Dear Praying, Helping Friends:
In Acts 5:12-14 we read: “The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.” Here is a remarkable snapshot of the early church. The apostles performed miraculous signs and wonders, not to awe people, but to authenticate their message that Jesus Christ had died for the sins of His people and risen the third day for their justification. Yes, the people were impressed by all they saw. But their lasting impression was not of the physical signs and wonders the apostles performed, but of the presence and power of the risen Lord in the lives of these early believers. They were so different! So the others “dared not join them” at the outset. Nevertheless “more and more” of them believed and “were added to the number” of the early church!
Lesson #1 for our work in the Hungarian lands, then, is that we should not be afraid to be different. In fact, we must be different. We must be filled with Christ and march to His drumbeat! We must be a people who love His Word and read it daily, pray faithfully, and worship Him faithfully, raising our children in the “nurture and instruction” of the Lord. It is amazing how more and more people see how we are raising our children (home schooling and all) and are drawn to us. Their natural reluctance to join us is overcome by something greater, a desire, given by God’s Spirit, to be right with God and know the secret of the power which is at work in the lives of His people!
In the early years of our church, as our men were beginning their work (c. 1997), the people whom they were trying to reach tended to be very disinterested. It was tough. Later, a few people opened their homes. After that, some started seeking us out, but only like Nicodemus (with great caution). Nowadays, people are visiting our pastors’ homes to try to talk with us. This is happening more and more – to the point that, in several places, our men almost have more visitors than time to see them. At the same time, this has not resulted in a great surge of new members because it still takes a lot of time to train people whose lives have been steeped in sinful patterns for years. So Lesson #2 in missiology is you. We need you to pray incessantly for this work and in a certain way. “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” (I Th. 3:1) We are now giving the gospel to more and more people. And they are listening. But until the Lord converts their hearts and until He by His Spirit convinces them of sin, righteousness and judgment, they will not turn from their wicked ways and seek Him. Pray, therefore, and keep praying that God would not only send laborers into His harvest, but powerfully anoint the Word they preach and teach!
Lesson #3 in missiology is that nationals need to be trained for this work and, in addition to knowing what the Word teaches and how to communicate it, know how to work with sinners – one at a time. It is amazing how we need God to be so patient with us to work even small changes, but when it comes to others, we think that, after a little instruction, they should be growing by leaps and bounds. About two years ago, I noticed that, among our men, though they were faithful in every way I could tell, something was still missing. Our men (and I, too) did not appreciate the biblical picture of sinners as people “walking in darkness…living in…the shadow of death.” (Isa. 9:2; Mt. 4:16) In other words, the sinners we want to become saints are wholly given to a life style that is mired in total darkness. If this is so, even when sinners seek us out, we must gently take them by the hand and show them, baby step by baby step, how to come to the glorious light that is Christ. Our men must work with people in tiny, well-defined steps to help them out of this darkness which, for them, is all they know.
One of the first things our men must do is just make contact with people and show an interest in them. And if they are not believers, show them that God has a way of life that is His good and acceptable and perfect will for them (Rom. 12:2). Then show them that at the root of their flawed lives is something called sin, which they can never eradicate by anything they may do. They are totally dependent on Him for this. So we need to keep the message simple since they are like the Israelites who were bitten by serpents and could not do anything but look in order to live. I keep urging our men not to go beyond the gospel of grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone with people – until they see a genuine conversion in them. So that, as people show a little openness and begin to talk about themselves – always with excuses – they must keep giving them this simple plan of salvation. Then, if God is gracious to help them turn and believe, to immediately get them into a Bible reading program, then help them along on the many small steps of discipleship. For at that point our men need to work with people slowly and carefully, keeping records of their visits and knowing, as a good medical doctor, exactly what medicine (counsel) to give them for their particular stage so that, bit and bit, they can experientially leave the darkness of their former ways and, more and more, come into the glorious light of Christ.
To do this work, our men, whose ministries cover large areas in three countries, must have cars. So in Romania we need nine cars for nine men. In Hungary , we need only two cars for four men since city transport in Budapest and Debrecen is quite good. In Ukraine , we need two cars for three men. Thirteen cars in all, and you are paying for the gas and maintenance! But think how God is using these cars! They are vital to the work of this new and growing church of our Lord Jesus in three countries. This means we must keep track of this car expense and all else needed in the men’s work. To do this, we need quarterly budgets where we project all our expenses for the next three months and approve what is needed and is within our ability to pay. By the way, if you would like a copy of our fall budgets for Hungary/Ukraine and Romania, please let me know, and I will be delighted to show you how we spend the money the Lord is pleased to give us through you. Just give me your email address.
We have so much for which to be thankful. This summer we had the most camps ever (20 including four I did not list earlier). They were also the largest ever and the best in biblical instruction and response. We also thank the Lord that in Debrecen , Hungary Mihaly Siko is starting well in his new church plant. And that in Csikszereda , Romania we were able to start construction on our sanctuary/parsonage in early August. We must have this work done by winter and are pushing hard for this. (Keep praying for this.) We thank God, too, for full religious freedom to home school in Hungary – and in Ukraine where we have just started. This freedom is a gift from God since even in the USA home schooling had a lot of problems when it began in the 1960’s. Romania is another story, but there also we are doing well. Gabor Curcubet’s efforts to have home schooling legalized are being blessed of the Lord. Also, all our children in Romania are now enrolled in a Christian school in Hungary which is helping them in a distance-learning arrangement that the Romanian government recognizes.
Now a summary of our financial needs. In the next two months, we will need $25,000 for operating costs in Hungary , Ukraine and Romania . Half of this will come from our congregations, so we will need only $12,500 from you. But we will also need $22,000 to keep moving on construction in Csikszereda , Romania and $32,000 for critical improvements (insulation, etc.) at our school and conference center in Miskolc , Hungary . We also need $30,000 for a new building in Ukraine to expand our summer camp work and use for conferences the other three seasons of the year. Please pray earnestly about all the above and help as you can. We appreciate the widow’s mite too. If the Lord enables you to give to these projects, be assured it will be money well spent for the honor and glory of Christ. God also expects us to know the times. “For the night is coming when no man can work.” (Jn. 9:4)
Yours in His faithfulness,
Bob and Clara