When I was fresh out of bible college, as a young youth pastor, newly married in Canada, God gave me a little hint toward my future vocation. I had already an idea that Deb and I would eventually navigate our way towards the Russian speaking world, but was finding myself quite frustrated at the pace of God’s movement.. when you’re young, you think God must also be in a hurry.
I was in the shower, of course, and God dropped a term in my heart – Missions Network. It was odd, because this was around 1997, I didn’t know what the Internet was, hardly nobody did. What I did know in that moment however, was that God’s church was quite immobile, focused entirely (from my limited experience) on its local context, with little concern or viable pathways for those whom God might burden for other cultures and spheres. Missions network, for me, in that moment, meant little more than a concept of putting wings on the local church, somehow mobilizing it towards global awareness, and participation. It sat with me for many years, as a piece to the puzzle that might somehow emerge down the road.
A decade later, Deb and I with several kids, found ourselves no closer geographically to Slavic culture, and were in Texas. I had founded a small web company, and much to my frustration at times, swimming in the depths of technical projects and customers. We built websites, for business and many ministries. It hit me one day that I should look for the domain name, and by a series of quite incredible events which I shall spare you but tell my children, I got the name, and registered the name also as a 501c3 in faith – and began to believe God was well underway on the idea He came up with. I was wrong, I jumped the gun, and after two years of waiting for the charity and vision (at that time a website that has ambitions beyond God’s) closed up. I moved on, I didn’t need to make this thing happen.
Fast forward another decade or more, and I’ve been in Ukraine now for 14yrs. I’ve since sold the Texas business, and been cultivating a small community of faith here, with Lighthouse, widows ministry, and other things I won’t bore you with. Over the past few years, God has really networked us to the body of Christ in several creative and missional spaces. Some have come through my graduate journey with Fuller Seminary, others through Belarus and my role directing our current 501c3 Mir Ministries, and others as God has woven divine pathways both in Ukraine, Russia, and North America with folks.
This December, I registered for 2 of my final 5 courses at Fuller, and one of them was a New Testament course that had in its reading requirement reading the NT over the 10 weeks in entirety. I figured, “hey, if I’m reading this on top of the other books and course I’m taking, our Lighthouse community can do this reading plan too!” This idea was embraced by our team, and I found myself enamored with the idea of opening this up to any global friends, missional partners, along with a weekly Zoom that might gather like-minded folks for a debrief, a time of prayer, refelction and perhaps a place to practice some of the mentoring material we’ve enjoyed over this season personally – personal, spiritual formation has been Deb and I’s world for the past few years, or I should say rather, God’s work in our lives in preparation for an upcoming season.
So, like most things I tackle, it grew beyond the original scope. Bronwyn, her friend Adrienne have been here for Christmas, and they, along with Tucker my son have been building sites and training on Zoom with its new translation tools. Without initially intending it, we have resurrected the original idea of missions network, it’s been like putting flesh to a skeleton that has already been formed. It feels a little nostalgic, I’m not the same young man I was, but the same little urging, sense of the Spirit’s invitation is the same – so, here we go!
On January 1, we will begin reading the NT with (so far) 40 friends, representing 6 countries. We along with whomever God attracts to our weekly Zoom, will gather over 10 consecutive Sundays, beginning January 10th. I write about the style and vision of the Zooms here, so I won’t repeat, click if you are interested, but the main thing is that this isn’t a sermon time, its not spectator style, but interactive and I’m now working out the themes, the design of the learning plan that will build over the 10 sessions – they will focus on the Triune nature of our Creator, and how His inner personhood instructs and empowers His missional activity. It’s rich, its deep, there will be plenty of meat for chewing on as we place this tribe into break-out rooms with specific questions, and space for connection. Also, we’ll be highlighting various missional partners, hearing their stories, and have some really cool guest.
We’re calling this a pilot program. We have no idea if this will gain momentum, or fizzle. I’ve learned that failing is the key for learning and adapting, I’m not afraid of failure like I was in the past, it doesn’t define me, but I do really hope folks are encouraged and find some fresh air in their spiritual journey.
So Lord, with your blessing, I’ll try this missions network once again. It’s for you, for your bride, in many cultures and spaces, that she would rise up and glorify Jesus who has indeed secured a people from every tribe, nation and tongue. Connecting the global church to God’s ongoing mission.
Bronwyn helped us make this logo, using the Greek X (Christ symbol), the fire of the Spirit warming the hearts of the global church, the tribe 🙂 I wrote about this a little more too here –