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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