Back in Ukraine for a about a week when Deb and I took the short flight to neighboring Minsk, Belarus. Joining the wedding festivities of Vikente & Natasha, we anticipated simply enjoying friends at the wedding on our brief two day visit.
While we did get to hug several necks and enjoy some gorgeous weather (the illusive sun actually came out!), both Deb and I were surprised to ‘feel’ a sense of anticipation, of God at work in this nation – unexpected, moving. What is God doing?
When we left Belarus last winter after our 3 month stay in Belarus, it felt as though we ‘finished’ a chapter, something the Lord had asked us to to. To be honest, we left fairly discouraged – discouraged by the lack of faith among incubated, even suffocating religion. To see so many young believers, so talented, yet so curiously satisfied with meeting and ‘doing’ church services, left us dumbfounded.
The past two days kickstarted something fresh in our hearts again. Not only did Deb and I both independently feel the Holy Spirit in several conversations (with non church going friends in particular) but a sense that something is about to break out, or break in – so ripe, hearts prepared.
We need to be praying for Belarus, and possess a posture of readiness as a family, ministry. We’ve experienced revolution in Ukraine, we know what it feels like to ‘wake up’ the next day to a new reality.
The Holy Spirit is awakening us to a needed posture, and filling us with His desires. Ironically, foreigners can now stay for up to 30 days visa free. This fits perfectly in line with our refreshed desire to stay connected to what God is doing there – we are praying about timing but fully intend to re-enter as the Lord leads.
There’s a keen interest, openness, even hunger among Belorussians – it’s a hunger for hope. From the waiters at restaurants, to uber driver’s, each of our conversations as we ran around the city was engaging, filled with possibilities – it was significantly difficult to leave these conversations – In just 24hrs we could have started a home group of 4-5 people, without any intentional trying – just by embodying hope and talking to folks.
Hope is drawing this next generation in Russian speaking world – like moth to flame, an irresistible longing.
As believers embracing the loving nature of the Father in Christ, we have a purpose and hope lit within our hearts. When we’re around fellow light bearers, it seems easily muted, or forgotten just how illuminating it is.
This is why I’m less excited to hang out with believers than those who haven’t tasted the hope in Jesus. There’s something incredibly moving, motivating in my own faith when others start buzzing around the light in my heart. This doesn’t mean that fellowship in a worshipping community isn’t life giving, but the primary unifying element ‘of’ community, I think, should be disciple making.
Christ sends and goes with us into the world to make disciples, entrusting us with the seeds of faith in every heart, nurturing to maturity in Christ.
Sometimes the church acts like the mission is to ‘go into all the world and meet’.. or ‘make services’.. That was not commanded – Paul only mentions the necessity of gathering regularly once, and contextually had nothing to do with faithfulness to a specific Sunday meeting but being bold in public witness during times of persecution.
Point being, we will gather as we are on-mission making disciples together. That’s what families do. If we’re gathering as an act of obedience, we’re obeying a command never issued. Make disciples, and the body will gather in united force, in many modes and culturally relevant methods.
Christianity is a revolution of heart, a wildfire of relational, contagious, infectious influence.
As we engage the hopeless, loving them for their value’s sake, and not for some intended finish line, we ourselves are filled to overflowing. This is the ‘light yoke’ and overwhelming life-giving burden of Christ. The burden of Christ crushes in weight as it lifts our spirits to unearthly passion.
I think this is what Jesus meant when he declined the disciples lunch menu in Samaria. “I have food you don’t know about.” To release hope into the heart of the hopeless, whether they fully respond to the beckoning call of surrender or not, is most satisfying. It’s the will of the Father that His heart fill us. Need more of this food!
We finished our time with lunch with Peter, Mir’s Belarusian director, hearts stirred. Beyond the many logistics and increased works in this country, the Lord is stirring our hearts – a most important revelation.
It wasn’t the projects we’re planning or new chapters beginning that most moved our hearts – it was the sense that Aslan is in fact on the move – through prayer, fasting, and careful listening, you can hear this call to prepare, something is ushering in Belarus.
This doesn’t mean it will get easier – please pray for Belarus with us.
Bruce & Deb