SUPPLEMENT TO THE JULY PRAYER/NEWSLETTER (7/24/09)
In 1990 the Lord lifted the Soviet iron curtain over Eastern Europe and called me there to start a new school to train young Hungarians for the gospel ministry. We opened it in 1992, but lacked a good English teacher. In the summer of 1993 I got a call from Jean Palmer, then living in New Castle , DE . Her offer came with degrees in English, Biblical Education and English Education and valuable mission experience in Tanzania . In 1993 she went to Hungary and not only was a superb English teacher the next eight years, but helped me guide our young men in many other ways. Her husband, Henry, supported her during these years, making many personal sacrifices. Since 2001 they continued helping in many ways. So, when they expressed their desire to go back to Hungary one more time to see the work and their sons in the faith, I very much encour-aged this. The result was a visit over there the first two weeks of May. Here is Jean’s story of their trip.
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven . . . .”
Eccl. 3:1 (NASV)
Henry and I continue to praise God that this spring was His “appointed time” for us to visit my 15 former Hungarian seminary students who are now planting churches in Hungary , Transylvania ( Romania ) and Ukraine . We left our home in Lancaster , Pennsylvania , on May 6 and returned May 20.
Since we wanted to meet all the men and their families in their homes, Dr. Rapp asked Imre and Ferenc,
with the help of all the other men, to arrange our itinerary. This they did with every home, meal, bed and
meeting – all set forth on a printed schedule. (‘Wonder who trained them to be so precise??) Nothing went awry.
Arriving in Budapest shortly after noon on Thursday, May 7, we were met by Gyula (“Gyuszi”) Bagoly.
What a joy it was to see him after almost eight years, for it was in September, 2001, that I left Hungary , not
knowing that I would ever return.
Gyuszi, his wife Klari and daughters, Anna and Abigel, live in Balatonalmadi on the northwest side of
Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe . The first floor of their home is used for congregational
meetings, and it was there that Gyuszi led a Bible Study that evening. Since “Missions” was the subject of the
study, he asked me to follow up his abbreviated lesson by sharing some of my experiences as a missionary.
We had a time for questions afterwards followed by refreshments and a great time of fellowship.
I like to say that this congregation came as a “gift from the Hungarian Reformed Church (HRC).”
Their former pastor decided to leave the HRC, started writing books, and eventually gave up his pastoral
duties, leaving his congregation as sheep without a shepherd. The leading elder (a born-again believer) went
to our men for advice, offered his home to start a new church and, with the help of other believers from the
original congregation, the new church was born.
The following evening we went to a home in Kaposvar (about an hour and a half drive) where Gyuszi’s
second congregation meets. I refer to this one as a “wedding gift.” You see, the couple who started this group
heard the Gospel for the first time at Ferenc Kovacs’ wedding. Over a period of several years, Ferenc and
his father-in-law (then himself a new believer) continued to keep in touch with them, sharing the truths of God’s
Word. By God’s grace they became believers, left the R.C. Church and, with the help of our men in Hungary ,
started a Bible Study, inviting family members, colleagues and university students. The group continued to
grow as people were being saved and were reaching out to others with the Good News of the Gospel.
Both Henry and I were asked to share our personal testimonies following Gyuszi’s lesson. Again we
had a blessed time of getting acquainted, answering questions and sharing a late supper hosted by the couple
who had attended Ferenc’s wedding 13 years ago. Praise the Lord!
After leaving Balatonalmadi, we made two more stops in Hungary — lunch and a brief visit with
Mihaly (“Misi”) and Zita Siko in Budpest and two days with Imre and Krisztina Szoke and their three
children in Miskolc . It was a special blessing to attend the worship service there on the Lord’s Day and to
share a few words of greeting and remembrances following Imre’s sermon.
One of the highlights of our trip was our first-time visit to Ukraine . Since Americans no longer need
a visa to enter the country, Imre took us to visit our three men (Bertalan, Geza and Istvan) who live and
minister among Hungarians there. Meeting their wives and children for the first time was indeed a blessing.
Tuesday morning, May 12, we drove on into Romania with Imre and Kriszti. From that afternoon
until the following Monday we visited the remaining nine men, all married and with children except one who,
Lord willing, will be getting married this coming fall. I wish I had time to tell you about all our visits and how
special each one was. How greatly blessed Henry and I were to see and spend time with these precious men
who are standing strong in the faith and serving the Lord in so many different ways and making good use of
the unique gifts and talents He has given each one “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12)
Let me start to close down by mentioning just a few of the things that have left strong impressions
upon my memory. The wives . . . These young women have not had Bible School training, nor have they
grown up in Bible-teaching churches. Some come from non-Christian homes, yet through everyday Bible
reading and study, the biblical teaching of their husbands, and their commitment to obeying God’s Word,
they freely extend hospitality, cheerfully entertain unexpected guests, train their children well, do a com-
mendable job of home schooling, and in addition to all of that, support their husbands in the ministry.
Our men are keeping up with the latest advances in areas of computer technology and other means
of communication. They make good use of Skype for keeping in touch with each other from one country
to another. In the area of photography they are now doing all their own photography for their church news-
paper, and have handled the design and photography for their most recently published books, The Right
Choice: Home Schooling by Chris Klicka and The anti-Nicodemite Writings of John Calvin.
Gratitude for the prayer and financial support of churches and individuals here in the USA was
expressed by church members there. One of the young single women (a medical doctor) told us how
much they appreciate having a nice house for their pastor and family and a lovely meeting place for the
congregation. Along with this kind of comment, we noticed how freely the pastors and their wives share
their homes with members of their congregation. It reminded us of the early church described in the book
of Acts as “having all things in common.”
Perhaps the strongest impression of all was made by observing how hard our men work, how
gifted and creative they are, how committed they are to God and the ministry, how they love and help one
another, how concerned they are to reach the lost and to have their members involved in evangelism and
discipleship, and how they make time to spend with their wives and children.
In closing, Henry and I would like to thank all of you who prayed for us while we were traveling.
Four prayer requests were mentioned in the letter we sent out in April. God certainly kept us in good
health; air and land travel was accident-free; our luggage was not lost or damaged; and we trust, as we
requested, that we were an encouragement and blessing to all those whom we visited. We came home
realizing that we were the ones who received the greater blessing.
Yes, God in many ways confirmed that it was His “appointed time” for us to make this trip, and
we will forever be grateful to Him and to those who faithfully supported us with their prayers.