Oct 2008

Weekly Update

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Above: At least one of our kids loves bath time. Kira has been struggling with a fever and sore throat this week. If you ask her about it, she will say, “I’m not sick, just a little sick.” What she means is, don’t take me to the doctor for shots.

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Above: The kids have been enjoying their fall break. I would include more pictures of Ben in the blog, but as you can see, he’s a bit tough to capture on film. Ben has been practicing writing his ABCs in school and doing basic math. He is now able read English as well as Hungarian books.

Winter is just around the corner here as leaves are turning, gusts of wind are picking up and darkness sets in around 4:00 pm. It’s a strange sight. As we were driving home one day at that time, Kira said, “Mommy, why is it sleepy time already?”


WEDNESDAY DISCIPLESHIP STUDY

Tonight we studied the importance of allowing God to form our views through His revealed Word. Having a wrong and uninformed view of God leads to a life full of doubt, struggles with guilt and stunted growth. Church members Érzsi (who was just baptized a few weeks ago), Hugi, Zoli, Gabi, Marika, and Dezső attended. Through the course of our discussion, it became apparent that there are cults actively distributing material that have reached the hands of our members and their neighbors. It was good to hear from the group that they could identify the false teaching in this material through their knowledge of the Bible and of Jesus Christ and were quick to throw the materials away.

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:15

THURSDAY ENGLISH CLUB

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Above L to R: Students Klári and Tünde travel by bike from a neighboring town of Zagyvaszántó to our English Club each week. At break time we spoke about the sad state of families in Petőfibánya and some of the root causes. There is a high level of disregard for kids in this town as they lack love and discipline because of dysfunctional families. I told them that we hope to be part of changing this trend as we live in the community and seek to help.

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Above: Edina who was a former post office worker in Petőfibánya brought her daughter Betti (on school break) to English Club.

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Above L to R: Dezső, Feri, Edina and Ricsi. We were thankful to see Edina attend once again with her boyfriend Feri. Ben has his back to us in the picture, but he also helped us in class tonight. The students love it when Ben speaks.

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Above L to R: Teammates Heidi and Brenda.

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Above: Kati (in blue shirt) is the mother of teenager Gabi (who is a church member). Kati has told us that she is a very private and shy person, and we were pleasantly surprised that she decided to attend our English Club tonight. She said that she would have quickly left any other type of class out of embarrassment, but here she felt accepted. This reveals to us a high level of trust that she has for our church members who are serving in this club and gives us an additional night (outside of Sunday) to express the hope we have in us through Jesus Christ. We hope that she will some day follow the footsteps of her son and put her trust in Jesus.

TEEN CONFERENCE

Speaking of teens....I (Allen) will be traveling to the city of Debrecen for a Christian Teen Conference to spend a few days with six teens from Petőfibánya. Please pray for the mixed group of teens (believers and non believers) that we are taking.

• Pray for church members Gabi K and Zoli K to be encouraged in their faith and gain a greater grasp on God’s calling for them in life.

• Pray for Dávid (this is the teenager son of Érzsi who was just baptized in our church) who is a ‘tough’ teen who often stirs up trouble. Pray that God would break through the facades and reveal Himself to Dávid.

• Pray for Niki who attends our church and has a basic understanding of the gospel but has openly admitted that there are barriers to her putting her trust in Jesus. Pray that God would deal with those barriers this weekend and draw her to Himself for salvation.

• Pray for church member Hugi, who is not a teen, but has sought to be a prayer warrior and a friend for Niki. Pray that Hugi would be built up in her faith and be used by the Lord show Christ’s love to the girls who will be joining us (Niki and Dia).

• Pray for Dia who has a tough family background and struggles with her identity and feeling rejected. Dia has attended our outreaches and church off and on through the years.
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Weekly Update

WEDNESDAY HOLIDAY

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Above: A wooden memorial in Rozsaszentmárton (where Ben’s school is located) commemorating the outbreak of the Hungarian uprising against Soviet domination in 1956.

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Above: Ben was required to attend a commemoration service where the Mayor and town leaders read poetry and showed their respect to those who had fallen in the uprising to gain freedom.

WEDNESDAY DISCIPLESHIP CLASS

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Above: With a desire to build up the handful of new believers in our church, we have begun a discipleship class. It is our hope that members will become more interconnected through these Wednesday meetings, develop a more mature understanding of God’s word and also begin serving in their unique callings in the church body. Last week in the midst of our first meeting, Miki’s wife Erika received a phone call from a friend who was struggling with great depression and hopelessness. We dropped what we were doing, stood and held hands and in unity called out for Jesus to deliver this friend. In last week’s class, we spent some time considering how Jesus knowing that he was appointed to die was willing to continue teaching those who rejected him, continue serving those who denyied him, continue loving those who ignored him and was willing to finally offer his body to the piercing of the nails as a sacrifice for our sins.

“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” — Rom 5:7-8

FRIDAY TEEN OUTREACH

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Above: To my right is Gabi S., a young man who was saved in Petőfibánya but moved to another town a few years ago because of school. Gabi has many important decisions before him and would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and God’s direction in His life.

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Above: Before gametime, we gathered the teens together and had a short interview time with yours truly. We encouraged the kids to ask about life in America and had some interesting questions. Afterwards, I shared my testimony and told them the importance of seeking God in life. He was the One I was missing that led to depression, hopelessness, and a general sense of meaninglessness in my life. The majority of these kids have absolutely no religious background, and as I talked about Jesus, I could see on one of the kids faces that all that I was sharing about the life of Jesus was completely new to him. Our prayer for these kids has been that God would cause them to begin seeking truth in life having them break free of the indifference and disregard they have for Jesus. Would you also pray for these hard to reach kids?

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Above L to R: Kitti and cousin Renata. Kitti attended our vacation Bible school and our Friday night outreach is a good way to continue to reach out to her.

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Above L to R: Gabi and Peti. Gabi continues to attend our Monday meetings for leadership training and we hope to gradually give him more responsibility in our Friday night outreach for teens. Peti is the husband of church member Eszti (read more below).
SATURDAY MARRIAGE CLASS

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Above: God continues to build up and bless the marriages in our church through this class. Not all of those who attend have husbands that are believers, yet they find encouragement and help as we pray together and study God’s word together.

Eszti (above with baby) shared how the marriage class is benefiting her in her interactions with her husband Peti. She is able to be more “level headed” in disagreements and seeks to consitently depend on God for her joy. She is looking for His power given to her to minister to her husband rather than manipulating him. Please pray for Peti as he is attending our Friday Teen Outreach, and while Miki helps him prepare for his drivers liscense test. Pray that God's Spirit would soften Peti's heart and give us opportunity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to him.
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Weekly Update

THURSDAY ENGLISH CLUB

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Above: Our morning class drew an additional four new students. One of the students, Edina (center under wreath), has spoken on and off with Sharon for years. Sharon actually met with Edina earlier in the week to help her with conversational English.

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Tünde (right in red) brought her friend Klári. Tünde is the woman last week who began asking questions about how I determined God’s will for my life. She told me this week that she began reading the book that I gave to her but it was a little too difficult for her to follow. Please pray that there will be more opportunity to talk to her about Jesus Christ.

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Above: New teammate Roger distributing a discussion guide for tonight’s English club class. In our second shift of English Club, we had an increase of numbers as well. Another Edina (not the one mentioned above), who we have been acquainted with for over four years, dropped by with her boyfriend Feri. Edina was one of our first students years ago when we started the program and she also attended a few of the Bible studies four years ago. I can remember clearly how she could not accept the idea that God has made a way that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ. She insisted that we must have to work in some way to obtain favor. We lost contact with her for three years and now tonight may be the beginning of new opportunities to talk once again about the claims of Jesus Christ. Please pray for Edina to come to understand this great gift that God has offered to the world through His Son Jesus Christ.

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Above: I had to split these guys off into the kitchen because they were at a more advanced level. Jozsi (seated center) was a new student tonight. His parents (father the local florist and mother local social worker) stopped the other day to talk to me while I was playing soccer with Ben and Ellie at a park behind our house. They told me that their son Jozsi would have come last week, but that he was fearful and didn’t know anyone. I reassured them that he would have a good time and I could see that he felt right at home after a few minutes with us. Jozsi’s parents have sent their younger children to our VBS in the last few years and are open to spiritual things. Please pray that this would be an opportunity for another family to come to know the Lord in this town.

FRIDAY TEEN OUTREACH

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Above: Matyi (above center) is one of the new teens that has begun attending Friday nights. Bence (above right) has known us for years. He was one of the few teens who would often stay to discuss the Bible when we played soccer last winter in a local rented out gym. Before game time, Miki presented a clip from a film and we discussed various thoughts the world has about God. Most all of these kids have absolutely no church/rellgious background and this may be the first forum where we are raising spiritual questions. It is sad to see so many of these kids following the current of atheism, indifference to God and running after a meaningless life. We hope that we can have an impact in these teen’s lives and reveal to them the Gospel through our lives and our words. Our challenge to them tonight was to begin seeking God with faith and believing in His promise that “he rewards those who seek him.” (Heb 11:6) Pray that God would draw these teens to Himself and create in them a hunger to know the Way, the Truth and the Life personally.

SATURDAY SHENANIGANS

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Above: Ben helping mom hollow out a squishy squash.

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Above: Kira and Elianna laying down their imagination on our entrance walkway with chalk. Lets be glad they didn’t use permanent marker.

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Above: O.K., which one of you clowns has been erasing the pictures with your bottom?

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Above: Interesting shape found the kids cracked this walnut. Maybe it’ll be on CNN.
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Weekly Update

SATURDAY MARRIAGE CLASS

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Above L to R: Eszti, Hugi, Marika and Istvan, Dezső and Marcsi. We are thankful for the continued commitment of couples who are seeking God’s wisdom as to how to be pleasing to God in marriage. This is a powerful time of fellowship and prayer when we split up into men’s and women’s groups. It is a ground rule in our group to focus on our responsibility and not to speak negatively about how our spouses may be failing. Our desire is to have the wisdom to understand our role in marriage and the strength to fulfill it. After our prayer time in separate groups, we join back together for formal teaching. It was encouraging to see that after the formal portion of class was over, a conversation began about the roots of the high rates of divorce in Hungary. It became clear that the church has a high calling to stand as a beacon of light in a culture full of deteriorating families related to divorce.

SUNDAY WORSHIP AND BAPTISM

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Above: Norbi and Lidia. Lidia was baptized last year and has been growing in her faith. She has recently taken responsibility in facilitating a small women’s prayer group that meets before church. Norbi has been attending our church off and on for many years with Lidia. His heart was changed as he had a greater sense of life without direction and meaning when lived without God. We praise God for leading Norbi to repentance and making a choice that leads to a sure destination of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus Christ.

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Above: Béla and Érzsi. Érzsi began attending our church last year after seeing our Christmas Musical in the neighboring town of Selyp. God was gracious to heal her from depression as she spent more time in fellowship with us. As she heard teaching each week, it became clear that our church was different from religious institutions. She saw our desire to worship and the reality of our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We praise God for giving Érzsi understanding of the Gospel and leading her to a place where she could be challenged to move from ritual to a relationship with God.

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Above: Before service, I had some time to sit down and talk with Béla. He has had a tough past, with his mother dying when he was three and his brothers and sisters also passing away. He told me the story from his childhood of the local priest preaching away in church, and later seen in a drunken stupor on the street. His father would say to him, “See Béla, there’s your priest.” He told me how evident the hypocrisy was in his experience with another denomination and he highlighted how different “those Baptists” were in his life. He said the other denomination held up their noses and didn’t look into the eyes of the people, but the Baptists interacted and helped the common people. He saw how they were persecuted for their faith and risks they took. It was clear that a foundation had been laid in this 68 year old man’s past to feel comfortable attending our service tonight. Béla even praised God in prayer for healing his leg in our congregation last night. He knew that many of us had prayed for him as Érzsi brought the requests to church. Please pray for Béla to come to a deep understanding of the Gospel, that he would put his faith in Jesus Christ. Pray also that he would begin attending church (after this positive experience) with Érzsi.

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Above: Dezső (standing left) continued his series of messages through the book of Romans tonight. Through personal failures and life experience, Dezső highlighted the power and destructive nature of sin. He brought us into a greater awareness of our inability to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees, and our utter hopelessness as we do things we know we don’t want to do. At the end of his message Dezső then turned our attention to the amazing gift of God’s grace that cleanses us from all evil. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ”— Rom 7:24-25

Prayer Requests:
- Monday mentoring.
Pray for Dezső and Gabi as we continue our studies on servant leadership.
- Wednesday Discipleship study. Pray for a successful launch of our first discipleship weekly study for church members.
- Thursday English Club. Pray for open doors to share the gospel and for wisdom in preparing and carrying out activities in the club.
- Friday Teen Outreach. Pray for relationships to be built with new teens. Pray that they would be drawn to Jesus and saved from the destructive plans of the enemy.
- Sunday Sermon. Allen will be preaching in Jászberény on Sunday. Please pray for wisdom and protection as he prepares and for the church to be built up through his message.
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Thursday English Club

We had a good turn out on our first day of our new semester of English classes. We are now offering the community two time slots to attend to accommodate those with the all too common shifting work schedules. Four attended our morning class and ten attended our night class.

At our break time in or morning session, we made our way out to our dining room for coffee. Brigi, a new student asked how in the world we came to live in Petőfibánya, a town in the middle of nowhere. Through explaining our story, Tünde (another new student) jumped into the conversation asking, "What do you mean God lead you here? How do you know? Is it like some kind of feeling?"

I was able to explain to Tünde that through prayer, meditating on Scripture, and listening to wise Christian teaching and counsel, the direction God was leading me in my life became clear. It was clear that she was seeking guidance in life. We found out in our game time that she has moved over thirty times in her life. When we asked if she was staying where she resides, she said, "I still haven't found my place."

At break time I continued the conversation by asking her, "Are you a Christian, do you believe in God?" She said that she grew up with a Catholic background and later was involved in Buddhism. She said she would classify herself as a believer in God but not associated with any one faith. She then began talking about her world view with pauses after each sentence seeking for a nod of my head in agreement. But I couldn't agree. She began sharing how we are all one with God, a part of him and in a sense are all God. I politely answered, "I do not believe that. The Bible teaches us that God existed before me and created me. I am not God, nor am I a part of God. I cannot speak things into existence as God. I cannot create as God creates. I am His creation."

She replied, "You can't create? Just this morning at the bus stop, I created an opportunity to come to this class." She went on, "I wanted to learn and there happened to be a poster at the bus stop. How do you explain that?" I replied with a smile, "We were in this very room a few weeks ago praying that God would bring people that are seeking to this class. God brought you." Break time was over and we had to begin the second hour of our lesson. After class, I gave Tünde a book which explores the claims of Jesus Christ, presenting truth in an understandable way for those without much exposure to the gospel. She received it gladly and said she would read it. Our request has been that the Lord draw those to this class that He is already drawing to Himself. Tünde is an answer to prayer! Please pray that Tünde would find Jesus and finally have peace in life through her relationship with Him.
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Weekly Update

RETREAT

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Above: Spending some time over the weekend with friends from our organization that serve throughout Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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Above: Fun in the conference room. Ben makes use of all available real estate by running around like a fighter jet. Elianna and Kira find a nice hiding place while playing tag with the other kids.

This three day retreat provided needed fellowship with fellow church planters, and encouraging times of prayer, teaching and worship. In preparation for leading a discussion on church planting at the retreat, I was reminded of the passion of God to accomplish His plans to redeem people from all nations through Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 37:32, God responds to Hezekiah's plea for help at a time when the enemy taunts him with pride and disdain for hoping in God. At times in Europe, things look really dark. At times, the enemy taunts us as well saying, “'Don't let your God in whom you trust mislead you when he says...the harvest is plentiful” (Isa 37:10 and Luke 10:2) But we must remember the passion of God and His ultimate power to fulfill His word. “The intense devotion of the LORD who commands armies will accomplish this.” (Isa 37:32) The LORD has an intense devotion that is not weakened by circumstance. He has an intense devotion that is not distracted. We can press on with a firm belief that our God is passionate to save and will destroy the prideful taunts of the enemy.

SUNDAY

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Above: Church member Hugi with teammate Brenda.

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Above L to R: Hugi, Lidia and Marika. Last month, teammate Brenda initiated a prayer hour with some of the women in our church. Since that time, these women have been growing closer to one another and faithfully lifting up requests before our church service. On Sunday, we went directly from the retreat to our church. Marika was overjoyed to tell me about something that had happened to her daughter Anita over the weekend. Some of you may recall that Anita is a regular attender of our church. She struggles with schizophrenia which is treated with medication. For the past few months, Anita has asked questions about the differences between Christianity and other world religions. She also came to me asking about the validity of the Bible and whether it was trustworthy. I often challenged her not to be settled in not knowing rather to strive to know and make a full commitment to Jesus Christ. She is well versed in the Bible, but it seemed that the truth was still veiled from her heart...until this weekend. As I stepped foot into our meeting place, Marika told me that her daughter Anita had put her trust in Jesus on Saturday. With Hugi listening in, Marika said, “Do you remember what I asked you to pray for two weeks ago?” Hugi replied, “That Anita would be able to fully receive Jesus Christ into her heart.” Praise God for clear answers to prayer and for moving these women into an edifying ministry of prayer for the body. Since that time, I have had two meetings with Anita who confirmed the good news of her faith in Jesus Christ.

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Above: Anita sharing what happened over the weekend with Dezső.

For the past few weeks, we have been holding a class on what it means to become a Christian and why we practice baptism. Norbi (Lidia’s husband), Érzsi and Anita attended the class and are preparing to be baptized this Sunday. We rejoice in their decision to believe in Jesus, and their obedience in following Him in baptism.

MONDAY

On Monday nights I have been meeting with Dezső and Gabi for leadership Bible studies. I am encouraged to see continued growth in both of these men. Though I plan the lesson to the best of my ability, we allow the subject matter to flow with personal questions and observations. Last night, Dezső inadvertently taught half the lesson. I was rejoicing in my heart as he took many of the lessons being taught to a deeper personal level and was mentoring teenager Gabi in the process. Dezső continues to be in a time of testing before we appoint him as an elder of the church, while Gabi is being trained for a future role as a leader in teen outreach. I praise God for His power at work in both of these men and look forward to them bringing glory to God as they follow Jesus’ example of servant leadership.

ENGLISH CLUB STARTING!

This thursday, October 9th, we will be offering a new semester of English. We have dramatically changed the format and hope to meet a lot of new people in Petőfibánya and the surrounding towns through this club. Please pray that the invitations that we have been handing out and posters we have hung up would be effective in getting the word out. Please pray for our team as we make the final preparations for the first club meeting. It is our desire that those that come to this club would not only benefit from learning English, but more importantly would come to know Jesus Christ and the good news of salvation He offers.
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