business in my absence. It was obvious to all of us however that things needed to change if we were to reach the potential we have as a creative and technical team. The decision to hire and re-structure some things for the long haul felt right, and I was beginning to be actually excited about what God was doing.
During this same week, actually during prayer with my guys, I received a call from a very large non-profit in NYC. I can’t say just yet who it is, but we were asked to consider re-building their entire site/admin for the organization. This is exactly the the type of client and type of work we excel at, and love to do. We then were contacted by a competitor in the East Texas area with an acceptance of our offer to acquire them (yes, we are buying another company in all of this too!). I can’t say anything about that either in detail yet, this coming week we will have legal in place and can announce it, but our company will grow 25% with this purchase. The next week (when returning to Canada) we opened a Canadian Cypress office in my hometown and hired a new employee here as a project manager (CJ welcome!). So in a two week period, without any scheming of my own (I don’t think!) we hired someone that we hope will relieve much of my daily burdens for Cypress, infused the company with some great work, acquired a competitor, and expanded to Canada. It became amusing to both Deb and I as we literally stood back and watched one thing after another fall in line, and like domino’s progress before our eyes. Thank you God for your orchestrative power!
I just got back from NYC with 3 of our guys meeting with this new client. We also had a great time visiting Time Square Church, one of our most long term clients. This week we’re working on a press release and some PR for our new office here in Canada, and already have a potential project (ipad application). I came back to Canada/US with NO plan, other than to visit family and friends.
When you think about our family in Ukraine, don’t feel bad for us (if you do!). We are seeing God work in our lives in every area, He is doing ‘exceedingly abundantly above all we could ever ask or think” and I thank God for a fruitful trip. It is the coolest thing on earth to serve our great God. He hears our prayers, and He shows Himself in very practical ways!
It hasn’t stopped either. We were supposed to be in Ukraine already, but Deb forgot our passports (met me in NYC without them, eeek!) and we’re now here until the 21st. Mistake? Providence? Whatever theological bent you have, I’m pretty sure God works all things together for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose! We are taking advantage of the extra few weeks to visit some other churches, hang out with family… and see what else God will do in our lives.
The property in Ukraine is ready for purchase finally. I told them to wait until we get back. We have a new Mayor now and I want to meet him. Our old Mayor was a very nice man who we’d invested a lot of time with, and was in favor of the cafe concept. Pray that we have similar (or better) results when I get back. Ukraine has experienced a ‘showing’ of democracy with these last elections, those that did not support the Party of Regions (current pro-russian leaning president) were either pressured to join their party or put in jail/maligned and all sorts of other shows of force and fear. The other day it hit me, we have always believed that we were going to Russia, but perhaps God is now bringing Russia to us, it sure seems that is the way it is heading now. God is bigger than any nation, let His will be done.
Novel finished, story continuing!
Bruce & Deb