Mar 2009

Puppet Ministry Update

SUNDAY WORSHIP

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Worshipping Jesus with thankful hearts. What an encouragement to see the steady growth of these believers who have only over the past few years been saved. We were thankful to have Tünde from our English Club visit for the first time. We also were encouraged to see Feri come with his daughter Petra, long time acquaintances who have attended various outreaches over the years.

MONDAY: Nagykökényes Preschool

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Above: Our cute audience for todays Easter puppet show in the village of Nagykökényes.

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Above: Hugi, Brenda and Miki. We begin each show by teaching the kids a song about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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Above: The wordless picture-less book that any child can read. Miki went through the sheets of color explaining the Gospel message. Praise God that we can do this openly in these public schools!

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Above: Kids already getting busy coloring and looking through the magazines we distribute after the show. As with all bulk material, this costs money. We would appreciate your prayers for provision, or donations to cover the cost of over a thousand of these magazines and CDs. You can contact us if you would like to contribute.

We praise God for this open door of bringing the gospel to over a thousand kids at Easter. He has strengthened us through your prayers and continues to provide for the needs of the team. On friday, Hugi came down with a high fever and was very upset that she might not be able to minister with us on Monday. God was quick to heal her and she is restored to good health today! Please continue to pray for us as we are in the midst of an unseen spiritual battle. The Bible reveals:

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”— Eph 6:12

“...Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you...” — 2 Thessalonians 3:1

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Puppet Ministry and Teen Outreach

FRIDAY: Petőfibánya middle school

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Above: Out of all the schools we travel to for this ministry, Petőfibánya is the only school that requires parent permission slips for kids to be excused to see the show. Thankfully, the children seen above were diligent to take those slips home and get signatures. Thank you for your prayers as we saw this one of the most attentive groups from Petőfibánya’s middles school to date. Many of these kids attend a Bible class that our Hungarian partner in ministry Miki holds each week. Initially Miki spent more time trying to keep order and dealing with distractions than teaching. After praying about these things, God has been gracious to help the kids to pay more attention.

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Above: Miki leading our time of singing. I was thankful to see the boys singing with us and joining in on the motions. In the past, they sometimes stood with crossed arms, or distracting others.

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Above: Erika sharing the “Wordless Book” giving meaning to colors that represent the Gospel message.

After the show, we distributed magazines with the Easter message and invitations to our VBS in the summer. It is our hope that we will see many of them again at VBS and continue to plant seeds of truth in their hearts.

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Above: Ben and Ellie having some fun outside on the steep hill after the show.

FRIDAY TEEN OUTREACH

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Above: Viki and Dia (top) and Niki (above). Our teen outreach is designed to be a middle ground for us to interact with the teens in the community. The majority of this night, we play games and have started weaving necklaces as well with the teen girls. We also work in a discussion time sandwiched in between the game time. God opened up a door with Viki, Dia and Niki in this discussion time. As they continued to weave, we began our discussion questions that dealt with questions of the future, of life decisions and death. Pretty soon the answers began to focus on Jesus Christ, and belief in Him. As I began to question them as to what they meant about “believing in Jesus” they couldn’t go into detail. I shared a bit of my testimony of believing in Jesus in my mind, and later in life believing with my heart, my whole being. I asked them if they would like to hear about God’s way for us to be forgiven, and restored in our relationship with God for eternity.

Since there happened to be a tray with two containers of beads, one red and the other gold, I began to use the bead containers to represent hell and the kingdom of God (heaven). I then brought out a red bead, representing mankind who is stained with sin and separated from God. I explained our need of a Savior and our lack of ability to remove sin. I then pulled out a gold bead, representing Jesus who was without sin, sent by God as the Savior. I explained that He willingly took upon Himself our sins (red bead), and could in turn give to us HIs own righteousness (gold bead). He was crucified as a sacrifice for our sins and on the third day He rose from the dead. I believe God was truly at work as I shared the Gospel. Dia began paying less attention to her weaving and more attention to the illustration. Niki would often jump in and offer various truths related to Jesus’ work. I challenged them to consider these things and know that the decision was theirs to make, but that indifference is just the same as deciding to reject Jesus. They needed to ask if they were willing to turn away from a life of sin, and turn to Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord of their lives. After this, Niki (who has attended our church for over a year) asked, “When is the next baptism class?” This brought more fruitful discussion about the meaning of baptism and both Niki and Viki said that they would like to find out more. Please pray for these three teen girls (Niki, Viki and Dia). I believe they are all close to making decisions to put their faith in Jesus. Before they do this, I want them to know the full implications of their decision. Pray that God would give them wisdom and graciously pour out HIs Holy Spirit in their lives to lead them to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

I happened to run into Viki the next day in town. She told me that she would be at church on Sunday. She also shared that she is trying to help her friend believe in God. Viki's parents are not Christians and it is apparent that there are problems in their home. This is the general makeup of the life of most kids in this town. Many of their parents are divorced or heading in that direction. I would venture to say that nearly all of the teens in town have no religious background. Although they have heard of Jesus, it has only been through the lens of a distant religious practice and not a personal Savior and Lord. Praise God that He is revealing Himself to kids like Viki, Niki and Dia.
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Puppet Ministry Update

THURSDAY: Petőfibánya Preschool

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Above: Today’s performance in our hometown of Petőfibánya. Our daughter Elianna actually attends this preschool and our youngest, Kira will attend in September. Many of the teachers from this school have been involved in various degrees in our outreaches in town. Some are currently attending our English Klub.

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Above: Our daughter Kira giving her all to sing along and do the motions to the song: “He died for me on the cross”.

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We are thankful that the kids in this preschool now have a weekly opportunity to learn from God’s word, as our Hungarian partner in ministry Miki is free to hold Bible Classes. Lots of the kids shouted out, “Uncle Miki” when he walked in, since they have gotten to know him through these classes. God has put on Miki and his wife Erika’s heart the vision to begin a daycare in town. To read more information and support oppotunities of this daycare, please see the “HARVEST DAYCARE” link in the right column.

Thank you for your continued prayers for our Puppet Team and also the children and teachers we are impacting through this ministry. Tomorrow, we will once again perform in Petőfibánya in the local middle school. This has been traditionally the most difficult place to communicate the Gospel among the 12-15 schools we visit each year. We would appreciate your prayers for the teachers, the young students at this school and for our performance tomorrow.
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Puppet Ministry Update

TUESDAY: Gyöngyösoroszi

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Above: Our first show was in the town of Gyöngyösoroszi which happens to be in close vicinity to another church planter we partner with in the North Eastern region of Hungary. This was our first time in this village and we didn’t know what to expect. Initially we were told that only school children were coming, but we found out that they decided to bring the local preschool kids as well.

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Above: Miki was quick to get all the children laughing and singing before the puppet show. We praise God that the kids were very attentive during the show and there was absolutely no distracting chatter when the show got more serious. I believe the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was clearly communicated and we are thankful for a new open door in this town.

WEDNESDAY: Szarvasgede and Újhatvani Szivárvány Gond

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Above: That was close! Miki told me that he literally ran out of gas as we pulled into a gas station on our way to Szarvasgede. He may have had to do some serious work on his vehicle if God didn’t graciously get us to the gas station at just the right moment. Praise God!

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Above: Hugi, continues to bring joy to our team as she serves with a joyous heart. Sometimes she has to shuffle back into tight spots in the midst of the show. Hugi’s husband Gábor also joined us today to help. We are thankful to hear that he has a new job opportunity in Budapest. We have been praying for Gábor over the past few months as he has been diligently searching for work. It seems that if he passes the next interview next week then he has the job.

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Above: Kids from Szarvasgede getting right into the children’s workbooks that we distribute for free after the show.

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Above: The kids (in adult bodies) at this special needs care center in Hatvan, were full of joy at our arrival. Erika (Miki’s wife) was able to share the gospel message with them after the puppet show, and we believe there are a few in this group that could grasp this good news.

Praise God:
• Our team is healthy!
• Packing, setting up, presenting and traveling have been without any issues.
• Kids have been paying attention to the puppet show, even when serious parts are presented.
• God has provided new schools for us to visit with the Easter message.

We appreciate your continued prayer for our puppet ministry! We also ask you to pray for our teammates Roger and Heidi who are expecting a baby in April. Heidi has been suffering from a pretty bad sinus infection and will see a doctor tomorrow. Please pray for healing! Sharon is seeing a doctor today about recent problems with hearing in one of her ears. Please also pray for healing for Sharon.
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GOD AT WORK!

We have seen miraculous works in the hearts of three particular people this week! I am reminded by the Lord that our work is not in vein and that the sewing of seeds leads to men and women coming to know salvation through Jesus Christ.

MONDAY NIGHT PRAYER

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Above: A photo of Ildiko (eel-dee-koe) taken in 2006 in one of our worship services.

Each Monday, I meet with Miki, Dezső and teenager Gábor for leadership mentoring. At the close of this study, there is an open invitation to the church for our hour of prayer in my basement. After a gentle knock on my garage doors, we rejoiced to see Ildiko enter. As I mentioned last week, Ildiko came back to church last week after years of going astray in her faith. God spoke to her in that service and encouraged her to turn back.

As we were finishing up the last few minutes of our leadership study and touching on the subject of suffering, Ildiko, said, “Could it be that the suffering I have gone through was necessary that I would turn again to Him?” Her tone was that of someone broken and truly seeking answers. Although we didn’t claim to know the answer to her particular situation, we did highlight the truth that God sovereignly designed our lives in such a way that we would seek Him.

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.” (Acts 17:26-27)

Ildiko responded in agreement and although obviously hurting from recent happenings in her life, she was thankful that these things led her back to her Father. How encouraging to see her show up Monday night to pray with us. It is in this very time that we have spent the last few months praying for specific people that we have come to know over the years in Petőfibánya. Thank You Lord for drawing Ildiko back into Your arms, the place of peace, security and love.

TUESDAY PUPPET PRACTICE

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Above: Hugi, Brenda and Allen practicing this year’s Easter Puppet Show in our basement. See more below about our first show.

WEDNESDAY ENGLISH BIBLE STUDY

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Above: Church members Erika and Hugi with student Tünde (toon-dee).

We are thankful for God bringing Edina, Timi, Tünde and Klári each week to our Bible study. In Wednesday's class we read the story of Abraham's faith being tested as he was called to sacrifice his son Isaac, in whom God's promise to bless the nations rested. Abraham had faith in God, even to raise his son from the dead, if necessary to fulfill His promise through Isaac.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son,  of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”  He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” (Heb 11:17-19)

God was faithful to provide Abraham a substitutionary sacrifice, a ram caught in a thicket (Gen 22:13). This foreshadowed the once for all substitutionary sacrifice found in Jesus Christ, who willingly gave His own life to save us from sin, death, and separation from God.

This was a tough historical account to present to the students but all seemed to see the reason for this testing, and the necessity of faith in a relationship with God. In the open discussion that followed the study, one student asked, "What is hell?" "Is there a second chance in hell to be saved?" With this question, I was able to highlight that many people have opinions, but to know what is true, we need to go to God's word and see what He has revealed about these matters. In the short time that remained, I highlighted that "it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment." (Hebrews 9:27) This is the final judgment, leaving no room to be judged again. At that final judgment, there is no allowance for a change of the ruling decided by God. A second chance does not exist in hell to be saved. The 'second chance' exists now for all people before they die. This is why Jesus, in the greatest act of love, came into this world as our Savior. (John 3:16-18)

Tünde asked, "How do I distinguish between what teaching is true or false, what is from God or not from God?" With this question, I was able to encourage the students to consider what their standard was in life to determine truth. If your standard is your opinion, what is to say that your opinion is 'off'? If my opinion is that it is morally right to steal from you, how will you explain to me that it is not right to steal from you? Who's opinion is the right opinion? Is there more than a world full of opinions? Is there a standard of truth that is above all, and above all is right? I shared that I believe that God's Word is the standard given to His creation to determine His will. The Bible is the standard that I submit myself to when seeking answers in matters of life. Tünde asked, "But how do I know what to do in relationships or in my family or anything else?" I encouraged her to start in one of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. I said to simply begin reading paying close attention to what Jesus Christ is teaching. What does He say about life? What does He say about me? What does He say about relationships? Afterwards, Tünde asked to borrow one of the Bibles we had stacked on our living room table. I said, "It is of no use sitting here unread. Please, take it home, that's why they are here."

Hours after our class ended, Tünde was with Miki as their preschool kids play soccer in the same league. Tünde asked MIki what it means to repent. Miki was able to explain the Gospel to Tünde. It encourages our hearts to see her asking so many important questions and taking steps in response to the truth that she is hearing. Please pray for Tünde, and for our other students, Timi, Edina and Klári to fully understand God's will, that they would put their trust in Jesus Christ.

THURSDAY ENGLISH CLUB

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Above: Edina (Eddy-nah), Timi (Tee-mee) and Klári (Klar-ee) (Background teammates Roger and Brenda).

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Above: New student Gábor with son Benedekt far left. It turns out that Gábor teaches Japanese and even gave us some lessons at break time. His son attended our VBS last year and I am hopeful to get to know Gábor through our English Club.

FRIDAY TEEN OUTREACH

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Above: Teammate Heidi with Viki.

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Above: Teammate Roger playing with Viki’s brother Krisztian.

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Above: János. Over the past few weeks, Roger and Heidi have been meeting with Viki and Krisztian while Miki has reached out to János. All three of them came to our worship service tonight, Viki and Krisztian for the first time. For all three of them, this is their first time in their lives that they are hearing the Gospel and God’s word taught as truth. After service on Sunday, I asked János where he was in relation to God. He said, “I want to believe.” I invited Miki over to explain the Gospel again to János. He will be thinking about these things this week. Please pray for János as he considers turning away from a life of sin to a forgiven life lead by Jesus Christ. Pray also for Viki and Krisztian who were bold enough to come to church without their parents and without any other friends. Pray that the Lord would transform their hearts, giving them spiritual understanding beyond their age.

SATURDAY BAPTIST CHURCH PLANTERS CONFERENCE

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Above: It makes the long car ride to the conference much more bearable when you have someone like Hugi to laugh uncontrollably at all your jokes.

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Above: Hungarian church planters and churches involved in church planting converged in this conference in Bicske Hungary. God was faithful to renew our vision and build us up through the teaching and challenges brought to us through this time. We were thankful to have church members Dezső, teenager Gabi, teenager Zoli, Hugi, Miki and also Niki also attend the conference. It is our hope that one day they also will be involved in some way in church planting in Hungary.

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Above: We were not only at the conference to be built up, but to serve. We presented our Easter puppet show for the children at the conference in the closing hour.

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Above: Julika reviewing what happened in the puppet show. It was great to hear the answers the kids were saying about Easter. They knew about Christ’s death for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead on the third day. They knew about the necessity to forgive others and about the only way to heaven being through faith in Jesus Christ. Teenager Niki who joined us said in amazement, “Wow, these kids are amazing, they know all of the answers already!” I reminded her that these were children of Christian parents who have spent time raising them in truth. This is something that Niki did not have, but she continues to learn more and more as she spends time with us. Please pray for Niki (Gabi’s sister) to come to fully understand God’s will for her and His love for her.

Please pray for us and the children we meet as our Easter Puppet Ministry in public schools begins this week!
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BACK TO HUNGARY

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Last Saturday, I (Allen) returned to the States for a week to renew my driver’s license and connect with family and friends.

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Above: Drastic changes to the meeting place for Brandywine Valley Baptist Church. It was striking to see the massive structure firsthand upon my return.

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Above: The temporary home (in the adjacent gym) for Sunday worship services.

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Above: Catching up with old friends, Karen Matt and Mickey in the church parking lot. It is always encouraging to talk face to face with old friends and hear about the changes that have taken place over the years. I was also able to visit my friends at HOUSE, where I once partnered as a designer. They were kind enough to load me up with clothing and goodies to take home for the family.


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Above: One of three small groups I was able to visit while in the US.

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Above: My mom and dad with my niece Scarlet. My parents were gracious to provide one of their cars and a room to stay. My mom blessed me with great chinese food throughout the week and I had my share of American ice cream from their freezer.

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Above: Brothers, Sam, Allen and Bob.

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Above: Sam’s son Matthew playing with Bob’s daughter Anna B.

SUNDAY WORSHIP

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Hungarian partner in ministry, Miki, graciously filled in for me and taught about the freedom that we have obtained through salvation in Jesus Christ.

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Above: Ildiko (white sports jacket) has fallen out of fellowship with us for years. She was one of the first townspeople to profess faith in Jesus after seeing the Jesus film. She turned away from a life of the occult, communicating with the dead and tarot card reading. A few weeks ago, she came to our house and I was able to pray with her and remind her that it is not God’s will for her to be removed from Christian fellowship. God so designed the members of the church to minister to one another as we in unison seek to follow Jesus throughout life. I praise God for stirring her heart to come again this Sunday. She shared that the message spoke deeply to her current heart condition as she realized that she allowed herself to become in bondage to destructive things in her life. Please pray for Ildiko as she has taken initial steps of repentance and turning back to seek God with all her heart.

It was very encouraging to be in the US and share the stories of God’s work in Hungary. Thank you all for your constant encouragement and support!
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Weekly Update

SUNDAY WORSHIP

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Above: Lidia and teammate Brenda in worship team practice. Months ago, we challenged various church members to seek God’s will in where they could serve in the giftings He has given. Since that time, Lidia has been gradually taking on more responsibility in the worship team. As with many Hungarian believers, she has sometimes struggled with fear and insecurities that challenge her commitment. Brenda and Miki have graciously walked her through God’s truth in those times and constantly encouraged her through fellowship and prayer. We praise God for the growth we see in Lidia!

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Above: After service, we prayed for Zoli and Mani who were celebrating their birthdays. Many of you will recall that Zoli was saved in an English camp years ago and Mani (who lives in Budapest) has been a tremendous help in planning and serving in our VBS each year.

TUESDAY OUTREACH BIBLE STUDY

Hungarian church planting partners Miki and Erika have begun a Bible study at their house on Tuesdays to reach out to those who do not yet attend church but showed interest in the past in spiritual things. Various old friends attended like teenager Zoli’s mother Ildiko who over the past year and a half ceased participation in any fellowship. Teenager Niki also attended. She has faithfully attended church over the past year and seems closer to understanding the good news of Jesus.

WEDNESDAY ENGLISH BIBLE STUDY

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Above:
Teammate Heidi (due in late April) speaking with Tünde.

We rejoiced to see Tünde and Klári who joined regular attenders Edina and Timi for our English Bible Study on Wednesday. I am thankful that they all seem to have open hearts and are enjoying reading the Bible and discovering truths about God for the first time.

In this morning's study, we talked about the fall of mankind and the consequences of choosing a way opposed to God's way. Students asked questions such as, "What does it mean that they would die after they ate the fruit?" Also, "Don't you think the punishment was harsh for Adam and Eve?" This opened up opportunities to explain physical and spiritual death. We also explained the necessary "harshness" of the punishment.

God gave full proof of His love and full provision for man in the garden. God also created an atmosphere that gave mankind the freedom to choose to respond in love or to reject God's love. Without this freedom to choose God, or to choose to disobey, a freedom to love would not exist. God clearly warned Adam of the consequences and Adam and Eve still freely chose to reject God. God’s warning of the consequences of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not a lie, but a promise that He would keep because He is holy. We closed the study with the hope found in God’s words to Satan in Gen 3:15 “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Though Satan would successfully strike the Savior, Jesus would ultimately crush the enemy and bring salvation to all of those who turn to Him in faith. Please pray for Tünde, Klári, Edina and Timi as they are hearing these truths for the first time. Pray that they would see the destructiveness of sin, and the salvation that is found only in Jesus Christ.

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Above: Klári (who attended our Bible study for the firs time this week) talking with church members Hugi and Erika.

EVENING ENGLISH BIBLE STUDY

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Above: English students Józsi and Feri.

Over the past three weeks, no students have come to our evening time slot for English Bible study. We were about to call it quits tonight and consider using Wednesday night for a different ministry when there was a knock on the door. Feri, who just began attending our English club recently, strolled in. He said that his girlfriend Edina (a different Edina from the student in the morning) would soon follow. Edina is a preschool teacher in town and has been to various outreaches and even visited church in the years we have been in Petőfibánya. Church member Dezső also joined us to help with outreach and translation. As this was the first time for them, I spoke about two major world views: 1. All things came about from chance, 2. All things came about from a Creator. We read the creation account together and Edina blurted out afterwards, "I never knew that Adam named Eve!" We talked about what God revealed about Himself in the verses we read and then opened up the study for discussion.

Edina said, "You know, the church killed my faith. The corruption, the misuse of power to oppress others..." I was able to say that Someone else felt the same way about the abuses done in the name of God. Jesus was most harsh with those trained religious teachers of his day as they put more weight on tradition and outward righteous appearance than on the rightness of their hearts with God and mercy towards others. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” (Mark 7:6)

Edina said, “You guys were the only ones that helped me turn back again and begin paying attention to God. I have always respected how everything you do has love and not judgment as a motivating factor.” This is an openness in Edina that I haven't seen for 3 years since she stopped visiting our various outreaches. Praise God for bringing Feri and Edina to tonight's Bible study and revealing Himself through His Word to them.

THURSDAY ENGLISH CLUB

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We had fun using our cell phones to call our students (in the other room) and they were role playing someone who had to take down a take out order. It was funny to see how the students improvised when we said unexpected things to them while ordering. One beginner student who didn’t know how to answer the question, “What time do you close”, said, “non-stop, non-stop, never close.” At which Brenda replied, “You must be pretty tired.”

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Above: In our second hour, teammate Roger shared the song Masquerade by Caedmon's Call. The students discussed the meaning of this song about being redeemed from a life of darkness and deception. Here are some of the lyrics:

And the thunder cracked down
And His lightning conquered everything around
That dark had to flee
Now the light of the little town
Was as dark as the night compared tothe light

We are thankful for opportunities every week to turn the student’s attention to the important matters of the soul. Please pray that our students would turn to the only One who stands ready to rescue them from darkness and death.

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Above: Elianna and Kira enjoying a quick bake cake in a cup.

SHORT TRIP TO THE US

Allen will be back in the US for a week from Sunday to Saturday. The initial reason was for the renewal of his drivers license, which can only be done in person. Thankfully, it’s not just for the license, as he is scheduled to visit various small groups of Brandywine Valley Baptist Church as they focus on missions this month.

Prayer requests:

• That church member Gábor and family of church members (Peti) would be able to find work in this trying economic time.
• Tünde, Kári, Edina, Timi, Feri and girlfriend Edina. (Each has attended our English Bible study. Pray for their salvation)
• Allen’s trip to the States. (Health, quick adjustment to time change, connecting with small groups)
• Sharon and the kids. (While Allen is away, transporting kids to and from school, wisdom and strength)
• The team (taking on more responsibilities while Allen is away, strength and wisdom for English Bible study and English club. Help with preparation for Easter puppet ministry)

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