10 December, 2012

Ministry update

Boldog Karácsonyt!  Merry Christmas!

BrrrrRRRRrrrrRRRRrrrr it's COLD in Budapest!  About a week ago we dropped down below freezing and it's forecasted to stay that way for awhile.  That's okay with us, though, our flat is nice and cozy, we have warm coats, and Megan is her own furnace these days :D  A few of you have requested more news on the ministry front, so that's what I'll try to do a bit of here.

First off, a few followups from our Summer update.  That team from Florida came and for 2 nights we hosted what we called "Cheesecake Night".  It turned out to be "American Dessert" night with live music and LOTS of guests.  God timed things perfectly, because just down the street from The Forum there was a craft beer festival and with our open windows and live band, several people stumb...I mean, "visited" our outreach.  This led to some great conversations and the gospel was shared with many.  I personally chatted with a Spanish guy who was visiting Budapest with a couple friends on his way to medical school in Slovakia.  I never got his name, but I still pray for him.

The English club in Törökbálint didn't happen this fall, but we had plenty of other things on our plates to keep us VERY busy.  We did indeed help lead an Alpha Course and overall it has been a wonderful experience.  For those of you from Grace Bible Church, it's not too far off from the Essentials course. The meals and fellowship, as well as the weekend away, really unified the group and enhanced the discussion times.  One lady became a believer in Jesus and another is right on the cusp of believing if she hasn't already.

What I'm most excited about these days is what God is doing with Agora.  The other American pastor, Trey, and I still meet weekly, but we greatly miss our Hungarian brother who is doing his best at Oxford.  Pray for him and his family, actually, if you don't mind.  Life is tough living in another country where they speak a different language!  Add studying at OXFORD to that, 2 small kids and a 3rd on the way... Yeah, prayers.

Okay, back to Agora.  One of the other great things about the Cheesecake night is some of the new people who have begun attending on Sunday afternoons.  A couple of them are Budapesti who first found us that night and have been a part of our family every since.  A few months ago, Trey took a Sunday off from his series on II Corinthians to basically have a church meeting.  He asked everyone, "Why do you come to Agora?"  "What brings you back?".  It was a wonderful afternoon, and we came away with 3 distinctives that comprise what I've been calling "The Agora Flavor".  1) The Bible is taught clearly.  2) We discuss the sermon/passage as a group.  3) We pray for each other.  Those three things are the core of our service now, and new people have continued to visit and stay.  God is really doing something with that approach and blessing Agora.  We do music as we can (no worship leader), communion every 2nd Sunday and meet early the last Sunday for a discussion table meal.  The service is always translated into Hungarian or English depending on who's teaching (I'll start preaching once a month in January) and there's a Hungarian small group on Wednesdays that also attracts new people.

That's Agora in a big nutshell.  Something else that gets me all excited is dreaming about the future of Agora, and how we should grow.  I know I've only been at this for a year, I don't have a seminary degree, I'm still learning the languaculture and I don't know that much about church planting, but I have a dream and it puts a smile on my face :D  Agora can't get big, if we're doing to keep those 3 distinctives.  I think when we get up to 35-40 people, it will be time to multiply into two groups of about 20.  Think cell division, but I'm avoiding that word since it has a negative connotation.  Trey, Dávid and I feel like we already have another leader candidate to help with a new Agora, the guy who's currently serving as our translator.  God has clearly gifted him with discernment and he has an ability to explain Scripture or ideas in ways that are very understandable.  Anyway, I can see that strategy working until the whole city of Budapest is inundated (or saturated if you still like that word) with at least 1 Agora in each of the 23 districts!  From that, why not Agoras in Pécs?  Debrecen?  Sopron?  Győr?

I love Agora, I love getting to serve there and that being my "job".  I love witnessing what God is doing with His people and how they shine for Him.  I've been learning a lot about what 'church' is this last year, and I think the authors of Tangible Kingdom said it best, "If [Christians] embody the message, they won't have to target people or go after them.  They enjoy the alternative of waiting for people to approach them with curiosity and interest because of what was seen."  Agora EMBODIES the message of Jesus, and God is drawing people in to hear about His love, grace and mercy.

Thanks for letting us be here in Budapest, this is almost more fun than a missionary is supposed to have!

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