Well, we’re back in Canada and the dust is beginning to settle from our whirlwind extravaganza. So many things in my heart to share, but I fear I’ll lose most of you if I start to ramble. My wife says I ramble.
We rambled from Toronto down to Memphis on our first leg. Stopping in to visit our long time friend Chris Bennett and his cool family who pastor Renewal Church. I always enjoy the fellowship, rich with practical theology, politics and the state of the American church. I’m excited to have Chris come and share to our YFM Missions program in Minsk this fall!
Speaking of America and politics, this became a theme throughout our trip around the US. So much fraction and division, more than I recall in my 15yr tenure in Texas – it seems the media has thrown in the towel on objective reporting. The results have swept into churches, and thru social media revealed and promoted those divisions of thought. Many, many churches and ministries are struggling, which I don’t think is a bad thing.
In struggle folks cry out to God, and the muscles of faith get a decent work out in times of difficulty.
From Seattle to Memphis, from Texas to Pennsylvania, God’s people are digging in, shaking themselves from the clothing of political parties and asking really good questions. Join the cause – step 1, turn off your TV networks 🙂
TEXAS – we enjoyed 3 worship gatherings with our home sending church Crossroads. We stayed at Bo & Beth Boldings who have been and continue to be a steadfast support for our family and mission.
We were blessed by the Strahan family who offered at no cost the use of their new Vineyard & Reception Barn (really nice!) for our main worship night among supporters. God touched several hearts, including our own as we worshiped, led by Collins who flew down to lead us.
It was a neat time of renewal in many hearts as we gave space for the Holy Spirit, much like we do in Ukraine – God never disappointing when we carve out time for Him, especially in group setting like this. Worship is never a bad decision!
We not only visited with old friends, but even really old friends from CFNI days as our friends the Renfro’s came for the weekend. They are praying about possible opportunities to do missions work in Armenia. There were several families and individuals that expressed Holy Spirit encouragement in the area of full time foreign missions work, it was cool to listen and pray with so many!
Sunday I was able to share to the church, and bring out whole crew up on stage for a bit. I’m amazed each trip back how quickly families grow up. I wanted them to see the full impact of our own crew these past 9yrs. Jan was also able to share for a few minutes, did a great job too! Our hearts desire was to fuse our families world with the Brunk’s historical supporters and family. Seattle and Texas visits really merged our worlds in some meaningful ways – thank you Jesus!
Monday evening the Bolding’s hosted a dinner for some more supporters, a mix of Crossroads leaders and MIR board member/advisors. We had a wonderful time of worship. Jan likes to say that she’s a worship junkie, I tend to think the team God is assembling are not only junkies, but suppliers and dealers. Everything changes when the Holy Spirit shows up, His presence is our gift. We want Jesus to empower everything, from our decisions to our gatherings. One night in Texas God was stirring in my heart all night. I awoke with in my head and heart – “Without the Holy Spirit, we have no ministry.”
Pithy is not happening in this update, sorry Deb.
We received during our travels, an incredible surprise in a matching $15k pledge for MIR. The donor gave us one month to raise the other $15k, and it was designated towards our new operational budget, which means helping our family in the fall, visas, travel for our staff and several other existing ministry costs. We had been till this point operating by faith, casting vision and trusting the Lord. This is such a huge thing for us.
Within a week, without even the time to tell folks via our blog or email about this, we had already raised $12,500, with just 2 gifts! Then, during the past 3 days, the remaining came in, and more! So we’re heading into this coming year with budget to execute many of the projects and new vision on our hearts.
Just 2 months ago, we were analyzing the closure of both the charity and the liquidation of the property & potentially the Bible College in Minsk. God has shown us He is not interested in that happening.. He’s making it clear that as we fuel worship, discipleship among the emerging church in the Russian speaking world, He will fuel His mission. Cool.
Harrisburg, PA – We wrapped up our US weekends at Life Center. The first YWAM team that served with us 3 yrs ago is from this hub of spiritual life. When we first swung thru this area back then, our hearts were very heavy from challenges in Ukraine and a feeling of lostness in our mission – the timing of meeting with Pastor Charles and Anne Stock was a monumental encouragement. This time thru we were excited to share the story of what God is doing in our lives, and were given the stage, literally at both services.
While there our friends the Myers family helped us host a (wait for it…) worship time and gathering for any interested in YFM – and we got our first 2 students! I should say, Bronwyn has been really effective in helping us communicate the new school, and connect with the younger generation. She’s a natural recruiter.
Speaking of Bronwyn, she’ also going to be a student at YFM, and we’re up to 3 English speaking students, the first internationals coming to Belarus! We are praying for 5-6, and looking for an incoming class of 15-20. Getting sidetracked.
Bronwyn was offered a job and place to stay right beside Life Center! She will be working with the church as well and staying for the summer, saving up money and visiting her *cough* boyfriend as well who lives just 45 minutes East. God loves that girl, and her daddy is having a rather challenging time letting go… sing it with me..
We raced back to Prince Edward County to meet our friends Jeremy and Lidy from the Band Heroic Nation… if you read our blog at all, you’ll know these guys were part of our huge event last month in Rzhyschiv. We became fast friends in Ukraine, and just so happened they were touring in Montreal so we planned a quick visit and … wait for it… worship night here in Picton. We hosted it at my brother Trevor’s renovated barn – we just used facebook, we didn’t know if 5 or 50 would come – it’s not the most open area to the Gospel. We did however have a really cool night, around 30 ended up there, and several received prayer and encouragement – many struggling, I felt strongly to share the Gospel and the nature of God in Christ.
For many who reject God, they are rejecting a false idea, a misrepresentation of God.
To get the clearest reflection of who God truly is, we must allow Him to identify Himself. He came in Jesus, He is the reflection, no other. If we mean to reject God properly, we must understand and reject the person of Jesus. Anything else is simply a rejection of a false idea, a false god.
Our mission, not just as a family but as the church, is to correct the assumptions. We bring Jesus to light, we point hearts of men to One who incarnated Himself, dramatized the person of God before the world, then died for it, hanging on a tree. Reject Him, but don’t dare misrepresent Him!
We are now excited to rest for a few days. We begin next week working on academic course material, budgets and all the fund stuff associated with starting a new college missions course. Deb will be flying down with Claire and Abigail to see her parents in Florida in a couple weeks, then we will be aiming our sights back to Ukraine and Belarus middle of June.
So much more I want to share! We have World Challenge coming to see our Widows ministry in August. We have the founding lead guitarist of the band Skillet coming to Minsk to tour our facility in July to talk with us about their music college www.visible.edu – It’s sounds astoundingly close to the desires on our teams heart.
We have a pathway to forge for planting new Cafes in Russian speaking world. We have investors willing to walk with us through it, and need wisdom and timing. So many families, at least 3 very serious families with history in Coffee and business are excited to journey with us at some level in planting these conduits of community and mission.
Thankful to be in Canada for a few weeks, enjoying family, and praying for the Lord to continue leading. He loves the generation emerging in Ukraine and Belarus, we feel it, we want to champion them, get behind them, help them reach their generation for Christ!
Rambling complete. Press into Jesus folks, He’s alive, He loves you and knows your needs. Let me finish with this really good quote along those lines… because the ‘answer’ to those needs doesn’t always feel great, but is great.
“Jesus always gives his gifts in a way in which His glory is best promoted, and our eternal interest secured.”
Bruce & Deb