Christmas Puppet Ministry Week One

We’ve had a great beginning for our Christmas Puppet Ministry. Our first week included 14 locations with over 800 kids hearing the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus Christ. We appreciate your continued prayer for us. If you haven’t downloaded our prayer guide, you can get the PDF by clicking here.

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Above: Miki letting the kids know about the CD and Children’s magazine they’ll be receiving as a gift after the show. The CD includes the puppet show (which tells the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth) and also songs and testimonies.

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Above: In 2015, many of you had prayed for a Romani mother who was pregnant in a neighboring village. Her pregnancy was determined to be high risk by doctors and they encouraged her to abort her baby (a very common practice here). We had also prayed for healing for her baby in the womb who had been diagnosed with Hydrocephalus (water in the brain). In spite of the doctor’s advice, she decided to go forward with her pregnancy seeking to honor God and believed that it is He who gave this life. Now, here is her child three years later! Ronaldo, who although born prematurely, showed no signs of Hydrocephalus when born (God healed him!). What a reminder of the power of God, the power of prayer and the gift of life.

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Above: Not only the puppet show delivers the truth about Jesus, but also the songs we sing together with the kids in each school. Here are the lyrics for the song we teach the kids this year:

Christmas is here again
The snow sparkles as it falls
Candles are lit and bells sound
Christmas is here already!

Thanks to you Jesus Christ
The Son of God and Savior
You came to the earth for me
We wait for you our Savior!

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Above: Yes, this is a show for kids, but many teachers have commented on how special the show is for them every year. In one school, the teachers were apologetic because they felt their students didn’t fully appreciate the show. Of course, we don’t do these shows based on how the kids behave. We know that the worst behaved kids are the very kids who need to come to know Jesus. The teachers said, “Even though the kids didn’t seem to appreciate the show, we do! We look forward to it every year.”

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Above: We also have an opportunity to present this show with groups with various disabilities and mental challenges. We have known these folks for many years and are always greeted with hugs, smiles and laughter.

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Above: Puppeteers: Zita, Jennifer, Andi and Miki in the teacher’s lounge after the show.

Mothers of preschoolers


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Above: On Thursday, we had a special get-together for mother’s with pre-schoolers. Our teammate Heidi along with church member Eniko have been meeting with these moms and children for some time. A few years ago we began having a Christmas get together which included our puppet show, crafts and free family portraits. It was great to see and get to know new families in the community.

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Above: Praise God for giving Zita wisdom, boldness and direction as she briefly shares the gospel after each show.

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Thanks for partnering with us in this seed-sowing ministry. Please continue to pray for us next week as we’ll have another 14 locations to visit as well as a special Christmas worship service where we expect many guests. May the name of Jesus Christ be lifted high this Christmas. “All things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col 1:16-17)
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December Update

Dear praying friends,

Normally, Allen has been the one who has written in this space about what the Lord is doing in our lives and ministry. In these past few years there has been much change and upheaval in both our personal lives and within our church plant. As God has brought us out of that season of trial, my heart has eagerly desired to share with you how the Lord has been at work in my own life. Several years ago while we were still in the midst of quite a bit of turmoil here, I began to ask the Lord what He was preparing me for and how I might begin to prepare for the next extended season. God graciously began to give me some insights into what kind of ministries He was leading me toward and alongside of that several opportunities opened up for training.

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Two years ago I began a leadership training course within Pioneers that has been very helpful in my own spiritual growth as well as giving me vision and insight into the balance between ministry and personal life. I am so grateful for this opportunity. I just completed the 3rd and final module last week. One of the huge personal benefits was that it spurred on a renewed desire to read again. I haven’t read extensively since college and I am thoroughly enjoying digging back into the riches that can be found in books. Prayer and fasting are also being stirred up in me as I begin to recognize to a greater degree the level of spiritual warfare we are up against.

This past spring I decided to have my hearing checked on a whim. I’ve had hearing troubles since childhood and at my last ear checkup (nearly 10 years ago) the doctor sadly informed me that the type of hearing loss I have would continue to decline and that hearing aids would not be of assistance to me. In April, I decided I should see if my hearing was continuing to decline (it has slightly) but the current doctor couldn’t see any reasons why hearing aids couldn’t help me and set me up for a trial pair within the week! Hearing is awesome! Armed with my “new ears” I headed off to Switzerland for a 10 day training in leading women in Bible study. I don’t consider teaching to be a spiritual gift of mine but as a counselor told me that spring, “You will never go wrong learning how to lead women to Jesus through God’s Word.” What good advice that has proven to be! The training was exceptional and my “new ears” were an invaluable part of that training. I began to realize that I was shrinking back from some ministries because I couldn’t always hear well enough to engage people well. When I returned from Switzerland I went back to purchase my trial pair of hearing aids and had more than a bit of sticker shock! I thought glasses were expensive! Lord willing this set of hearing aids will last the better part of a decade though, so we consider it an investment well worth it.

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With my new skill of facilitating Bible studies, I offered the women of our church plant the opportunity to be a part of a study on Colossians which began in September. What a blessing it has been both to them and to me to read God’s word together, to pray with and for one another and to consider how God is calling us to change in light of His Word.

One of my favorite passages in Colossians is 3:16 which reads, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” The Hungarian translation brought my attention to the fact that “teaching and admonishing” is (at least partly) to be done *through* song!

Three years ago, I began to ask the Lord if I could use any musical gifting He had given me to begin to serve the church. Most of my gifts in that area are underdeveloped and raw, but my heart desires to grow in them. The Lord began to lead me to write songs and music in February 2016. I keep taking small steps of growth in this area and I find it a personal source of great joy. Last week during the leadership conference, I was given an opportunity to attend a conference in January that would give me some training in songwriting! I’m so humbled by all these great opportunities I am being given to grow and develop!

As our youngest just started 1st grade in the fall, my eyes are looking at the horizon, eager to see what God might have for me in the next long season of 20 years or so. Pray that God will help me to stay steadfast in following His lead for what He wants me to be doing alongside of caring for our kids and supporting Allen.

As you can probably imagine, our budget isn’t (yet) set up for these many amazing opportunities that I’ve been able to take advantage of. We find ourselves in a shortfall coming up to the end of the year. We trust that He is fully able to provide for our needs as well as yours. Thank you for prayerfully considering if He might have you help us in this time of development for the future. (
More info on giving by clicking here.)

We truly can’t say enough how much we appreciate your loving care and prayers for us. God has, and is continuing, to empower us through you.
— Sharon

God making Himself known


Just as our worship service was about to begin in Petofibanya on Sunday night, I received a phone call from a young man Andras. I have known him for a few years since he is the son of Edit who was saved in Bogács. God has opened up more opportunities over the past few weeks to share the Gospel with Andras and this night would be another example of how God is revealing himself. As we talked on the phone, it turned out that he had run out of gas and was stuck at rest-stop. Unfortunately, I couldn’t immediately help as I was preaching that night. I asked him to call back if he could find no other solution as I would be able to help later that night. Fast forward three days as I am sitting in Edit’s house and we are doing our weekly Bible study in her kitchen. Andras strolls in and tells me the story of what happened that night: “I asked the lady at the shop how far away Petõfibánya was. She told me about half an hour. She asked me if I knew Allen. I said yes. She was blown away. She asked how I knew you and I explained how you come to teach the Bible and have visited for years. She ended up helping us as a friend of hers was able to go out of her way to bring us gas.”

To put this in perspective, Andras lives an hour away from us in another village. This night at a ‘random' rest stop which is a half an hour away from our hometown of Petofibánya, a women ‘happened' to know me and her parents ‘happened' to attend our church. Of course, I don’t thing any of this was ‘happen-stance’. I told Andras, “God is continuing reveal Himself to you.” He was amazed at what had happened and began asking some important questions in our study which led to the Gospel begin explained once again. Please continue to pray for the lost in Bogács and for entire households to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Pray for Andras and his wife Orsi to come to understand their need for redemption and a new life in Jesus.

Church planting team building in Jászfényszaru


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Above L to R: Allen, Margit, Erika & Miki, Erika & Laci, Zsolti & Zita.



A few weeks ago I was thankful to lead some sessions on mission and team with the core group of Hungarians from the church plant in Jászfényszaru. It was a great two days of worship, fellowship prayer and discussions as we seek the Lord for next steps in the coming year. Please pray for God to raise up and send more workers to the plentiful harvest in Jászfényszaru and for open doors to proclaiming His Gospel in this town!

Baseball


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As the dark and cold days of winter settled in, we sought for solutions to continue meeting with the children who attend baseball practice each week. God has been giving this bridge-building ministry momentum since the summer baseball camp and we’ve gotten to know new families and bless some of the troubled kids in our neighborhood with the love of Christ. Praise God for providing the means to rent a covered practice area in a neighboring town just a few minutes away. Parents have also been helping car pool kids. Church members Jozsi and Mónika have also become invested in this ministry and have opportunities with these kids outside of baseball practice as their two children attend Petofibanya’s public school with others who play. We’ll be hosting a party for families toward the end of December and look forward to God opening more doors to share the hope we have within us through Christ. Please pray for these families!

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A focus on fellowship


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Above: The local community center that we’ve been meeting together in for years for worship service in Petofibanya.

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Above: A few years ago, Peti (center grey shirt) had a vision to begin doing mini-conferences for our church and other believers in close vicinity. We sought to support his vision and also see how it fits into the direction God has been leading us this year in focusing on fellowship. We believe that in order to be effective as a church in reaching out and making disciples, we must also be deeply connected with one another. These mini-conferences give us an opportunity to spend the entire day together, worshiping, studying God’s word and breaking bread together.

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Above: Church members prepping the tent and super sour pickles to accompany lunch later in the day.

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We praise God that these have been powerful times together, giving our church opportunity to use their giftings to bless and build one another up in Christ.

Questions about life and death


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Above: In late October, a ‘ministry friend’ Rosemary Barrett visited our town to offer the women in our church teaching on questions about life and death from a Christian perspective.

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Above: Rosemary with Lidia who helped translate.

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We’re thankful for the church members that attended and also an elderly woman who responded to an invite to attend who is not a believer. It was a very warm atmosphere with times for questions and discussion about a topic that is very important as there are a fair amount of elderly women that attend our church.

Christmas Puppet Outreach


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Above: Jennifer, Andi, Zita and Miki practicing this year’s puppet show in our basement.

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Above: We presented our first show on Friday in the town of Jászfényszaru. Over the next two weeks of December, we’ll be traveling to public schools throughout our region and sharing the story of the birth of Jesus Christ through this show.

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Above: In the past, we had presented puppet shows to all the students in this school in Jászfényszaru, but because of ‘religious politics’, we were no longer invited. The teacher seated in the back (with hands up) took a risk in specifically inviting us to come and present this show in her homeroom hour (even though the school did not invite us). She has become friends with Miki (our Hungarian partner in ministry) over the past year and has often visited his Bible class that he holds for a small group of students in this school. Please pray for God to continue to open up doors in Jászfényszaru for the proclamation of His gospel. Pray for this teacher and her husband to come to know God’s plans for them and to build up their faith in Christ.

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Above: After each show, Zita will be presenting a brief explanation of the Gospel and as is our custom, we’ll be distributing mini-magazines and CD’s for the kids as gifts. Thankfully, God has already provided the financial help needed to purchase the gifts for this year’s Christmas outreach!

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This puppet ministry is a great way to sow seeds to children, parents and teachers twice a year (every Easter and Christmas) throughout northeastern Hungary. By God's grace, many of these seeds will take root and help establish the next generation in their faith in Jesus Christ. As church planters, these puppet shows have already helped us enter into new small towns and villages as welcome guests and not strangers. God has used them to give the church a good reputation and dispel the fear that we are a sect. We have been invited to take part in various neighboring towns' summer celebrations and been able to invite kids from surrounding villages to our summer VBS that already know us through seeing us twice a year. Some parents have been introduced to Jesus for the first time at our summer VBS which leads to entire families turning to Jesus Christ.

As this is front line ministry, we want to enter into the spiritual battle with your prayer support. Please download this guide, and print it out and partner with us in December in this outreach through prayer! You can bring a copy to your small group, or use it as a family.
Download a copy here!

Brenda is back!


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Our teammate Brenda who has been in the US for a year on sabbatical has recently returned to Hungary! We are excited to have Brenda serving here with us and would appreciate your prayers for her as she transitions back to life in Hungary!

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Above: Sharon and the girls having some fun decorating together. December is such a great time to share the hope that is within us “Christ, the hope of glory!” We would appreciate your prayers as we’ll have a year end party for Mother’s of Preschoolers, and for the families of kids who attend baseball. And of course, we’ll have our Christmas celebration service in which we’ve seen many guests attend every year. May God continue to reveal Jesus, the Savior of the word to the lost in Hungary. Thank you all for your continued partnership with us!
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