War and Refugee crisis

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We know that churches in the US and abroad are already actively praying and seeking ways of supporting those in need because of this war. The northeastern tip of Hungary borders the Ukraine and is one of a few countries that families are fleeing to take refuge. Our mission organisation has a dedicated security advisor who is monitoring the situation and giving us recommendations that will help us to be prepared for ways this war may impact our safety in Hungary. Because of Hungary’s membership in the European Union, we don’t expect any serious problems in the near term. We do expect increasing opportunities to tangibly tend to the needs of the thousands of refugees that are entering Hungary.

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Above: Some of the volunteers we served with at the border of Ukraine and Hungary.

Our first opportunity to help was traveling to the border and volunteering for a night-shift in partnership with the Baptist Aid Foundation. Refugees arriving at the border were bussed to a public school that the foundation quickly transformed into a refugee center. You can imagine the trauma they have been through and the shock that keeps them from feeling they are safe even after crossing the border. At this check-in point, they are provided with food and medical care. They can find transportation and temporary places to live if needed. It is truly amazing to see the response of the Hungarian people who are volunteering their time and resources to those in need!

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Above: "Diaper mountain". Loads of donations being sorted through and readied for distribution to refugees crossing the border.

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Above: Just one of the many pets that I saw with owners who crossed the border.

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Janko and Anna from our home church joined me this night. We were fitted with orange vests and proceeded on our own to find where help was needed. As we moved toward a building used for distributing supplies, we happened to hear an orange vested woman saying to another organiser , “I need three people with me”. Her name was Lili, and she was headed out to the border crossing. We bundled ourselves up with winter gear and helped Lili distribute food, drinks and supplies to vehicles that were coming into Hungary from Ukraine.

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Although the Baptist Aid Foundation is Christian by association, I would venture to say that the majority of its workers are not believers. This became very clear when I began sharing my story with Lili. I told her about my ‘mid-life’ crisis at the age of 26 and the emptiness I felt even after reaching so many goals that were supposed to make me happy. Lili said a bit sarcastically, “So this is one of those spiritual journey stories, hugh?” Lili shared that she also had gone through a phase in her life with that emptiness. I continued to share how Jesus saved me and how He led me to Hungary through Sharon. I then circled back and asked her, “So you mentioned that you had a similar mid-life crisis moment. What happened next?” She shared how she had filled that void in her life with photography and the hope of being a mother. I shared a bit more about how Jesus has transformed my life. She once again, a bit sarcastically said, “So Jesus really does that for you, hugh?” I smiled and said, “Yes, He does!” We never know how our stories will impact another. I believe this opportunity to talk to Lili was a sovereign work of God as He wants to offer her true life in Christ. There were other volunteers also hovering around and listening as I shared my testimony. Please pray that Lili’s interest would once again be turned back to Jesus and that God would continue to draw her to Himself.

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Above: Our next opportunity as a church to help came locally. In cooperation with the mayor of our town, we joined together to clean up and prepare a space that was used for village workers in the past.

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We collected donations and sought to quickly prepare rooms for those we expected would be needing refuge in the coming days. Within a few days the first family arrived. Twenty two people squeezed into a nine passenger mini-bus traveling close to 500 miles! Oh, and also a family cat that they ‘smuggled’ across the boarder.

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Above: The driver of the bus with his daughter works in the Czech Republic and has volunteered transporting families over the past week.

After the long stressful trip, these families will have a safe and warm place to rest. The men already have jobs lined up in Budapest and they hope to find longer term solutions for where they will live.

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Above: As they continued to get settled in, I got some of the kids to play a simple game of catch. It was encouraging to see them smile and begin to relax after such a stressful journey. I grabbed some crayons and did some of their names in bubble-letters. Johanna (above) then finished off her name in her favourite colours.

Our teammate Heidi has also had opportunities to serve another Ukrainian family that recently moved to Petofibanya because of the war. After a few conversations and bringing various donations and supplies, it turned out that one of the family members, Renata had a Reformed background and responded positively to an invite to our church. She showed up with two of her kids, and we hope they will find lasting and loving community with us and with the Lord in our congregation.

We expect there will be a continuing need for help among the refugees flooding into Hungary. Please pray that God will use our church and His Body throughout Hungary to reveal His generosity, His compassion and care for the many refugees in crisis. Pray that through these difficult times they will experience Jesus and come to know their deep need for an everlasting kingdom and a perfect and righteous King.

Filling the Master's house


For years we’ve enjoyed God’s provision of using our hometown’s local community center building as our meeting place for worship. Since this is a shared space, there is a degree of set-up and tear down that takes place every week. I was first to arrive on this Sunday morning, pushing large doors open with my foot as my hands grasped a large box of supplies. As I made my way to our meeting room, I was surprised to see men. Lot’s of men! These men were equally surprised to see me. As I laid down my box of supplies, I said, “We’re having worship service here in an hour as we do every week.” One of them responded, “Didn’t Jutka call you and tell you that we are using this space for our hunting meeting?” God gave me grace to be able to work out the issue by finding them another space in the same building. But my heart was grieved. Why? Because over the past two years, I have seen men fall away from our fellowship. I have witnessed men loosing focus and turning to other priorities that have nothing to do with God’s kingdom. I was grieved seeing all of these men this morning who got up early and made the time and the commitment to meet together and to fellowship together for… hunting. As I continued to prepare and set up for our worship service, I continued to see more and more men coming to join the morning hunting meeting. This was just a reminder that there is so much more work to be done in our own town reaching men. I would love to see crowds of men just waiting to fellowship together and gather to honour Jesus Christ. I wondered in my heart, “Lord, where are all the men who want to know you?” To be honest, I was a bit discouraged.

That same night we traveled to the town of Jászfényszaru where we were planning on holding an evening worship service after months of not meeting because of Covid restrictions. Although our church planting partner in ministry (Miki) had been holding house groups in this town throughout lockdown, we were not sure who would end up attending the ‘re-opening’ of our Sunday worship service. In our shared memories of years of church planting experience, we remembered times holding service with no one showing up. Would this be one of those services? God decided to meet me in my discouragement by surprising me with something very unexpected.

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As we neared our starting time, I continued to stand by the door to greet those who would attend. Because of the design of the room and where chairs were set up, I was positioned by the door in a way that I could not see down the hallway. The first guest entered, a guest I didn’t recognise. He moved with a fast pace as I shook his hand as if there was someone behind him also following. Then I shook another hand of another new guest, but they also continued to move as if someone was behind them. I positioned myself to get a view of the hallway. It was filled with men coming as guests to our worship service for the first time in Jaszfenyszaru. God in his mercy brought me encouragement and showed me once again, that Jesus was faithfully at work building His church. The sight of all of those men in the morning who were lining up to attend a hunting meeting was now replaced with a line of men coming to worship Jesus.

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So who were these men? Samsung has a large factory in the town of Jászfényszaru and these men and their families came from villages just outside of Hungary’s border to work in this factory. They shared testimony about how Jesus was powerfully at work in their hometown and in their personal lives. Their passion for Jesus and their story of transformation is what I long to see in more and more men’s lives in Hungary.

Later that week as I was in God’s word, I came to Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14 about the Father’s heart that generously invites many to attend the future feast in His kingdom. In the story, servants are sent out to tell those invited that it’s time to come, but they all have excuses for not coming. They have ‘better’ things to do with their time. They have other loves that take first place. In the story, Jesus says, “The master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23). God has plenty of room in His kingdom and He wants more invitations to go out, but unfortunately, not everyone will respond. I was reminded that our calling is to continue to compel people to come to Jesus and to bring in as many as possible to that great feast. Would you pray that God use our church to continue to reach the lost, especially men in our community.

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Doors opening again


Our puppet ministry has been on hold for the past two years because of Covid, but thankfully that is coming to an end. As restrictions continue to be dropped in Hungary, we look forward to bringing an Easter Puppet show to kids throughout our region in April! In February, we were invited to help out in a children's day celebration in the town of Jászfényszaru where we also hope to visit with a puppet show.

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It was great to get reconnected with teachers and kids we've visited in the past every Easter and Christmas. We hope that some of these kids will end up attending future summer VBS camps that lead to even more open doors to reach entire families.

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Above: The blessing of having a team that seeks to serve the Lord together. From L to R: Roger and Heidi, Miki and Erika, Sharon and Allen. We continue to make plans for our summer furlough and ask for your prayers. This summer in the US, we plan on helping Ellie get situated to begin her freshman year at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

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This will be a big transition for Ellie (above center), for us as parents and for her sisters who will surely miss her being in the same home. Roger and Heidi will also be going on furlough which means there will be less help available than usual in summer camp season for our church. Please pray for God to raise up all the volunteer workers needed for Baseball Camp, VBS Camp and Teen Camp.

From the past few years of feeling the pressures of Covid worldwide, to the current impact of the war in Ukraine, the foundation of our hope is steady as we can say in Christ, "It is well with my soul!"

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." (Rom 12:12)

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