Monday, September 01, 2014
Above: Fall brings beautiful skies to Petofibanya.
It’s been some time since I’ve updated you on our work among the Romani people in Hungary. Here is a summary of some of what has been happening and what God has been teaching me over the past few weeks.
Update on ministry in Bogács
Above: Pulyka’s wife Katyus.
Although this work among the Romani in Bogács began with a house filled with family members asking serious questions, the number of those attending our weekly meeting has dwindled to 1-3 people. There are weeks when nothing seems to go right, when fighting breaks out in the middle of our discussion, when it seems as if the truth we are learning and seeking to apply goes in one ear and out the other. People are smoking as we hold the study. Random people walk in and begin holding conversations with those sitting right next to you as we hold the study. Sometimes the TV in the adjacent room with a volume of 11 is blasting as we hold the study. I am not reporting this to get letters of sympathy, but to help you understand the reality of the ministry of church planting in this area. This is long term plowing and sowing work in dark areas. This is work that is investing, and not rejoicing in instant results. While reading through 1 Corinthians last week, the Spirit spoke to me through chapter 4 verse 9: “For it seems to me that God exhibited us, the apostles, as those who in the eyes of men are the most inferior in the scale of human existence.” (WUEST translation) It is just another reminder that if you are into Christianity to exalt yourself through results or to gain the praise of others, you are in it for the wrong reasons. Right Christian living often leads to looking like a fool, looking inferior, and being mistreated. But who can fathom the payoff of seeing lives completely transformed and personally having the privilege of stewarding the oracles of God. And so I press on all the more even when things look quiet bleak because the Gospel is never intimidated by darkness. It is the power of God for salvation!
Above: Pulyka’s daughter Maci.
Pulyka (Poy-kah), the father of the household I visit each week always reminds me, “Allen my door is always open to you.” I baptized Pulyka a few weeks ago in his living room with a bucket of water. They have no running water in their house and no tubs. While he was baptized, his wife Katyus (Kah-csoosh) watched with a smirk and snickered as if what he was doing was worthless. Katyus believes to a degree, but still has many doubts that keep her from a full commitment to Jesus. One of Pulyka’s heart cries is that his entire family put their faith in Jesus. He shared how much joy he felt when he had an opportunity to talk to his wife about Jesus when she was suffering from fear this past week. She told him, “You aren’t afraid to die because you have Jesus.” He said, “Yes, and you can have Him too. You just need to believe!” Pulyka also shared with me how he hears a ‘voice’ when he begins heading toward sin that leads him to turn away. I’m thankful for new convictions God has given him and for every little sign of seeds that are growing in his life. Please pray for Pulyka and for his household to come to put their faith in Jesus. Pray for his daughter Izabella who also is a believer but is restricted by her boyfriend (father of her three children) from coming to our weekly study. This is a battle and prayer is one of the weapons God has given the church to take ground.
Update on ministry in Apc
The Romani family in Apc continues to invite us for a weekly Bible study. A few weeks ago we had a new visitor, Ildiko, who suffered from depression. Ildiko brought her son Zsolti (young adult) with her as well. They both asked for prayer and Ildiko ended up attending our worship service the following week. Ildiko was deeply moved by God and His truth. A few weeks later she brought her son Zsolti again to the study. But this time Zsolti was in a terrible state barely able to walk, stumbling to sit down with a blank stare and head tilted down. It was visually shocking. Just a few days previous, he attempted suicide because his girlfriend left him. He was admitted into an insane asylum temporarily and had come tonight to ask for prayer. He was shot full of anti-depressants and clearly hopeless. When I tried to engage him in conversation, he was barely able to mumble his words. I had to lean in with my ear not even a foot away to hear what he was saying. This gave me another opportunity to talk about our Creator, our purpose in life and Jesus our Savior. After sharing some truth, I prayed (along with the group) for his full restoration. The following week Zsolti was back to ‘normal’! He is still not a believer, but God has been giving mercy and revealing Himself to Zsolti in this healing. Zsolti strolled into the study this week with no signs of weakness and was attentive the whole study. His mother Ildiko asked, “I just can’t seem to get God out of my mind, is something wrong with me?” Apparently, she told her ‘friends’ this and they said she might be going crazy. I assured her, “God is drawing you to Himself. He did the same in my life. I couldn’t get him out of my mind. He loves you. He is inviting you to come to Him.” Please pray for Ildiko and Zsolti and for the weekly meeting in Apc.
Our team is planning on reviewing and considering ways of strengthening the various works we are involved in this fall. We ask you to pray for us in this time that takes wisdom and discernment. Because of the growth of our team and growth of the number of areas we are ministering there is more complexity. Please pray for unity and clear direction.
We are in serious need of financial help. If you or someone you know would be interested in supporting us financially, please let us know! Also, please pray for God to bring in the support we need to keep moving forward here. You can find more support information by clicking here.
We appreciate your generosity and your investment in this ministry!
We weren’t able to take a family vacation this year, so instead, we headed to one of the kids’ favorite places called Eleven Park. It’s an indoor playground with lots of fun things for families to do together. We had a great day of fun!
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
This past weekend we set off with our youth group to the town of Jászfényszaru for a few days of camping. We continue to seek to build unity among the new youth group that has formed over the past year and reach out to new teens in the community. Jászfényszaru is about a half hour drive away from Petofibanya. Team members Miki and Erika have been commuting out to this town, teaching Bible in their public school, holding evangelistic Bible studies and seeking to initiate a church plant. We’re thankful for the doors the Lord has been opening in this town and for the success of our first camping outreach to teens in this area.
Above: There is something about sitting around a campfire in a small group. Kids open up. Our first night around the fire, we discussed questions about life and making difficult decisions that would impact how we live.
Above: Get that fire going! The temperature dropped drastically the first night and we awoke shivering and rushed to gather around the fire in the morning.
Above: Using some of the crafts left over from English Camp for free time. Praise God for left-overs!
Above: Gyozo (middle) has been growing in his faith. He has been helping lead the youth group the entire year. Please pray for this young man to continue to mature in Christ and be used to influence a new generation of Hungarians to faithfully follow Jesus.
Above: Kira with her friend the inch worm.
Above: Having a great time learning an Irish dance together.
Above: Fanni and Eszter. It has been a slow process connecting with Fanni and Eszter. They have attended past summer camps with us, but afterward would drift away. This past summer, God drew them into our fellowship and now they are members of our youth group that meets every Friday. They also attend every Sunday and are learning what it means to know and follow Jesus by faith. We have heard from family members how much our church has had an impact on Fanni who seemed to be a wanderer, disconnected from others and struggled with identity with a terrible home life. Praise God for the way his love and truth is transforming her and bringing light into her life.
Above: A grandfather of one of the kids from Jászfényszaru attends the last day of camp. God opened a door to discuss the beauty of the Gospel and the reason for the hope we have in Jesus Christ. He professed atheism and respected what we were doing but did not believe in God. He struggles with many health problems, some of which I also had encountered in my life and experienced God’s healing. One of the reasons he said he couldn’t believe is that he just had no experience of seeing with his own eyes. What he did witness was corruption from so called Christians, and all sorts of hypocritical behavior. In the end I offered to pray for healing and unfortunately he refused each request. Since he is related to one of our church members, we hope to have more opportunity to reach out to him in the future.
Above: Our last night together, we gathered around the fire once again and heard the concluding message from Dezso comparing the love of God and the love of the world. I had opportunity in the morning to give a devotion on guarding your heart. This camp was a great opportunity to further preach the gospel to these teens and equip the teens with right thinking as they approach more and more challenges this coming school year. Praise God for a great camp! May the seeds of His truth that were planted through testimonies, conversations and teaching of His word grow in our hearts and bring glory to Jesus.