A sharp disagreement leads to a split


For many years our team of American missionaries and Hungarian partners in ministry was marked for it's unity and resilience to work through conflict with the love of Christ. We have grown so close over the years working together and in many ways feel more like family than anything else. For those of you who have followed the work here, a church was planted where there was none. And this church has grown into a beautiful expression of God's grace and love. An expression of the Gospel. There are Romani and Hungarians worshipping together. There are elderly and young couples. There are children coming to faith and maturing. It truly is a miraculous work of God.

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Above: Recent photo of the congregation of The First Love Baptist Church in Petofibanya before the split that happened in February.

It is with sadness to report that just recently, because of a sharp disagreement our church has suffered from a split. Over the past few years we began to experience a greater level of conflict and disagreement in the core leadership team related to differences in theological convictions. This was a season of ups and downs where things seemed to be coming to resolution and then close to falling apart multiple times. When Sharon and I were called back for a six month furlough, it appeared to me that things were moving toward peace and unity. Shortly after we arrived in the US, this swung to an opposite extreme and one of the elders has now left the church taking with him a core group of believers (Around 12 people not including their kids). All of these are people we have deep friendships with and years of shared experiences in ministry. This is a difficult time.

How do I process this? I do it through the spectacles of hope I find in God's word and the stability that Christ provides. I remember the life of Paul and a similar split that I read about in Acts 15. Barnabas was one of the first believers in Jerusalem to take Paul at his word while other believers feared that Paul was only pretending to be saved in order to continue terrorizing them. (Acts 9:27) Paul and Barnabas were not just two men working side by side. They had invested trust in each other. Barnabas is described as “A good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith."' (Acts 11:24) Paul and Barnabas had a rich history together, traveling together and teaching “A great many people' together." (Acts 11:26)

Everything was working smoothly until we read in Acts 15:39: "And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed." Barnabas, a great encourager and Paul the apostle sharply disagree and go separate ways taking key people in separate directions. Why couldn't they work this out? Why did they go separate directions because of a disagreement and not because the Spirit told them to go different directions? For the first time, our team and church is relating to this in a very personal way. For a time, there is a mess left behind of confusion, grief and emotional brokenness.

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Above: Elders in the church, Dezso, Miki and myself. Dezso is the one who decided to separate from us and other wonderful friends and colaborers in Christ left with him.

In the closing chapters of Paul's life we see that reconciliation had happened after this split so much so that Paul says in 2 Tim 4:11: "Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” I take comfort that the last chapter of our story has not yet been revealed but the One who orchestrates this life full of complexity always closes with a good ending for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28)

There are more chapters to be written and I have confidence that God's grace is sufficient to continue to build the church in Petofibanya and build up those who have chosen to go their separate way from us. For now, please pray for healing, restoration, direction and for protection from the schemes of the enemy. Pray that God may use this time to bring all of us to a greater maturity and come to depend even more deeply on Jesus our Lord and Savior. Pray especially for fellow elder Miki who now carries much of the weight of helping the church wade through and grow through these unfortunate events.

God’s generosity experienced through you!


We praise God for the abundant generosity and provision that He has shown us through so many of you as we returned home for our furlough in February. God provided a house to rent in the perfect location. God provided a way for three of our kids to attend Wilmington Christian, something that we briefly considered while we were still in Hungary and thought to be impossible. God provided a vehicle for us to use that has enough room for all six of us. And so many of you helped get all the furniture, beds, washer and dryer and so much more into the rental house!

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Above: Sharon’s dad greeting her with an embrace at the airport.

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Above: The kids getting a tour of Wilmington Christian before beginning school soon after landing in the US.

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Above: Yeah, a car that fits the whole family!

Our focus over these remaining 5 months of furlough will be strengthening our marriage and spending ample time together as family. There are so many pressures that we experience living oversees which are challenging. And as reported above, there has been extra stress related to the events that led up to a church split that has affected long standing relationships. We thank God for the body of Christ being so supportive in this time and ministering to us with the love and encouragement of Christ.

Two weeks ago we had an opportunity to take a road trip to Florida and spend two days with my brother and his family at Disney in Florida. Because of the long trip, we also planned in a few stops including Washington D.C. and Georgia where we were able to visit friends who used to serve with us in Hungary years ago.


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Above: The blessing of having some time as a family to explore Washington D.C.

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Above: Visiting the Sommers who we served together with in Hungary years ago.

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Above: Spending some time at Cocoa beach in Florida.

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The kids had a great time sharing this experience with their cousins and we were blessed with wonderful weather the two days we spent at Disney. After some vacation time in Florida, we took part in a time designed for missionaries transitioning from the field because of difficult circumstances at Pioneers home offices (also in Florida). There were multiple families who attended from various regions. We were able to share our experiences and in community received help working through the struggles we are experiencing.

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We feel so blessed to come home to a community that truly cares for us and ministers to us. We look forward to how God will continue to build us up and bless us so that we can continue being a blessing to the nation of Hungary and serve in physical and spiritual health with longevity for His glory. Thank you all for the many ways you partner with us and have not only made an impact on those we minister to in Hungary, but an impact in our lives personally. What a joy to see Christ in you.

You can help share the true meaning of Easter!


Easter is just around the corner and our team is preparing to share the Gospel to close to 2,000 kids in various public schools in Northeastern Hungary. We need your help.

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After each show, we distribute evangelistic children’s magazines and CDs as well as evangelistic books to the teachers. The cost to produce the booklet and CD this year’s show is $1,215. Thankfully, almost half of that is already raised because of leftover money from your giving in December toward this Puppet Ministry. If you would like to contribute to raise the remaining $650 you can give to the Pioneers account (below) designed specifically for this puppet ministry. It would be helpful that you let us know how much you have donated so that we can know where we stand. Thanks for your partnership in this Easter outreach!

Pioneers fund specifically for puppet ministry in Hungary:
Missionary name: Allen Mercer
Project account number: 150639
Click here to give toward this project.

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Thank you all for your friendship and partnership in ministry in Hungary.
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New LIfe in the New Year!

For the believer, every new year begins with a sure hope in Christ. It begins with an established word that for those who love God, all things work together for good. We can look forward to a new year of transformation as the Holy Spirit continues day by day conforming us to look just like Jesus. Praise God for giving us the gift of new life in this new year!

We began this new year with rejoicing as four people were baptized in the beginning of January!

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Above: Far left to right, Feri, Mónika, Lidia and Irén about to be baptized.

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Above: Feri sharing his testimony. Feri lives in the neighboring town of Rozsaszentmarton where some of our children and others from the church attend school. In last year’s VBS, Feri came to understand the Gospel and made a decision to put His faith in Jesus. Since that time he has been attending Bible class held in his school by church member Eniko and also attending youth group meetings in our church. He is the first in his family to put his trust in Christ and was given permission by his parents to be baptized. Here are some excerpts from Feri’s testimony:

“I would like to be baptized today because God is always with me. I know that He is always helping me. There used to be so much arguing in my home. I don’t want to get into details, but it was a lot! At that time, I hadn’t put my faith in Christ, but I prayed often. I prayed for help that they wouldn’t argue so much. And I really prayed from my heart. He heard my words and He answered. The arguing stopped and they were able to talk things over. This is just one example out of many times when He answered. When I put my faith in Jesus, I felt like I was walking on air. God continued to help me. For example, in school I was able to forgive someone that I was very angry with for some time. I can always talk with Him. He never leaves me. I am very glad I can be baptized today and leave behind the old me and begin a new life. I worship God and He is my Savior.” — Feri

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Above: Lidia, who is related to our church planting partner in ministry Miki, commuted all the way from Debrecen (more than 2 hours) to be baptized in our church. Because she often spends time with us in the summer with English camp, VBS and Youth Group camps, she considers us to be her spiritual family. Here are some excerpts from Lidia’s testmony:

“I was raised in a Christian home and I always believed in Him and knew that Jesus died for me. But I really didn’t take this seriously up until I was thirteen years old. Then I attended a youth group camping trip here. One night Dezso spoke to us about the Gospel and it deeply touched me and I was crying. It was as if every word was designed specifically for me and my situation. We prayed and I was saved that night. The next six months were great and life was going well. But I began drifting into bad things and sunk deeper and deeper. I just couldn’t understand why all these things were happening to me when I was only fourteen years old. But looking back, I am thankful to God that I experienced more of how He could help me in the darkest of times. Then in last year’s English Camp, I had great conversations with a close friend and was able to look at life with a different perspective. Now I know I can live my life with Him and don’t have to spend any more days without Him.” — Lidia

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Above: Irén lives in Petofibanya and her daughter Andi was baptized just a few months ago in October. Years ago, Andi attended our church without her parents but then drifted away as she entered her teen years. God had planted seeds in her heart and in last year’s VBS, Andi was reconnected with us and soon after saved. Her mother, Irén began attending church with her and was also soon after saved. Irén’s testimony was sweet and to the point. She said, “I have always known that God existed and believed in Jesus. But I never had a close and serious relationship with Him. But now, I’ve exchanged my cookbook with the Bible and have found joy and peace!”

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Above: Monika who began hearing more about Jesus at her workplace through Dezso (elder/pastor at our church). One day she was experiencing head pain and Dezso offered to pray for her in Jesus’ name. The pain left immediately and God opened the door for more spiritual conversations to follow. He was able to give her a Bible and was soon after saved. Since that time, God also healed her of a hernia and has also drawn her mom and her mom’s boyfriend into seeking as well.

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Above: Monika’s mother and her mother’s boyfriend at church talking with Dezso.

Here are a few excerpts from Monika’s testimony:

“I’ve had to go through some very difficult situations in life. I always knew there was a God, I always believed. I spent some time in the Catholic church but didn’t find what I was looking for there. And through Dezso and through the Bible my heart was touched and I wanted to know all I could about God. I want to live every day with Him. God has been my help, He is my healer who took away my pain and sorrow and with Him I can say I have finally found what I have been looking for in life.” — Monika

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God is awesome! It is so great to see the wide spectrum of how people are being drawn to the Father. He is reaching people in the workplace, reaching people through family members, revealing Himself in English camp and at VBS ministries. Praise Him!

Great things God has done as we look back at 2016.


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Looking back to 2016, we remember Edit (top photo), a local school teacher who was saved a few years ago. Edit continues to use her position in school to share the Gospel in creative ways. For many years our church planting team initiated a children’s ministry with the hope to train others to take ownership of it. January 2016 marked the first time church members like Edit took full responsibility in facilitating a monthly children’s outreach in Petofibanya’s public school. We rejoice in seeing members growing and using their giftings to reach out to the community.

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Above: In Jászfényszaru we continued holding an English Club for kids and for adults as we sought to bless and develop more relationships in the community.

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We also rejoice in the Spirit of God putting callings on believers hearts in 2016. Arnold (pictured center) began sensing a greater burden in his heart for cross cultural missions. He has committed to formal theological studies and is also being mentored by the elders as he pursues this calling by faith.

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Above: Praise God for providing for our new team member Tom (center seated) in 2016, so that he could finally join us in Hungary after much time preparing stateside.

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Above: In February, Bogi (top) and Kriszti were baptized. Bogi comes from the town of Jászfényszaru and first met us through out English club and Kriszti comes from Rozsaszentmarton, two areas we are seeking to plant churches.

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Above: In March we were off to over 20 public schools sharing the Easter story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. By God’s grace in keeping this door open, we distributed 1,800 evangelistic gift packets to children and teachers.

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Above: We finished our Easter Puppet Outreach in the town of Jászfényszaru and combined it with a children’s outreach in the local community center. We were thankful to see students from our English club come with their family.

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Above: Praise God for foundational work in a Church plant in Jászfényszaru. As the church in Petofibánya continues to be strengthened and established we are able to shift time and resources to other areas for churchplanting like Jászfényszaru. In various ways we have been seeking to build new relationships in this town and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 2016 we launched a bi-weekly public worship service in the local community center. Hungarian partner in ministry Miki teaches Bible class in Jászfényszaru’s public school. And God has raised up a core team of believers from Jászfényszaru.

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Above: In our hometown of Petofibanya, after years of meeting in a narrow side room of the local community center, God provided us with a larger meeting area in the same building in 2016!

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Above: In 2016, teammates Roger and Tom helped launch a little league baseball team in Petofibanya. This sport is gaining popularity in Hungary and has been a great way to bless the kids in our community. This is one in many ways that we seek to have continued Christian witness and influence in these kids’ lives throughout the year. Many from the team have already come to know us as they’ve attended our Vacation Bible School, or English Club or various children’s ministries throughout the years.

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Above: Allen talking with Erika and Robi in Bogács. Praise God for continuing to open doors to share the Gospel with the Romani people in the town of Bogács. We praise God for Erika, Robi and Kati being baptized!

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Above: In July of 2016, we held our Vacation Bible School in Petofibanya. We had over 110 kids register and over 30 volunteers from church serve in creating curriculum, writing a drama and doing all sorts of planning for VBS. On the last day of camp we had many parents attend which also led to a few putting their faith in Jesus.

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Above: Praise God for the baptisms in July of Noémi (saved at VBS) and also Hajni who also first came to know us through her children attending VBS.

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Above: In July we held a youth group camp in the town of Jászfényszaru. It was a great weekend with God using various testimonies and teaching from His word to help these teens see God’s will and God’s way which is always better than the world’s way.



Above: We had a great English Camp in July with God continuing to impact the lives of many youth in Hungary. I was blessed this year to watch many former Hungarian campers and young members from our home church encouraging campers, sharing their faith and answering questions. It was great seeing them take the initiative and so encouraging to remember that many of them were saved at camp years ago. God has strengthened them and is building up a new generation of Hungarians that live by faith in Jesus.

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Above: The photo above was a special meeting at the end of the week for those campers who made decisions to put their faith in Jesus. They include Roli, Hanna, Fanni, Adél, Lili and Kira.

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Above: For the first time in 2016, we also held a VBS in the town of Jászfényszaru. Some kids that attended the VBS in Petofibanya liked it so much that they commuted to come to this VBS as well even though it was the same curriculum. Some of these kids that attended from Jászfenyszaru were hearing the Good News for the first time as they come from backgrounds where they have not had anyone explain God’s love and plan of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

God provided a great team of those from our previous VBS in Petofibanya along with new volunteers from Jászfényszaru. It was our desire to have those who were experienced teaching and leading groups in camp mentor the new volunteers from Jászfényszaru.

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Above: Edit and Angela being baptized in a stream in Bogacs in August of 2016.

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Above: We met Angela through Edit’s daughter Kati. Kati would bring to Angela the printed out Bible lessons we would study each week. Later Angela invited us to her house. At our first meeting with Angela, God miraculously healed her leg and set Angela free from pain that had caused her trouble walking and sleeping for a year. Both Angela and Edit shared at their baptism that Jesus is first in their lives and they have given their lives to Him.

A few months after their baptisms, two other woman (Izabella and Mazsi) decided to be baptized into Jesus.

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Above: Izabella’s son David looking at an amazing rainbow in Bogács.

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Above: Mazsi (top) and Izabella’s baptism in Bogacs.

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Above: In September, we were thankful to see Andi and Bence put their faith in Jesus! Andi had initially known us years ago as a child and even attended our church without her parents. Later, she drifted away and got caught up with bad company. Now that she has a child that attended our VBS, she was reconnected and soon after gave her life to Jesus. Bence is Miki’s son who has grown up hearing the good news and seeing lives committed to following Jesus since childhood.

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Above: In December of 2017, God raised up a team so that we could proclaim the Gospel in public schools through our Christmas Puppet Outreach. We had a record 32 public schools invite our team to come and God was faithful to give us success in sowing seeds of the Gospel that we trust will impact a new generation of Hungarians.

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Praise God for all the amazing things He has done in 2016! We look forward to an increase of good news and praise in 2017. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.” (Psalm 67:1-2)

Thank you all for partnering with us and for enabling us to continue serving in Hungary for His glory!

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