Lately I’ve spent time thinking about the seasons of life. In Ecclesiastes 3:1, we read that “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” The author goes on to list many examples of events for which there is an appropriate season. I would add that there is a time to move on, and a time to start something new.
That is the season that we find ourselves in as a family. First, we are moving on from one organization, and starting out with a new one. This means leaving behind some relationships (although we still have many friendships that will continue), and forming new ones. It means becoming part of a new team and a new community.
For us in our current season, it also means that Hannah is moving on and starting something new on her own. She is graduating from ICSB and heading off to Houghton College to begin life without us being a part of it every day.
It’s hard to know which of these changes is bigger. In some ways, changing organizations in Hungary seems relatively small. We will live in the same house, drive the same car, and Tricia will go to work every day at the same place she has been working for the past two years. I will have a new role and new responsibilities, and hopefully new opportunities as well. It’s a new season for all of us.
If there is a lesson in all of this, it is not to be worried or fearful of the changing of seasons. Some of the changes we are going through we anticipated; others we did not. But as Ecclesiastes says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl. 3:11).
Whether you are at the beginning of a new season, in the middle of one, or coming to the end of another, we pray that you will find the beauty in that which God is doing in your life.
Recently I spent time working on our construction project in the village of Szentmargitfalva in southwestern Hungary. We are building a small chapel for the Methodist church there. When I arrived along with the first construction team, the foundation for the chapel had been laid but there was no structure on it.
However, there was a problem. The workers who laid the foundation didn’t follow the building plans very well. There were several mistakes made which required making several changes to how the structure would be built. The foundation was still solid and usable, but it wasn’t built exactly according to the plans. Because of that, the blueprint that the architect had drawn up was almost entirely useless. But it was time to start building, and he didn’t have time to draw up a new set of plans. Continue reading “Building Wisely”
After I graduated from seminary and started out in ministry as an assistant pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan over 20 years ago, I developed a curriculum based on 2 Peter 1:5-7 that I called “The 7 Habits of a Fruitful Christian.” I later changed the name to “The Seven Habits of a Growing Disciple.” It was based on the 7 qualities that Peter says we are to add to our faith – virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, brotherly kindness, and love.
Over the years I have taught this material in different contexts, and each time I have taught it I have continued to add new ideas and new material. About a year ago I wrote a series of blog posts on it that we published on our OMS Hungary blog. You can read the first one here (to read the rest of the series, you can click “next” on the bottom right of that page). Continue reading “The Seven Habits of a Growing Disciple”
This last spring we held our first ever coffee house apologetics outreach event in the city of Vác (pronounced “vats”). It was held in conjunction with Easter, and the topic was the Resurrection of Jesus. I was able to share with a good group of people in attendance about the historical evidence for the Resurrection, and how that can help strengthen our faith.
Last week we held another event, this time talking about how Jesus fulfilled detailed prophecies from the Old Testament written hundreds of years before his birth. I will be sharing some of these messianic prophecies on the OMS Hungary blog and cross-posting them here. It was exciting for me to be able to delve into a new area of apologetics and see how there really is good evidence for the truth claims of Christianity. I think this is especially important in a world in which those claims are increasingly under attack. Continue reading “Coffee House Apologetics, take two”
In my experience of more than 10 years of missions work, it seems like we’re always beginning again. On the one hand, that can be frustrating. I used to think you should begin at the beginning, then keep going until you get to the end. Make a plan, work the plan, see the results. But I have come to realize that missions is a process of trial-and-error, and any process of trial-and-error involves many beginnings. An author has a wastepaper basket full of crumpled-up beginnings. Inventors have countless scrapped designs which they’ve replaced with new ones. Missions works the same way. The key is whether or not you learn something along the way.
The day I visited the village of Röszke, Hungary, it was relatively quiet. At times the refugees seemed to barely outnumber the T.V. reporters and police. Our OMS team had brought a van load of food, water, and supplies to the makeshift refugee camp. Along with many other volunteers, I helped clean up garbage. Little did I know that in less than 48 hours this place would be the site of riots as angry refugees tried to force their way past a newly erected border gate while the police repelled them with water cannons and tear gas.
We left Röszke on Monday afternoon at about 4pm. Even while we were still on the way back to Budapest we saw the reports that the Hungarian government had closed the border earlier than previously announced. We had a feeling trouble was coming.
For the 21st consecutive year OMS held an English camp here in Hungary. Our two-week camp was in the city of Vác, which is about 50 km north of Budapest. We have held English camps there for several years.
This year’s camp was noteworthy for several reasons. First, we had a large contingent of volunteers from abroad who came to serve alongside of us this year. Some of them were returnees from previous years but we also had several newcomers. We had foreign staff from the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. We sensed a very high level of bonding with our staff this year, and they left Hungary very positive and enthusiastic about our English camp ministry.
Hannah once again participated as a camper this year, and she had two friends from her gymnastics club who came to camp as a result of her invitation. Both of them really enjoyed the camp. One of them had been to camp last year, and she said this year’s camp was better than last year’s. Afterwards I spoke with the parents of the girl who came for the first time, and she was very pleased about the spiritual aspect of camp. This was very encouraging for us. We presented the Gospel very clearly to all of the campers. It was so exciting to hear how God is using our camp ministry to reach Hungarian young people. There were at least 10 campers who said they had made a commitment to Christ during camp this year.
The big challenge facing our team now is following up with students who made commitments and involving them in discipleship. One of the projects I was assigned this year by our new field leader, Jonathan Long, was to write a series of discipleship Bible studies. So far I have completed four lessons on the theme of Knowing God. We are still working on getting them translated into Hungarian for use with students whose English is still somewhat minimal in some cases (though hopefully improved after English camp!). But we are also laying a foundation for future follow-up efforts by preparing materials for students who are just taking their first steps in the path of knowing God.
Now we are preparing to return to the U.S. for several months of deputation. We have many challenges before us over the next few months as we pack up, store our belongings here, move back to the U.S., and begin traveling through several states and Canada in order to raise support for returning to Hungary. We would like to be back in Hungary before English Camp next year. We look forward to sharing with many of our friends and supporters while we are stateside!