May 2008

This Weekend





Above: Zoli and Gabi serving with us as we participated in the neighboring village's Children's Day Celebration. The word has gotten out about how we have served in these events in Petőfibánya, as we have received multiple invites to surrounding villages. These are great opportunities to meet the community, to invite children to our VBS camp, and to hand out gospel tracts.


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Above: A parent receiving an invite to our VBS from Hugi who also served with us on Friday. We praise God for turning the rain clouds away and providing beautiful weather for Friday. We praise Him for leading others to partner with us from church in these community outreach events.



Above: C'mon, the night is young. It's time for youth group Hungarian style. God has led us to begin hiking with the teens on Friday nights. This gives us quality time together and allows for more opportunities to hear their hearts and opportunities to teach them about the abundant life found in Jesus Christ.



Above: Smores and seeking to connect on a deeper level. One of our discussion questions was, "If God were sitting right here with us and allowed you to ask Him one question, what would it be?" Those that joined us not only hear the faith of the adults, but now Gabi and Zoli are giving testimony to God's grace and love in their lives. Many of the teens that are coming are from the neighboring village of Zagyvaszántó. Istvan, who attends our English program and now our marriage Bible studies has also begun to join us on these hikes with his sons.



Above: On Saturday morning we converged at Janka and Csaba's apartment to help them with their move to Budapest.

Above: Csaba and his wife Janka (she's not in the box) will be beginning a new season of life seeking new work and new opportunities in the town of Budafok in Budapest. Their move has brought sadness to our team as we morn the loss of our working together, but we are joyful that they have a home church where they are moving and trust that God will direct them in the calling He has specifically designed for them in life.



Above: Teenagers Gabi and Zoli helping us 'old fogies' out. Soon after Janka and Csaba's things were out of the apartment, Peti and his fiancee Edina arrived with their moving truck. I helped them move their things into this 'holy' apartment which has housed teammates Heidi, Brenda, then Janka and Csaba and now Peti and his wife to be Edina.


Above: Roses blooming in our backyard.



Above: Unfortunately, Elianna has come down with a mild case of the chicken pox (she has already been vaccinated). She has been enjoying her time off from preschool with mom and gardening in the back yard. By gardening, I mean digging holes and filling buckets up with dirt.


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Above L: Géza Kovacs Above R: János Papp. Géza is the pastor of the church that is sending out Peti to serve with us in Petőfibánya. János Papp who is the president of missions in the Baptist union in Hungary was guest speaker at Peti's sending service this morning.




Above: Steve Zub was our guest teacher tonight. Steve is a missionary from Canada that is serving in our county in the town of Gyöngyös. We hope to be able to develop more ways to partner with Steve and the Hungarians he serves in Church planting. Steve talked about Jesus being the message we are seeking to preach. He spoke of salvation being found only in Him and also about the established reality of our victory in Christ even though we don't always feel it every moment in life.



Below: A film of memories of Janka and Csaba serving with us in Petőfibánya. This was their last night with us before starting a new season of life in Budapest.


Tuesday and Thursday



Above: The party never ends. We went into town on Tuesday for a combined birthday party with the Driskell's daughter, Ellie. The Driskells also serve with PI and are in intensive language study in their first year in Hungary. We distinguish between our two daughters by Ellie (Ellie belly), and their Ellie (Ellie bean). Kira got to relive her second birthday that was just days ago, with Ellie 'bean' as she celebrated her third.


Above: One toy to rule them all.


Above: Ellie's handy work with the camera in the backseat while we drove home from the party in Budapest.


Above: Ellie and Kira playing dressup in Ben's room.



Above: Those that came to our Thursday night Marriage focus Bible Study. Tonight, Szabolcs (second from left kneeling) was our guest teacher. Szabolcs taught about how the Bible guided him in the responsibility and blessing of raising his three children. The first foundational verse that he brought our attention to was found in Deut 6:6-9

“These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind,  and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up.  You should tie them as a reminder on your forearm and fasten them as symbols on your forehead.  Inscribe them on the doorframes of your houses and gates.”

Szabolcs encouraged us to see the importance of teaching through the normal course of the day. We can use every opportunity, whether while walking a dog with our child or putting our child down for bed as an opportunity to bless them with the teaching in God's word.

Szabolcs also talked about discipline. We talked about how the majority in this culture have failed to see and failed to practice Biblical discipline. In many cases, it is sinfully practiced out of anger and selfishness instead of love. We looked at Hebrews 12:5-8...

"My son, do not scorn the Lord's discipline or give up when he corrects you.  "For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts."  Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?  But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons."

Here we see that discipline is necessary and when done properly is founded in love. According to God's word, when there is no discipline, the father is communicating that the son is illegitimate. Szabolcs taught about the importance of disciplining with a controlled spirit, not out of anger but with a loving heart to teach them for their benefit. He gave practical examples of how to communicate while disciplining, and also challenged us to pray with our children afterwards. From my own personal experience and from his as well, children understand the seriousness of sin and the fullness of our love and acceptance for them through proper discipline.


Above: Teenager Niki (Gabi K.'s sister) watched the multitude of children tonight while we had our study. She did an excellent job keeping the fires from getting out of control and helped the kids have a good time together.


Above: Teenager Gabi K, getting his due after making fun of us for being in the 'retired club'. I was very thankful for Gabi being able to attend tonight's study as God prepares him for living out a Christ-like life.

And now an advertisement from the Nation Wig Association:

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Monday ESL End of Semester



Above: For our end of semester class, we had a time of singing a worship song (in English) and then gathered around a large table for a strategic building blocks game. It seems as if this semester was more about planting seeds and developing relationships than seeing dramatic changes in students' lives. Thankfully, we live here, and will continue to "always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope [we] possess." (1 Peter 3:15) As I consider students, I praise God for Csilla's heart being ever more slightly open toward Jesus. Csilla has just found out that she will indeed need surgery to remove a brain tumor. The doctors have informed her that this procedure will most likely cause blindness in one of her eyes. We count ourselves privileged as she asked that we visit her in the hospital in this most trying time. Please join us in praying for Csilla, that God would provide physical healing, and more importantly spiritual healing.








Above: The last 'play' of the night, as Hugi and Allen battled to keep their wooden structures standing. I'll let you guess who won.

Sunday Worship


Above: Church member Eszti with Alina (one of her three children). We are hoping that some day Eszti's husband Peti will also receive the free gift of salvation in Jesus. Peti has a pretty busy work schedule which keeps him from attending church. Last week he was able to come to one of our teen game nights where we had some time to hang out together. Please pray for Eszti to shine brightly in her living out Christ-likeness at home and that Peti would gain a new desire to know God.


Above: Some of the kids enjoying the warm weather outside before worship service begins.


Above: Janka and Csaba. As I have mentioned before, Janka who facilitated much of our children's ministry will be moving to Budapest with her husband Csaba. Janka was effective in reaching not only the children in Petőfibánya, but surrounding villages through teaching Bible classes in preschools and middle schools. Csaba sought to be a helper in various ministries in our church and outreaches. Please ask God to bless both Janka and Csaba in this new season of life.


Above: Ádám, who attended church off and on last year had disappeared for some time. Tonight through Zoli's invite, Ádám returned. Zoli also invited him to our English camp coming up next month and it appears as if Ádám is coming. Please pray for Ádám to be given spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears to hear the hope found in Jesus.


Above: The children joining us as we sing songs of praise to God.

Tonight Dezső continued taking the church through the book of Romans and preached on the work of God saving us by His grace. "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;  blessed is the one against whom the Lord will never count sin." — Rom 4:7 Dezső commented that the Scripture doesn't say, blessed are those who kept the law....because none of us have. Instead, we are blessed when we find the grace of God delivered through the work of His Son Jesus Christ. We are blessed when we realize that we had zero to give, and yet God gave His greatest possession to redeem us. We are blessed when we put our faith in Jesus receiving forgiveness, pardon and are reckoned righteous. It is encouraging to continue to see Dezső grow through his personal studies as he prepares to teach. I continue to be impressed by his character which is most important when considering others for leadership. Please continue to pray for Dezső as he is in a high position in a factory carrying many responsibilities. Pray for continued spiritual development, continued transformation and a growing maturity in Christ as he is given more responsibility in the church as a leader.

Friday Teen Outreach

Tonight we decided to converge at Miki's house rather than the local community center for game night with the teens. We spent time throwing a football, playing table football and also ping pong. Church member Hugi happened to run into teenager Gabi who invited her to join us. Hugi shared that she had been struggling with depression over the past week and was encouraged and filled with joy as she spent time with us tonight.


Above: After the sun set, we decided to go on a hike, packing marshmallows and cookies for smores.



Above: Miki led a discussion around the campfire. He asked for each one to share one of their most important memories. Teenager Gabi K. was the first to share and spoke about being saved by Jesus. It was so encouraging to hear him speak so plainly and clearly of God's grace in his life in front of the others who are close to 5 years younger. Teenager Zoli K. shared about how he first understood the gospel through a drama presentation at one of English Camps. Gabi K.'s sister Niki said that she was amazed when she first met Miki's family and our family at how genuinely nice and happy we were. She said that as she continued to come to church and learn more about God that she believes in God and is more and more comforted by His presence and His love.


Above: Dávid shared about how his entire mindset had changed since the first time he met us. He now believes in God and enjoys the fellowship that he finds with us. I told Dávid how proud I was of him as I had clearly noticed a change in his behavior. Some of you may recall that the first time I met Dávid, I was grabbing him by the shoulder and leading him out of our Christmas musical because he was being disruptive. Now months later, he continues to attend church, learn more about Jesus Christ and has developed friendships with others in the church. Praise God for how He is drawing each of these teens to Himself!

Sunday and Monday


Above: Hugi, Dezső, Brenda and Miki. On Sunday we celebrated Pentecost, which is a holiday here (go figure). On Sunday afternoon, as Sharon was directing the kids to get ready to leave for church she had an opportunity to teach them about spiritual warfare. When things get difficult around here, it is usually a sign that the enemy is reacting to something good God is doing. As Sharon and the kids left for church they 'happened' to cross paths with Feri and his daughter Petra who haven't been able...or have been distracted from coming to church for over a year. Ben came running in the church full of excitement saying, "Daddy, there are two new people on their way to church!." Praise God for answering our prayer to break down the barriers that distract people from attending church.


Above: Peti and his fiancée Edina will be married at the end of this month and soon after be moving to Petőfibánya. At that time, Peti will be appointed as an elder/pastor in our church, joining Miki and I in leadership and pastoring. We are very thankful for God sending Peti and Edina to Petőfibánya and look forward to how these changes enable us to take new steps in church planting.


Above: We also celebrated Kira's birthday on Sunday. The more kids you have, the faster time seems to pass by. Kira is now two, and she is such a treasure in our lives. Yesterday while we were praying before dinner, I glanced at her as she held Sharon's and Ben's hand scrunching her nose trying to keep her eyes closed with a smirk...I just couldn't hold in my laughter. What a joy and gift from God.



Above: Can you imagine someone setting up a mini park in your back yard? Well, in Petőfibánya, anything is possible. Our back yard borders a small soccer field which was temporarily transformed into a mini park over the weekend (just in time for Kira's birthday!). It was neat to be in our back yard and run into people from town who were visiting the park with their kids.




Above: Erika and teenager Niki helping Bence up the steep incline as we begin our 2 hour journey through the hills on Monday. As Hungary was off from work and school because of Pentacost, Miki organized a 'kirándulás' (a long long long hike) into the hills behind his house.






God blessed us with beautiful weather for the hike and protected us when pushing through thick thorny parts of the hills. We were thankful for Niki and Dávid joining us which allows us to continue to build trust and a friendship. We hope that both of these teens will soon come to put their faith in Jesus Christ.



Above: Later in the evening, MIki held a Hungarian style cook-out. Instead of hotdogs and hamburgers, Hungarians put slabs of fat on a stick, heat it up and place fat drippings on bread. With a family history of high cholesterol, I had to politely pass on this Hungarian delicacy. Next time you come and visit Hungary, maybe you can eat some in my place.

Friday and Saturday

FRIDAY: Teen Outreach



Above: We use our Friday night teenager outreach as a point of contact with the teens who would otherwise be wandering the streets after school. Máté (throwing the dart) is one of our church member's (Andi's) sons. Máté came early enough tonight to hear the tail end of our Bible Study that we hold before games. When we began speaking about the reality of coming judgment and also the gracious opportunity that God has given all people through Christ to escape, he payed close attention. Máté has come to church with his mom on occasion and commented to Miki that he enjoyed service last week. Please pray that God would draw him to himself and lift the veil of darkness that has blinded him from seeing the glory of Jesus Christ.

SATURDAY: Church Planting Conference



Above: In the town of Bicske located just outside of Budapest, various churches converged to be encouraged and challenged in the work of church planting. It was a joy to see this conference led by Hungarians! Miki (our partner in ministry) was one of the speakers who sought to encourage others to press on in church planting. There were many times as I listened to the various speakers that my heart shouted 'Amen!'. One pastor spoke about the need to respond to God's calling with an understanding that we commit to finish. He reminded the body that this is long term work and full of trials and tests of faith. There was also teaching that moved from theory to practice. Where do I start? What do I do when there is nothing to start with? How will this be sustained?





Above: Members from Pioneers' Heart team and HiCal Team converged to provide a program for the children of those who attended the Church Planting Conference. Pioneers seeks to equip Hungarians to lead a dynamic church planting movement, and this children's ministry was a great chance to provide an environment where the parents could be refreshed, encouraged and challenged in this calling.


Above: Teenagers Niki and Gabi (sister and brother) and Zoli also attended the conference with us. It is a dream come true for me to have those like Gabi and Zoli who were saved in the local church catching a vision for church planting. What a joy to have them seated next to me in times when we broke into small groups for prayer and to hear them giving glory to God. In the second half of the conference we had to choose one of six break-out sessions. What a joy to hear Gabi say, "I would like to go to all of these sessions, but I guess we have to pick one. I can learn from all of these." These experiences stir my hope for the fulfillment of a Hungarian led church planting movement driven by the Holy Spirit.




Above: Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. We are strengthened by your support and through your prayers better equipped to carry out our calling in Hungary.

Thursday Night Marriage Small Group


Above: Elianna helping mom get the house ready for tonight's guests.


Above: Kira drooling over a care package we received today from a thoughtful small group from BVBC. Thanks guys!


Above: Kira helping mom with tonight's home made bread finger food.


Above: O.K. dad, all ready for the marriage class.


Above: Teenager Gabi K. graciously showing up early to help with child care tonight. Gabi has such a servant's heart and is always willing to help. Brenda and Gabi helped watch the kids (that would be nine kids) upstairs while we had small group downstairs. We rejoice in God's provision of this house and how there is room for this type of ministry.

Miki first requested that we consider a small group with a focus on marriage when we were still in the States on furlough. After a few months of getting settled in, installing our kitchen, unpacking and finishing the bedrooms, we started the study tonight. It was our desire to establish a few key foundational truths that will be revisited throughout this small group study on marriage. The first verse I wanted to highlight was Romans 8:5-11, where it says that "the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so." In contrast to having lifestyle opposed to God and an inability to submit to His leadership, those who know Jesus and are led by His Spirit are free to live a life (and marriage) pleasing to God. I wanted to make clear that without Jesus and His power working in and through us, any methods or techniques sought after to improve marriage would ultimately fail. He is the one that changes the heart, and this is where the root of most of our marital problems lie.

I am thankful for how the Lord used pastor Larry Crabb's book, The Marriage Builder in my life before I was married. The foundational truths I learned helped Sharon and I establish better patterns of communication and gain a better understanding of our roles and responsibilities in marriage. I presented one of those truths tonight, that when two people come together for marriage expecting the other to fulfill spiritual needs of security and significance, the outcome is disastrous and far from the oneness that God desires in marriage. Larry Crabb used the illustration of this type of relationship being like a tic attaching itself to a dog seeking it's fill. The only problem is that in this type of marital relationship there are two tics and no dog. Neither spouse is able to give what the other expects and neither spouse experiences a fulfilled sense of being secure and significant. To move away from this destructive type of relationship, we need to turn to Jesus to meet our spiritual needs. How we do that and how that affects our role in marriage will be the focus of our next meeting two weeks from now.



Above: Istvan and Marika from the neighboring town of Zagyvaszántó joined our study tonight. Marika has participated in some of our children's outreaches and is an advocate for us in Zagyvaszántó. Her husband Istvan attends our ESL program and teenager outreach on Friday. Tonight was the first time they have attended a small group ministry together.


Above: Attila, Miki and Dezső.



Above: I was greeted by kid madness when I walked into Ben's room after the study was over. All the kids began jumping up and down and screaming in unison, "We want food, we want food!" Afterwards, it was a stampede to our living room as they finished off what the adults didn't eat during the study.

We praise God for a great first study together. Please pray that God would strengthen our marriages as we seek His leadership in them.

Sunday Worship


Above: God answering prayer! Anita (L) and Érzsi (R) were neighbors of Miki's years ago. We ran into them again at the May Day celebration on Friday and because of a personal invite and God's work in their hearts, they stepped foot into our church for the first time. We have been praying that God would remove the barriers that distract or prevent those that have a desire to come to church to come. Anita said that up until this point, her work schedule did not allow her to come. Unfortunately, just last week she was laid off, but fortunately she was finally freed up to come to church. Please pray for Érzsi and Anita to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through these turn of events.


Above: Miki leading musical worship. The Holy Spirit has led Miki to pray Ezekiel 37:3-5 over Petőfibánya. Would you join us in praying this for the multitude of spiritually dead in this town?

“He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said to him, "Sovereign Lord, you know."  Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and tell them: 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.  This is what the sovereign LORD says to these bones: Look, I am about to infuse breath into you and you will live.” – Ezekiel 37:3-5


Above: Dezső continues to preach every other week through the book of Romans. It is encouraging to see him grow in his own understanding of God's word as he prepares for these messages, and a blessing to see God raising up a man of faith in the church.


Above: Bence and Szabi presenting poetry to the mothers in church. Yesterday was Mother's Day in Hungary, and for the first time Sharon and I had the responsibility for children's Sunday school in church. In the past, Janka and Julika facilitated our children's ministry. As you know, Julika is now battling cancer and Janka is transitioning in a move to Budapest with her husband Csaba. Therefore we have a great need for God to send or raise up children's workers for the church. Thankfully, Janka did an excellent job helping Sharon and I with Sunday's lesson. We basically practiced poetry with the kids for the special presentation, and learned Exodus 20:12 together: “Honor your father and your mother, that you may live a long time in the land the LORD your God is giving to you.”


Above: The kids did a great job saying from memory their poetry and the bible verse in front of the church. Afterwards, the children gave flowers and crafts to the mothers in the church.



Above: Teenager Gabi K. who rededicated his life to Christ after English Camp last year and was baptized has been praying for his family for some time. On Sunday, we rejoiced to see his mother Kati (above) attend church for the first time. It turns out that she ran into Miki at the May Day celebration and after a conversation about God's creation, Miki invited her once again to church. We praise God for using face painting, balloons and crafts as a simple tool to meet and invite the community to church. Please pray that his entire family may come to know the love of God and receive the free gift of salvation found in Jesus.

Tonight, we are in our final stretch of english community classes in Petőfibánya. Please pray for God to draw more into the optional Bible study to hear Jesus reveal Himself through the Word. Pray specifically for Csilla who continues to seek. Pray for God to heal her and to bless her with understanding of the Gospel which saves.

May Day and Bible League Conference



Above: Hugi gladly taking the responsibility to serve at our information table set up in Petőfibánya's May Day celebration. The table included invites to our church, our Vacation Bible School, English camp and also evangelistic material. May Day is a pretty big deal here, and the town had various entertainment scheduled throughout the day. We praise God for the opportunity to present a puppet show, music and other fun things for the kids to do throughout the day.


Above: We were thankful for Hugi joining us once again as a puppeteer in this puppet show. She is a joyful servant of Jesus.


Above: After the puppet show, Erika was able to teach the kids more about Jesus. As I surveyed the crowd, there were many new faces I had not seen before. We hope that many of those that attended will also come to our upcoming VBS in Petőfibánya.



Above: Hey, who put that thing on your face! Oh, that was daddy. After the puppet show we set up our face painting stations and went to work.

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Above: Miki and Dezső spent some time last week making this spinning contraption for the kids. The kids could put their printout of John 3:16 in the spinner and customize it with the colors of their choice. Through passing out balloons, and these colorful verses, we were able to invite new people from the community to church.



Above: In the midst of these activities, we ran into Feri and his daughter Petra. Feri attended our English classes a few years ago and even visited our church once with his daughter. As with many others in town, they often plan on coming to church, but "something always comes up". This is the same thing we hear from others that honestly desire to attend, but are somehow sidetracked. Please pray that God would provide a way for them to come.



Above: Who has the best goulash? For some reason, I was chosen to be one of the judges. The Retired Club table (pictured above) was the first of three tables where we would get our fill of this popular Hungarian stew. I was greeted by Mácus, who lived in our old apartment building across the hall. This was a new experience for me, so I payed close attention to the two Hungarian judges that sat at either side of me. Do I dip my bread? Should I drink or not drink soda with the stew? Should I slurp, gulp or sip? All eyes were on us. Thankfully, I didn't eat a very large breakfast and I was hungry (which is rare). The first table didn't present a small dish to taste, but an entire helping...a dinner sized helping. In order not to offend, I sought to finish it off. The second table presented the same size helping. Needless to say, I didn't need much dinner later that night.

In the midst of this comical turn of events in my day, God opened up an opportunity for me to get to know Roland who was also a judge in the contest. Roland has only lived in Petőfibánya for 2 years. As I asked questions about his past, and how he came to live in Petőfibánya, he asked the same of me giving me a natural opportunity to share my testimony and faith in Jesus Christ. It is always funny to see people's expressions when I tell them that I am a pastor. I am sure they picture a wrinkled old man, in a dark suit being somewhat removed from the 'normal' crowd. There I was with a hat on backwards, casually dressed sipping goulash with him. When I asked him if he was interested in finding more out about God, it was clear that God had already started a work in his heart. He told me that he had NEVER attended any type of church service as he was not brought up in that type of environment. He told me these things very candidly, and I sensed a connection with him that is quite difficult to form quickly with Hungarians. I can only attribute this open and positive conversation to the work of God's Holy Spirit. Before we went our separate ways, I was able to give him information about our church, our ministries and also a book that might help him come steps closer to understanding Jesus as Lord and Savior of the world.



Above: Miki held a Bible League conference in his home today, inviting leaders and lay leaders from various evangelistic churches in our target region of outreach. It is our hope to use these conferences to build and strengthen relationships with evangelistic churches so that we are more effective in saturating Heves County with the gospel.

Bernat Kovacs (teaching above), promotes partnerships with Hungarian churches to encourage evangelism and discipleship programs for church growth. He also develops church planter materials to teach and strengthen new and existing church leadership.


Above: Some of the subject matter that was covered today was the Post Modern Generation, Children's Ministry, the importance of Small Groups and also practical examples of a Hungarian developed Evangelistic Bible study that uses film clips and discussion questions to bring people into the light of God's truth.

Prayer Requests:

Please pray for those we met on May Day like Roland, Feri and his daughter Petra, and others who indicated that they would like to visit our church this Sunday. Pray for Dezső and Miki who will be preaching tomorrow and for God to use our church to carry out His desire of seeking and saving the lost.