December Update

Dear praying friends,

Normally, Allen has been the one who has written in this space about what the Lord is doing in our lives and ministry. In these past few years there has been much change and upheaval in both our personal lives and within our church plant. As God has brought us out of that season of trial, my heart has eagerly desired to share with you how the Lord has been at work in my own life. Several years ago while we were still in the midst of quite a bit of turmoil here, I began to ask the Lord what He was preparing me for and how I might begin to prepare for the next extended season. God graciously began to give me some insights into what kind of ministries He was leading me toward and alongside of that several opportunities opened up for training.

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Two years ago I began a leadership training course within Pioneers that has been very helpful in my own spiritual growth as well as giving me vision and insight into the balance between ministry and personal life. I am so grateful for this opportunity. I just completed the 3rd and final module last week. One of the huge personal benefits was that it spurred on a renewed desire to read again. I haven’t read extensively since college and I am thoroughly enjoying digging back into the riches that can be found in books. Prayer and fasting are also being stirred up in me as I begin to recognize to a greater degree the level of spiritual warfare we are up against.

This past spring I decided to have my hearing checked on a whim. I’ve had hearing troubles since childhood and at my last ear checkup (nearly 10 years ago) the doctor sadly informed me that the type of hearing loss I have would continue to decline and that hearing aids would not be of assistance to me. In April, I decided I should see if my hearing was continuing to decline (it has slightly) but the current doctor couldn’t see any reasons why hearing aids couldn’t help me and set me up for a trial pair within the week! Hearing is awesome! Armed with my “new ears” I headed off to Switzerland for a 10 day training in leading women in Bible study. I don’t consider teaching to be a spiritual gift of mine but as a counselor told me that spring, “You will never go wrong learning how to lead women to Jesus through God’s Word.” What good advice that has proven to be! The training was exceptional and my “new ears” were an invaluable part of that training. I began to realize that I was shrinking back from some ministries because I couldn’t always hear well enough to engage people well. When I returned from Switzerland I went back to purchase my trial pair of hearing aids and had more than a bit of sticker shock! I thought glasses were expensive! Lord willing this set of hearing aids will last the better part of a decade though, so we consider it an investment well worth it.

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With my new skill of facilitating Bible studies, I offered the women of our church plant the opportunity to be a part of a study on Colossians which began in September. What a blessing it has been both to them and to me to read God’s word together, to pray with and for one another and to consider how God is calling us to change in light of His Word.

One of my favorite passages in Colossians is 3:16 which reads, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” The Hungarian translation brought my attention to the fact that “teaching and admonishing” is (at least partly) to be done *through* song!

Three years ago, I began to ask the Lord if I could use any musical gifting He had given me to begin to serve the church. Most of my gifts in that area are underdeveloped and raw, but my heart desires to grow in them. The Lord began to lead me to write songs and music in February 2016. I keep taking small steps of growth in this area and I find it a personal source of great joy. Last week during the leadership conference, I was given an opportunity to attend a conference in January that would give me some training in songwriting! I’m so humbled by all these great opportunities I am being given to grow and develop!

As our youngest just started 1st grade in the fall, my eyes are looking at the horizon, eager to see what God might have for me in the next long season of 20 years or so. Pray that God will help me to stay steadfast in following His lead for what He wants me to be doing alongside of caring for our kids and supporting Allen.

As you can probably imagine, our budget isn’t (yet) set up for these many amazing opportunities that I’ve been able to take advantage of. We find ourselves in a shortfall coming up to the end of the year. We trust that He is fully able to provide for our needs as well as yours. Thank you for prayerfully considering if He might have you help us in this time of development for the future. (
More info on giving by clicking here.)

We truly can’t say enough how much we appreciate your loving care and prayers for us. God has, and is continuing, to empower us through you.
— Sharon

God making Himself known


Just as our worship service was about to begin in Petofibanya on Sunday night, I received a phone call from a young man Andras. I have known him for a few years since he is the son of Edit who was saved in Bogács. God has opened up more opportunities over the past few weeks to share the Gospel with Andras and this night would be another example of how God is revealing himself. As we talked on the phone, it turned out that he had run out of gas and was stuck at rest-stop. Unfortunately, I couldn’t immediately help as I was preaching that night. I asked him to call back if he could find no other solution as I would be able to help later that night. Fast forward three days as I am sitting in Edit’s house and we are doing our weekly Bible study in her kitchen. Andras strolls in and tells me the story of what happened that night: “I asked the lady at the shop how far away Petõfibánya was. She told me about half an hour. She asked me if I knew Allen. I said yes. She was blown away. She asked how I knew you and I explained how you come to teach the Bible and have visited for years. She ended up helping us as a friend of hers was able to go out of her way to bring us gas.”

To put this in perspective, Andras lives an hour away from us in another village. This night at a ‘random' rest stop which is a half an hour away from our hometown of Petofibánya, a women ‘happened' to know me and her parents ‘happened' to attend our church. Of course, I don’t thing any of this was ‘happen-stance’. I told Andras, “God is continuing reveal Himself to you.” He was amazed at what had happened and began asking some important questions in our study which led to the Gospel begin explained once again. Please continue to pray for the lost in Bogács and for entire households to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Pray for Andras and his wife Orsi to come to understand their need for redemption and a new life in Jesus.

Church planting team building in Jászfényszaru


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Above L to R: Allen, Margit, Erika & Miki, Erika & Laci, Zsolti & Zita.



A few weeks ago I was thankful to lead some sessions on mission and team with the core group of Hungarians from the church plant in Jászfényszaru. It was a great two days of worship, fellowship prayer and discussions as we seek the Lord for next steps in the coming year. Please pray for God to raise up and send more workers to the plentiful harvest in Jászfényszaru and for open doors to proclaiming His Gospel in this town!

Baseball


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As the dark and cold days of winter settled in, we sought for solutions to continue meeting with the children who attend baseball practice each week. God has been giving this bridge-building ministry momentum since the summer baseball camp and we’ve gotten to know new families and bless some of the troubled kids in our neighborhood with the love of Christ. Praise God for providing the means to rent a covered practice area in a neighboring town just a few minutes away. Parents have also been helping car pool kids. Church members Jozsi and Mónika have also become invested in this ministry and have opportunities with these kids outside of baseball practice as their two children attend Petofibanya’s public school with others who play. We’ll be hosting a party for families toward the end of December and look forward to God opening more doors to share the hope we have within us through Christ. Please pray for these families!

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A focus on fellowship


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Above: The local community center that we’ve been meeting together in for years for worship service in Petofibanya.

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Above: A few years ago, Peti (center grey shirt) had a vision to begin doing mini-conferences for our church and other believers in close vicinity. We sought to support his vision and also see how it fits into the direction God has been leading us this year in focusing on fellowship. We believe that in order to be effective as a church in reaching out and making disciples, we must also be deeply connected with one another. These mini-conferences give us an opportunity to spend the entire day together, worshiping, studying God’s word and breaking bread together.

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Above: Church members prepping the tent and super sour pickles to accompany lunch later in the day.

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We praise God that these have been powerful times together, giving our church opportunity to use their giftings to bless and build one another up in Christ.

Questions about life and death


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Above: In late October, a ‘ministry friend’ Rosemary Barrett visited our town to offer the women in our church teaching on questions about life and death from a Christian perspective.

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Above: Rosemary with Lidia who helped translate.

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We’re thankful for the church members that attended and also an elderly woman who responded to an invite to attend who is not a believer. It was a very warm atmosphere with times for questions and discussion about a topic that is very important as there are a fair amount of elderly women that attend our church.

Christmas Puppet Outreach


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Above: Jennifer, Andi, Zita and Miki practicing this year’s puppet show in our basement.

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Above: We presented our first show on Friday in the town of Jászfényszaru. Over the next two weeks of December, we’ll be traveling to public schools throughout our region and sharing the story of the birth of Jesus Christ through this show.

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Above: In the past, we had presented puppet shows to all the students in this school in Jászfényszaru, but because of ‘religious politics’, we were no longer invited. The teacher seated in the back (with hands up) took a risk in specifically inviting us to come and present this show in her homeroom hour (even though the school did not invite us). She has become friends with Miki (our Hungarian partner in ministry) over the past year and has often visited his Bible class that he holds for a small group of students in this school. Please pray for God to continue to open up doors in Jászfényszaru for the proclamation of His gospel. Pray for this teacher and her husband to come to know God’s plans for them and to build up their faith in Christ.

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Above: After each show, Zita will be presenting a brief explanation of the Gospel and as is our custom, we’ll be distributing mini-magazines and CD’s for the kids as gifts. Thankfully, God has already provided the financial help needed to purchase the gifts for this year’s Christmas outreach!

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This puppet ministry is a great way to sow seeds to children, parents and teachers twice a year (every Easter and Christmas) throughout northeastern Hungary. By God's grace, many of these seeds will take root and help establish the next generation in their faith in Jesus Christ. As church planters, these puppet shows have already helped us enter into new small towns and villages as welcome guests and not strangers. God has used them to give the church a good reputation and dispel the fear that we are a sect. We have been invited to take part in various neighboring towns' summer celebrations and been able to invite kids from surrounding villages to our summer VBS that already know us through seeing us twice a year. Some parents have been introduced to Jesus for the first time at our summer VBS which leads to entire families turning to Jesus Christ.

As this is front line ministry, we want to enter into the spiritual battle with your prayer support. Please download this guide, and print it out and partner with us in December in this outreach through prayer! You can bring a copy to your small group, or use it as a family.
Download a copy here!

Brenda is back!


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Our teammate Brenda who has been in the US for a year on sabbatical has recently returned to Hungary! We are excited to have Brenda serving here with us and would appreciate your prayers for her as she transitions back to life in Hungary!

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Above: Sharon and the girls having some fun decorating together. December is such a great time to share the hope that is within us “Christ, the hope of glory!” We would appreciate your prayers as we’ll have a year end party for Mother’s of Preschoolers, and for the families of kids who attend baseball. And of course, we’ll have our Christmas celebration service in which we’ve seen many guests attend every year. May God continue to reveal Jesus, the Savior of the word to the lost in Hungary. Thank you all for your continued partnership with us!
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October Update

Zoli’s baptism


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Zoli and his wife Timi (blue shirt above right) had attended the last day of our Vacation Bible School last year. It was there that God began to draw both of them to Himself. Timi was baptized in July and Zoli began attending Bible studies over the past month. At his baptism, Zoli shared these words:

"When I was growing up, my grandmother spoke a lot about Jesus but I didn’t really understand what it was all about. At last year’s Vacation Bible School in Petofibanya, I saw how the kids loved the camp. God touched me there and I began to realize that I could have a personal relationship with Him. After that time, I became really interested and began reading the Bible learning more about Him.”

God has done this with multiple parents in our church who first experience Him and His truth when they visit our Vacation Bible School. We have heard multiple testimonies from parents that say they sense a real peace among us and experience God’s love. I believe this also has to do with the supernatural unity that God has formed in us as the body of Christ. Jesus prayed, “That they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” May the Lord continue to reach parents through their children and cause entire households to come to faith in His name.

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Miracle of reconciliation


The problem of divisions and strife in church are not new. Paul writes in 1 Cor 1:10 "I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.” As many of you know, over a year and a half ago, our church suffered a split that led to a core group of believers and long time friends leaving our fellowship. These core members followed a church leader who was under church discipline and resisted the pursuit of peace. They formed their own group and continued following this leader who refused to take correction from any other leaders in various denominations. Claims were made by this leader that our church was full of hypocrites and we were void of the Spirit of God. Obviously, these accusations hurt various members of our local body and led to more confusion and instability. We continued to pray for those who had left and God led the members of our body to dig even deeper into his word to find truth. This trial has caused all of us to draw closer to God and to mature our faith in ways that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Something amazing happened just over a month ago. One of the women who was part of the group that left wanted to meet. She had become convicted that she must leave the group that had split off from our church because of false teaching, destructive attitudes and the way fear was being used to control members. She met with Miki and myself and in humility asked forgiveness. I was rejoicing in seeing how mature she had become in using God’s word to examine what was happening in the group. This was a work of God’s grace, not brought about from any pressure from our church. It was God helping her understand His truth, His character and His gospel. Soon after Jennifer had the courage to leave the group, Orsi, Timi, Eszit and her sister Lidi also left.

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All of these women decided to visit our Sunday worship service with fears and wondering how old friends that they had abruptly severed relationships with a year and a half ago may respond. Although I knew they may be coming to our service that Sunday, the church members were not aware. It was a sight to remember! Members would stroll in, glance to the back of the room and see these women. With wide teary eys and jaws dropped they would one by one run to them and hug each of them. I overheard various members saying, “I’ve prayed for you”, “I’m so glad you’re back” , “I’ve missed you.” This was a great beginning to a process of restoration. It was a display of the gospel powerfully at work in our lives.

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Over the past month, we have been meeting every Monday and discussing questions, confusions and convictions with some of these women who were misled. We have been turning to God’s word and seeking to be “united in the same mind and the same judgment.” We have sought to be humble, to be listening, to seek to understand each other and most of all to love each other in the midst of studying God’s truth. We have sought to make clear to each of them that our desire is for their full restoration and for each of them to become members of a local church. Although we didn’t know which church God would lead them to, it was my heart’s desire that they would return to our church. Just last week two of them shared with us that God has led them to do just that! I believe this will be a powerful and proper testimony of Christ’s gospel at work in us. Previously, one of the most upsetting aspects of the church split was the way it proclaimed a false narrative about the gospel to our community. The split made the church look just like any other worldly club. Same fighting, same relational problems, no solutions. But now that God has restored these members, the truth about the gospel in this community is also being restored. We proclaim a gospel of reconciliation where we offer the same grace and forgiveness that we have received from our Savior.

Back to Bogacs


After not being able travel to the town of Bogacs in the summer months, I was able to begin visiting two Romani families again once a week. God has been gracious to allow me to form close friendships with these families and it was great to reconnect with Puljka, Isabella and Edit in Bogács.

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Unfortunately there is a high level of demonic activity in this Romani community. One of our first conversations regarded a family member who had just hung himself. Various members of the family were seeing what appeared to be his spirit in their dreams and in their houses. There was fear and questions even from kids if what they were seeing was real. After explaining some things from God’s word, we began our Bible study and Isabella abruptly left and returned after a few minutes. She explained that she had to tell her kids to stop playing a game that they had learned at school where they were divining with two pencils and asking spirits various questions.

Soon after that, some of her kids came into the room where we were studying with their friend who was encouraging them to do these things. I spoke to him gently but firmly warning him of the dangers of these ‘games’. I asked if I could pray for him and I trust that God expressed His love and concern through me. With all of these terrible things happening, I’m thankful to be able to help Pujka, Isabella and Edit grow as we put our focus and our hope in Christ and learn together from His word. Just last week, as I drove up to Edit’s house, her husband Andris and son Andras were sitting on the lawn out front. Edit’s husband and son are not believers and don't join the studies we have together. But sitting with them out front for a few minutes allowed for an opportunity to minister to Andras who asked questions about what it means to be a Christian. Please pray for entire households to come to faith in Jesus. And pray for those who are believers like Puljka, Isabella and Edit to continue to mature in Christ and be empowered to be His witnesses to their community for His glory!

Little league baseball


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After a successful baseball camp in the summer, God continues to keep the momentum going for our local baseball club in Petofibanya. Every week we have around 12-15 kids that attend. In a neighborhood where there is not much to do, It is great for these kids to have a safe place to go every week. They know they will be encouraged and learn how to play together on teams.

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One of our church members recently shared that her bosses daughter’s children attend. This mother is an atheist, but she was commenting on how amazed she was with our kindness. As is expected, the question came up in the conversation, “Do they force their beliefs on the kids?” To which she replied, “No, not at all”. This is a fear among many that God is graciously breaking down. A fear that we just want people to be religious or join some kind of sect. By living in the community, developing relationships and seeking to bless those we encounter, God is opening up doors to share the Gospel. The kids are also seeing in the ways we coach, the ways we speak, the ways we treat them that we are different. May the Lord cause our light to shine in a way that they see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.


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Above: In addition to seeing some of these kids at baseball, God has opened the door for church member Edit (top left in purple shirt) to begin teaching classes about our faith at Petofibanya’s public school. Edit is well known in the community, having been the teacher for many of these kid’s parents and even grandparents! Edit, along with the help of some other church members who’s kids attend this school also hold a monthly youth club together where they discuss a topic from the word, sing together and of course have fun playing together. Praise God for helping a new generation come to know His saving grace and true life in Christ through these open doors!

Children’s Day


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God has given us a good reputation among schools through our Puppet Ministry and work in community events in the summer. One school in the neighboring town of Lorinci recently invited us to present a puppet show as part of their Children’s Day celebration at school. Years ago, this same school was one which we had trouble getting into to do our Easter and Christmas puppet presentations because of the principal at that time. God has since removed that principal and has now opened up doors where they sought us out to minister to these children. Praise God!

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Church Plant in Jászfényszaru


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Above: We continue to seek to strengthen the core group of believers in the town of Jászfényszaru. We hold public worship service in the community center every other week and Miki (our Hungarian partner in ministry) holds a house group every week. We have also begun youth group meetings every other week, bringing kids out from Petofibanya who have relationships with kids in Jászfényszaru because of Vacation Bible School and summer teen camp. In November, we plan to have a team building retreat with members of the church from Jászfényszaru where we will spend quality time together praying, worshiping together and learning from Scripture together about the mission of the church.

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Thank You


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Our family thanks you for your faithful support and partnership with us. God has blessed us through your generosity and encouragement. Praise Him for the great things He continues to do in Hungary by His grace!
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