August 2023

End of Summer Update

Above: Kira and Ziva in Czech Republic for a Missionary Kids' Camp.

As we finished up our 1st VBS on Saturday, we got ready for our next journey to Czech Republic on Sunday. Both Kira and Ziva would be attending a Missionary Kids’ Camp right off the heals of our VBS, while Sharon and I would celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary on August 8th.


Big news about Kira and Ziva!

We had asked you to pray a few updates back for Ziva as she seemed to be understanding more of her personal need to put faith in Jesus Christ. Midway through the Missionary Kids' Camp, we got a phone call from Kira who then passed the phone to Ziva who shared with us that she had become a Christian! Ziva shared that she would often think to herself that she was too young and would make a decision when she got older. One of the staff while sharing with all the kids said, “You’re not too young to become a believer.”

Ziva couldn’t stop thinking about it and each day she felt more convicted that the time was now. To Kira’s surprised, Ziva asked if she could pray with her to put her faith in Christ. You can imagine the tears and rejoicing in that moment! The Holy Spirit was also doing great things in Kira’s heart at camp bringing her encouragement and teaching her to trust Him. As if Ziva’s decision of faith was not enough, God surprised us with an amazing work that He did in Kira after returning home from Czech Republic. As I came down the steps of our house toward our kitchen, I could hear Kira crying as she was sharing something with Sharon. As I came closer, Sharon assured me that these were tears of joy.

Apparently, while Kira was laying down and thinking on some things she had been learning, she heard the voice of God call her into missions. This idea of her being a missionary was nowhere on her radar and seemed to be a continuation of what God was doing in her heart already at camp. Talk about some serious spiritual breakthroughs! We remember the days, just over a year ago, when Kira was just withering spiritually and physically. We just could not have imagined the amazing changes that God would do in Kira's heart since she began attending Black Forest Academy in Germany and was put in a new environment to thrive. We are so grateful for all of you who made that possible and continue to help with her tuition costs. It has truly been a great investment!

Thank all of you who are praying for our children.

2nd Summer Bible Camp


In mid-August, we held our second Bible Camp in our hometown of Petofibanya with over 100 kids (including teen helpers). God was gracious to help us repair our main tent that had been damaged in our last camp because of a violent storm.



Above: What a joy to have our daughters back throughout the summer to serve along side of us. Ellie and Kira were amazing with helping with worship, leading small groups and of course the end of the day drama that always left the kids wanting to come back for more.




Above: It was also a joy to see those 'home grown' kids like Szabi leading small groups and sharing the beautiful truth of who Jesus Christ is with the kids.


We rejoice that Szabi, along with Bence, LIliom and Betti (pictured L to R) are choosing theological studies for continued education this Fall. Add to that list our daughters Elianna and Kira and celebrate with us that all these young men and women who were saved and discipled through our church are being equipped to continue in God's calling and purposes.

Hanna saved!

Since we also had so many teens that volunteer as helpers in our VBS camps that are not yet saved, our youth group held a get together mid-week for them. Kira wanted to share her testimony that evening of how God had been calling
her to deeper levels of trust and the dramatic way in which He called her into missions the previous weekend. God used Kira's testimony powerfully in Hanna's life, who we have known for years. Hanna (pictured below) made a decision to put her faith in Christ saying that she was going through much of what Kira had shared and now was also ready to put her faith in Jesus.

Above: VBS is not just for kids, but a powerful way to reach young adults as well! Hanna showing the joy she has beginning this day of VBS with a new identity as a child of God through Jesus Christ.

Above: Kitti who had only planned on coming to help at our first VBS was so encouraged and blessed being with us that she requested to also help in our second camp. She shared how the Lord was speaking to her and leading her the entire week in a way that she had never experienced in her life.

Above: Panna, who happens to have been one of Kira's preschool classmates years ago also came to volunteer at our second VBS. She shared that she would like to believe and is currently seeking the Lord. God is doing a great work among the youth and we ask that you continue to pray for more of them to put their trust in Jesus and to grow in His grace.

Above: The slippy slide was a great way to cool off and have some fun in the afternoon.

Above: Heidi connecting with one of the mothers, Brigi who, as a teen, attended one of our English Camps over 15 years ago! Now Brigi is sending her daughter to our Bible Camps. Brigi shared with Heidi how that English camp was so impactful for her in a time that she was experiencing many problems at home. She said it was the first time she experienced unconditional love. Initially, she said it just seemed strange and even suspicious. But now Brigi sees that what she experienced was true love. We know that it is Jesus that she was experiencing through us, and that she has only tasted a portion of what Jesus wants her to have in abundance. Please pray for Brigi and other parents that have known us for years and entrust their kids with us at these camps, but still have not turned to Jesus to be their Savior and Lord.




Above: Emese (far right) who was baptized recently was concerned on the last day of VBS as she found out that her parents were coming. They did not come to her baptism to which many unbelieving parents choose to attend in support of their kids. Her father has not been very sympathetic to her pursuit of Jesus and they have had a difficult relationship.

On the last day, we had a special small group time for parents that attend. Our first VBS small group with parents was a bit difficult with only a handful showing up and most of them clearly uncomfortable being there. But at this VBS, we had 30 parents show up and a much more open atmosphere. After I shared briefly about myself, a woman asked, "You say that God led you here, how did that happen?" This opened up more opportunity to share how we have a living relationship with God and not a religious ritual with no true relationship with Him. Afterwards, church member Zsolti shared his testmony and interacted with a few questions like, "How did your wife respond when you became a Christian and she was not?" We were close to finishing our time and Emese's dad began to share a few thoughts. "I don't want to disrespect any of you. But I don't agree with any of this being the way. I have experienced much of the same in my life and if any of you are interested we can talk about it." What he meant was that Jesus Christ was not 'the Way', because I had just shared before his comments John 14:6 with the group: "I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me." We had to finish our time together, and I responded gently to him. I then invited the parents to take a Bible or other material we had placed on a table as they left. All the Bibles were gone at the end along with many of the evangelistic books!

Throughout the day, others like our teammate Heidi, had some time to talk to Emese's dad about his thoughts. He witnessed the unity, the joy, and love that was evident in the volunteers and how this affected the kids who attended. It is clear that his heart is softening towards believers and he shared that Emese has found a good community.





Above: Emese's little sister Anna also attended VBS and is seen above sporting a "Jesus is King" crown. She is also very open to pursuing Jesus and in a conversation with Emese's dad, he shared that he would not be opposed to her getting baptized if she chooses. On the long car ride home, Emese shared that she had an open and peaceful conversation with her parents that she had not had in a long time. Praise God for softening the heart of her dad and for brining peace into their relationship even though he has different beliefs. Please pray for Emese and her family and for the clear changes happening in Emese's life to be a testimony to the life of Christ to her family.




Above: The majority of the Mercer clan, Sharon, Ziva (11), Ellie (20), Kira (17) and Allen. Check out some videos below of highlights from our second VBS this Summer.

End of Summer Teen Camping Weekend

Above: Emese and Lilla

To close off the summer, we hold a weekend camp designed for teens. This allows us to talk about more serious subjects that relate to their season of life and continue conversations with those teens whose hearts were being drawn to Jesus.




We had a good mix of believing teens and those teens who we have friendships with that are not yet believers. Having already spent the majority of summer serving together, the small groups discussions seemed to work well when discussing our topic of how our decisions today affect who we are in the future.

Above: Each afternoon, we had a "Talk Show", where Bence interviewed a guest. In this session above, Enikő shared about growing up in a dysfunctional family with a parent that struggled with alcohol and her path to coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Many of you who have partnered with us for years remember that Enikő was saved in one of our English Camps.



Above: In true Hungarian fashion, our dinner the first night was fat drippings on bread with raw onions, tomatoes and peppers.


Above: Enikő's husband Gabi was the first campfire speaker, starting the weekend off with a discussion about how God has given us an opportunity today to believe in His Son and the danger of great regret in the future if we squander this opportunity to trust and believe.


Unfortunately, I couldn't stay the entire camp as I experienced a slipped disk and was laid out on a foldable table for most of Friday under the main tent. I felt like I was in a hospital on my back, seeing faces over me throughout the day helping in any way they could. I was blessed with my family in Christ and how they sought to care for me. As night approached and I still could not maneuver my body to stand, a doctor was called in and I was given a few injections. That was enough in order for a few of the guys to bring me home so that I could recover there. Since I had been a spectacle at camp throughout Friday, I thought I would share some thoughts to be read to campers regarding what had happened. This is what I asked the leaders to read to them:

"Sorry I couldn’t spend the rest of the weekend with all of you. I’m thankful for all the help from my family in Christ and the ways they showed their love for me in my time of need. Thank you for your concern for me. I trust I’ll be fine soon enough. My concern is for all of you to understand your need to become a child of God. Many of you saw how helpless I was in myself, and I was desperate and I knew I needed to depend on others. God wants all of us to realize that we are all helpless without him and we all deeply need God as our loving Father to live. Just as God sent all those people around me to offer help, so he sent to you Jesus to rescue you from your helpless sinful spiritual condition and from separation from His family. I hope you see this weekend that God is offering His love to you and His help to you to begin living the life you were created to live. Without Him you are helpless to do anything in life that will have eternal value. As I called for help when I was in pain and gladly allowed Józsi and Gabi to carry me up the stairs to my house, will you take the hands of Jesus that He begin helping you live His purposes for your life. He loves you but always gives you the choice to receive Him or reject Him."

I trust that God has planted many powerful seeds of the Gospel in these kids' hearts and we ask that you pray for this new generation of Hungarians to flourish in faith in Christ. As far as my condition, after much rest, I am back on my feet and getting better each day. I hope to get back to playing soccer and being able to work out in a few weeks. I'd appreciate your prayers for me.




Above: Saying goodbyes at Budapest Airport. After our second VBS, Ellie was off to Chicago for her second year at Moody. And just a week later, we said our goodbye's to Kira who would be starting her second year at Black Forest Academy in Germany. We appreciate your prayers for our girls in this important formative time in their lives. And please pray for Ziva as she once again transitions to not having her sisters around at home.


Thank all of you for taking this journey with us as partners in supporting our ministry and family. We’re in year 23 of serving in Hungary and are thankful for God's provision through you so that we can continue following God's calling on our lives. Thank all of you who have recently responded with prayer and financial giving to help us get our Pioneers account out of danger from going into the red. We are grateful for all of you and your generosity!

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” — 2 Corinthians 13:14

1st Bible Camp Update


Above: Last week we held our first of two Bible camps in our hometown of Petofibánya. Due to the growing number of kids that were attending our camp the past few years, we began to see an issue with camp becoming too crowded. We were also loosing our ability to have the space and personal time to interact with kids when the number was exceeding 100 attendees. We decided this year to do the same camp twice, asking that parents choose one of the two to send their kids. This would allow us to limit the number of campers while also giving anyone who wanted to attend a camp the opportunity. In the end we had 107 kids registered for the first camp and our second camp has 82 kids registered. We praise God for giving us a solution to keep these camps effective and are thankful that the number of campers grows each year.



Above: (Top) Elianna leading her group through the gate to our campgrounds to begin the day. (Above) Kira helping children in her small group with their daily workbook. We praise God for both of our daughters Elianna and Kira being back for the summer and serving along side of us. Both of them continue to mature in their faith and flourish in their giftings that God has given them.



Above: Ellie also helped put together the drama with cliff hangers every day that always kept the kids engaged and excited to know what was going to happen next.




Above: At scheduled "free time", lots of kids congregated and wanted to sing songs we had been learning throughout the week.



Above: Our famous slippy-slide is always a hit with the kids, especially in the summer heat.


Above: Sharon had opportunity to share her testimony in the 7th and 8th grader groups. These are the kids that are beginning to think more serious about life and have important decisions ahead. Many of these kids have attended our Bible Camps for years and for some of them, this is the last opportunity for them to attend as campers.


Above: Anna began asking Elianna more questions about becoming a believer, specifically at a young age. Ellie was able to meet with her at free time to share her story of coming to know Jesus.


Above: Ellie was one of the leaders for the 8th grade class. She had already developed friendships with some of the students in the English Camp that we held in Petofibanya's middle school in mid-July. She had some challenging kids that may have been more interested in drawing attention to themselves with their questions, but Ellie was glad to give answers as she enjoys apologetics and was thankful that other kids who may have been taking things more seriously could hear the answers to difficult questions.

One young man Ricsi, (second from the left in brown jacket) approached me (Allen) on Friday asking if we could talk. Ricsi is one of a group of kids that attended from a local foster care center that has been attending our youth group off and on over the past year. Ricsi shared with me that something was happening in his heart that he could not explain. He told me that it was time for him to repent and follow Jesus. I was able to explain the cost of putting faith in Jesus and the magnitude of the decision that would call Ricsi to no longer be lord of His own life but honor Jesus as Lord and Savior. It was clear that the Spirit was working in his heart and Ricsi wanted Jesus to save Him and become Lord of His life. After praying, there was some struggle with what I believe to be evil spirits. Ricsi became dizzy and weakened. We continued to pray and then he told me that it was if he had heard a voice telling him, "You don't belong to them anymore. You belong to me, and are my child." Ricsi became so weak through all of this that he had to lay down for a bit. I had challenged him earlier that the next time he was tempted to smoke, to turn to Jesus and ask for help to be free from this addiction. Later in the day, he excitingly shared with me that some others had invited him to join them for a smoke. He prayed and told me, "I was able to say no for the first time!" Ricsi has many challenges ahead as he is in an environment that has a powerful current moving in the opposite direction of God. Please pray for him as he will face these challenges everyday that God will give him a passion for Christ and righteousness and that Ricsi will receive all the spiritual support he needs to grow into the man of God that he is called to become.


Above: After Ricsi put his faith in Christ, he was not hesitant in sharing it with others like Dani, who is also one of the kids from the foster care center. Dani soon after expressed his desire to become a follower of Jesus as well. I don't know all the details, but please also pray for Dani who also has been coming to our youth group for over a year.



Above: Jennifer getting dowsed with water as she maneuvers through the obstacle course. Jennifer is classmates with our youngest daughter Ziva and they have become good friends over the past year. When the summer months approached, we made sure to invite Jennifer to camp and she had a great time. This is Jennifer's FIRST time being at any summer camp, and we're glad that she could come and hear the good news of Jesus Christ and experience the love and joy of being among Christians throughout the week.




Above: Janka who served with us many years ago and had moved to Budapest is now moving back to Petofibanya and will be teaching in the local middle school. We praise God for bringing her back and look forward to serving children together.


Above: Pray for a new generation of believers to be transformed by His power and serve as His ambassadors.



Above: Our youngest camper, Noé with parents Patrik and Anna who not many years ago were also campers at VBS.






Above: Saturday's closing ceremony for Bible camp. By this time, the kids know all the motions and words to the songs we sing throughout the week and God was gracious to give us a spirit of unity that powerfully proclaimed Jesus Christ. The songs that we sing are full of gospel truth, especially the one where the kids are arm and arm singing, "There's no question that He loves me. Do you see what He has done. Jesus chose to come to us. This is the truth whether you believe it or not. What more could God do for us to prove His love?"


There were various disturbances through the week that we attribute to spiritual warfare. Our Hungarian teammate Erika, who would be doing one of the main morning teachings, heard from her mother that she had fallen. Initially, it seemed that she had hit her head in such a way that there was internal bleeding that could not be stopped. God was gracious to bring help and healing, and her mother was able to return home from the hospital that same day. On Thursday night, a vicious storm rolled in and our main tent above our stage and all the bench seating collapsed with many poles being bent out of shape. God was gracious to allow us to meet at the local community center in the morning while a group of helpers worked to move our secondary tent in place and clean up the mess left behind by the storm. Thankfully the painted drama backdrop and all the technical equipment was unscathed. By that afternoon, we were able to walk the kids back over to the campsite and spend the rest of the day enjoying beautiful weather.

Praise God for His many provisions throughout the week and for the gift of salvation that some of the kids are experiencing after making decisions to put their faith in Jesus Christ. In just a few days, we're doing it all over again in our second Bible camp in Petofibánya and we ask for your prayers for great things for His glory to happen throughout the week. Enjoy a few films from our first camp below: