Building Wisely

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”

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The Seven Habits of a Growing Disciple

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”

Coffee House Apologetics, take two

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.

coffee houseLast 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”

Beginning again, again

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.

Continue reading “Beginning again, again”

Friendship is Fundamental

“Can we be friends?”

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.”

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Hannah and some of her new friends at the Roma camp at Lake Balaton

Continue reading “Friendship is Fundamental”

Returning to Hungary and the New Normal

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.

Refugees, police, and TV crews on a quiet day in Röszke, Hungary
Refugees, police, and TV crews on a quiet day in Röszke, Hungary

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.

Continue reading “Returning to Hungary and the New Normal”

Boundaries Broken

By Hannah FraserDSCF2881

“This is it,” I thought. My weight shifted onto first one foot, then the other as I nervously rubbed my arms. Catching Szófi’s eye from across the gymnastics floor, I smiled at her, and she grinned back. Acrobatic gymnastics competitions are serious, so I tried to lighten the stress for my eight year-old partner as often as I could. We stood patiently, waiting for the signal to walk onto the floor. Finally, a woman’s voice came over the loudspeaker calling out both of our names, but she also listed the group coming after us. With a start, I realized my trio came next. “How in the world will I change into my other leotard and come back here in time?” my mind screamed, but there was no time to panic, only time to focus on the moment and try not to mess up.

When the music commenced, my muscles took control. Szófi and I danced in synchronization, and then I hurled her into the air, putting all my strength and effort into the throw. We danced some more and flipped across the floor; we made sure to point our toes, straighten our arms and smile, always smile. My whirling thoughts stilled, for if I started to worry about the next move, I would collapse. Soon we arrived at our last pose and froze there, grinning at the judges while they blankly stared at us. As soon as the music ended, chaos erupted.

_MG_9413I dashed frantically down the hallway’s cold, stone floor towards the changing room. The two other girls in our trio, Panna and Flóra, ran beside me. Though I had no time to think or pray, I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. We burst into the changing room, and while I changed into my slippery leotard and Panna swapped my hair scrunchy with another that matched the outfit, Flóra stood nearby doing a strange jig. The trio bounded out of the room, our raspy breaths filling anxious lungs. Suddenly Gabi, my coach, appeared in the hallway, and she began checking my hair. “Don’t panic, you’ll be fine,” she soothed, but the judges were already calling us onto the floor. We made our way through all the mulling parents, competitors, and coaches, and I had to immediately hide my anxiety and stress. “Deep breath, deep breath,” I thought. Once more, the music started.

I felt free and hDSC_1680appy throughout the whole routine, letting my legs and arms twirl me to the music; my mind’s only job was to remind myself to breathe. Panna and I flung Flóra into the air where she did a back flip, and we caught her back on the ground. A quick smile, the only means of telling her that the flip was a good height, crossed my face and her eyes lit up. Finally, the routine finished, and once I strolled off the floor my legs began shaking. Stumbling over to our other coach, Győri Bácsi, all three of us received a bear hug. We had done it.

Szófi sat on my lap while we watched other routines. I could not stop beaming because I had completed two routines with Szófi, and two with Panna and Flóra, without any injuries or falls. Nothing could stand in my way now; I could break walls, move mountains, and do four routines in a single competition. Even if we came in last place during the reward ceremony, these moments would always stand in my memory as the time I overcame all the boundaries I placed for myself. Now I see that sometimes we do things that seem impossible, maybe even only to us. Most boundaries are all in the mind, and with God’s help I know can break them down.