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.
Most of us recognize that hopeful question from younger years on plastic swing sets or outside a small school building—while our mother waits for us in the car. Not yet able to judge whether they’re compatible with another human being or not, younger children simply put forth the possibility of friendship, and if accepted, make the decision to stick together.
Once older, we learn to watch carefully for connections. Do they like the same TV show? Do they have the same fashion sense, or love the candy bar we used to eat as a snack every Saturday? We place each other in boxes—compatible and incompatible, with a few who truly click. That’s friendship.
And that’s why I was surprised when a girl about three years younger than myself asked me that exact question in broken English at the Roma camp this August. We knew absolutely nothing about each other except for our differing mother tongues, but she offered me that pact of friendship anyways. I accepted. From that moment forward, we spent most of our time together, and through her I met other girls who also desired the term, “friend.”
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.