Jan 2011

WEEKLY UPDATE

BODY-ACHE

This past week has been filled with what I’ll call “body-ache”. Two of the members of our church have ignored Jesus in certain aspects of their lives and have brought a sense of hurt and pain in us as we are jealous for their growth in Christ and for Christ’s name to be glorified in them. Unfortunately, this is an all too familiar experience with new believers. It is my hope that both of these members turn from their sin and gain a greater understanding of God’s grace through their restoration. The other possibility is weighty to think about...that they don’t turn from their sin and rather reveal by their decisions that they in fact never put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. Jesus says in Matt 13:22-23:

“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”

Right now, two of our members are falling away by “the cares of the world.” My prayer and only hope is in God’s Spirit to speak to both of them, to convict them of sin and to draw them back to the only “Way” the only “Truth” and the only “Life” in this world...Jesus Christ. Their decisions right now are bringing shame to the name of Jesus and destroying their testimony among family and friends. Please pray for the young believers in our body! Pray for deep conviction, for restoration and for growth in understanding God’s love and holiness.

FAMILY NEWS

If you haven’t heard, we are planning on returning to the US from May through mid June for furlough. This takes a lot of coordination and planning and God has ALREADY been gracious to provide a place to stay, a car to drive and 10 small groups we will be visiting. Of course, we hope to visit even more groups and share about what God has been doing in Hungary and also raise monthly support to continue serving in Hungary. Please contact us if you would like to get together with us while we are on furlough!

God has brought healing to our daughter Kira who struggled with a virus for two weeks. Ben and Elianna are also healthy after struggling with sickness. Both of them received their report cards recently and are getting A’s and B’s. We are very thankful for God helping Elianna transition into first grade in a Hungarian school and do so well.

This has been a challenging past two weeks (with the kids being sick) and we ask for prayer to be refreshed, rested and strengthened. Pray also for wisdom and direction as we continue to plan for furlough.

THURSDAY NIGHT YOUTH MENTORING

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Above: We started the night with blank papers taped to everyone’s backs. We then roamed the room and wrote down words of encouragement regarding each person. Hey, don’t press too hard with that pen!

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Above: After we were done looking over the encouragement, we took some time to worship God, recalling how He has redeemed us and made us new through Jesus.

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This Thursday night meeting for the teens is in addition to smaller groups that we meet in weekly with the teens. It is very clear to us that these new teen believers need an extra dose of care, attention, teaching, direction as most of them come from families who do not believe.

We are looking forward to this weekend as we will be traveling with the teens to a conference in Debrecen that will present teaching on being strengthened in our calling as Christians. One of the members I mentioned earlier who is falling away will be attending this conference with us. Please pray for God to speak clearly to the teens through the pastors, through the worship, through times of fellowship and prayer.
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WEEKLY UPDATE

Thursday Youth Group

God has been gracious to bring a small group of teens to faith in His Son through our teen outreach that we held every Friday night throughout 2010. This core group is precious to us and we have launched a new Thursday night gathering just for their growth in Christ. We hope to tackle the tough issues that they encounter as teens with the clear teaching from God’s word. As we study the Scripture together, share life, pray together and worship Jesus together we hope that each one will be equipped for “the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12).

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Above From L to R: Józsi, his little brother Levente and mother Tünde. Józsi came to hear about our church through one of members who works at the same factory. He then brought his family and others from his home town of Jászfényszaru who are believers.

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Above: Jancsi is also from Jászfényszaru and is the leader of a Bible study group in that village. We are quiet sure that it is not an accident that we have a growing relationship with the believers in Jászfényszaru and are praying for God’s Spirit to move throughout that place and use these new believers in a church planting movement.

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Above: Gyula who initially got to know us through our English Club has not only been attending our church service on Sunday but is now involved in a mentor group and this youth group. Although Gyula has not yet made a decision to believe in Jesus, I can see how God is drawing him closer and closer. I can remember when Gyula would leave the room in our English Club when I began talking about spiritual things. He showed absolutely no interest. Now, a year later he is surrounded by God’s voice as he listens to teaching every Sunday, hears personal testimony and sees first hand how God is transforming some of his friends.

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Above: Teenager Norbi. Norbi is also showing a renewed interest in Jesus Christ. Please pray for God to reveal Himself and His gospel that Norbi could understand and be awed by what God has provided through HIs Son. Pray that Norbi would be saved.

SUNDAY WORSHIP

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Above: We purposefully squeezed our chairs in concentric semi circles to create a more interactive atmosphere on Sunday. After a short break that followed our musical worship the church gathered in groups of 3-4 people and interceded together for our community.

Tamás (hand on chin above) gave testimony about how just before Christmas his kitchen was destroyed by a busted pipe and water damage. He shared how it is important to pray and turn to God in all situations. When we went to the hardware store to purchase all the replacement items for his kitchen, there ‘happened’ to be a contest the store was running where you could get reimbursed for the entire price of your purchase. Tamas walked up to the cash register and all of a sudden lights began flashing and he was told that he didn’t have to pay! Tamas blurted out, “God is here too!” Then he looked at the person at the register being more serious and said, “I really mean what I said, I didn’t say it jokingly.” Tamas commented how God is a constant encouragement to him and continues to be his Helper. Praise Him!

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Above: Praying for those who are celebrating birthdays recently, Betti, Norbi and Niki.

Thank you all for your continued prayer and support! We praise God that our family is coming out of a valley of sickness for the past two weeks. We thank Him for His grace to heal us and for His constant provision of strength in Christ.

Prayer Requests:

• For marriages in our church to be protected by the living word in the hearts of each spouse. That God would teach husbands and wives how to love each other with godly love.

• For ministry partner Miki who has stomach pain for weeks. Pray for healing and for God to minister to him in this difficult time.

• For church member Ági (34 weeks pregnant) who came down with a fever and has had some medical issues through this pregnancy.

• For teenagers who are going through tests in their faith, one who is falling into deception and separating himself from fellowship. Pray for correction, grace and restoration.
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REMEMBERING 2010

CHRISTMAS EVE 2009

After chest pain and difficulty breathing, Allen was taken to the emergency room. After a few visits to the hospital and follow up examinations, Allen was diagnosed with appendicitis and afterwards gastroesophageal reflux disease in January. Through God's grace, Allen completely recovered from surgery and was healed from GERD.

JANUARY 2010

• Our Friday night teen ministry gained lots of momentum and drew in kids like Ricsi who years ago attended children’s Bible classes. Dezső’s testimony and Gospel presentations on these Friday nights were heard by more in number than we have at a typical worship service on Sunday.

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Equipping does not happen overnight and the small group pictured below is one step in many that we initiated in January to help growing members capture a vision for God’s mission and to know their unique role and privilege to take part in that mission.

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• Our church sent out our first 'home grown' member Hugi (below) to help in a church plant in Budapest. Although we will miss her presence with us in our local body, we praise God for her coming to salvation in Petőfibánya and growing in our midst. We hope that this process of evangelism, discipleship and sending out will happen over and over in our body.

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• In April we traveled to 20 public schools to present our Easter Puppet Show. We were able to share the Gospel and distribute evangelistic materials to over 1000 kids and many teachers and parents. One of those 20 schools was a place we have been trying to get into for years, and God opened the door for the first time this year.

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• In April we also planned various activities for the Teens like the hike pictured below. On one occasion after roasting some marshmallows, we sat around the fire and discussed some of the highlights of 2010. The majority of those attending said that either our teen outreach, or English Bible classes, or Sunday church had been their highlight of 2010. Although many of them still are not Christians, we have hope that they will be transformed by Christ’s love and His message of salvation that is repeatedly shared each week in these ministries.

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• In May we were invited to serve in various community events. In years previous, primarily our core church planting team did all of the work in such outreach events. This year, we were outnumbered by church volunteers taking on various responsibilities. We are so thankful that a core group of believers in our church is maturing and discovering how God has gifted them for service in the community.

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• Enikő who was saved in a 2009 English Camp, Gizi (over 70 years old) and Ildikó decided to be baptized in May.

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• Erik (below right) who witnessed the baptism of Enikő, Ildikó and Gizi continued to attend our worship services and our Friday night outreach week after week. In late May, Erik spent the bulk of his time just sitting with church member Gabi, and Gabi shared his testimony. After Dezső's teaching that night, Erik came to Dezső ready to make a decision to put his faith in Jesus Christ.

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• Roland, who has also been attending our teen outreach and church services with Erik also decided to put his faith in Jesus Christ in late may. Below: Dezso sharing the Gospel with Roland.
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• In June we had our share of flooding in Petofibanya and had a few opportunities to help the community by serving hot tea and filling sand bags. Miki and I on occassion (photo below) went to Petőfibánya’s mountain to pray for our community.

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• In July God blessed us with a strong core team of believers from our church to carry out our Vacation Bible School. We praise God for over fifty kids who attended and the lesson’s they learned from Paul’s life in the book of Acts.

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Above: Church member Gabi teaching in VBS.

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Above: Gabi's sister Niki serving as a teacher's assistant.

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• In August we participated in an Evangelistic English Camp. Nine campers ranging in age from fourteen to fifty four made the decision to follow and profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, only one of them will return home with the support of believers in his family. The others face mixed responses from family and friends who in many cases react negatively.

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Above: A follow-up meeting for those who made decisions to help them to know what steps to take next.

Ellie enters first grade in September! We expected some tough times in this transition from Hungarian preschool to first grade, but by God’s grace Ellie is doing great!

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• In September we planned a camping trip with the teens who attend our Friday night outreach.

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Above: These are great times to spend with those who don’t attend our church like Dori (red pants) and Zsofi (striped sweater) who have attended our VBS camps in the past. It was clear that God was continuing to draw these young teens to Himself. On the two and a half hour hike up to the campground and over the two days, Dori shared about her search for God. I believe that after our time together, both are closer to understanding what it means to be saved through Jesus Christ.

In October church members Peti and Gabi had an opportunity to briefly teach in our Sunday service. We praise God for the growth of these young men who along with Dezső have completed one year of formal Bible training. What a blessing to see these young men maturing and discovering the gifts the Father has given to them to build up the body.

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In late October we launched various ‘mentoring’ groups. We have split the men’s group into three smaller groups of 3-4 men which allows for more participation of each member, more one-to-one discussion, more mentoring and deeper relationships. Each of these smaller groups of men includes a mature leader, a maturing believer who has potential for leadership and a young believer who is new to the faith. The groups were intentionally divided up this way to create opportunity for mentorship and passing on responsibility incrementally to allow others to develop in their giftings as they are equipped for ministry.

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• In October we were once again invited to various community events. Below: We traveled to the small town of Heréd to perform a children’s concert.

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Above: Erika (far right) ran our craft table where parents and children could put together “The Good News Tree”. The tree is composed of beads with colors representing different truths of the Gospel, and Erika did a great job sharing the good news about Jesus Christ with others through this craft.

• In November we braved the cold weather and hiked with the teens to Blue Mountain.

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There were plenty that joined us on the hike including one family who decided to come after meeting us for the first time in Heréd (see above).

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I shared a brief message on God’s provision of love, joy and peace through Jesus Christ and encouraged those who were “on the fence” to choose life in Him.

• In November we also initiated our “Játszóház Ministry”. This once-a-month children’s program enables us to reach out to the neighboring town of Selyp where we desire to plant a church. This is a great way to meet new families in the community and to teach important truths from God’s Word. This Játszóház is also a place where church members from Petőfibánya can develop the gifts that God has given them as they join us in serving the community.

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• In late November wife and husband Ági and Tamás, Roland, Győző, Erik and Ricsi were baptized!

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• We also held a special Thanksgiving service in November. Below Tamás and Roger in a small group discussion. Before meeting Jesus, Tamás was in bondage to alcohol and his marriage was falling apart. Church member Dezső is neighbors with them and God used Dezső to turn their attention to the only One who could save them. Tamás is thankful about how God freed him from alcoholism, from smoking and restored his marriage. Tamás said that out of the five brothers in his family he was the black sheep. He said that if God wanted to get His message across to his family, his transformed life would be the way to do it!

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• In December we held our Christmas Puppet Ministry in various public schools throughout our region.

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Though this was one of the toughest schedules to date for our puppet ministry, we had very few problems and God enabled us to sow seeds to over 1600 children and many teachers throughout this region. May these seeds produce fruit in the hearts of many, that they may know the blessing of having a restored relationship of peace with God through Jesus Christ.

I thank God for 2010 and for the many ways He continues to pour out His grace and love in this area as more and more people come to know His Son Jesus Christ! We look forward to following Him in 2011.
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