September Update

“Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah” — Psalm 9:20

One spiritual benefit of this time of trial is the breaking down of pride throughout the nations that oppose God. Pride knows God, but does not honor him as God or give thanks to him (Rom 1:21). I pray that God put an end to the spread of this terrible virus, but I know at the same time this sense of weakness and great need for help it has produced may finally bring a proud person to his knees before God's throne. May all the uncertainty and sense of hopelessness, turn the world to Jesus, who is the Truth and provider of living hope.

As with other nations, Hungary is experiencing a second wave of infections from Coronavirus. May you be encouraged to see that God made a way for us to continue proclaiming the Gospel in Hungary. We praise Him for these continued open doors!

YOUTH Camping weekend in Jaszfenyszaru


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Toward the end of August, we held our last camp of the summer in a wooded area behind the town of Jászfényszaru. This camp is designed for teens, many of whom have been serving this entire summer with us.

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Marti (above suspenders) first came to know us through English Camp and she lives over 2 hours away. Over the past few years, she has attended our Baseball Camp and now our Youth Group Camp for the first time. Please pray that the seeds God is planting in her life would flourish and lead to faith in Jesus.

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For those of you who have not camped with Hungarians, a staple meal is prepared by heating fat in iron clasps and dripping it on bread. Afterwards you top it off with your choice of freshly chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers and bacon bits.

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There is something special about times around the campfire under the stars at night. After singing together, we began teaching on the theme of what is truly valuable in life.

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At last year’s Youth Group Camp, Gabi was convicted about his wayward life and burying the treasure that God had given him to use for His kingdom. It was at this camp last year that he repented and recommitted to use his gifts and talents as God directed. Since that time he has been faithful in ministry responsibilities and stepping into new opportunities to serve.

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Above: Erika getting some extra time to talk with Viki. Previously, Viki was one of Erika’s students at a local high school. She began playing volleyball with us and then started to attend some of our youth group meetings. We were thankful that she decided to attend this camp and hear truths from God’s word and testimonies from those who have experienced the gift of new life through faith in Jesus Christ.

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Many of these teens have grown up attending our VBS camps, but they never outgrow singing their favorite songs from camp and doing the motions together.

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Eniko’s turn to share how Jesus Christ changed her life. Throughout the weekend, we interviewed different people from various backgrounds and learned more about how they were saved and transformed by Jesus.

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Youth Group Weekend at Balaton Lake


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The Baptist church offered us a grant to use their facilities in Balaton for a weekend retreat in September for our Youth Group. This would not normally be available because of various camps using the facility, but because of Covid and cancelations, a spot opened up.

Praise God for another concentrated time together with the teens and for continued momentum and growth after a wonderful summer serving together. This retreat happened just one week after the kids returned to school.

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Our theme for the weekend was Christian fellowship. After spending some time contemplating Jesus’ word in the Scriptures the first night, we washed one another’s feet to remember that we are all called to serve as Jesus Christ humbly served us. I couldn’t help but burst out in laughter when my feet were being washed. Feet are sensitive! In contrast to the dim pictures depicting this historic event of Jesus washing the disciples feet, I wondered if some of the disciples couldn’t hold back laughing (I couldn’t).

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On Saturday we enjoyed (or suffered through) a long hike that took us to a wonderful view of Balaton Lake. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed quality time together. I had opportunity to talk to a few kids one on one and hear about their struggles. One young man had to find work while attending high school to help his single mom keep up with bills. What a burden to carry at a young age. Another teen shared about struggling with a feeling of worthlessness as she is tempted to believe that she was born as a mistake. I sought to encourage both of them and ask that you pray for them to find strength, direction and hope in Christ.

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I can remember just a few years ago when around 4-5 kids would attend our youth group and most of them were our children. Praise God for this blossoming group of teens and for God’s continued grace in calling them to find restoration and abundant life through Jesus Christ. Some are showing great signs of maturity while others are just beginning the journey. Please pray that God would raise up faithful missionaries, pastors, teachers, parents and pillars in the church from among this group of teens.

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VILLAGE DAY


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Even with the rising number of cases of Covid in Hungary, the local government decided to go forward holding their Village Day celebration in early September. We were asked to help and we provided balloons, sparkle picture-patches and a copper wire tree craft.

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This was a great opportunity to reconnect with many parents and kids that know us through various ministries like VBS but do not yet attend church.

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Precious teammate BRENDA LEAVING after 17 years of faithful service


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One of our PI teammates, Brenda, has been led to move back to the US and will be beginning her long journey (multiple flights) as I complete this update. Brenda has served faithfully for 17 years in Hungary and has been a very important part of our lives and the lives of our growing church family here. She faces many unknowns as she transitions back to the US and we ask that you pray for her as God faithfully leads her through a new season of life as His child.

Church plant in Jaszfenyszaru


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Above: Miki, Hungarian partner in Churchplanting ministry, leading worship. As we seek to expand the number of people hearing the Gospel and being discipled, we continue to minister in the town of Jászfényszaru which is about a 25 minute drive away from our hometown of Petofibanya. In the Summer months, we held two camps in this town and we meet every other week in their local community center for public worship. God has us in a season of mentoring the group of believers that form the core of this church plant and He has specifically led us to focus on the importance of godly marriages and families.

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Above: Zsolti and Zita, members of the core group in Jászfényszaru. Please pray for couples like Zsolti and Zita to develop strong foundations in their marriage through obedience to Jesus and His truth. Pray that destructive habits and tendencies that belonged to the old man would be replaced with the new way of resurrected life in Jesus Christ. Pray that all marriages in our core group would reflect Jesus Christ and become examples to a new generation in Hungary.

Evangelism and discipleship in Bogacs


After a long break from commuting to Bogacs (an hour drive from our home) due to the Coronavirus and Summer ministries, I was able to begin visiting my Romani friends in Bogacs once a week in September. With joy, I was able to hold Maci's newborn baby Szimonetta.

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As I reconnected with those I have known for years, I once again realized the terrible effects of sin in this fallen world. Maci shared that her husband was now in prison (the last time I saw him he was working in food service in a hotel). Maci's sister Izabella's husband is also in prison, as well as Maci's brother who is married to Mazsi. The wives of these three men live in close vicinity from one another and are now depending on one another to get through this time. This vicious cycle of poverty, crime and broken families can only be changed by God's grace and the power of the Gospel. Please pray that there be breakthroughs with men coming to know Jesus Christ in Bogacs. Pray also for those who may be closer to making decisions (Katyus and Andras). Pray for those who are believers to mature and become light in their family and community (Edit and Izabella).

BACK to School


Hungary has decided to keep their schools open. They have lots of regulations in place to try to isolate any possible outbreaks in different classes. The government is doing all they can to keep the schools open which helps Hungary’s economy and sanity :)

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Above: Ben took the big step of moving to Budapest in September to begin college studying political science.

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Thank all of you for continuing to pray for our family and ministry in these unique and challenging times. With you, we lay our trust in Almighty God, our stability in His sovereignty and our continued joy in knowing that He is for us and will continue to be faithfully with us every day. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”— John 16:33

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2020 VBS in Petofibánya report

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God has been gracious to Hungary in keeping the spread of Coronavirus limited compared to other areas of the world. He has been gracious to open doors this entire summer, allowing us to hold Baseball Camp, a VBS in Jászfényszaru, English Camp and this past week our largest VBS in our hometown of Petofibánya. Praise Him for His continued mercy on Hungary and His persistence in reaching the lost in our area!

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Above: Szabi was a tremendous help to me throughout camp, both in small group time with kids and facilitating game time.

We had 120 kids, with a mix of those who were first time campers and others who have attended in the past. God provided a great group of teens (including our daughters). These teens took on roles in worship, drama, games, kitchen duty and teaching. We rejoice in seeing their continual growth from year to year and their excitement to serve together. But, there are challenges and spiritual warfare that we always experience in these type of outreaches where our goal is to lift up the name of Jesus Christ. Early in the week, there was clear tension among some of the teens that could threaten the rest of the week if they allowed this to divide them. In my experience, one of the favorite attacks of the enemy is to go after the spiritually immature in relationships and cause believers to become bitter against one another, which in turn destroys the power of our testimony that Jesus lives.

I remember Jesus' prayer, "I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." — John 17:20-21

Of course, we preach Jesus in our church and talk much about our calling to be conformed to His image of love and living in God's will. But in order for this teaching to go from untested head knowledge to applying it in life, we need to be tested. I deliberately kept my distance as we had set up leadership structures and waited to see how this would unfold. This is not only an opportunity for the teens to resist the devil, learn to forgive, and live in the humility and love of Christ, but it was an opportunity for those we have discipled over the years to speak into their lives and help them consider these matters through the lens of the Gospel.

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Above: This is what I saw later in the day after the earlier time of tension. Betti, who was saved last year, was going through Scripture and thinking through what had happened earlier. I spoke to some of the junior leaders and rejoiced in hearing how they were handling the situation. In the end, there was reconciliation and continued unity in Christ. What a great lesson to learn for these teens that they will need to continue to practice throughout their lives as followers of Jesus.

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Above: We spend a significant part of our morning meeting singing songs full of Gospel truth. In past years, we projected lyrics as we were able to meet indoors, but this year, we were required to have the entire camp outside. Even without the projected lyrics, the kids were quick to learn the motions and lyrics each day (it helped having the teens out front singing and doing motions with such passion).

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Above: Sharon did a great job planning out crafts for each day that helped the kids remember some of the lessons taught throughout the week. Since Sharon was helping our son Ben with an apartment and planning for his freshmen year of college, she was not able to attend. Praise God that church member Brigi (below with microphone), was able to successfully facilitate the crafts in her place.

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Above: Church member Edit with Petofibanya's mayor Péter (maroon shirt) who began his term this year. We are thankful for the continued favor God has given us with local authorities from year to year. Péter came out to see our camp in person and later sent packages of chocolate for the kids. He also requested a small write-up that he would include in Petofibánya's quarterly newspaper giving a bit of background about our camp.

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Above: Each afternoon the teens performed a drama for the kids that explained different aspects of the Gospel. Afterward, other staff would share how they came to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.

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Above: Malna and Réka had already attended our VBS in Jászfényszaru and also came to Petofibánya. In our small group time, as they began to open up, we learned that Malna had made a decision at our last VBS! She said it became clear that she wanted to know and follow God's will in her life. Please pray for Malna who does not live in our hometown to find a local church and continued Christian fellowship that she would grow in her faith.

SATURDAY Family Day


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Above: On Friday evening we pack everything up and move our camp location to the Petofibanya's Local Community Center for Saturday's Family Day. We had a great turn out and although there was a period of intense rain, God moved it away so that we could finish our day together in pleasant weather.

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Above: On family day, we had a small group just for parents where we were able to share more about our need for Jesus to save us and restore us to the Father. Church member Norbi (right in red shirt) and I shared about our life before Jesus and how we found new life in Him. Towards the end of the meeting, there were good questions about faith, suffering and parenting as believers.

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Praise God the provider of the greatest gift of His Son, that any from this camp who turns to Jesus Christ for salvation can become a restored child of God. Now that these seeds are sown and planted, we ask you to pray for God to cause the miraculous growth in these families' lives. We also ask for prayer for those of us who began struggling with sickness toward the end of camp (including me). With summer coming to an end, and the school year just about to begin, we have one more major opportunity with our Camping Weekend for teens. This is often the tipping point for some of the teens who have been hearing the gospel the entire summer. It is a time to process their life and what they will personally do with Jesus Christ. Please pray for God's Spirit to powerfully reveal Jesus and God's kingdom this weekend from Thursday to Sunday.

Enjoy the following highlight videos from our 2020 VBS in Petofibanya! Peace in Christ — The Mercers.









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