Sometimes in life, the small things can be the big things. I remember our first leadership weekend in the fall of 2018. We invited a handful of friends that we felt a kindred connection with from our time in Belarus to travel to our little town to join a small group of Ukrainians. The common denominator was their missional heart for the culture outside of traditional religion, their creativity and what we considered to be characteristics of an emerging leader.

How could we come alongside them?

In Slavic culture, positional authority is very strong, and the young rarely are given liberty or encouraged to start things, or handle resources. Community, which is a strength embedded deeply in the social framework of the former Soviet Union, is surprisingly a challenge inside the limited reflections of faith communities. Loneliness, isolation, and swimming upstream against the constructions of unchanging religious culture wears on the energetic visionary here.

We saw a safe place for exploring ideas, encouraging one another in the faith, and growing deep in international, missional community. We used our guest house (Deb’s parents house which was gifted to us, affectionately known throughout the lands as ‘the big house’). We bought 15 mattresses, and slowly over the year began to furnish it with the help of Deb’s brother’s family and whatever we could scrape together to create a haven.

We hosted several weekends in 2019, focusing on several of my own learning themes at Fuller. Themes such as the missional heart of God, sustainable and healthy spiritual rhythms, and culture creation were taught using adult learning theory. Instead of a sage on the stage, we have been practicing different theories of learning, essentially facilitating interactive, and often short bursts of interactive dialogue in small groups. We’ve been going deeper than cognitive learning, and opening their hearts to their own unique learning process as young adults as they handle the material, learn about themselves and the loving Creator that made us each so unique. It’s an intentional time, maximized, a lot of laughter and moments of affirming love.

As we tackle difficult themes, and humbly look at our weaknesses as much as learn about our individual strengths. I believe this group has been diving more deeply into the experience of what God intends for our communities of faith; transparency. The kind of stuff that sends the false ego running, and brave souls to the foot of Jesus. These leaders represent youth ministries, creative platforms, art-museum sphere, musicians, orphan and widow ministries, and are uniting for God’s greater purpose. There’s a sense of much ahead.

Stepping off the hamster wheel of productivity is difficult, especially for the young and successful. We feel we’re coming along the Spirit, tending to their current scenarios, but giving them also a lifelong vision for spiritual formation as we try to model these things in our own imperfect journey. We’re embracing the roles of mentors, although it’s still a new season for us, it’s an inspiring one to think of the influence we can have as a community upon the whole of culture.

The weekend was a privilege. This was the agreed upon word from our leaders team at our debrief today. We felt the Holy Spirit, each of us, guiding, ministering, and truly with us the entire time. We have a holy sense of having entered a stream of sorts, that this group is ready to go to higher heights, and deeper depths in their sphere of influence. We need your prayer please to steward this well moving forward. It’s new territory for me, divesting and empowering others of something I hold pretty closely – but it’s time.

We pulled back two years ago from continuing to charge ahead with growing projects, sensing we needed to create community and a hub for health. We are SO glad we did. It has been slow, but fruit is blooming, and I see the wheels of momentum turning toward some significant kingdom horsepower. An army of united kingdom leaders, young, creative, and not just running around doing things, but learning how to be the new creation God has made them – in loving fellowship with the Trinity, and others.

Emerging from our prayer and discussions, we realize some new trellis is needed for this growing vine. We tread carefully, not wanting to create yet another organization, but tend to the garden with wisdom that is may bear more fruit. We are seeing our vision more clearly, and amazed that we don’t have to try and inspire others towards it, but God is moving within hearts to take various parts of it and run.

We see ourselves hosting more specific learning spaces this year, for different callings (eg. creative, crowdfunding, mercy-ministries). We see an end of the year gathering again bringing us all back together. We just really love the community that is emerging. It’s a thing of beauty.

I think we’ll look back on this weekend at the end of year and recognize it as a significant step forward in this continued God has called us into. Lord, let your will be done.

Thank you ALL who prayed with and for us this weekend. We’re now finishing up with some one-one meetings this week, then Deb is off with two ladies to Belarus to visit our widows care sites and discern how to best serve this growing network of volunteers. Pray for their trip!

Our final meal we celebrate with a nice Ukrainian meal at our local (and new) banquet hall in Rzyschiv.