Today we began demolishing the old garage pantry behind Lighthouse Cafe. In the next few days a team of workers will be removing the building, piece by piece, dump-truck by dump-truck. Then, we’ll excavate the foundation area, re-build the foundation towards a new multipurpose, 2 story building!
We need more space, Lighthouse Cafe main buildin is maxed out on both floors. The past few months we’ve witnessed a surge of interested friends and new partners within Ukraine coming alongside our missional community at Lighthouse. These folks come from all kinds of backgrounds and interests, from both within our region and without. I’m enthused to explore together how we can collaborate in providing unique space for touching and forming lives, especially the next generation.
The common theme emerging in our community: a healthy, united, flourishing Ukraine.
I believe our Creator is drawing many talented and creative folks to join with those locally who seek to create culture instead of endlessly fighting systemic issues that prohibit growth. Our family and team are honored to come alongside reflections of Jesus Kingdom and cultivate open non-religious and non-political spaces for experimentation and collaboration. In other words, we are super excited to see how this new space will be used by a multiplicity of souls.
We have yet to finalize the building design, it’s being worked on now and we are thankful for our local building inspector’s help along this often challenging path of stamps and roadblocks. In the next few weeks we hope to show everyone the plans, and in stages reveal our progress. We’d love to have the shell of the building completed by October of this year – but that’s going to take some generous hearts contributing to the cause!
Besides replacing the existing function of our garage pantry which serves as storage for Lighthouse Cafe and our food assembly spot for local widows care program, some of the ideas circulating include:
- Open hall with kitchen area (larger events, widows gatherings, small concerts.
- Spaces for cooking lessons, wood working, creative arts, language lessons.
- First floor tourism center with bicycle rental+ repair, maps and partner info.
- Second floor prayer/meditation room, much needed office space.
- Basement multimedia room (photo, video editing), pantry.
We are partnering once again with our sending church in Longview (Grace City) and they’ve agreed to be the conduit for tax-deductible giving on this project.
Please consider supporting our project! Our team and family truly appreciates your help as we navigate this exciting next chapter in our journey.
Grace City Church
Ukraine Building Project
1400 E. Loop 281
Online Giving: https://www.gracecitypeople.com/give
*drop down select “Ukraine Building Project”
Great Commission Foundation
FUND #552 (Crowe)
PO Box 14006
Online Giving: https://gcfcanada.com/bruce-and-deborah-crowe/
If you have any questions, ideas, encouragement, please don’t hesitate to reach to me personally! Our hope was initially to host some short-term construction teams as we have in the past. Due to the instability of the world at the moment, that is rather difficult to plan. If you are interested however in joining a team in the near future, handy with a hammer, tiling, plumbing, painting, or generally just enjoy working with a cross-cultural group of believers, let us know! We’d love for you or your church to join us more intentionally, at any level –
Respectfully and behalf of our team,
Bruce & Deb Crowe
It was a pleasant moment standing outside a Ukrainian government building yesterday in the next town over. The words pleasant and government building are foreign companions on most visits. The sun was shining, and I was strolling around a surprisingly well groomed meadow-like space, with some shade trees, a sidewalk and some large stones for sitting. Natasha was inside filling out forms for some new Covid-19 regulations, and I found myself pondering.
I left my phone at the house. This added to the space to think, look up and enjoy the bright blue sky, shifting clouds and gentle wind. I was present. I wasn’t checking messages, responding to the urgent, I was in the moment, listening, being.
I noticed this black cat strolling down the sidewalk from afar. It was a youth, not a kitty, but not yet a cat. It wasn’t in a hurry, walking straight for me, at least I thought. Standing on the same sidewalk, I felt a certain kind of mercy and kindness towards this cat. I’m not a cat person, so I found it interesting. I crouched down, and decided I wouldn’t reach for it, or scare it away, but let it simple come. I could imagine its fluffy fur encircling me, happy that I had stooped down to recognize it, offering some interaction and physical attention. As it lazily approached, the anticipation grew. I was squatting down, smiling, it was approaching.
The cat walk inches past my leg, and without a second thought, continued it’s purposeful stroll to nowhere, right past me, without even a wink of acknowledgement. The oddity of the moment was surreal. I was just dissed by a Ukrainian house cat. I began to laugh, and then think, and think.
The black cat is the false self.
While I continued processing the rather hurtful actions of the cat, I found myself reflecting on the nature of my relationships. We have all kinds of relationships in life, but we all have those that for whatever reason, fail to see their hurtful actions or words. Why did this cat disrespect me? Did it at some point intentionally decide I wasn’t worth it’s time? Was there something about me that turned it off? My colors, smell, gender, nationality? Then I realized how absurd these ideas were, the cat isn’t thinking as a human, it’s thinking as a cat.
I began to think of those I have the most meaningful relationships with. They acknowledge my being, they are vulnerable, trusting, and kind. Those I am in deeper fellowship with recognize my short comings, but it doesn’t effect our mutual respect because we are embracing our true, broken selves. We have nothing to prove to one another, no exterior lattice of the human experience to protect or reputations to uphold. When true self humans interact, they share a mutual reciprocity for one another and solidarity with the human race; they don’t walk past, lost in their own project black cat world.
So back to the cat. The black cat, like the false self, is not rejecting the other, because it’s not acknowledging or capable of relating to the true self human. Those living into the false self, or the projected ‘I want everyone to see me this way’ branded self, are interested only in using others and things to protect and preserve the legacy of their personhood. Deep inside the black cat, it’s not rejecting me, the squatting foreigner with open heart and hand ready for petting, it’s rejecting that objects particular utilitarian use in the moment. Therefor, I can take refuge in the fact that the cat isn’t rejecting ME, because in it’s current state, it lacks the capacity to know anything but itself.
The black cat is a self reflecting mirror.
As the cat strolled past, it didn’t give one moment’s notice to my feelings. It didn’t think, “Oh sorry, I’m on my way to the food dish” as it recognized the hardness of it’s cat heart. It had not remorse, nor pity towards me for assuming all cats like to be petted. It was solely interested in itself, a black selfish cat is not acting rudely, it’s fulfilling it’s base desires without the concern for the other. So too the false self. At times the false self may act in a manner that seems kind, or even true, but all such mannerisms are a farce, material used in the continued fictional drama unfolding they wish you to believe as true.
There are, I believe, two kinds of rejection. An active, and passive rejection. I, like many of my fellow sojourners I’m finding, struggle with rejection. Who doesn’t want people to respect you? For most of my young adult life, even into my early 40’s I was secretly striving for acceptance. This pursuit led me into many different places and spaces. To be rejected, or misunderstood was like, and still is at times, my achilles heal. I envy those that take criticism in stride, they seem so much more healthy! The cat, however, helped me to understand today that while active rejection is possible and a probably part of life, most of the rejection that I have struggled with has come from a place of passive, black cat like being.
The black cat isn’t rejecting me actively, but passively because it’s a cat.
While it hurts to be called a name, sometimes that name is quite accurate. If we make a mistake, we embrace it, learn from it, and grow. That’s life. To experience the temporary pain of verbal or social rejection is an opportunity to grow in all cases, but especially if the accusations are true! In this sense, active rejection, or we could say denouncing (to declare something as wrong) a gift in our lives, which can come from best friend next door, or distant acquaintance across the globe. Faithful are the wounds of a friend! It’s the sneaky verbal kisses of the enemy that we should be cautious of.
Passive rejection is when someone dismisses your opinion, ideas, words, or actions from a place of false being. The black cat doesn’t know itself, it’s operating in base cat mode, thinking of itself, and unaware of the deep human relatedness surrounding it. The passive rejection is not an intentional slight against you, it’s not something you need to consider and take inventory over, because the black false self cat doesn’t even recognize you, it only sees itself. Consider if the cat would have stopped, allowed me to pet it, and showered me with purring love. Would the cat have truly been respecting and acknowledging my humanity? No! The selfish beast would have simply decided in that moment that it wanted some physical attention, and used me. The black cat, the false self, is incapable of actively rejecting ‘me’, only passively rejecting me on its way towards a selfish existence.
For me, this all begs the question, “How do we know who is being true, and who is being false?” My answer to this is simple. You can’t. The problem is that for most of us, we are a mixed bag of true and false self. Life is a journey, a process, and for this formational process we were made. As we rest into the true person of integrity that God has made, we recognize that our being, although marred by sin and so much unfortunate experience in this life, is deeply loved. In this place of identity and acceptance in God, we can be vulnerable, to varying degrees, with all sorts of people. Yes, some will be black cats, they will walk right past us, ignoring our value as human, but we can still squat down and be prepared to interact. It might sting for a moment as they dismiss us, but we can learn to take joy – this is the liberty of love. Others we are fortunate enough to find are more than willing to interact, and share this journey with, as we accept one another. For those friends, I am most thankful, and need them to truly know myself, and God.
To the black cats in my life, I am thankful for what you are teaching me.
I am thankful for the love of Jesus Christ that suffered my own shame, yet humbled Himself beyond just squatting on a sidewalk, but hanging publicly on a tree to get my attention. You are calling us all, recognizing us each by name, and calling us each into this love.
It’s always so cool when God provides in surprising ways! Last week we hosted 2 days of an american style garage sale. We saw, with very little announcing, probably 100 folks go through and find lovely deals for $0.20- $0.40 cents. We had so much stuff! Thank you to those that donated over the past year or so, many families were blessed with fresh western styles and good quality clothing (for the most part).
One of the things we are working on is finishing out, finally, our playground park area. Oles, our friend from another town and brother in Christ is the project manager for this, and he and our team decided the best use of the space was to put in some outdoor exercise equipment, and a table tennis spot. Now, for me, table tennis is an indoor sport, but here in Ukraine you can find them in public parks and they are quite fun to play.
Anyway, I wanted to share this cool story. We raised about $100, which is quite amazing for us, considering each item was at the most $0.40 cents! We had funds saved but not enough for the table tennis, and were planning to just buy two stationary sports pull up bar type things, then next year Lord willing get a table tennis set (they are over $1,000).
About a week earlier, I was leaving the cafe, and this guy was backing his car up towards the cafe. It looked like he was trying to turn around, but then he just kept backing up, and backing up.. until he smashed into our Cafe wall! I sort of just stood there, half stunned and amused. The guy got out, a little sheeplishly and said, “sorry” in english.. he obviously knew I was not ukrainian and the owner somehow, but I had never met him before, he wasn’t from the area (we know our clients, and they can all drive!).
So, anyway, I just found the whole thing a bit odd, and something in my heart urged me to pray for him. I then told our prayer group which meets on Wed and Friday mornings at the cafe. I told them the funny story, and that I really feel to pray for him, the guy who crashed into my cafe.. didn’t know his name. Fast forward to our yard sale, and as we were setting up, I saw the same car, and guy once again turning around in our small parking area.. once again, he was moving towards our cafe building, and en route to crashing! I ran over and noticed he was quite deliberate in backing up onto our sidewalk and trying to get as close as possible.. I waved and yelled (at least as loud as I can yell), ‘whoaaa, hey stop!’ .. he then opened his door and I was able to figure out that he was just trying to park his car out of the sun, in the shade.
After taking for a few minutes, I was amazed at his english, his name is Yan. Yan isn’t from the area but knows several members of this growing creative/ecological group that is building houses, and parks outside the town. It’s a real movement of 30-40yr old’s who want to see Ukraine build a new future, they care about things like sustainability, and also seem to really desire meaningful dialogue, ideas and relationship. We’ve hosted some of them at our house, and I was pleased to know we had common friends.
So, to make this story shorter, he donated for us their professional tennis table! He messaged me out of the blue and asked if we had need for it, and would like one? We have it now in our garage, and next step to install and get accessories. I’m enthused to see how God will use it to draw more of these guys to the Cafe, more relationships, more dialogue and I think it’s probably going to get pretty competitive!
I love when the Spirit comes along and encourages you, we aren’t carrying the world on our shoulders, and it’s a joy I think to His heart to orchestrate surprises, blessings and affirmations that we are in fact not alone.
Bruce & Deb