November 2023

November Update

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Above: Tracks, now out of service, leading to our hometown of Petofibanya.

How we have all needed God's mercy in the past few years as global challenges have weighed on people from every nation. We've all been touched in some way or another as we battled through Covid. Soon after that, the war broke out in Ukraine and now we have all been saddened to see the atrocities in Israel that have led to war in the Gaza Strip. Where is the hope of the humanist as they imagine a world with meaning and morality without God? On the world stage, what nation has the power and the authority to bring righteous justice and make the way of peace? We continue to see the terrible affects that sin has brought into this world and the destructive nature of depravity that has brought us into dark times. There is increased corruption, increased strife and for many who are feeling the weight of it all, unbearable anxiety. Where do we turn in our groaning and grieving? Is there a way to find peace in our souls?

“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:1-2) Isn't it true that we are often prone to drift away from God when all is "well". These dark days are an invitation for all of us to be led to the Rock who is higher. In the midst of groaning, grieving and anxiety, there is the invitation to cut off all trust in self-sufficiency and be led to the Rock who is higher. "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3) When we turn on the light of His truth in our minds, anxiety looses its grip and its influential voice. Although the foundations of this world have been violently shaken, I am thankful that our footing is on a different foundation. "The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:5-7)

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This Thanksgiving, we pray that God would keep your footing on the Rock that is higher and guard your hearts with the peace of Christ. It is on that Rock that we find our hearts rejoicing and truly full of thanksgiving.

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Above center: Erno (pronounced: air-new), who is one of the men 'dispersed' to our village from Ukraine continues to live in a small building complex with three other Ukrainian families. A few months ago, there was the threat of them having to leave this building complex because of a lack of funds supplied by the local government to help and they were given the notice to find somewhere else to live. This was heartbreaking for the families as they had just settled into becoming familiar with the community, having their kids attend local school and had become members of our church. After prayer and speaking to our town's mayor, by God's grace they were able to get an unexpected extension to remain! As you can see in the picture, Erno suffered a terrible accident falling from a second floor while doing construction work and broke both of his wrists. He said that the place where he fell was full of steel bars, concrete blocks and all kinds of things that would have taken his life if he fell directly on them. The spot he fell was about the only area that was clear of clutter and the doctors were amazed that his head did not hit the ground. He knows that it is God's grace that he is alive. He has told us that his time among us, although one of the hardest times of his life has been a time of spiritual growth. He has put all his trust in the Lord to provide and knows that he's just passing through the hardships in this world and heading to his true home with the Lord. Please pray for Erno's full recover and for them to find the needed work and provision for their family in this trial.

Játszóház (Children's Playhouse)


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To keep our connection with parents and kids in the community that have attended our Summer VBS, we've held a monthly Children's Playhouse with singing, a Bible lesson, crafts and games.

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Above: One of the teaching verses from a recent Children's Playhouse: A glad heart makes a cheerful face. (Prof 15:13). The other verses hanging up were used to talk about Jesus who is the source of our glad hearts.

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Above: Erika teaching with her son Bence playing the role of a farmer in an object lesson using a pumpkin. The kids followed the story of the farmer growing a pumpkin, removing the gunk inside, carving a joyful face and placing a light inside. Erika shared how God is at work in our lives to transform us and to bring the light of Jesus into the world through us.

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Above: Ellie (green) and Emi (black) were once the little kids attending our Children's Playhouse ministry. It is a joy to see them helping and singing the songs from memory that they grew up with.

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Above: Erika talking with one of the parents who has a daughter (next to her) that suffers from various physical disabilities. Later, I was able to pray for her daughter and the mother who broke down in tears because of the weight of so many troubles in her life at this time. It was clear that she was touched by the way God was expressing His compassion toward her throughout the day and when it was time to go, her daughter, who loved being with us, did not want to leave.

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Check out the short film below for some highlights from Children's Playhouse.


Marriage counseling focus


One area we have been focusing most of our time on in the past year is marriage counseling. With most of the believers that make up our congregation being first generation believers, there hasn't been much of an example to follow from their childhood experiences when they entered into marriage. There are many patterns of communication, wrong ideas about expectations and distortions about what it means to love that God wants to change. As we have a vision for church-planting, we know that there will be no healthy multiplication if there are no healthy marriages in our church. We read in 1 Timothy 3:5 "For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?" With the ongoing issue of disordered marriages and households that have continued strife, we have chosen to not begin a flurry of new ministries and get more busy as a church. We want the healing power of the gospel to become a reality in these struggling marriages and be able to proclaim the gospel to our community through marriages that reflect Jesus.

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Above Center: Zita is one of the wives who has been attending our marriage counseling small group and recently had a major spiritual breakthrough that is brining healing to her marriage relationship. Zita had felt that she was at the end of it all and saw no hope of things getting better. Without much expectation, God's Spirit came upon her powerfully. As she began to be overwhelmed, she quickly asked her husband Zsolti to begin praying and she felt as if she was being delivered from a demonic influence that had blinded her for many years. After God touched her, she said she began seeing her relationship in a completely new light. This was not the end of her marriage, it was the beginning of a healing process and reconciliation. She was now able to see, in her own life, so many things that she was thinking and she was doing that were causing strife. Would you pray for the married couples that we are currently meeting with and for God's powerful work in their hearts to lead them to the oneness that He created them to have in marriage.

Hungarian "Tentmaking"


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It's hard to believe, but we've partnered with Miki and Erika (above) for 20 years now! We praise God for their faithfulness and for God's grace to sustain unity on our team of Hungarians and American missionaries throughout theses years. Hungary (as with many other nations) has suffered economically over the past few years and Miki and Erika have had to find creative ways for "tent making" to have the provision they need to continue in ministry.

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Above: Last year, Miki began constructing and selling portable ovens that Hungarians use instead of grills at barbecues.



Above: Erika who has training in teaching special needs children has decided to start her own business: Ficanka Fejlesztoház (Rough translation would be Movement Developmental Therapy House). Miki and Erika have been busy planning, and building a sensory training room and are very close to their launch time of January. We ask you to pray for these tent-making endeavours to bring in the needed funds that will allow them to continue to minister in difficult economic times.

Peszbifi


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Peszbifi is an acronym for "
Petofibanya Elso Szeretet Baptista Ifjúsági csoport" (Petofibanya First Love Baptist Youth Group). After the summer months of gaining much momentum and growth for the group, we find that the winter months often fluctuate in attendance. Please pray for our youth that meets every Friday to continue on the path of following Jesus by faith and growing into mature men and women who proclaim the gospel to the next generation.

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Above: A recent hike with the teens in the Matra Mountains.

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Above: Hotdogs with a block of fat to drip on bread (a perfect Hungarian combination).

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Above: Singing worship songs together in the park. To my surprise, a young pastor and his wife, that I have known for the past few years, happened to be walking through the same park and ended up joining us to sing along.

These types of outings together give us more time to truly share life with one another. I had some time on the hike to talk to Norbi (seated center in pic above). Norbi knows that he is still drawn back and forth from the world and into the life as a believer. He shared about how he has suffered seeing close friends' lives destroyed because of drug use and addiction. He sees the stark contrast of the life of believers and the life of those who do not know Jesus. I encouraged him by sharing that God had put that compassion in his heart for these lost friends and that he could be the key person in their lives to show them the way to Jesus. His fear is that he is not a strong enough believer for such boldness. After our conversation, I found out that Norbi took some steps to visit a friend in a rehabilitation hospital and spent time praying for her. He said he was beginning to understand how to love in a way that he wasn't expecting anything in return, but simply giving out of the love God has given to him. Pray for those like Norbi in our church to find clarity in the callings God has given to them. Pray that they be strengthened in their faith and become bold in shining the light of Christ through their lives.

Sunday worship


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Above: Some of the young members and older members of our body. Gizi (above maroon coat) continues to offer her life to be the hands and feet of Christ at her retirement home in a surrounding village. Just last week, she had a pretty severe cold that was spreading through the home. When I called her to ask how she was recovering, she told me about how God was constantly putting songs on her heart that she would sing while preparing home baked treats for others in the home. Her tone and attitude is such a drastic contrast to most other elderly that I speak with. Usually, there is much complaining and a focus on everything that is negative. God has blessed Gizi with an overflow of joy in Christ and capacity to love others who have no way of returning that love to her.

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Above: We can't leave out the YOUNGEST members of our church. Praise God for the addition of Noé (Patrik and Anna's son top) and Oliver (Gyozo and Betti's son above).

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Above: Discussing some small group questions after the sermon. Barni (far left) made a decision in the summer after talking with Ellie about faith in Christ. He is looking to be baptized in the near future. His brother (black jacket) was recently at a large evangelistic outreach in Budapest and when the invitation to come forward was announced, he alone (out of all the youth who were with him) walked forward to re-dedicate his life to Jesus Christ. Their mother Monika (center) and father Józsi are both first generation believers who first discovered our church and the gospel through VBS.

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Above: This particular Sunday, Szabi was given opportunity to preach. Szabi is one of five young adults in our church that is attending theological training in Budapest. We ask you to pray for Szabi, Bence, Liliom, Betti and Anna to become dynamic servants of Jesus in the callings God has for each of them in their lives.

Happy birthday :)


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Above: Ziva recently celebrated her 12th birthday (Ellie FaceTiming on the phone from Chicago). We look forward to both Kira and Ellie coming home for Christmas break in December.

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Above: Ziva also got to spend some time with big brother Ben at her birthday. Ben is currently looking for work and having a difficult time because of his status as a 'foreigner'. Even though Ben was born in Hungary, it is not an easy process for him to establish dual citizenship. Please pray that he would find a workplace willing to help with needed paperwork for his residency permit that will need to be renewed next year.

Prayers and financial help needed


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We know that many of you have been personally affected by the economic downturn and may have had to make various changes to get through. Our plea for help is not for those of you who are also in need of help. We would just ask that you please pray for us as we've been close to the red in our support account and would like to see that change. If you are in a position to help financially, we really could use your support. And for those of you who faithfully give, we are very thankful for your partnership with us! We have been so blessed by your generosity and care for us.

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As December is right around the corner, we look forward to lots of ministry opportunities including puppet ministry in public schools. We hope to be sending out a prayer calendar for puppet ministry in the coming weeks. Thank all of you for partnering with us in bringing the gospel to Hungary!
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