A radical disciple who finished the race Christ had set for him by Don Schwager
I remember Bruce very well from the early beginnings of charismatic renewal in the late 1960s. We were both undergraduate students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Steve Clark and three other graduates from Notre Dame – Ralph Martin, Jim Cavnar, and Gerry Rauch – had moved to Ann Arbor in the autumn of 1967. Their mission was to evangelize students and form them into radical disciples of Jesus Christ. They also began a weekly charismatic prayer group which met on Thursday evenings.
In January 1968 Bruce joined the prayer group and was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Soon after hat, I was also invited also to the Thursday night prayer meetings. In early January ’69, Bruce prayed with me to receive the ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’. I quickly became friends with Bruce and with Steve Clark who regularly invited us to his apartment for prayer and fellowship over a good meal and a beer.
The Ann Arbor charismatic prayer group grew rapidly – especially among students.
As more and more students were evangelized and baptized in the Spirit, we began to develop Life in the Spirit seminars, growth groups, and bible study groups in the university dormitories.
Beginning in the summer of 1969 and throughout 1970, we sensed the Lord was preparing us for something he wanted to do among us – to transform us from a prayer group into a covenant community of disciples on mission, committed to following the Lord together. In the autumn of 1970 more than a hundred men and women made their public commitment to the community covenant.
Around the summer and autumn of 1970 a few men, including Bruce, Steve, and myself, who were interested in pursuing living single for the Lord, started to live together. We began to study the rules of many religious and monastic orders. In August 1971 we took a retreat during which we set about putting together a set of ideals which we sought to live by and formulated these ideals into a written “covenant.”
At the end of the retreat, we each made a temporary commitment to live single for the Lord. This marked the birth of the Servants of the Word. In January 1974 Steve, Bruce, and I made a promise to remain single for the Lord for the remainder of our lives and to live a common life together. A year later in 1975 we adopted a name, The Servants of the Word.
I have been privileged to live and travel with Bruce, and work alongside him over many of the past 52 years. During the 1980s I traveled with him to assist with some of his work of building up Sword of the Spirit communities around the world – in North and Central America, to Europe, Lebanon, India, and the Philippines. Since 2003 I had the pleasure of working closely with Bruce in doing publication work. I have also I lived with Bruce in London, UK, for the last few years of his life.
Many things about Bruce have impacted me greatly: his “all-out” zeal and love for the Lord, his dedication to put his life and gifts at the service of the Lord and his people, his tireless work of speaking the word of the Lord through prophecy and teaching; his pastoral gifts, and wise leadership and personal care and guidance for my life. When Bruce quietly passed away “unexpectedly” on January 21 2022, I felt God giving me a Scripture passage: “The righteous live forever and their reward is with the Lord … they will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord.” May the Lord reunite us in his glorious kingdom that will last forever.
Don has been member of the brotherhood since its beginning in 1971. He is the author of Daily Scripture, a daily Scripture meditation website, and editor for Living Bulwark, an online magazine for the Sword of the Spirit.