Dear praying brothers, fellow servants in the Lord,
Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
We hope that by these two letters you were enabled to have a better understanding of our work and ministry in the Hungarian Lands of Central and Eastern Europe.
Before opening up our third letter, allow us thank you first of all for your prayers. As you will see soon your intercession was not in vain. Our Lord is indeed Jehovah-Jireh. He provides for our needs and blesses our efforts in building His kingdom.
So here is a brief update on what happened since last October both denominationally and locally. Take your time to read everything carefully and rejoice in the Lord with us!
First, here are several major things we want to share with you on a denominational level:
1) During the month of Reformation we were busy with organizing several conferences in three countries (Romania, Hungary and Ukraine) dedicated to the glorious, God-given Reformation. We had large attendances in all these places. We had a special conference for conservative reformed pastors and missionaries of Eastern Europe, entitled: Reformation 500 – Past, Present and Future. We rejoiced in what God has done in the past, seeking the ways of cooperation for the future. Praise the Lord!
2) We continued the training of the ruling elder candidates in several places with the hope to speed up the election and ordination of elders in a few more local congregations. We also kept polishing our Book of Church Order these months.
3) Our Hungarian Homeschooling Association managed to organize a national conference early November in Budapest. We are still very small, but we believe that the Lord will walk ahead of us in this endeavour. Our Romanian Homeschooling Association also organized few conferences, weekly meetings for support groups.
4) As a part of our efforts of establishing fraternal contacts with other sound Reformed bodies we had several visitors from the OPC and URCNA to Hungary and from IPB to Romania. Our denomination also sent Rev. Imre Szoke as an observing delegate to the Synod of the Reformed Churches in South Africa (GKSA) this January.
5) Just weeks before the passing of Dr. R. C. Sproul into the Lord’s bosom we were able to publish his classic The Holiness of God in Hungarian. The book was very well received. We believe that this title is an important contribution to the spreading of the Reformed faith among our Hungarian people.
6) We mentioned in October the financial difficulties we have with three of our pastors in Romania. The Lord was gracious toward us, since some dear brothers from abroad offered financial assistance for a year. This is a great relief, since this way these pastors do not have to look for secular jobs and can concentrate totally on ministry.
7) As for our prayer and financial needs for this year, we would like to draw your attention to two projects. We are planning to start a sanctuary enlargement in Budapest, since we outgrew the old church building. We are also planning to have several camps during the summer in three countries. Though the attendees are paying fees, we need some subsidies since not all of these people can afford to pay full costs. So if anyone is led by the Lord to help us with one of these projects, please contact us. The smallest gift will be appreciated.
Secondly, here are some reports from the local congregations. This section is also important especially if you are interested in a particular local church:
As last year came to close and the new year started we continued to experience the Lord’s grace and care toward the Budapest congregation. We celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at our denomination’s general conference in Miskolc. Rev. Deák-Fogarasi Andras preached about the Old Testament Reformation in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah, whereas Rev. Szabó Péter András preached about Soli Deo Gloria, the pinnacle of the five Solas of the Reformation.
With the growth of the Budapest church, a new sanctuary will be needed as we noted in our earlier prayer letter. After much prayer and search, we were able to find both a good architect and a reliable builder, and we started to work on the plans for the new building. God willing, we will be able to finish it by the end of this year. This is a great reminder of God’s grace to us in the past 15 years, as the Budapest church grew from a handful of visitors to its present state when eighty people attend the worship service.
With the growth of the church, we have new opportunities. We started a new bible study at a different place of the city (so we have at the moment three midweek bible studies) and just last week we could start a youth group with around fifteen devout attendees. Before Christmas, we organized a Christmas Fare in the hope that we will be able to make contacts with some of the 10,000 people living in our close neighborhood. A visible fruit is a couple, who started to attend our services. And we have other new visitors, as well, who expressed their desire for knowing God personally or even joining our church. And finally, we started an outreach in a college dorm to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ as a clear hope in this secular world.
With the new opportunities come new challenges. We started to work out a specific plan for training and ordaining elders and deacons in the church as this issue is the single most important matter in the Budapest church right now. The harvest is plentiful, and at the moment we don’t have ordained elders, thus our Synod decided to help the Budapest church with sending Rev. Kovács Ferenc, one of our experienced pastors in Romania in Budapest to share the load with the Péter and András.
Brothers, we kindly ask for your prayer in the following areas. First, that we will be able to ordain elders and deacons in the church. Second, that the Lord will provide us the means to finish the building of the new sanctuary. Third, that the Budapest church will grow in love and holiness so that it will be able to proclaim the excellencies of our Lord and shine as lights in the midst of this crooked generation.
Since our last report, the church in Miskolc faced four months full of events. In October Rev. Szoke Imre continued his three part series on the Reformation in the downtown for people who have little familiarity with these matters. He had a lecture on “Reformation and Authority” followed by two more talks: “Reformation and Salvation” and “Reformation and the Church”. Then beside this, the church in Miskolc hosted our denomination’s Reformation conference in Hungary. There pastor Szoke spoke on the topic: “Women of the Reformation.” In this period the church also had some guests from overseas who encouraged them in their walk and ministry with the Lord.
During the Christmas season the church organized a meeting for outsiders, trying to invite families who were not exposed to the gospel. The New Year started with a trip for Rev. Szoke, since he was invited to attend the Synod of the GKSA in South Africa. Beside this, he was involved in publication projects and matters related to homeschooling.
As a prayer request, we want to share with you two needs. One is spiritual, the other financial. Please pray for wisdom for the leader of the church as they are elaborating a new mission strategy for outreach. Regarding the financial needs, pray that the Lord might provide the extra funds they need to maintain the larger property in Miskolc.
By God’s grace the congregations in Balatonalmádi and Kaposszerdahely continued to grow.
In Kaposszerdehely the meetings were held regularly and we had special meeting for the anniversary of the Reformation. Some new people attended and the mayor of the village was very friendly and promised to help us in having other lectures giving us a place to have lectures. A young lady who was attending for a long-long time our church and who had serious conflicts with her family finally became a member of our church since her husband gave her permission.
In Balatonalmádi the church there also organized a meeting for Reformation. Two of our members and Rev. Bagoly Gyula the pastor had lectures for those attending.
Gyula continued to counsel the church members and continued to take the discipleship course with 4 people. Two of the people taking the course finally decided that they are not ready for membership yet but one person will have her membership exam soon. One other person, a young man, became a member this month. Praise God for this growth.
Gyula also continued training two men for becoming elders or deacons. Please pray for electing good elders and deacons in Balatonalmádi too. Pray for the congregation to grow in love towards those who attend our meetings and for those who are perishing without the knowledge of God.
In the last few months the membership in our congregation in Debrecen did not change. Rev. Sikó Mihály continued to preach at the worship services and at the midweek Bible studies. Unfortunately the attendance at the Bible studies is low. We have also a Bible study for children, before every worship service. The congregation has also lunch together on the first Sunday of each month.
Pastor Sikó continued to hold Bible studies every Monday at one of the Homes for the Elderly. He and some people from the congregation gave a Christmas program at this Home during the Christmas season. He also continued to help our pastor in Miskolc, teaching there at the Bible studies and changing the pulpit on the last Sunday, each month.
In November and in December pastor Sikó had two trips. In November he was invited to Sepsiszentgyörgy, Romania, and he held lectures there from Wednesday to Sunday. In December he was invited to Mezőgecse, Ukraine, and he had three lectures there.
In December Rev. Sikó took part at the Christmas Book-fair that took place in Budapest. He was doing all the administrations with our Publishing House. He is also working on our newspaper, being the editor of this magazine.
His family is doing well, their oldest daughter being taught at home. The second child is a boy, and he attends kindergarten.
During the past months Rev. Lőrinc Bertalan had a very busy and blessed time. God helped our elders in their work. For the moment we have only two teaching and one ruling elders.
We had our regular meetings (worship services and Bible studies) and four types of special monthly meetings. A meeting for the teens in Beregszász, one for young couples, a meeting for youth and one for men. These were very useful and blessed meetings.
We had the Reformation Conference in Kuklya. During our meetings a young woman became believer and accepted Christ. A young man finished our Membership Course and he would like to be a member in our church in Beregszász.
Prayer needs: 1) Beregszász: We would like to start a Bible study for the children. We would like to reach the poor people. We also would like to start a new Bible study near Beregszász in Nagybégány. 2) During the summer we would like to continue to have our camps for children, youth and adults. 3) Pray for children’s work in Barkaszo. 4) Pray for the selling of the Zapszony property. 5) Pray for the work among Gypsy people in Barkaszo and near Ungvar. 6) Some of our older members were sick so they could not visit the services. Pray for them.
During these past months thanks to the Lord we had some special meetings. Rev. Gál István was involved in most of these. One of them was the Reformation conference in Kuklya. This conference was attended by church members and sympathizers too. The central theme was: Reformation 500 – What did the Reformation bring into Europe and our life? It was a very blessed time for those attending it.
In the last months two people continued our Membership Course and they will become members in our congregation in Ungvar.
By God’s grace at the beginning of this year we bought a property in Ungvar for our congregation. In the next period Istvan will move from Zapszony to Ungvar and will continue the services there.
Prayer requests: 1) Pray for the renovation of the Ungvar property. 2) Pray for the Gal family’s moving from Zapszony to Ungvar. 3) Pray for the new meetings that we plan to start there: a meeting for children, a youth meeting and a meeting for Gipsy people.
Sfantu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyörgy)
At the end of last year, the congregation organized an evangelism week, with guest speakers, sharing evangelistic messages and testimonies. The church members invited their friends and acquaintances to these meetings. They also organized special meetings to commemorate the 500-th anniversary of the Reformation. Les Lanpheres’s movie, ‘The Calvinist’, was played several times in the meeting hall of the congregation. This meeting was free and open to anyone interested. People made a good use of this opportunity.
In the end of November, together with some of the other congregations, Rev. Simon Szabolcs organized a regional youth conference, as a follow-up to our youth camps. This conference had a good attendance, blessed meetings and group discussions. Szabolcs started a new preaching series on the gospel of John. The children’s meeting continued regularly on Friday evenings. Please pray for the singles from their congregation who are struggling with the burdens of this condition.
Odorheiu Secuiesc (Székelyudvarhely)
Rev. Curcubet Gabriel was released from the pressure of finding a secular job and he was able to concentrate on the ministry with all of his efforts.
The last quarter of 2017 was marked by the events organized for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The congregation organized several meetings on this topic. Gabriel delivered lectures on the topic of ‘The Women of the Reformation’, and ‘The Reformation of Josiah in the Old Testament’. The members of the church had very good discussions with their nominal Christian acquaintances, who came to these meetings.
The congregation organized our Fall Homeschool Conference, which was blessed and appreciated. God continues to use this field to bring more families to the Homeschool Support Group in Odorheiu Secuiesc. The support group continued the monthly meetings in fall, as well. They discussed about the effects of the Reformation on homeschooling, about Christmas and Christian Homeschooling, and other topics.
They organized week long evangelistic series in January. Some new people heard the doctrines of grace, received good literature. A new family began to attend the church, after the evangelism week. Please pray for those who came to our evangelism week, and those who received literature from us.
The congregation is trying to improve the insulation of the meeting hall, in order to reduce the costs of operation. A part of this work is finished, the rest of it needs to be done this year.
Please pray for the upcoming, planned meetings: another evangelism week, Homeschool Conference in April, Christian Movies Weekend and Creation Science Weekend.
Miercurea Ciuc (Csíkszereda)
Our small congregation in this town is well and busy. Rev. Tamás Sándor was able to continue in full-time ministry, thanks to the generosity of some brothers. The members of the congregation are actively involved in the evangelistic projects, fully supporting their pastor. They deliver tracts systematically in different parts of the town. The congregation is actively involved in the free book-sharing project of this town. There are a few places in the town, where people can leave books and the ones interested can take them. They can keep the books or they can return it to the same place. Our congregation supplies these places with good Christian literature, which finds its new owners each week. Please pray for the printing and distribution of some new tracts.
The homeschooling is also a good way to minister toward outsiders. The failure of public education concerns many non-christian parents, as well. Getting in touch with them, they are open to learn about the Christian education, about its roots and whys. The wife of our pastor meets regularly with parents, who are more and more open towards other areas, too, like principles of family life, work ethic, education. The meeting hall of the congregation is hosting these meetings. Our pastor gives answers from the Christian perspective and he is using this opportunity to lead the discussion toward evangelism. Through this ministry a door was also opened towards children. These parents requested meetings for their children, as well, which became the seed for our children’s bible studies. 10 – 12 children and 3 – 4 mothers attend these meetings. Please pray that God might use these opportunities in the life of these parents and children.
Beside worship services and bible studies, our congregation has regular meetings on family and relationships.
The congregation organized a weeklong evangelism series in November with guest speakers for each evening. The members of our congregations invited their friends and relatives to the meetings which were well attended. Beside the sermons, personal testimonies and literature was also delivered. Our church members attended the evangelism meetings of other congregations nearby, sharing their testimonies. A few new people have shown up in the congregation.
In January, Rev. Kovács Ferenc, one of the pastor of the congregation in Szováta moved to Budapest for an indefinite period of time, to help the congregation there. Rev. Kovács Kálmán, the other pastor of the congregation in Szováta, continued the regular preaching, teaching and counselling.
Please continue to pray for the Christians, mostly wives, who are hindered by their non-christian family members to attend our services or to join the church. Please pray also for perseverance and wisdom in reaching the lost and showing Christ to them. Please continue to pray for Kálmán’s family as they face daily hardships in taking care of their autistic son.
Singeorgiu de Padure (Erdőszentgyörgy)
By the grace of God, the congregation in Erdőszentgyörgy is spiritually well. They attended the Reformation conference organized in Szováta. During Christmas time, the church members had the opportunity to share their testimonies with their friends, relatives and neighbours. In the congregation we have a few very poor people, some of them did not even have electricity in their home. The rest of the congregation is helping them monthly with food packages, especially during the winter time.
This congregation also organized a weeklong evangelism series. The meetings were held in two places: Erdőszentgyörgy and Rava. The title of the week was ‘Conversions in the Bible and today’. They had guest speakers, people from other places who shared their testimony. The church members helped by inviting people to the meetings, hosting the guests, praying for the meetings. Please pray for those who heard the message of the gospel.
The congregation has a ministry towards the youth and children outside of the church. In the past, this was more popular, the interest has decreased lately. Please pray that God might raise interest towards these meetings among the youth.
In this congregation we have two people involved in the eldership training program. We hope that they will be ordained soon and they can make this big step towards becoming a fully organized congregation. There are people in the membership preparation program who will be accepted soon as members of the congregation.
Targu Mures (Marosvásárhely)
By the grace of God, the congregation in Marosvásárhely persevered in following Christ. They are thankful to the Lord that He strengthened them, and encouraged them through His word, and through the brotherly fellowship.
Rev. Molnár Sándor was busy with shepherding the flock and reaching the lost. They organized some evangelism meetings in the beginning of February, where some new people could hear the Gospel. They continue to reach people with the teaching of the true Gospel, to invite them to the services and to give them tracts and Christian literature. Please pray for the repentance of people with whom they work regularly, and pray for the church members being under hardships because of their unbeliever family members.
In the last period, many parents started to think about, or to practice homeschooling and Sándor tried to help them and spread among them the idea of Christian homeschooling and the biblical child raising. They plan to have a conference in the near future on this matter.
They have two people in the elder training program and one in the membership training program. Please pray for them.
Cluj Napoca (Kolozsvár)
This is one of our congregations where we minister in two languages, Romanian and Hungarian. The congregation is well, sometimes they have the meeting together, since most of the Hungarians understand Romanian, as well. After having sermon series on Thessalonians, now they returned to the Old Testament, the book of Ezra. At the Romanian meetings they just finished the book of Amos.
Although some members had health-related trials, surgeries, by God’s grace they are recovering well. They continued to have opportunities to share the good news about the salvation of God at universities and state schools. Please pray for the extension of this program: the testimonies of some members are filmed and planned to be used by the government in schools, in its anti-addiction program. A TV station already showed interest to broadcast these testimonies and they are also helping to film and edit the testimonies. A few people continued the membership preparation program. The ruling elder training program also had a good advancement.
In the end of November, together with few other congregations, the youth attended the regional youth conference. Rev. Attila Szasz organized the Reformation 500 conference, attended by the pastors of our denomination, but also pastors and missionaries of other conservative reformed denominations. This meeting was a blessing and hopefully will be a good starting point for further cooperation.
During autumn and in the wintertime, the Zólya family and the congregation in Vulkán had a busy schedule. By God’s grace they could organize many events, different kinds of programs.
This is our second bilingual congregation. In the first part of September, Hungarian and Romanian evangelism meetings were organized. The main topic was ‘The Condition of our Heart’. These meetings were blessed. Among the attendants, there were people who have never attended our meetings earlier. The Romanian people are very zealous now. They need prayers for revival.
In the end of October and in the first part of November, the congregation in Vulkán could remember the Reformation 500 anniversary. They invited some guest speakers. The main topic was ‘The Importance and the Consequences of the Reformation for our Everyday Lives’.
During Christmas time the members and sympathizers made contacts with new families and they did charity work. They visited families with more children, poor people and elderly people, and they helped according their needs.
The pastor’s family expects their fourth child in the middle of May. In the first part of December God allowed a trial regarding this, in form of a placental bleeding. The mother needed hospitalization, but God was merciful, and the baby and the mother are well by now. Please continue to pray for them.
On 15th April they want to organize a special meeting for remembering the first worship service in the meeting hall, which was ten years ago. They plan to organize some new evangelism meetings in the first two weeks of March.
Rev. Zolya Csaba is very thankful that through the donations of generous brothers, he could remain in full-time ministry.