Berekfürdő advent celebration

We had the pleasure of joining the people of Berekfürdő last Sunday as the community gathered to celebrate the opening of the Christmas season.  There was music, some words from the Reformed pastor, cookies baked by local children and sponsors, spiced tea and mulled wine (we had the tea), and the ceremonial lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath.  The flame was then passed on from person to person among those who brought a candle; children moved through the crowd offering the homemade cookies from wicker baskets.  It’s so hard to not take another…and another…from such cute kids who are politely wishing you a merry Christmas and urging that you take from their basket!

As we move through the coming weeks and to the celebration of Christ’s coming, may we all remember what (or rather Who) it’s all about, and may we share Him with others.

Pray for the people of Berekürdő and the small mission point we are serving with there in partnership with the Karcag Baptist church; ask the Lord to grow the group into a vital, mission-minded church that will reach the community for Christ.

Wishing you all a very blessed Christmas!

Gary & Carolyn

Millers in downtown Debrecen

Gary & Carolyn in downtown Debrecen. In the background the sign over the street says, “Happy Christmas, Debrecen!”

Some adventures we’d rather forget

I usually avoid talking about health things – they’re always more interesting to the teller than to the hearer.  But this situation has really impacted life and ministry, and it’s not over yet.  For years I (Carolyn) have had knee problems which always resolved with a little care, but while down on the Debrecen main square mingling with folks at the big August 20 holiday celebration my right knee suddenly gave notice that I was DONE.WALKING.  Pain was so intense that I had to call Gary to come to my rescue in the car (he was working at home that day.)  Not an easy task for the poor guy to reach me since the streets were still blocked for the parade. It was one of those days full of adventure and excitement we’d rather forget!

Here are some photos of the more pleasant part of the day:

 August 20, “St. Stephen’s Day,” commemorates the founding of the nation and its first king. The Flower Carnival in Debrecen includes a wonderful parade. Here we see the float with the royal crown, some Hungarian people in their native dress, and a pony cart displaying the sunflowers which are so prevalent in our part of the country. The parade includes groups from all around the world – the 4th photo shows a flag team from Narnia, Italy. Yes, my friends, Narnia does exist!

Sunset by the Adriatic Sea in CroatiaThe pain gradually eased off some but there was obviously a problem, so Sept. 3 on our way to a vacation in Croatia we got it checked by a well-recommended doctor in Zagreb.  He advised meniscus surgery for that same afternoon.  Things got a little complicated and what normally would’ve been an outpatient procedure turned in to several days in the hospital.  Our vacation was a little shortened, but we did still have four lovely days on the coast (Gary bought a nice folding chair so I could sit by the water and prop up my leg.)  The photo shows the beautiful sunset on the Adriatic Sea that we enjoyed our last evening there.

Back home the knee slowly improved, but then I re-injured it at the end of September and had to start all over with the recovery.  Praise God, this last week I’ve been able to tell that it’s getting a lot better!

  • Pray that the knee will continue to heal properly so I can get back into more of my regular work.  Gary has had double-duty over the past months since I’ve not been able to shop, cook very much, etc. I’ve missed being on-site with him for quite a few ministry events, providing what support I could from home.
  • All of this has really messed up my sleep patterns and aggravated some other pain issues.  Pray that God will grant peaceful sleep and pain relief.
  • The doctor recommends an additional surgery for both of my knees to help put off eventual knee replacements. (Yikes! Guess I’m really not a teenager any more!)  Pray for wisdom for us in making decisions about treatments.
  • Thank the Lord for how He brings us through difficult times, showing us that who we are in Him is more important than the things we can do for Him – this can be a real battle for someone like me who loves to feel useful and productive!  These last months have been an opportunity for me to ponder the fact that it’s about Him, NOT about me or what I can accomplish for Him.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

Apologetics update

The last months have been a flurry of activity — and busy times are not over yet — but we don’t want to neglect sharing how God has been working!

Praise the Lord for the training that was done and the conversations that took place in early October when Donnie (a volunteer through Bob Hartman International Ministries) came to teach an apologetics training seminar.  This was the third year he has come, and we appreciate his service and friendship very much!  It wasn’t a huge group each night of the training and different people were able to make it different times, but there were a good number of believers who came and took part.

Our thanks to Donnie, “D,” and “S” for sharing their photos.  We wish we could post more pictures from the week showing the wonderful friends at the training and those who met to chat while Donnie was here, but we want to respect the individuals’ privacy and EU laws.
  • Pray that seminar trainees will use what they’ve learned to clearly and lovingly share their faith with people of all worldviews.
  • Pray for the follow up that needs to take place —  it will be a challenge to coordinate schedules to provide make-up training for those who missed nights. Some people have also requested additional topics.
  • Pray for the friends of various cultural backgrounds who met for conversation throughout the week, that God will continue to work in their lives and draw them closer to Him.
  • Ask that God will bless, strengthen, and continue to work through hosting church Debrecen Baptist, trainer Donnie, and translators Dénes and Eduárd.  We are so thankful for faithful friends and partners in the work!

“…But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NASB)

 

Quite honestly

It’s not easy to admit, but Sunday morning we didn’t feel enthused about driving to Karcag for Gary to preach. We both felt tired, and neither of us felt like getting out and going, but we had agreed to serve…and we do love the people. Most of all we wanted to be obedient to what God had for us that day. As we drove down the road, we also reminded each other how so often in the past negative feelings have tried to pull us down as we prepared to go to ministry events — and how many times these ended up being times when great spiritual impact and blessing took place! (We call this “coffeehouse syndrome” since we experienced this feeling of oppression pretty regularly before a particularly wonderful evening of gospel sharing at the outreach coffeehouse we had for many years.) We have an enemy that would love for us to stay home…for ministry to go by the wayside….for blessings to be missed.

Gary preaching in KarcagLooking back on the day, we can say – once again in all honesty – that we are so thankful we went in obedient service rather than giving in to feelings. The message that Gary shared was impactful for us as much as for the people there that morning (Scripture has a way of doing that!) During the service several people got up and shared encouraging testimonies, and a small group of us lingered in the building talking afterward.

  • Pray for the Karcag church, that they will be encouraged, will grow, and that more leaders will be raised up to help in the ministries and mission points they are involved in.
  • Some really difficult and tragic things were shared with us. Pray for the people and their families, that God will give them wisdom, would provide for their needs, and bring them through life’s trials.
  • Pray for us and other Christian workers, for health, strength, and encouragement when times are hard.
  • Praise God that He gives strength to go on serving even when feelings/emotions tell us to give in!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

National pastor’s grandmother

In case you haven’t been following our Twitter prayer requests, a good friend of ours — a national pastor we partner with — has been asking for prayer for his grandmother, who does not yet know the Lord as her Savior. Recently she was in ICU in critical condition and the doctors didn’t know if she was going to survive. Praise the Lord, she is now much stronger and has been released from the hospital!

Our friend thanks everyone for their prayers for her and asks that we continue to pray for her health, but most of all for her spiritual condition. He said that through all this her heart has been softened toward things of God, and she is now showing interest in attending church and has an awareness of the sin in her life.

Pray that she will soon trust in the Lord and find forgiveness and peace.