March 2006

Friday Puppet & Teen Party

Click on any of the photos below to see more...

This morning we held our last practice before performing our first Easter puppet show in Petőfibánya. Practice went well, and we were thankful that God helped us refine all of our parts before our presentation. Thank all of you who prayed for today's presentation. In the past, we struggled to get kids out of class to attend the puppet show in Petőfibánya. Today God answered your prayers by bringing 44 children to hear about the true meaning of Easter. Praise God! There are many transitions and technical things that could go wrong during the show-but God blessed us with a performance that was free of distraction.

We are still seeking people to commit to pray daily for this Easter outreach in the public schools. If you would like to join the daily prayer team, please email us.

Below: Friday night, we held our monthly party for the teens. The party consists of a mix of conversation, break dancing (yes, even break dancing can be redeemed), games and a devotion. Gabi (below R) told me that he would be glad to come to church on Sundays, but his father won't allow him. Gabi said that his father just doesn't like 'religion'. I am thankful that we are still able to build Gabi up in his faith in these meetings outside of church on Sunday.

Prayer update: Sharon received an 'all clear' on her latest blood tests (no sign of gestational diabetes). We praise God for her health!

Prayer request: Tomorrow morning we will hold one of our last practices for our drama performance before starting our ministry on Monday. Please pray for us as we fine tune all of our parts in the drama.

Thursday Multiplication

Left: “Ben, did you build that?” “Well, I build the walls, but Elianna built the floor.” We enjoy seeing our children bonding as brother and sister. Below L: After Bible study with Zoli and Gabi, we helped move some goods into Heidi's new residence in Petőfibánya. Heidi will be officially moving into her apartment on friday and will be serving full time with our church planting team. Zoli, Gabi and I had a great discussion on practical application of God's word. Zoli came with the mindset that it was O.K. to lie if the intent is to help someone else. After exploring this world view and contrasting it with God's way, it became clear to Zoli that it is better to do what is right, and trust that God will work out the details that follow. God blesses obedience, but there are always consequences when solving problems in the flesh.

Below L: Janka and Edina at Miki's house. Edina shared a few weeks ago that she felt very convicted of her sin. We hope that this conviction will bring her to see the awesome gift of Jesus which is freely available to her. Please pray for her salvation and for the salvation of the other teachers who visit this group from the local pre-school. Below R: Ildiko (Zoli's mother), Márcsi and Dezső. When I stopped in to take some pictures, I told Ildiko that I had a great conversation with Zoli (her son) in our study. She said it is hard for him to open up to her, but she is excited that we are able to have deep conversations. Zoli has told me on multiple occasions that I am like a 'fill-in' father to him. Many of these teens, including Zoli and Gabi have no fathers at home to give them guidance in life. I am thankful that the guidance that I give does not come from my own knowledge, but from God's word. I trust that His word will bear fruit in their lives.

Tomorrow, we will perform our first puppet show in our hometown-Petőfibánya. This town has consistently been the hardest to gain an audience and to perform in out of all the public schools we visit. Please pray for children and parents to respond to the poster invites, and that we would successfully present the gospel with clarity. Please pray especially for our team members:
Heidi: Feels like she is coming down with a cold
Janka: For wisdom as she shares the gospel after the puppet show.
Allen: Strength and wisdom as he also facilitates a teenager party in Petőfibánya after the puppet show.
Miki: Rest and physical strength. Miki has not been able to sleep well for weeks now as his son Bence has trouble sleeping through the night. Please pray that he would gain rest through the night and be refreshed for Friday.

Sunday & Monday

Above L: Praise God for the children He draws each week to church. Above R: Janka leading Sunday school downstairs while Péter (below L) preaches upstairs.

Above L: Praise God for 'bringing back' Hajnalka. We haven't seen her for a few weeks. Please pray that she would gain spiritual insight and understand the gospel. Above R: One of the first converts in Petőfibánya, Ildiko, returns after a time of distancing herself from our fellowship. I was thankful to have a conversation with her about spiritual gifts and their purpose in building up the church. Please pray that Ildiko may use her gifts in this way and also may find herself being built up among Christians.

Above L: Péter leading one of our 'break out' small groups in prayer (Milán and Gabi seated in front of him). Above R: Our smiley son Ben enjoying craft-time with Miki's daughter Anna.

Below L: Monday night ESL. Below R: Tamara, the one who enabled us to found this program, teaching the beginner class. We look forward to closing this semester with a special celebration. We will be asking students to invite friends and family. This is a great opportunity to share the gospel and to personally invite them to Sunday's church services.

Tomorrow morning (Thursday), Sharon will be heading into town for further testing related to gestational diabetes. These tests are to make 'sure' that there is no threat to her or the baby. The tests thus far have all returned border-line results. Please pray for her safety as she travels into town and for her and our baby's protection.

Tomorrow night we will be holding two small groups in Petőfibánya-the teenager discipleship group at our house and an evangelistic Bible study group at Miki's house. Please pray for these to bring glory to God!

Prayer update: We successfully turned in more paperwork on Monday and received a temporary extension for our residency permits. We now await the official extensions-if all is well with our papers. Please pray that we would receive our extensions at the right time.

Thursday & Friday

O.K. So, I haven't been blogging for a few days. Why? Picture me after pouring a bag of flour over my head. That's what I have looked like for the past few days after scraping and sanding our bathroom walls free of the dark grey looming mold monster. Last time I did this, I made the mistake of thinking I got rid of the mold. But the problem is a lack of ventilation in our often steam filled bathroom. So, Miki helped me to install a small ventilation fan (above L). Adding to the mold monsters growth were leaky faucets that constantly left the floor or tub wet. Dezső and Miki helped install new ones while I spackled the crumbling walls. It felt like a few days of chaos as dust found its way throughout the house. However, I am very thankful that the bathroom is free of mold, free of drips and free of steam. I am very thankful for Miki and Dezső who helped me finish the work on wednesday night.

Above: Thursday night teen discipleship. From L to R: Gabi, Milán, Zoli and Norbi. Initially, the meeting wasn't going so well. One of the boys began 'goofing-off' while we were in prayer, drawing the others attention away from God. I was very disappointed, but God used it as an opportunity to teach about forgiveness and the wisdom of 'a time for everything'. The one who caused the offense asked forgiveness from all of us and from God. He was on the verge of tears when he was convicted of what he had done. In the end, it was a fruitful meeting thanks to God's grace. Please pray for these young men that they would grow in maturity, while never losing their lively youthful spirit.

The evangelistic Bible study that went on simultaneously thursday night was also encouraging. Hajnalka, who seemed to disappear for weeks came to the study. Also Attila, his friend Csilla and my student Mariann stopped by (but had to leave early). Please pray for those who want to attend, that the Lord would make a way for them. Some of them have been restricted by sickness, or the sickness of extended family. Some have things that 'just come-up' on the night of Bible study. This study is so important in that it has begun to reach many in the community with the gospel that up until this time have remained unreached.

On Friday mornings we have our weekly team meeting in Petôfibánya. We continue to use this time for prayer and preparation for our upcoming drama and puppet ministry. We praise God that we were able to find a new drama this year for the teens. This is our last week of practice before the real thing! Please pray for us!

Above: Friday night sports. I was thankful to see some new faces! We had a great time and were thankful that we ended the night free of injury and conflict. Please pray for these teens that they would respond to the invitation to church and be drawn to Christ each week through our devotions.

Prayer updates:
Sharon is fine. Her blood tests revealed once again that she is 'borderline' for gestational diabetes. The doctor told her that for now, no changes in diet are necessary and all is well. Thank you for your prayers.

New prayer request:
We have been called in to meet with the officials who have authority to extend/deny our residency permits. Please pray that our papers would be accepted and that we would receive a lengthy extension.


Monday Night ESL

Above L: Break time with Gabi, Zoli and Levente. Above R: We were discussing occupations tonight. While practicing the phrase "I would like to be a....because", Dezső said he would like to be a pastor because he loves God. It is clear to us that Dezső continues to grow in his faith and we hope that someday he may serve as a pastor in the church.

Above R: Kati and Andi. Please pray for students Andi and Edina, that they may have opportunity once again to come to Thursday's study at Miki's house.


Sunday Worship

„Az Isten Lélek, és akik imádják őt, azoknak lélekben és igazságban kell imádniuk.”–János 4:24

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”–John 4:24

Above L: Csaba greeting our friends Zoli, Samu and Ádám. Zoli became a Christian at last year's English Camp. Later he began to bring his friend Ádám who became a Christian through our sports ministry. Now Ádám is bringing his friend Samu. Let's pray that this pattern of bringing more into Christ's light would continue! Above R: Janka greeting some of the children who attend weekly. It is sad that their parents do not attend, but a blessing to be entrusted with these children every week.

We were thankful for Dave Hall and many others who are part of the Pioneers Area Resource Team that commuted from Budapest to serve with us tonight. Dave facilitated a discussion on worship based on the conversation at the well between the Samaritan woman and Jesus. He drew the parallel of Petőfibánya and Samaria. Both 'unimportant' places. Both 'forgotten' by most and 'insignificant'...but places where there is an amazing encounter with Jesus. An encounter that leads one to leave everything behind and run to share the life changing encounter with others. And as the people of Samaria responded by coming to Jesus to find out for themselves, so we look forward to the samething happening in Petőfibánya and beyond!

Above L: Julika (also commuted from Budapest) helps out monthly by teaching Sunday School and also in our Saturday children's outreach. Above R and Below: Small group discussions focused on understanding Jesus' perspective on worship.

Prayer request:
As I mentioned a few days ago, Sharon's blood sugar levels show possible signs of gestational diabetes.Tomorrow, she has an appointment to be tested. Please pray for her safety as she drives into town and for her and the baby's health.

Saturday Puppet Conference

Above L: Heidi and Julika helping to 'prep' the puppets for our practice session. Above R: This year's Petôfibánya Easter puppet team-Heidi, Janka, Allen and Miki.

Above L: A pile of pipe frames to be given to the new puppet teams who will also participate in bringing the gospel to thousands of children through this ministry.
Above R: Pastor György has been used by God to initiate the puppet ministry in public schools. Last Christmas, it is estimated that over 50 puppet teams delivered the gospel to over 36,000 children in public schools. Please pray for more teams to be sent out by local churches and church planters to take full advantage of this open door to the public schools.

Above: Miki, Allen, Heidi and Janka. This year's presentation reveals one child's confusion about the real meaning of Easter. In one part of the show, we use shadow puppets to present the burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Above: In short notice, we had to create a dog puppet. Our friend Julika quickly gathered a bunch of odds and ends and whipped up a dog. In the conference, we had a fun 'competition' in which multiple teams performed all at once and were judged on movements, transitions, expression of personality etc. We were thankful to take home first place! Our mascot was privileged to wear the prize medal.

Friday Night Film Club

Above L: Janka facilitating our Friday night film club. Above R: We had a full house for tonight's film club outreach. Attila brought his friend Csilla once again, and also Gábor for the first time. As the conversation became lively after the film, Gábor began to pose direct questions to those of us who were believers. “How do you know for sure when something is from Satan or from God?” "Why does a person need faith in life?” “Why do people have a constant hunger for something more in life?”

I was thankful for the various responses from those of us who know Jesus. I was also thankful for the nature of the responses:

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” — Colossians 4:5-6

Gábor openly stated that he was not a Christian. I hope that his mind continues to grapple with the responses that the Spirit led us to speak. Please pray that the seeds of the gospel that we were privileged to plant tonight would bear fruit in Gábor's heart.

Prayer requests:
Sharon received a call from the doctor's office today with potential concerning news. It turns out that her blood sugar levels show possible signs of gestational diabetes. Please continue to pray for her and our child.

Tomorrow, our puppet team will attend a conference where we will 'practice' perform our upcoming Easter puppet presentation. Please pray for the many puppet teams that will take this year's Easter puppet show to thousands of children and teachers in public schools. Pray for our unity and success in planning our presentation of the Gospel through drama and puppet ministry.

Thursday Multiplication

This morning, I (Allen) headed into town for a dreaded dentist appointment. You see, I have a baby tooth that is wedged in by it's neighbors. A few weeks ago, I discovered a 'pothole' in this tooth with my tongue. Yikes! Previously my dentist told me that I should have this tooth pulled and get an implant. Ummm, I don't think so. Anyway, I praise God that the dentist was able to do a filling (as a temporary fix). The procedure was totally painless.

Tonight, the 'faithful Gabi' came for our teenager discipleship small group. We had a special time of prayer and traveled through various topics that Gabi had on his heart. It is very encouraging to see Gabi personally discover truth as he reads the word, rather than simply being taught truth.

I wasn't able to stop by Miki's house tonight, so I don't know any details yet about his small group. Details to come later.

Our doctor's appointment on tuesday revealed a growing healthy child! Praise God! Please continue to pray for Sharon and our baby!

Monday Night ESL

Above L: Pioneers team member Jeannot has committed to commuting to Petôfibánya on Monday nights to help equip a new generation of worship leaders. This was Gabi's first guitar lesson. Although he entered the lesson with fear and trembling, he told me afterwards that he had a good time. We hope that Dávid will also be able join this guitar class. Please pray for these young men that God would gift them with the ability to lead worship. Above R: My class. I asked Gergely (far right) if he would be going to English camp again this summer, and he and his mother gave a hearty yes! I look forward to seeing God's grace at work in camp in July.

Above L: Church member Csaba and Andi. For a few weeks now Hajnalka and Andi have not come to church or to our thursday night studies. We don't know why, but we do ask you to pray for them. It seemed clear to us that they both were seeking and had positive experiences with us.

Tomorrow we are off to Budapest for a general doctors appointment and a team meeting. Please pray for us! (Still below freezing here and roads are snow covered).

Saturday & Sunday

Below: Saturday morning we held our monthly "Játszóház" (playhouse). This is a family outreach focused on teaching children the Bible. The games, stories and Bible verse are all related to the Biblical theme for the day.

Below: Saturday afternoon, I took some of the teens to a bowling get-together. This was a follow up get-together focused on re-uniting those who attended last year's English camp.

For Milán, Gabi and Zoli, this was their first time bowling-Yikes! I was surprised how well they did. Afterwards we helped some friends move. I was thankful for Milán, Gabi and Zoli's help as there were a few things that I would never be able to move on my own. At the end of the long day, the teens were full of joy saying what a great day they had together.

Below: Sunday's public worship. Because of the makeup of our church, we were able to hold more of a discussion based Bible study with a closing message. It was encouraging to see the interaction and the truths that were highlighted through the study. I was also thankful for many of the kids from yesterday's children's outreach who came to church.

Above L: Samu and Ádam. Ádam (being a teen) was grounded this week and couldn't attend our friday night sports event. However, his mother allowed him to go to church tonight-Praise God!

Friday Night Sports

Above L: Before our sports outreach, we were able to spend some time in the word with Gabi. We are thankful for God's work in Gabi's heart! Above R: We split the evening into three parts. The first hour we play soccer, at break time we discuss biblical truths, and the second hour we play basketball.

Above R: We are thankful for the ways in which we can connect with many of these teens who do not currently attend church. Some of these teens were 'kids' four years ago who attended children's bible studies with Miki. For some time, they disappeared. Through the sports ministry they have 'resurfaced' and now we have a chance to continue encouraging them to seek after God. Please pray that many would respond to the invitation to church this Sunday!

Tomorrow, we will hold an outreach for the children in Petőfibánya. Please pray for the children to grow in their understanding and faith in God.

Thursday Multiplication

Above L to R: Gabi S., Zoli, Todd and Milán (tonight's teen Bible study). Today, I was glad to have my friend/teammate Todd visit from Budapest. Every year we partner with Todd's focus group team as they organize and carry out a summer English evangelistic camp. Zoli (above) was saved in that camp last year and was recently baptized in Petőfibánya. We had a fruitful discussion as we continue to study the book of Colossians. After the study Gabi said, "These meetings are just too short!" Afterwards, he asked if we could meet again for discipleship. I am so thankful for the hunger that God is putting in these men for fellowship in Christ.

Above: Shots from Miki's house as he holds an evangelistic small group.

Above L: Miki's VCR refused to play the Jesus film for small group. Dezső told me that they just couldn't get it to work-then Miki asked for Jesus' help in prayer and He answered! Praise God!

Other news:

This morning Miki called to give me encouraging news. One of the teenagers (Milán) that was saved recently has a grandmother that works in the pre-school. As Miki was dropping off his daughter Anna, Milán's grandmother told Miki how much she appreciated our relationship with her grandson Milán. She said we bring life and light into her day when we drop our kids off at pre-school. She went on to tell Miki the positive changes in Milán since he has met us.

“And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.” (II Cor 3:18 NLT)

Wednesday night Miki and I met with Dezső for worship practice and a Bible study on leadership. It is amazing to see the difference in Dezső as compared to one year ago. I can remember when Dezső was opposed to becoming 'part' of a local church. Now, he is the most faithful member of our body. God is transforming his thinking through His word. Last night it was a joy to hear him pray for the salvation of Petőfibánya and for God's blessing to be upon our church. He said, "It's clear how much I have been blessed by this fellowship and it is clear how much this community needs this church." Praise God for leading Dezső on a steady path of transformation and blessing.

Monday Night ESL

Tonight we were happy that Tamara returned from her short visit to the States. She was able to spend some time with her family and participate in her sister's wedding. Our kids were super excited as Tamara gave them educational place mats as gifts. Ben's place mat has the United States pictured. As we were admiring the gifts, Ben nearly read the word Oregon without help!

Below L: Andi and Kati talking with Heidi. Below R: Tamara and Heidi's beginner class.

Below L: Having fun together taking a group shot. Below R: Zoli going deaf as he helps us lug our CD players.


Sunday Worship

Above L: Tibi and his wife Érzsi made a long trip from the other side of Budapest through 6 inches of wet snow to meet with us. They are interested in taking steps to plant a church where they live and wanted to hear about our experiences and lessons learned. Miki and I encouraged them to step out in faith as it is evident to them that their calling from God is crystal clear. Tibi currently serves as an assistant pastor in his home church in Budapest, and it is his desire to be sent out soon to join God's work in planting a new church in their hometown just outside of Budapest.

Above R: Kinga and Virgi were a special blessing tonight in our worship service. I usually play an african type drum, but I cannot sing and play the drum at the same time. Since our lead worship singer was unable to make it tonight, I was called to sing. As usual, Kinga and Virgi showed-up an hour before worship service to practice with us. In practice, it was evident that Kinga could play the drum beautifully! Virgi accompanied the rhythm with a tambourine. They have practiced with us for some time, but never played in the actual worship service. Tonight was their first time, and they did a great job! Please pray for these two young girls to grow in their understanding of worship, and to become true worshippers of God.

Above L: A 'first' for Dezső as he leads us in prayer for the children before they go to Sunday classes downstairs.
Above R: Tibi preached from Colossians 2:6-7 tonight.

“You received Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue to live as Christ's people. Sink your roots in him and build on him. Be strengthened by the faith that you were taught, and overflow with thanksgiving.”

Above L: Ádám brings his friend Samu to church. I met Samu for the first time on firday night in our monthly party for teens. Above R: Erika leading Sunday school downstairs.

Above R: An unexpected guest. Ildiko was involved with our fellowship two years ago, but left us for some time. We welcomed her with hugs and were glad to see her drop in at the end of service. Please pray that God would make a way for her to attend one of our meetings throughout the week so that we could encourage and build her up in her faith.

Above L: Sharon endlessly searching for a name for our baby that her wonderful husband will like :) Elianna and Benjamin like "Alvina" which means friend to elves. Umm, I don't think so. Above R: Elianna showing Ben what a real tackle looks like.

Saturday Prayer

Today we held a special time of prayer and fellowship with György and Zsuzsa Kóvács and friends. It was encouraging to be together in prayer, in giving thanks, in confession, in taking the Lord's Supper and in worship. No one knows for sure whether György will be called to heaven through this sickness, or be miraculously healed on earth. Today we asked for healing in full submission to God's perfect plan and wisdom.

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” – 2 Cor 5:1

György commented on the peace that God has provided through every step of this trial. Zsuzsa gave thanks to God for providing such a large group of prayer supporters and a small group of close friends who have listened with compassion.

The time we spent together was priceless, and I am thankful that Gabi S. also joined us in this time. In doing so, this teenager witnessed a man of faith giving testimony to his trust in God even in this trial. He also saw the love and support of the body. May God be glorified.

Friday Night Party

Tonight we held our monthly party for the teenagers where we play games, goof-off, and also spend some quality time in the word and in prayer. Gabi, one of the first to show-up, was excited to share that he read through the entire book of Matthew today in his free time. Praise God! He also asked, "What does it mean, or why did people call Jesus the son of David?" Instead of giving a complete answer, we directed him to find out who David was in the Scriptures. Please pray that Gabi's faith and wisdom would grow as he studies God's word.

Above L: Gabi rooting for Zoli to bring the cup to the finish line using only a straw and his mouth. Above R: Ádám making a swift cup pass to Miki (this can't be sanitary.)

In our break time, I asked what was the first word the teens thought of when they thought of God. It was encouraging to hear words like, "Provider, love, powerful, gracious, friend." The majority of these teens that came tonight have already made decisions to put their faith in Jesus. Ádám brought someone new tonight: his friend Samuel (pictured below L). I am always encouraged to see that the teens want to bring their friends to these outreaches. Closing in prayer, I asked the teens to give thanks to God for the word that they shared earlier in the discussion. It was great to hear them giving praise to God for his wonderful attributes and qualities.

Below L: Ádám brings his friend Samuel.

Tomorrow we will hold a special time of prayer for Kovács György. I know many of you are already praying for him. The latest test results reveal that György's cancer has moved into his lymph nodes. György is on the verge of completing a book seeking to equip church planters throughout Hungary. Please pray for his healing and that he and his wife Zsuzsa may be blessed by the comfort and hope that only God can provide.

Thursday Multiplication

Above: Tonight, I met with Csaba, Gabi and Milán. We talked about our new identity as brothers unitied in Jesus Christ. What an amazing reality that we are united in Him from now into eternity. We discussed what was 'normal' behavior in God's family: Loving each other. Serving one another. Encouraging each other in our faith in Christ. Bearing one another's burdens. Please pray for these men to continue growing in their faith! Gabi took home our copy of the gospel of Matthew DVD to view. Please pray that he would be blessed as he watches it in his leisure time.

Above: New visitors come to the evangelistic group at Miki's house. Anita (above) and the two Marikas (below) are Ben's teachers in pre-school. This is the FIRST time any of the three has come to any one of our outreaches. They have known Miki and Erika and our family for the past three years through pre-school. Please pray that God would do the miraculous work of drawing them to Himself through the fellowship in this small group.

Below: Dezső continues to grow in maturity. He is making the transition from 'being in' a small group to participating in a small group as a lay-leader. Szabolcs has led the past two groups and will give over his responsibilities to Miki starting next week. Vanda became a Christian a few years ago, but often struggles to find a way to enter into Christian fellowship. Vanda’s husband Endre is 'warming up' to us and we are overjoyed that he has now attended this group twice. It is Vanda's deep desire that her husband be blessed through this group.

Below: Julika the 'craft master' blesses the children upstairs with a creative way to communicate Biblical truth. Julika was kind enough to come all the way from Budapest to join us in ministering to the people of Petőfibánya.


Did you prayer when you received this request last week?

"Prayer requests: A Pioneers Hungary team member requests prayer for an important surgery procedure tomorrow. The need for surgery came quite suddenly and the cause could be some kind of inflammation or cancer. Please pray for complete healing."

Well, God has answered! The results of the tests came back negative for cancer. The surgery went well. Thank you for your prayers. Praise God with us!


Yesterday, Ben was able to suit up for his pre-school's Farsang (far-shong) celebration. The kids did a cute performance with dance and Hungarian poetry. Afterwards, they dressed up in different costumes and bounced off the walls. I hope to put a DVD together for the parents from the footage I took. This is just another way to bless them and give them a creative invite to church.

Please pray for our small groups tomorrow. Miki's group will be talking about the heart of the gospel. He expects many first time visitors (some from Ben's preschool). Please pray for the message to be presented in clarity and that those who attend would understand and receive this amazing gift from God. I will be meeting with the teens and continue studying the book of Colossians. Please pray that the teens would gain a hunger for God's word and also gain a better understanding of how to apply it in their everyday lives.