June Update

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Above: Dad, Kira and Ziva out for a bike ride on a sunny Saturday in May.

There is always a battle in our minds. In this season of the attack of Covid, there is a constant bombardment of negativity, darkness and death on news media and social networks. But as believers, we know that in any season of life there is always reason to rejoice. We don't ignore the reality of suffering and difficulty, but we don't allow those things to cause us to ignore the abundant treasures we have inherited in Jesus Christ. And we also give praise for every good gift that we experience in our daily lives as we walk through this together. We continue to battle in our minds to be God's people who are thankful, His children who rejoice in the Lord.

I have enjoyed bike rides with the kids. I have been thankful for time to slow down. I have been grateful for the technology that has given us more tools to remain in contact with one another. I am thankful for the ways this time has stirred up in all of our lives different areas that God wants to deal with by His grace. And this is what we can always expect no matter what the circumstances. God is for us. God is teaching us as our good Father. God is giving us opportunity to grow up in all ways to be like Jesus Christ. This has been a season for God to bless us with the gift of a renewed clarity of our need for Him, a renewed understanding of our need to abide in Him, a growing hope that Jesus return and that God's kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

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As with churches throughout the world, our congregation had to adapt to the social distancing requirements and find creative ways to continue to fellowship and serve. In April, we decided to create a journey with prayer stations in the hills behind our village that went through the Easter story. Members signed up for specific times they would walk the journey and pray. On Sundays, we switched over to online services which the majority of members had access to through the internet. But with the elderly in our church, we had to find a different solution as they don't have internet.

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So, we collected some old portable DVD players and I began burning DVDs every week. My daughter Kira and I make our rounds on bike Sunday afternoons to each of their houses to deliver that day's service from the morning. This has brought encouragement to the elderly and a sense of continued connectedness to the congregation in this difficult time.

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Above: Ziva also helped encourage the elderly with various artwork that we deliver with the DVDs each week. The top picture says, "May the Lord bless you and keep you…Jesus". The one on the right says, "God loves you."

The teens from our church have continued to help the local government by shopping for and delivering food to elderly in the community. It has been awesome to see their faithfulness in this ministry and we are so encouraged to see them caring for others with the love of Christ in this way.

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One of our elderly members Gizi also requested help with donating her flowers to church members as she is getting too burdened to care for them herself. Along with her own health struggles, Gizi is caring for her ailing husband who has had multiple strokes. Sharon and Eszti helped pack the plants and distribute them to good homes. Gizi was fine with parting with the flowers but she said she would have difficulty parting with her precious geese that are so dear to her heart. They'll be the last to go.

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Food-relief packages


With so many that were already poor and struggling in our village now having the added burden of problems with the virus, we decided to put together food packages to distribute to the needy.

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Above: Teammate Roger on our trip to a larger Cosco-like market in Budapest to buy supplies for food-relief packages for the needy.

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Above: Our daughters Ellie and Kira did all of the work of packing each individual bag to be distributed to thirty families.

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Above: Church members Gabi and Józsi joyfully delivering the gifts. One of our last deliveries of the day took us to the back end of the village where some are living in garages. One woman was in shock with her hand covering her mouth in awe. In tears, she said that no one had ever showed her such kindness. I said this is just a taste of the kindness of Jesus. I told her about His kindness and love toward us that we did not deserve and how He has motivated us to love in this way. Each of the packets included a printout explaining the Good News and an offer for a free Bible upon request.

Restrictions being lifted


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Above: Meeting for the first time after months of separation for Sunday outdoor worship and prayer.

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In Hungary, the government is lifting more and more restrictions in the countryside where the virus has been far less prominent. We had our first in-person youth group at teammates Miki and Erika's house last week! It was so encouraging to be together and a joy to see teens join back together that we hadn't seen in person for months.

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Above: Teammate Erika talking to some of her former students that were also invited. Erika has a heart for evangelism and the youth. She recently left her position at the school where these students attend and has begun work at a foster home in the area. This has opened doors to a new group of children that we hope to reach out to in the future.

Camps are a go!


After many questions about summer ministry and whether we would be able to do any camps this year, the Government confirmed that we are allowed to hold camps. Summer is such an important time for ministry as we have camps from July to August that have been one of the most effective ways to reach Hungarians and equip growing believers. Unlike previous years where we would have the help of some from the US joining us in our Baseball camp and the country wide English Camp, this will not be possible this Summer because of restrictions. Would you join us in prayer as we ask that God's Spirit powerfully come upon the lives of a new generation to draw them to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ. We need lots of wisdom as we plan for Baseball Camp, two VBS camps, English Camp and a Youth Group Camp. Baseball Camp in our hometown of Petofibanya is first in line and scheduled to begin June 29. We appreciate your prayers!

Congratulations Ben!


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Above: Try to spot Ben. (Ok, second row from bottom left, fourth picture from the left side).

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Ben, who turned 18 this year has graduated and is applying for college in Budapest. This will be a graduation year to remember as students finished out their semester online. Also Ben learned the lesson of never again letting his best friend cut his hair while being in lockdown.

20 years in Hungary!


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Above: This May, Sharon and I celebrated 20 years serving in Hungary. Thank all of you for making it possible with your continued encouragement, support and faithful partnership! "The Lord bless you
and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26) How amazing that this blessing is ours everyday in Jesus Christ!
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March Update

Coronavirus: A hope check


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Fear and anxiety has erupted throughout the world as this terrible virus is tracked and spoken about on every form of media. This tiny virus has destabilized world markets, shut down borders and led many to living with a constant sense of anxiety. This tiny virus has toppled the idols that multitudes have relied on for stability and peace. This is a time where those who have been distracted from the reality of impending death have to come to terms with the utter frailty of hope when it is not founded in Jesus Christ.

I believe the world will recover from this pandemic. But all recovery is temporary until we find true freedom from sin and death by removing the roots of our hope from finding their home in this world and put our roots in Jesus who provides living water. Jesus did not proclaim that this world with its ingenuity and science advances and go-get'm attitude would lead to peace, security and paradise. This is why we pray, “Your kingdom come,” because His is the only kingdom of peace, security and true paradise.

Jesus has foretold, “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) Death can be delayed from time to time with health care, scientific advances and healthy living. And we praise God for those gifts of His grace! But none of those things can destroy death. In these days of instability in the world, I continue to put my hope in Jesus, the Son of God who said, “Take heart, I have overcome the world…in me you may have peace.” (John 16:33)

When I do not have inner peace, it exposes that I have begun to put my hope and faith in idols that cannot deliver me from death. But when I have my hope in Jesus, I am delivered from losing heart. I rise up in Christ viewing these terrible afflictions in this fallen world from an eternal perspective that knows they are all momentary. The one who holds my hand is my Savior and Lord of all. These tribulations will not hinder him from accomplishing all His purposes for me and His kingdom plans through me.

I hear Him today, maybe even more clearly because of the threat of this virus: “Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa 41) No, we are not those who have all our focus trying to delay inevitable death. We are those who know death has been destroyed and we have the gift of eternal life through Christ. As long as we walk on this earth, I hope that we can all turn more and more people to this same hope in Christ that sustains us now in peace and will sustain us into eternity.

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” (2 Thess 2:16-17) May this time cause our roots to grow even more deeply and securely in Christ.

How Coronavirus has affected life in Hungary


We were nearing our Easter Puppet season and beginning to make preparations to share the Good News that Christ is risen with the usual 1,800 kids in schools scattered throughout our region. Within days, governments throughout Europe began responding more seriously to the spread of the virus and saw the devastation that was taking place in Italy. Schools were then shut down in Hungary, and so was our Easter Puppet ministry outreach. This is also the time of year that we begin planning for our summer camp ministries. We are continuing to plan, but understand that all summer events may be canceled.

We also had been in contact with a young woman who is exploring the possibility of serving long-term in Europe as a missionary. She was scheduled to visit our team at the end of March, but as we followed the rapidly changing events, it became clear that she should postpone her visit. God was gracious to give wisdom and direction.

Our teammate Brenda was in the process of moving back to the US as all of this began. This transition and planning is now becoming very difficult as there is a lack of clarity of how travel and other logistical matters will be over the next few months. Another teammate, Tom, was in the process of getting his Hungarian drivers license which was cut short because the school closing down lessons and the need for Tom to stay at home as much as possible.

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Hungary has continued schooling through online tools, but this has put many parents in a difficult position. Families (including ours) are trying to figure out how to be homeschoolers while keeping up with previous responsibilities at the same time. It has been a difficult transition, but understandably a necessary one.

As with all other nations, Hungarians are losing work because of the economic effects of regulations related to the spread of the virus. We are praying and turning to God to provide for their needs.

What can we do?


God has given all of us giftings that we can continue to use for His kingdom in new ways in this crisis.

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Above: Photo of our youth group taken a week before going into lockdown.

Our youth group that has been growing since last summer has volunteered in our village to do grocery shopping and run errands for the elderly that don’t have family in the area. Miki and I met with Petofibánya’s mayor and government board members to work out details of how our church could help. Sharon and our daughter Elianna began sewing masks to distribute to church members and as the word got out, the mayor asked that we also help produce masks for those doing volunteer work in the community. These are some practical ways that God is giving us to shine the light of Christ.

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Prayer is another calling that we all have in this time. We have found ways for the church to remain connected through social media tools and I have learned a whole lot in a short amount of time about doing an online-worship service. Initially, Miki’s family and our family recorded our first online service two weeks ago. Then their were more restrictions put into place, so we ended up recording different portions of our service remotely and putting it all together to be distributed on Sunday. We’re learning as we go.

It is so encouraging to see how our church continues to use their giftings to build one another up. No, we can’t meet in a building, but a building was never THE church. It is all of the members of the body of Christ working together to accomplish His good purposes with His mighty power at work within us. Church member József began a Facebook group for prayer every day at 5:00. An elderly church member Marika makes the rounds calling the other elderly in the church seeking to encourage them. Miki and his family are producing worship sessions from home to be distributed online. Church member Norbi is writing and sharing encouraging words through his blog posts. The youth are grocery shopping and delivering goods to the elderly who are being told to remain home as much as possible. All of us can be spiritually enriched in this time. All of us can continue to grow and flourish as we keep firmly rooted in Jesus Christ.

Crisis and the conscience



In this unprecedented global event for our generation, I have been praying for a shaking of the conscience of those who have never pursued God or those who have drifted away from Him. I believe many will awaken to their need for Jesus not just in this crisis but for all of life. I would like to share this post from a church member who had fallen out of fellowship last year, but her son attends Bible classes taught by another church member at the local school. This is what she shared a few days ago:

"I don’t write here often, but I do read the posts on the church group. This morning something amazing happened that I would like to share with all of you. At breakfast, my youngest son Bálint brought up the topic Satan and all of his evil intentions. As we continued to talk about it, Balint said, “I know someone who can handle him.” I asked (as if I did’t know) who. Of course the answer was God. As he spoke, I realized how I had abandoned God, how I have paid little attention to Him as I busied myself with everyday things rushing through life. Bálint continued, “Mom, you know God really loves us and loves talking with us.” I asked him how we can talk to God. “We pray and He listens,” Bálint responded. Then I asked him how God speaks to us. His answer brought me deep joy. He said that God can speak to us in our hearts, in our thoughts, through different people, through stories, through films. He said nothing is impossible for God and if He wants to speak to us He can, but only if we’re listening. I asked Bálint, “Has God spoken to you?” “Yes mom, he has spoken to me in my thoughts and asked that I help other people who are in need.” It is so amazing what goes on in the mind of my seven year old. I believe God has used Bálint in my life and used me in his."

May more and more who have drifted turn fully back to a life of walking with the Father in close fellowship through Jesus Christ.

Longing to see transformation


One of my passions is not only seeing people put their faith in Jesus, but seeing steady and drastic change as they grow as His disciples. When much time goes by and I see little change in behavior that I know is not Christlike, I am saddened. Among the ministry to my Romani friends, this is especially apparent. There are issues with addictions, issues with murderous-words, family fighting, foolish emotionally driven choices, destructive parenting and the list goes on. I long to see one of those who have come to faith in this village become visibly, publicly drastically changed!

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This has been on my heart. Lord, please cause life change. I want to see people change drastically. On one occasion as these things had been weighing on me, I was surprised in my meeting with Izabella on a Wednesday evening in Bogács. Recently, her husband returned to prison (a seemingly normal occurrence of men in this community). His return to prison allowed for open doors to meet with Izabella and begin Bible studies again in her household. Her husband is friendly with me, but he is opposed to allowing Izabella attend studies.

Izabella began telling me something she was very excited about that she said had never happened before in her life. She shared that she had recently visited her younger sister with her friend Mazsi. Her younger sister then asked Izabella’s friend Mazsi if she wanted anything to eat while intentionally ignoring Izabella. They have had a long past of family feuds. Izabella shared how hurt she felt. Her friend Mazsi looked at Izabella with great surprise and also perceived what was going on. These things rumbled around in Izabella’s mind as she returned home that afternoon and later did some baking that night for the younger kids. She headed back over to where her little sister was staying with a tray of baked goods to offer the kids, and then it happened.

She said it was like this voice in her spirit telling her to offer some to her little sister. But her thoughts were telling her to do the same thing her little sister did to her earlier and make her feel bad. Izabella said, “I just couldn’t ignore what was going on in my heart. I remembered Jesus teaching about not paying back evil with evil, but with good. And I called her over and asked her if she would like to try some telling her how good they were." Izabella continued, “In that moment, I don’t know if I can explain it, I felt like this huge burden fell off of me. I was free and I felt like I was filled with the love of Jesus Christ like never before. It was amazing!” This gave me opportunity to teach a bit about not only believing that we are saved from sin, but believing in Jesus to live a new life in the here and now for His glory. And to top all of it off, guess which scripture God had ordained that we discuss this night with Izabella? John 8:31-32 where Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Would you pray for Edit, Izabella and their families in Bogacs? Because of current restrictions, I can no longer commute to visit them for our weekly Bible study. Would you pray for their continued spiritual growth and for their needs to be met in Jesus Christ.

Before the lockdown



On March 1st, we had a fellowship day at church where we spend more time together learning, worshiping, praying and eating together. We had members from our church in Petofibánya as well as those from the church plant in Jászfényszaru attend. This fellowship day was just another way that we seek to offer the body ways to deepen relationships and give opportunity to use their gifitings to edify one another.

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Above: Eniko taking part in praying for the nations. One of the highlights of the day is our time walking through 'prayer-stations' that guide our members to interact with different elements that help them focus on prayer.

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Above: A time of confession and afterwards attaching a note of thanksgiving on the cross to our Savior who died in order that we be free.

Also, before schools shutdown, in mid February, our daughter Kira had the equivalent of a prom at her middle school that she is graduating from this year. Ben, pictured with her, will also be graduating from his high school and is looking into colleges.

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Above: Sharon and I having some fun on a weekend away in the town of Gyor in early February.

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Above: Ziva and Kira. So thankful to be living in village with vast open fields and areas to have recreation that are not affected by the current restrictions.

As we go through this time of crisis together, we are praying for you! We don't know what the future holds in the coming months in our land, but we know the One who holds the future. And He is for us and not against us. He is our steadfast love, our fortress, our stronghold, our deliverer, our shield and the One we take refuge in today and into eternity (Psalm 144). As you turn to Him with thanksgiving and ask for all that you need, may the peace of Christ guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7).
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