I hope this note finds you well and thriving in the Lord! I want to apologize for taking so long to send out an update. Life is busy and full these days, both personally and in connection to events happening near us.
As many of you may have heard, I got engaged at the end of January, so let me introduce you to my fiancé! His full name is Jonatán Varga, also known by many as Johnny.
Johnny is Hungarian Serbian. He grew up not far across the border in Serbia, but moved to Hungary to Pécs for university studies. We actually met the first time while I was still a bible college student, visiting the church in Pécs with outreach teams, but it wasn’t until more recently in 2020 that we began to build a friendship & then eventually begin our dating relationship in March of last year. Johnny has been serving in our church for many years, in the past couple years this has looked like serving as a part of our leadership team, helping with worship and sound tech, men’s ministry, and more. Alongside all of this, he is also currently finishing up a degree in electrical engineering.
Our wedding day is coming very soon! On April 16, 2022, with some of our close family members and friends here in Pécs, we will have our wedding in a nearby town here in Hungary. Somehow these weeks have flown by and we find ourselves with less than a month until the wedding, so as you may imagine, we are deep in the throws of wedding planning, alongside our usual responsibilities of ministry, studies, and work! I often need to pause and entrust all the details and pieces to the Lord, so as not to become overwhelmed by an ever-growing to-do list. In reality, God has been faithfully providing and leading step by step along the way and we can be confident of his continued faithfulness and care. I trust he will weave all of the pieces together. The most valuable preparation, however, is the pre-marital counseling we are doing with our pastor Balázs Stanzel and his wife Leah. While there are many practical details consider, we know what really matters is the covenant we will enter into before God. The investment we put into that is far more valuable than anything else. To that end, we covet your prayers for us in this season as we prepare for marriage!
MINISTERING TO REFUGEES
We are safe here in Hungary at this time, but life seems to have taken a big shift in the last weeks. Being a bordering country to Ukraine, Hungary has received now over 300,000 Ukrainian refugees. And while we are further from the border here in Pécs, our church has been receiving refugee families and we know of many others being housed in the city or nearby areas. Our city is further from the border and not one of the major transit hubs, so while many refugees who cross into Hungary move onto another destination country where they have friends or family or some connection, most who make their way to Pécs are looking for more permanent housing. At this time, we know of at least 75 refugees in our city, around 30 of whom our church has received and been caring for, but the number grows daily and it is likely that there are many more than those we know of.
- Pray for God to frustrate the plans of destruction and evil, pray for this war to end now.
- Pray for continued wisdom and leading of the Spirit to care for each displaced individual and family in our midst. While there are immediate needs to be met when they first arrive (i.e. food, bedding, clothing, shoes, etc.), there is also the ongoing care needed for them as they work through the trauma they’ve dealt and the re-traumatization that occurs as the horrors of war continue to unfold. We are preparing to provide Ukrainian translation in church, for this we have just purchased equipment to be able to provide in-ear translation, which we hope to have available in the next week or two once the equipment arrives. With this, we now have many Ukrainian children at our Sunday morning services, most of whom do not speak English, and we also want to bridge the gap of language to care for them and teach them about the God who loves them. Pray for wisdom in navigating these things!
- Pray for upcoming Family Day event for Ukrainians in our county. On April 2nd, our church is hosting an event with live Ukrainian music, food, many programs for the kids (face painting, a bounce house, a robotics demonstration, art therapy to help kids deal with the trauma they’ve experienced,…), and more. Other churches and organizations are also involved, but our church has taken on organizing the event. The main objectives are to connect refugees with one another, to learn what the needs are, to give spiritual and emotional support, a safe space for them to work through the trauma they have dealt with, and to provide a place for networking for those in need of jobs. As I mentioned, our church is personally organizing this event, so we ask your prayer for God’s provision and wisdom and help in putting this together.
- Pray for healing and comfort for those who have endured horrific trauma, heartache, and pain. We continue to pray for wisdom to love those in our midst, we know that God is the truest source of hope and help and it is only He who can bring the deep comfort and healing that is needed. Pray that hearts would be softened to the gospel and that many hearts would find their hope and help in the Lord!
Along with all of this, our usual ministries continue: our women’s discipleship groups are going through a study in Philippians this semester, our university outreach, Lighthouse, continues to have events every other week, we are preparing for a Lighthouse outreach concert on April 1st, our monthly men’s breakfast took place on Saturday… Please pray for energy and for times of rest and renewed strength in the Lord. The Lord is faithful and we continue to trust in His sovereignty and unfailing love. Like the words in Lamentations 3:21-26:
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD…
Thank you for your continued prayer and support!
With much love,