Mar 2017

A sharp disagreement leads to a split


For many years our team of American missionaries and Hungarian partners in ministry was marked for it's unity and resilience to work through conflict with the love of Christ. We have grown so close over the years working together and in many ways feel more like family than anything else. For those of you who have followed the work here, a church was planted where there was none. And this church has grown into a beautiful expression of God's grace and love. An expression of the Gospel. There are Romani and Hungarians worshipping together. There are elderly and young couples. There are children coming to faith and maturing. It truly is a miraculous work of God.

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Above: Recent photo of the congregation of The First Love Baptist Church in Petofibanya before the split that happened in February.

It is with sadness to report that just recently, because of a sharp disagreement our church has suffered from a split. Over the past few years we began to experience a greater level of conflict and disagreement in the core leadership team related to differences in theological convictions. This was a season of ups and downs where things seemed to be coming to resolution and then close to falling apart multiple times. When Sharon and I were called back for a six month furlough, it appeared to me that things were moving toward peace and unity. Shortly after we arrived in the US, this swung to an opposite extreme and one of the elders has now left the church taking with him a core group of believers (Around 12 people not including their kids). All of these are people we have deep friendships with and years of shared experiences in ministry. This is a difficult time.

How do I process this? I do it through the spectacles of hope I find in God's word and the stability that Christ provides. I remember the life of Paul and a similar split that I read about in Acts 15. Barnabas was one of the first believers in Jerusalem to take Paul at his word while other believers feared that Paul was only pretending to be saved in order to continue terrorizing them. (Acts 9:27) Paul and Barnabas were not just two men working side by side. They had invested trust in each other. Barnabas is described as “A good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith."' (Acts 11:24) Paul and Barnabas had a rich history together, traveling together and teaching “A great many people' together." (Acts 11:26)

Everything was working smoothly until we read in Acts 15:39: "And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed." Barnabas, a great encourager and Paul the apostle sharply disagree and go separate ways taking key people in separate directions. Why couldn't they work this out? Why did they go separate directions because of a disagreement and not because the Spirit told them to go different directions? For the first time, our team and church is relating to this in a very personal way. For a time, there is a mess left behind of confusion, grief and emotional brokenness.

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Above: Elders in the church, Dezso, Miki and myself. Dezso is the one who decided to separate from us and other wonderful friends and colaborers in Christ left with him.

In the closing chapters of Paul's life we see that reconciliation had happened after this split so much so that Paul says in 2 Tim 4:11: "Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” I take comfort that the last chapter of our story has not yet been revealed but the One who orchestrates this life full of complexity always closes with a good ending for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28)

There are more chapters to be written and I have confidence that God's grace is sufficient to continue to build the church in Petofibanya and build up those who have chosen to go their separate way from us. For now, please pray for healing, restoration, direction and for protection from the schemes of the enemy. Pray that God may use this time to bring all of us to a greater maturity and come to depend even more deeply on Jesus our Lord and Savior. Pray especially for fellow elder Miki who now carries much of the weight of helping the church wade through and grow through these unfortunate events.

God’s generosity experienced through you!


We praise God for the abundant generosity and provision that He has shown us through so many of you as we returned home for our furlough in February. God provided a house to rent in the perfect location. God provided a way for three of our kids to attend Wilmington Christian, something that we briefly considered while we were still in Hungary and thought to be impossible. God provided a vehicle for us to use that has enough room for all six of us. And so many of you helped get all the furniture, beds, washer and dryer and so much more into the rental house!

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Above: Sharon’s dad greeting her with an embrace at the airport.

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Above: The kids getting a tour of Wilmington Christian before beginning school soon after landing in the US.

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Above: Yeah, a car that fits the whole family!

Our focus over these remaining 5 months of furlough will be strengthening our marriage and spending ample time together as family. There are so many pressures that we experience living oversees which are challenging. And as reported above, there has been extra stress related to the events that led up to a church split that has affected long standing relationships. We thank God for the body of Christ being so supportive in this time and ministering to us with the love and encouragement of Christ.

Two weeks ago we had an opportunity to take a road trip to Florida and spend two days with my brother and his family at Disney in Florida. Because of the long trip, we also planned in a few stops including Washington D.C. and Georgia where we were able to visit friends who used to serve with us in Hungary years ago.


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Above: The blessing of having some time as a family to explore Washington D.C.

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Above: Visiting the Sommers who we served together with in Hungary years ago.

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Above: Spending some time at Cocoa beach in Florida.

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The kids had a great time sharing this experience with their cousins and we were blessed with wonderful weather the two days we spent at Disney. After some vacation time in Florida, we took part in a time designed for missionaries transitioning from the field because of difficult circumstances at Pioneers home offices (also in Florida). There were multiple families who attended from various regions. We were able to share our experiences and in community received help working through the struggles we are experiencing.

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We feel so blessed to come home to a community that truly cares for us and ministers to us. We look forward to how God will continue to build us up and bless us so that we can continue being a blessing to the nation of Hungary and serve in physical and spiritual health with longevity for His glory. Thank you all for the many ways you partner with us and have not only made an impact on those we minister to in Hungary, but an impact in our lives personally. What a joy to see Christ in you.

You can help share the true meaning of Easter!


Easter is just around the corner and our team is preparing to share the Gospel to close to 2,000 kids in various public schools in Northeastern Hungary. We need your help.

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After each show, we distribute evangelistic children’s magazines and CDs as well as evangelistic books to the teachers. The cost to produce the booklet and CD this year’s show is $1,215. Thankfully, almost half of that is already raised because of leftover money from your giving in December toward this Puppet Ministry. If you would like to contribute to raise the remaining $650 you can give to the Pioneers account (below) designed specifically for this puppet ministry. It would be helpful that you let us know how much you have donated so that we can know where we stand. Thanks for your partnership in this Easter outreach!

Pioneers fund specifically for puppet ministry in Hungary:
Missionary name: Allen Mercer
Project account number: 150639
Click here to give toward this project.

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Thank you all for your friendship and partnership in ministry in Hungary.
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