Apr 2008

Catch Up

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Above: Enjoying God's creation at Szép Alma. We're back 'online' after a weekend of rest and encouragement at a PI team leaders' retreat in Szép Alma (which literally means Beautiful Apple).

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Above: Leaders of teams in various areas of Europe seeking to initiate a church planting movement.

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Above: The retreat was designed to offer plenty of free time to connect. I (Allen) was also able to celebrate my 34th (oh, I mean 36th) birthday which I like to keep 'lowkey'. It's hard enough to keep track of Sharon's, Ben's Elianna's and Kira's birthday. As I consider my life at 34 (um, I mean 36), I praise God for His outpouring of grace in my life, giving me the invaluable gifts of a loving wife and three wonderful children. I praise Him for giving me the responsibility to serve as a servant leader on a multinational team. I thank Him for His constant provision in my life as He often gives more than I expect.

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Above: Elianna enjoyed the company of the other girls that also attended the retreat.

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Above: Ben and I were able to spend some time in the woods. He was sure to point out the fort he planned to build and also began collecting logs to complete it.

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Prayer Requests:

While at the retreat, we heard some disturbing news about events in our church service in Petőfibánya. Miki told me that he had just been teaching about how God brings deliverance and freedom when church member Lidia was overcome with a panic attack. I believe this panic attack had physical aspects and spiritual aspects. The good that came about was a greater awareness of the reality of the enemies tactics, and also the building of unity and faith as the church surrounded Lidia in prayer. This type of disruptive and disturbing activity is not new and usually escalates when there is a burst of spiritual growth in our church. To be more specific, the enemy often uses fear as a form of attack and bondage in many people's lives.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, "Abba, Father."— Rom. 8:15.

What a source of freedom to know that our Father is greater than our enemy. What a source of peace to know that victory is His, releasing us from all types of bondage. Please pray for the young in faith in our congregation to be protected from the enemy. Pray for them to grow in the knowledge of HIs truth through learning and trusting in His revealed word. We are under attack, and you can help us press on and gain more ground through your prayers!

Tomorrow our church has been invited to participate in a May Day celebration in Petőfibánya. We will be presenting a puppet show and interacting with the kids with a craft, face painting and singing. These are great opportunities to introduce our church to the community and distribute Christian reading material. Please pray for relationships to be built, and for new people from the community to be drawn to God's truth either by visiting our church or through reading the material. Please also Pray for unity on our team, and strength and wisdom to fulfill our commitments with quality for God's glory.
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Monday ESL

It is our custom to come together before class and devote time to pray as a team. For the past two weeks, one of our students has walked in on us while we were still in prayer. This has given us opportunity to share with him what we were doing and also gave a visible sign as to our our belief in Jesus. This student has been invited by us and others to stay after for our Bible study, but has family responsibilities at home. We hope that there will be more family related opportunities in the summer to develop a closer friendship and to share about our Savior Jesus Christ.

After prayer, we enjoyed a few moments basking in the sunlight just outside the entrance to the community center before class began. At the door, it iwas a blessing to be able to greet students as friends and not just students. Csilla was able to stay after for our optional Bible study and I sense that God continues to do a miraculous work in her heart. After class, she allowed me to pray for her as she continues to suffer from a brain tumor. Please join me in praying for God to have mercy on her and to grant miraculous healing. Tonight we studied John 8 where a women caught in adultery is brought to Jesus by religious teachers. Their desire was to trap Jesus so that they could bring charges against Him and put the woman and Jesus to death. Jesus turned their attention to consider their own moral failures before condemning the woman mercilessly. After the accusers of the woman left, Jesus, the only valid Judge, pardoned her sins. What an amazing comfort to come to Jesus, guilty of sin, with full understanding that we justly deserve the penalty of death and hearing Him say, "I do not condemn you." This is the invaluable gift to all those who put their faith in Jesus, as their Lord and Savior.
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Swiss Short Term Ministry Team

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Above: A short term ministry team from Crossroads Church in greater Geneva came to serve with us this weekend. On Friday, we were able to hike up the mountain (or hill) in Petőfibánya to pray over our village.

FRIDAY

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Above: Later, we converged at our house and began preparing crafts and teaching materials for this year's Children's Camp.

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Above: On Friday night, the team helped us with out Teen Outreach. We praise God for a very good turn out, and the addition of four kids that had not previously attended this outreach.

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Above: We invited Kati and Virgi (blue jacket, red shirt above center) in from a park bench outside the community center. Over a year ago, Virgi had been a regular attender to our church, and then disappeared when she became a teen. We were thankful to be able to connect with her again.

SATURDAY

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Above: On Saturday, we prepared English Camp brochures, Children's Camp invites and church invites to be distributed in Petőfibánya. It was so great to have the help of many hands!

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Above: On Saturday night, we invited the teens over to Miki's house for a Pizza party. Teammate Brenda and the Swiss team planned out games for the night. We had a great time laughing together and building community.

SUNDAY

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Above: Elianna showing me a flower bracelet that she just received from her friend Betti in church.

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Above: The Swiss team leading a time of worship. Two of the songs they prepared were already familiar to our church since we sing them in Hungarian. It was a blessing to sing praise to God in English and Hungarian.

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Above: Gabi gave testimony about the recent changes in his life brought about by the Holy Spirit working in and through him. He shared that in his past experience (without God), every job he held ended with some kind of problem. A few weeks ago, he found himself without work and means to support himself and his wife Hugi. It was in this two week time in his new faith that he was learning about perseverance and trust in God. After praying and waiting, God provided a new position as a shift leader in a factory. Gabi couldn't believe he received such a high position. He knew it was a gift from God. It turned out that Gabi was the second person to be hired and would have the responsibility to train and oversee forty new employees. After our weekend of extended teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit in and through our lives, Gabi began seeking God every morning while driving to work asking for wisdom and direction. Smiling, he said that as others drove by, they thought he was crazy as it seemed that he was talking to himself in the car.

As Gabi put his trust in God each day, He experienced changes in himself, wisdom to lead and opportunities to share His faith. Gabi said that in under four days, he successfully trained forty employees in contrast to his past experiences of consistent failure. He was able to respond to employees with a humble heart when others were yelling. This led to people asking him why he was so calm, which led to opportunity to share his faith in Jesus. In a board meeting, one of the leaders flippantly threw in the phrase "If God will be with us" when talking about plans in the factory. Gabi turned to him and said, "God is here now." Praise God for providing a good job for Gabi and for using him to give testimony to the lost in that factory.

We praise God for the amazing work He is doing in the hearts of those He has saved! Please pray that more would come to know Him through the testimony of members of our church. Please pray specifically for tonight as we hold our English classes and optional Bible study afterwards.

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Monday ESL

Tonight, we were thankful for Csilla staying after for our optional Bible study hour. We studied Luke 12 where Jesus warns against greed, and makes clear the downfalls of living a life without God. Jesus says, "Pursue, His kingdom, and these things [the things we need in life] will be given to you as well." Pursuing Jesus first, above all things, puts us in a position of peace where we can rest assured in the promise that our Father will provide. What a blessing to have the opportunity to live a life free of the burden of worrying. As we study in a small group setting, it is always a blessing to hear our team or church members share how God used His word in their lives.

I forgot to mention a big PRAISE in my last post. Last week, we received our renewed residency permits and we were granted FIVE YEAR permits! On average, we had to go into the office and restart the process every 2 years. We praise God for these extended permits which allow us to continue serving Him in Hungary.
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Saturday and Sunday

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Above: On Saturday and Sunday, we provided two days of teaching on the ministry of the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives. We were thankful for the majority of the church attending both days, and the clear and applicable teaching from Peti. I rejoice in the 'behind the scenes' discussions of the eldership as to what we would be presenting and teaching the church. Miki, Peti and I come from various theological backgrounds and God was gracious to keep our hearts focused on His Word and our spirits humble toward one another.

“Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus,  so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Rom 15:5

For those of you that have not heard, Peti is planning to be married to Edina at the end of May and will be moving to Petőfibánya to serve as a pastor/elder in our church. Please pray for God's provision as they continue their search for a suitable house in Petőfibánya and means of work as they respond to His calling in their lives.

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Above: Teenager Gabi K., and Gabór and wife Hugi Sunday. Gabór gave testimony about a co-worker who began asking questions that lead to an open door to the gospel. After Gabór declared his faith in God, the co-worker asked, "Where is God? I just don't see him." Gabór opened up his Bible and read Hebrews 11:6.

“Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Please pray for Gabór as he will have more opportunity to share his faith with his co-workers at the new job God has provided for him.

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Above: Milán (L) and Dávid (R). I continue to see a bit of change in Dávid as he attends our Friday teen game night and also our Sunday services. He has become less rebellious in the midst of service and seems more and more interested in what is happening. His mother Erzsi gave testimony to God pulling her out of a hopeless depressive state. Please pray for Erzsi and Dávid's salvation. Please pray that they would represent one more family saved from the enemy, from sin and from death by God's amazing grace. Dávid has shown interest in attending our worship practice and learning to play the djembe drum. This may be one more opportunity to direct him to our Savior Jesus.

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Above: After service, we celebrated Marcsi and Dezső's daughter's (Adrien) birthday. What a joy to see a father praying for his child on her birthday. What a blessing to see a family submitted to God's leadership, and formed by God's grace.

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Above: Sharon and Miki getting Eszti's baby to giggle. Please pray for Eszti as her heart's desire is that her husband (Péter) would be saved.

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Above: Eszti talking wit Peti after service. Pray that she would have wisdom in the home and in her relationship with her husband Péter. Pray that Peti may be drawn to Jesus Christ through her pure and reverent conduct.

“...even if some are disobedient to the word, they will be won over without a word by the way you live, when they see your pure and reverent conduct.” – 1 Peter 3:1-2

SAD NEWS, GLAD NEWS

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Above: Petőfibánya Church planting team in 2007. It is with mixed emotions that our church is in the process of saying goodbye to Janka and Csaba (pictured top left in team shot) as they plan to move to Budapest in June. Janka has played a key role in organizing our puppet and drama ministry and has blessed many children by teaching Bible classes in schools throughout Heves County. Janka has also been director of our children's ministry for years. Csaba has helped in almost all of our ministries with a heart to know God and to seek His face. The reasons for their move are many, and they have sought God's direction in this decision. We are saddened by this move, but have peace and are glad with the hope of what God has in store for His children. Please pray for them and for our church in this time of change.
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Monday ESL

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Above: Ben's patented bubble submersion technique.

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Above: We had to temporarily move Ben back into the girls room as Allen preps Ben's room for painting. Although he expresses great joy when talking about having his own room, I could see his excitement temporarily moving back into Elianna and Kira's room.



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Above: Before and after shots of our kitchen. Sharon is now officially out of our temporary basement kitchen and enjoying the new kitchen that God has provided. We are so thankful for the hours of work that many of our friends put in to help us finish it.


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Above: Before and after shots of our dining room.

As you can see we are steadily making progress getting settled into our new house. The majority of the hard work (the kitchen) is done, and we hope to have Ben's room finished in the next few weeks. Thank all of you who have helped us in this need by giving financial gifts. If you would like to continue to help financially, please visit our support link.

MONDAY ESL

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Above:
Church members Dezső and Hugi, joking around with us after the optional ESL Bible study time. Dezső translates for Allen in this time and sometimes uses the Bible lesson in his advanced class with Roger as curriculum. I'm so thankful for brothers and sisters in Christ that have a joyful spirit and are ready and willing to serve with us.

One of our students, Csilla returned after a few weeks of being absent. Csilla has some type of brain tumor and has already gone through surgery and is currently going through more tests. Csilla heard about our program through her son Csaba, who attended our English camp two years in a row. I was thankful that she returned tonight and had the opportunity to let her know that we are praying for her.

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Above: Sharon and Kira last week in a playground in Eger.

For the first month home, we were maneuvering around suitcases and boxes and working morning to night unpacking. Now that most of our things are in their proper places and most of the rooms are finished, Sharon has been hard at work developing more of a routine for the kids. The kids are learning about chores, and other important responsibilities.

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Above: Ben and Kira in our back yard. Looks like I have to cut the lawn soon (or maybe Ben can do it).

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Above: Sharon and Kira journeyed to Rozsaszentmarton (neighboring town) to register Ben for 1st grade. Sharon said the conversation with the headmaster went very well and that there were no problems registering, even though it officially happened last week. Praise God.

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Above: Ben's friend Attila (yellow vest) from pre-school came and broke in our new kitchen barstools.

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Above: Elianna helping mom make carrot cake.

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Above: Kira intending to help mom make carrot cake, but...

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Above: Thank you for your prayers for our family and for the ministry of church planting that God has called us to. It is always encouraging to us to know that somewhere across the globe, there are people lifting us up before God's glorious throne.
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Weekly Update

We started our week with a trip into the town of Egér to seek an extension on our expiring residency permits. We praise God that the process has been smooth thus far. We are still waiting for final word on how long of permit we will receive. Please pray for a five year permit.

TUESDAY

As we continue to pursue ways to begin a Christian school in Petôfibánya, we traveled into Budapest to meet with a non profit organization to dicuss options in partnering with them. Legal matters in Hungary are always changing, and it is burdensome work to establish and keep up a legal basis on which the shcool would exist. Partnering with this Christian non profit organization would allow us to be legally founded and focus more on teaching than on maintaing an organization. Our meeting was positive, but raised more questions that we need to answer before establishing such a school. The initial door that was open that would allow us to work within Petôfibánya's existing middle school has closed. We continue to seek God's will as to what steps to take next.

We are required to register Benjamin in a local school this week. If the Christian school does not come into fruition, we have decided to put Ben in Rozsaszentmarton's school, which is about a 6 minute drive from Petôfibánya. Please pray for Sharon as she goes through this process of regestering Ben.

FRIDAY Teen Outreach

Every friday, Miki and Allen hold an outreach for teenagers in Petőfibánya and the surrounding villages. Istvan, who attends our English program is a father of four, and brings his kids along with him every friday to our game night. We continue to seek God's wisdom as to how we can reach out to these teens.

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Above: We praise God for the few (Gabi K., Zoli K., Benedekt and Győző pictured above) who came to our Bible study that we hold before game time.

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Above: The reigning champs, Zoli and Gabi (above L) were able to once again leave the night undefeated.

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Above: Last week, we discovered that only one Table Football game among twenty kids equals havoc. We decided to buy a dart board which allows for more games to be inserted into our tournament play. This keeps the problematic teens occupied and less prone to stir up trouble.

SUNDAY WORSHIP

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Above: Dezső brought teaching from Romans, chapter two. He did a good job lifting up the goodness found in God's law, and warned against the tendency to be judgmental instead of self reflective. He challenged the church to reproduce the kindness, patience and love of the Father toward others instead of judgment.

“Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God's kindness leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

What joy to see people seeking after God's truth in a former communist town. What encouragement to see Dezső, who was saved from a destructive life of alcoholism, preaching God's word to us. God's grace is amazing.

Gabor (Hugi's husband), gave told me tonight about how the Lord provided him work this past week. This is an answer to prayer! He has been given a leadership position and asks that we pray that those he is leading would see him more as a friend than someone 'higher up'.

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Above L: Daddy and Kira. Above R: Teenager Zoli K. continues to be faithful in having fellowship with other Christians, in church and in small group Bible studies even in the midst of a more intense school/work schedule. Zoli joined us for our prayer hour before church service as well. We are thankful for God's work in his life since the time he was saved in an English camp a few years ago.

Tomorrow, we have our English classes in Petőfibánya. Please pray with us as we ask God to draw more students to Himself and that the students would remain for the optional Bible study after class.
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