Nov 2009

Weekly Update

FAMILY FUN

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Above: Bombs away! Ben trying out bowling for the first time with dad.

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Above: Last week we celebrated Cathy's birthday. Cathy is a precious long long long long time friend of Sharon's and is currently Pioneers Area Leader in Hungary. Cathy actually served with Sharon in Hungary before Sharon returned to the US and ‘recruited’ me.

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Above: Allen, Kira and Elianna at the birthday dinner party.

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Above: If you look closely, you can see Elianna INSIDE the red ball and Ben in the blue ball. We took a one day vacation/retreat day with our family before the fast paced and full ministry month OF December hit. Because of it being 'off-season', the water park wasn't crowded and the kids had a chance to flip around inside these gigantic beach balls.

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Above: No chance to have fun at the beach in landlocked Hungary, but this may be just as good!

WEDNESDAY ENGLISH BIBLE STUDY

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Above: Picture taken a few months back with Erika, Edina and her daughter Betti. Because of Edina's new work hours she has not been able to come as consistently as she did in the past. However, when she does come, she always lets us know how much she misses the study and how she wishes she could always attend. As we have met with Edina over the past year and a half, it is clear that her understanding about Jesus and the Gospel has grown. It is through this Bible study that we were also first introduced to her daughter Betti who now regularly attends our Friday teen outreach. Praise God that we continue to have opportunity in both of their lives to share the Gospel and to share our lives with them.

FRIDAY TEEN OUTREACH

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Above: Balázs (bottom right) has become a regular attender. After game time when we sing and I began sharing the gospel message last week, I could hear Balázs and his friend whispering back and forth. “Should we go.” “No, let’s stay.” Most likely this is the first time they are hearing anything about having a personal relationship with God through our Savior Jesus Christ. Edina’s daughter Betti (in yellow) also attended and the two other girls in the picture were invited by friends. We are thankful that more are coming by work of mouth and that each week we have another chance to share an aspect of God’s truth and the gospel with them.

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Above: David (left) and Krisztian (right). Although these two young men aren’t teens, they regularly attend on Fridays and are two that have also made the bold step into our Sunday worship service. We are overjoyed with their regular attendance even without the support of other family members. Lots of kids in this town have free reign even late at night and spend most of their time (even at a young age) unsupervised. We pray that these young men will come to put their faith in Jesus and become witnesses also to their family in the future.

CHRISTMAS PUPPET MINISTRY AROUND THE CORNER

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Above: Sharon, Miki and Erika prepping supplies for our Christmas puppet show in our basement.

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We are just weeks away from our fifth year of sowing seeds of the Gospel to over 1000 kids in public schools through our Christmas Puppet Ministry. It is our hope and prayer that this ministry will be used by God to raise up a redeemed generation of Hungarians who put their hope and trust in Jesus.

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Above: Kids from our last Easter show in the neighboring town of Selyp.

The Northeastern region we minister to has very limited Gospel witness. The church buildings that still stand are more iconic than vibrant meeting places of Christians. The majority of children we bring this good news to have no other means of hearing the Gospel. Last year in the schools, when we asked the kids what happened to Jesus after he died on the cross for our sins, they collectively shouted, "He rose again!" We clearly see that the kids are coming to understand who Jesus was and what He accomplished. As they begin to grasp these truths in their hearts, it is our hope they will make personal decisions to believe and follow Him.

Every year, it is our desire to give the children a gift package which includes a CD (that includes the puppet show, music and the Gospel message) and a Christian family magazine. This gift allows the children and parents to hear the gospel repetitively at home. Each of these evangelistic packets is 40¢ and we hope to raise enough money for 1200 kids (around $480). If you would like to donate toward this outreach please contact us via email. UPDATE: $350 already raised.

As is our custom, we hope to raise up a team of daily prayer warriors for this time. Going into public schools to share the Gospel is met with much resistance in the spiritual realms and as Paul says, " Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (Eph 6:12) We praise God that every year He has responded to your prayers and blessed these outreaches. We need you again this year to fight with us in prayer. If you would like to join our daily prayer team from December 7-22nd, please let us know via email. We will then send you a specific list of requests. For those of you who would like to pray as we come to mind, please check our blog for regular updates and requests during our puppet ministry.

PRAYER REQUESTS

• Sharon hasn’t been feeling well for a few weeks now. Please pray for healing.
• Christmas Puppet practice/preparation. Please pray for Sharon, Allen, Erika and Miki as they practice their parts and prepare for the upcoming two weeks of ministry.
• THURSDAY night we will be having a family over for dinner. Please pray for opportunities for our conversation to go deeper and lead to explanations of our hope which is in Jesus Christ alone.
• SATURDAY advent wreath outreach. Pray for new relationships with people in the community and for open doors to share the Gospel.
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BACK ONLINE

Well, we had internet access over the past few weeks, but I was a bit physically offline. I (Allen) had been sick with some kind of flu like symptoms, fatigued, terrible sore throat and a voice that belonged in a Star Wars movie. I praise God for His grace in healing me and that I'm back to feeling normal physically. The kids were also thankful as 'wresting daddy' was resurrected and the office chair merry-go-round ride was open again for business.

In other sicko news, Benjamin was the first in our family to receive the H1N1 flu shot which is being offered for free in schools with parents' consent. The week before this shot, Ben had been preparing with his soccer team for a tournament. Unexpectedly, the Hungarian nurse who administered the shot told the few soccer players who received it to sit out of the tournament for fear of a dreaded fever. Ben, completely disappointed and in tears, told us the news and we suspected this advice being more rooted in Hungarian cultural 'health-tales' rather than medically reviewed and verified. Other Hungarian advice given says that women sitting on cold floors leads to meningitis... being in cold temperatures will give you a cold... eating or drinking cold things will give you a sore throat. And I can not list the ailments and diseases that are attributed to a cool draft in your house. We called Ben's doctor who has the benefit of being of Hungarian descent but studied medicine in both cultures. In short, she verified our suspicions and said there would be no problem with Ben playing. Both our girls are next in line to get the shot in preschool. We appreciate your prayers for them.

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Above: Ben (bottom right) with his team.

HIKING WITH THE TEENS

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Above: Krisztian, Norbi, myself and Hugi.

I love the outdoors. I love being surrounded by God's creation and the quietness found in the forrest. But, I really wasn't looking forward to going 'hiking' a few Saturdays ago as I was seemingly just recovering from being sick. You have to understand that when a Hungarian says, "Let's go on a hike", it doesn't mean a brief journey up a mildly steep hill. It means an impossible trek, tempting your heart to explode from strain that has not been known to it all year long. Thankfully, our hearts did not explode and God gave us a fun time together bonding with the teens we are reaching out to. Krisztian is a neighbor of teammates Roger and Heidi. He strolled into our VBS this year, then into our Friday teen outreaches, then into our Church on Sunday. Krisztian, like so many kids in our town have a rough home life. Many kids are in families that are financially poor, and their families are either currently falling apart because of divorce or have gone through a divorce already. These type of bonding events that we organize like hikes, game time together and discussions are the only outlet for these kids that turn their attention to Jesus. As we spend time with them, we hope to extend the love of Christ and not only preach His message of grace with words, but live it out being role models in their lives.

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Above: Niki trying to stay above the mud as we continued to the top of Blue Mountain.

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Above: Enikő, Eszti and Niki goofing off around the campfire. Enikő traveled from Budapest to Petőfibánya to go hiking with us. Many of you will recall that she was saved this year in our English Camp. We have been praying for someone to rise up to minister to the young women and teen girls in our church. We praise God for church member Eszti who God is now beginning to use in that role. Eszti is one of the five church members that have become an integral part of our Friday night teen ministry. Previously, just those who were in our church planting team ran this ministry. Although we still lead it, we are steps closer to our long term goal of turning over ministry to those God raises up within the body. Praise Him for the five who are now coming an hour early on Friday's for discipleship related to that night's ministry, prayer for the teens and then hands on participation.

FRIDAY NIGHT TEEN OUTREACH

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Above: God continues to draw new teens on Friday night through word of mouth. Please pray that the seeds planted in the teens' hearts through this ministry would bear fruit and lead to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

SOME FAVORITE KID SHOTS

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Above: Elianna and Kira preparing a presentation for mommy..

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Above: Big lipped Elianna.

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Above: The remaining peal of the fruit Sharon buys make a dandy head covering for Kira.

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Above: Kira in her designer super market bag artist bib slopping down blobs of paint.

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Above: One of Elianna's creative nature collages from pre-school. Her happy faces always make me happy.


SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE

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Above: Gizi (left) talking with Anita before service. Gizi was invited to our church by another church member. She began attending Miki's house group Bible study and it was evident that the Spirit was doing a work in her heart. Gizi has become a regular attender and now her husband (in his seventies) has also begun visiting off and on. Gizi said that the last time we had the Lord's Supper together, a desire welled up within her to want to participate with us. I have a conviction that before taking the Lord's Supper, we direct those who have been saved by Jesus to be baptized in response to His command and in response to the apostles record of how they followed that command in the book of Acts. From my understanding of Scripture, baptism is one of the first steps of obedience to Christ of the believer that declares his/her dependance on Jesus Christ's sacrificial death for their sins and their being united by faith in His resurrection to a new life of completed restoration with God. Gizi is now praying about being baptized and it is joy for us to see God's continued work in her heart. She will not be the first elderly woman to be baptized as church members Érzsi, and Marika (both retired) were baptized in the past year and half.

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Above L to R: Peti, Lidia, Eszti and Niki are all now part of our musical worship team. We praise God for more members growing in their faith and discovering the giftings that God has given to them to minister to others and to serve God.

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Above: New visitors Márk (left) and Dávid (right) are both related to church members. Both of them have been sitting in on the baptism/foundations of our faith class for the past four Sundays. We praise God for drawing more people to himself through family lines.

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Above: Eszti and Peti renew their vows before the church. This was a special way to celebrate Peti becoming a Christian and confessing our desire as a church to support this married couple and their four children as we together follow Jesus.

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Above: Church member Hugi saying her goodbyes to our teammates Roger and Heidi who will be returning to the US for furlough. We praise God for His calling in their lives to serve with us. God has provided a house in Petőfibánya for them which should be ready to move into when they return from the US to continue church planting with us. Please pray for safe travel and a time of renewel and encouragement with family and friends in the US.

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Above: Niki and Sharon. I can remember Niki when she was a few years older than our Elianna attending one of our children's Bible clubs in Petőfibánya. She drifted away with her brother and like her brother was brought back a few years ago through various outreaches, teen ministry, Bible studies, conferences and our English Camps. She has been attending our church for over a year and half and is now preparing for baptism. Please pray for Niki who finds herself often isolated and under peer pressure in a pagan society. Pray that she would be completely transformed by Jesus and gain a greater understanding of His love for her and the salvation provided freely through Jesus Christ's sacrifice for her sins.
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