The Piscura family live on mission for Jesus in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood.
For many years we’ve been drawn irresistibly to the lives of those who live on mission for Jesus in cross-cultural settings. As we found ourselves visiting places like Thailand, Cambodia, El Salvador, Kenya and Macedonia, we felt ourselves coming alive as we engaged in their daily rhythms of mission. No matter the place, we began to recognize that common themes marked their lives: things like living in close-knit community, living simply, living among and serving the poor, praying together, daily laboring toward a heavenly goal, and so much more.
Soon we asked ourselves, why do we need to visit far away places to live like this? Why must our lifestyles in America look so different? We quickly realized that what we longed for more than anything was to live like the missionaries we are so fortunate to know! But could it be that God was asking us to do that…in our own hometown of Cleveland, Ohio? As we prayed, read, counseled and schemed, the answer came into clear focus: Yes, God was calling us to share our lives with others in intentional community for the sake of His Kingdom.
We discovered that many others throughout the Western world are gripped by the very same longings. We discovered a movement of Jesus-followers relocating to the
abandoned places of empire—places like the urban core—to share life and live on mission together. We realized that we were caught up in something far bigger (and more ancient) than our own little story—something that some have described as the “New Monasticism.” Whatever the language, we knew God was rooting us in a movement of His Spirit. And along the way, He put a desire for the city in our own hearts.
And so in March, 2012 we moved to Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood to launch an intentional community on the campus of the Family Ministry Center, a ministry of Bay Presbyterian Church. Our nuclear family is now blended with spiritual family, living under the same roof in a home called Ephraim House and on mission to the surrounding locale. And so, believing the journey has only begun,
we’ll praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all that’s to come.
Stephen grew up in Northeast Ohio and moved to the city of Cleveland in 2008. He met Danielle on a vision-trip to Thailand, where they discovered their shared passion for a lifestyle of service to God and others. They married on a wonderful day in March, 2009, beginning a lifelong adventure of holy mischief. Stephen earned a B.A. from Kent State University studying literature and photojournalism.
Brains of the Operation
Danielle’s life changed drastically after being dragged by her father to a Bible-preaching congregation, realizing suddenly that God can use anyone for good, even her. She is passionate about the plight of the underserved and the oppressed, especially children. Danielle earned a B.A. from Miami University and a M.Ed. from Cleveland State University with focuses in both urban education and TESOL.
The Wild Cards
Levi joined the Piscura family in 2011 and his parents have been on their toes ever since! In addition to the weekly memorization of Bible verses, Levi’s worldview is shaped by a fierce passion for choo-choo trains, Superman and buttered noodles.
Solomon came onto the scene in 2013 to much fanfare. He delivers daily, toddler-sized packages of joy in the form of guttural laughter, adorable dance moves and surprisingly powerful hugs.
Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you
Ephraim House is an intentional community which centers on prayer, work, rest, and mission.
Ephraim House is the place we call home—a place where we share in intentional community with five other adults. It’s here that we practice a monastic rhythm of life which centers on prayer, work, rest, and mission.
In pursuit of Jesus, Ephraim House exists to bear fruit in our neighborhood and repair the ruins in our city by upholding the Rule of our community.
We envision an enduring, monastic family living as priests before God, welcoming the stranger and sojourner, collaboratively ministering the holistic gospel to a once-blighted neighborhood, actively pursuing the welfare of the city, contending for the advance of God’s Kingdom in the nations, and bringing fame to the name of the Lord.
The Rule of Ephraim House is defined in this way:
Ephraim House residents make an annual commitment to the practices of the Rule in the form of a vow. Each year residents discern their continued participation in the community in concert with other Ephraim House residents and its leadership, as well as Family Ministry Center leadership. At this point, commitments are either renewed or concluded. In the latter case, residents then transition out of the home.
The customary provides targeted, practical ways of living out the community Rule. The customary is a living document and is always subject to change.
In the welfare of the city you will find your welfare
Providing spiritual enrichment and much-needed financial support, partnership empowers our family to run hard after our dreams.
Partnership is a relationship of mutual investment and accountability which serves to further the Kingdom of God. Partnership with the Piscura family extends the purpose for which God has called us, shouldering it among all those who’ve come to believe in this work and believe in us. By providing spiritual enrichment and much-needed financial support, partnering relationships empower our family to freely pursue the vision that’s gripped our hearts.
Moreover, just as partnership paves the way for our family to run hard after our dreams, we treasure the opportunity to encourage, support and invest in the dreams of those who've joined themselves to us as partners. In whatever way and to whatever extent possible, we make it our aim to live as
iron sharpening iron in the midst of the partnering relationships that we’re so privileged to enjoy.
Share our story with your friends and family, among your faith community, or with any you think may be interested. Relationships are super important to us, so we think of communication tools like our video as means of initiating or furthering conversations, rather than as ends in themselves. We so appreciate any time and effort folks may take to share these tools and we count as a privilege the resulting opportunity to engage with new friends.
Invite us to share with your community-group/cell-group/life-group/etc. Host a dinner or dessert (we can help cook!). Give us the chance—if you dare!—to share with your Sunday-school class or congregation. Invite yourself (and your friends) over for a meal and we’ll gladly host, engage in conversation, tell our story and hear yours. We’re open to and grateful for any invitations that may be extended to us. The more creative the venue the better!
Give financially to whatever degree you are moved. It’s our sincere honor to be supported by others as we pursue the work to which we believe God has called us.
Tax-deductible support can be made payable to: Building Hope in the City with The Piscura Family in the memo and mailed to:
Engaging in and enjoying actual relationships with our partners is one of the primary ways we maintain accountability. Because we are a family—not an organization—it’s just natural to share our lives with those who lovingly invest in us. So while formal updates like newsletters and reports from the field are certainly important, we’re most excited by the opportunity to engage with our partners over a meal, on a prayer-walk, or while our kids play together. Space for accountability is created as we genuinely open our lives and invite others to participate in those places where God is at work.
The Family Ministry Center (FMC) is a place and a people of refuge for Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood and beyond so that God can be made famous. Founded by and accountable to Bay Presbyterian Church, the FMC practices a model of mutually engaged partnership with nearly twenty organizations. As missionaries to Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood living at the FMC, our family is directly accountable to the FMC’s executive director, Julie Jones (who is also a dear friend). Thus matters of vision, mission and long-term strategy are (happily!) made in the context of this accountability structure.
While our family is not some kind of legal entity, we do enjoy the counsel of what is essentially an advisory board. Since some wise guy once said that
without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed, we knew it would be right to ask some trusted friends to fill such a role as we move forward in mission. We’re grateful for the way this group serves to encourage us, help us see the way forward and, when necessary, put us back in line! Their names are available upon request.
Any support given to us in the form of financial contributions is done so via the fiscal sponsorship of Building Hope in the City (BHITC), a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which has been serving God in the city of Cleveland since 2003. Our relationship with BHITC not only makes all gifts of financial support tax-deductible, but also adds a vital layer of accountability to our lives and mission. Supporters may be confident that oversight is built into both the allocation and the proper use of their generous gifts.
Build up the ancient ruins
We’re new at this, but we can anticipate at least a handful of questions. Don’t hesitate to ask others.
Nope, we don’t have any on-paper credentials that would qualify us as professionals. But what we do have is oil in our lamps, a flame in our hearts, and a call on our lives.
Nevertheless, we’ve not ruled out the pursuit of such things if—relative to our calling—they should open up opportunities that are otherwise closed.
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas. (
Unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things.)
We hold to the Apostles’ Creed and many of the other great creeds of the faith. Having grown up in the evangelical tradition, we have a deep appreciation and passion for orthodoxy. That being said, our spiritual formation is peppered by a wide cross-section of traditions, which has taught us that unity is not uniformity.
Knowing that one’s bookshelf is often a helpful gauge in answering questions like these, some of our major influences include folks like: A.W. Tozer, Andrew Murray, William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, Ralph Winter, Hudson Taylor, Watchman Nee, Derek Prince, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Shane Claiborne, and on it goes.
If there are particular questions anyone might have in this regard, feel free to contact us and we’d be happy to discuss!
Please see the Partnership section for more info.
But in summary: We are missionaries under the ministerial covering of the Family Ministry Center, a ministry of Bay Presbyterian Church, and we are directly accountable to its executive director, Julie Jones. Moreover, while our family is not some kind of legal entity, we do enjoy the counsel of what is essentially a board of advisors (names available upon request) who encourage us, help us see the way forward and, when necessary, put us back in line!
Please see the Partnership section for more info.
But in summary: Any support given to us in the form of financial contributions is done so via the fiscal sponsorship of Building Hope in the City (BHITC), a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which has been serving God in the city of Cleveland since 2003. Our relationship with BHITC not only makes all gifts of financial support tax-deductible, but also adds a vital layer of accountability to our lives and mission. For instance, Stephen enjoys an ongoing mentoring relationship with BHITC Executive Director Brian Upton. If there are any questions or concerns particularly about this fiscal sponsorship arrangement that we cannot satisfy, please consider contacting Brian via buildinghopeinthecity.org.
Stephen has a background in photojournalism and visual communication, so telling our story using these means seemed like the most natural way to get it out to the world.
Actually, Stephen and some close friends enjoy doing this kind of creative work together—and sometimes it even pays! Visit cypresscollective.com to see some of the things they’ve built together and to inquire about hiring the collective!
Extra special, pressed down, shaken together, running over thanks to Mark Valley for his expert help with filming and for the generous, repeated use of his fantastic gear!
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. All the love in the world man!
More FAQ coming soon.
Raise up the former devastations
Check out some of our cottage-industry efforts and other means of supporting ourselves.
Cypress Collective is a group of friends, including Stephen, who create things together—things like photographs, short stories on film, print and web design and other fun stuff. Clients of Cypress Collective have included Case Western Reserve University, Ohio City Incorporated, Ohio City Pasta, and many others. Visit cypresscollective.com to see some of the things they’ve built together and to inquire about hiring the collective!cypresscollective.com
Stephen has been making photographs for nearly half his life. Every once in a while he’ll even take one that other people enjoy looking at. And while electronic displays have their place, nothing beats a high-quality print! Selling photos is a very practical way to support our family, with the added benefit that the buyer gets a piece of art they’ll (hopefully!) love. Check out the gallery below and get in touch if you’re interested in making one your own!
More photographs coming soon.
Danielle is a licensed teacher with a specialization in TESOL. Know a family or individual in need? Hosting a foreign exchange student? Why not consider hiring Danielle as a part-time tutor? She’s equipped to provide individualized assistance at multiple levels—whether in a specific subject area, or with more general language acquisition. And while motherhood puts specific demands on her time, she’ll do her best to accommodate the schedule of the client.Inquire
Raise up the foundations of many generations
Our lives are an open book. Please get in touch! Call, email, text—whatever suits you best.
All the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city