Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Word of Advice for Missionaries

This past Friday I was invited to give a lecture at the Eszterházy Károly Főiskola - the local college here in Eger - on the topic of how I, as a foreigner, see Hungary, Hungarians and Hungarian culture.

It was a really great experience; the lecture went well, and the reaction I got from the students was a pleasant surprise. I got to tell them about the Lord quite a bit and tell them why I came to Hungary: because, above all, I believe that the ultimate need of the Hungarian people is that they would be born again and come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. After I said this, 3 people thanked me out loud for coming to Hungary and serving them and their nation. All I could do was give glory to God.

There were 100 or more people who attended the lecture, some of whom I had met before at the college and in town. One woman said that she has multiple friends who attend our church, and that she thinks very highly of us.

Another comment I got at the end of the lecture was from an older woman who thanked me with tears in her eyes, and said that she had never heard a foreigner say so many positive things about Hungary.
Actually, not everything I said in the lecture about Hungary was positive, but I made sure to make it balanced and make my critiques respectfully.

One thing I have learned over the 10 years that I have been here - and something I would say as advice for anyone who wants to be a missionary in another country is this: If you often talk negatively about the culture or the country you are serving in, you are shooting yourself in the foot (magad alatt vágod a fát). If you are always deriding the culture or the country you are serving in, you will limit yourself from being heard. If you offend people by sharing your opinions about their home country without discretion, you will end up alienated and alone - with other ex-patriots as your main companions.

I have seen this happen before. Someone comes from abroad, assuming that the way things are done in their country is the right way - and when they encounter something different in the foreign culture they automatically judge it as inferior to the way things work where they are from.
If it would stop there it might not be such a big problem - but when they start talking about it, even if they don't realize it, they wind up offending local people - who understandably think to themselves (and often say amongst themselves): "We didn't ask you to come here. YOU chose to come here. If you don't like it, no one is making you stay. Go ahead and leave!"

The thing in Hungary - and I'm sure it is true elsewhere - is that Hungarian people themselves say a lot of negative things about their own culture and nation; but foreigners should understand that this doesn't mean that they too are entitled to criticize the country and its culture. Kind of like in a family - I can say whatever negative things I want about my family, because they are MY family - but YOU better not say anything bad about them, or else!

And for someone who comes to serve as a missionary, this should be emphasized all the more. Because our calling is to become all things to all people, so that some might be saved (1.Cor 9:19-23)

I know that I made this mistake at times during my time in Hungary - and that is all the more reason why I think this is advice that people who feel called to foreign missions need to hear: if you are not careful to use discretion in what you say about their nation or culture, you will offend people and you will limit yourself from being heard when it comes to talking about the Gospel.

Missionaries should be people who cross cultures for the sake of the Gospel and engage cultures with the Gospel. Culture is central to what we do. We should be sensitive to the people we go to serve - becoming all things to all people, so that by all means possible some might be saved.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Counting Down our Days in Eger

As of today, we have one more week here in Eger before we fly out.

Things are never going to be the same :)

We have loved living in Eger. It is a great place to live, and God has blessed us so much here.

This past weekend we had a very nice visit from Németh Laci and his family from Budapest. Laci is the pastor of the Calvary Chapel in South Budapest (Golgota Dél-Pest).

We went to the Eger Castle with them - one of Nate's favorite places. They even have a playground up on top.

I remember going up to this castle back in 2003 with my pastor to pray over the city of Eger, as we sought God's will about planting a church in the city.

When we first moved to Eger we spent a lot of time at the castle, but for the last few years we haven't gone there very often.
I guess its pretty easy to take it for granted that there is a thousand year old castle in the center of town when you see it every day for 7 years :)

There are no Rocky Mountains in Hungary - and there are no medieval castles in Colorado. C'est la vie :)

Here are some pictures:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Saying Goodbye

These past few weeks since we announced that we are leaving Hungary and moving to Colorado have been filled with a lot of emotional goodbyes. Even people we don't meet with that often, saying goodbye is hard, because we have memories with them, and we don't know when we will meet again.

The first big goodbyes were in Debrecen, where they had a going away party for us. We really love those people, and even though we left Debrecen 7 years ago, we have been able to keep in touch and visit pretty often.
The Calvary Chapel in Debrecen is a blessed ministry that is really characterized by good fruit. If you look at the fruit of that ministry you can see that truly the Spirit of God is at work there, drawing people to Jesus and building them up in their most holy faith. As I told the church there - I came to Debrecen as a kid, and left as a pastor :).

This past weekend we went to Baja to see our friends Csicsó and Detti. Csicsó pastors the Calvary Chapel in Baja and has a great heart for the people. It was good to see good fruit coming out of that fellowship as well. I got to preach there on Thursday night - which very well might be the last time for me preaching in Hungarian for some time... I really enjoy preaching in the rich Hungarian language, and it is something I will miss.

On Saturday, when we got back from Baja, we said goodbye to our dear friend Judit - the first person who got saved through our ministry in Eger. She was the first person in the church, and God used her gift of evangelism to bring many others as well. Her whole family has been in our church, and we are going to miss them a lot. Judit has been living in England for the last few years, but she came home in part to say goodbye to us.

Yesterday we went up to Budapest to say goodbye to some friends there. We said goodbye to our dear friend Ocean, whom we've known since our time in Debrecen. He used to live in the church building there and even supported us financially from his meager salary to travel up to Eger when we started the Bible studies here in 2004.
We then went to the Budapest Calvary Chapel, and Pastor Phil prayed for us at both services. It is great to be a part of the work that God is doing through Calvary Chapel in Hungary, and we hope to continue to be involved in it in some capacity even from the States.

We still have a few more goodbyes to say before we go. They are not easy, but we are thankful that God has given us so many close friendships and such deep fellowship with people here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Religious Toleration

From Timothy Keller:

Theological tolerance of all religions is absolutely impossible for anybody.

If you say: "You mustn't try to convert people to your religion," as if your religion is superior, what you are really saying is: "I want you to abandon your inferior view of religious truth and take my superior view".

You are essentially saying that your view of religious truth (that all religious truths are relative) is superior to my view of religious truth (that some religious truths are absolute).

You are doing the very thing you say that I shouldn't do.

Everyone has faith commitments. Believing that someone else's faith is wrong is itself a faith commitment.

You are saying - "My view of religion is superior to your view of religion".

Therefore, to say that all religions are relative is a faith commitment - that is a religion, and it is now vying with the other ones, AND is vying for superiority.

To say that you can't judge between religions is to judge between religions. To say that you can't determine between right and wrong beliefs is to determine right and wrong beliefs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Farsang 2012 - Updated

Farsang is the Hungarian version of Carnival or Mardi Gras, and for kids it is a great time of dressing up and having a party - kind of like Halloween in America, just without all the candy and threatening neighbors that you will play a trick on them if they don't give you a treat.

Nate loves Farsang, and last year he had a great time at his óvoda performance. This year parents were not invited, but the kids still had a party at school.

Nate dressed up as Lightning McQueen, and Rosemary did a great job fixing him up with some face paint.

Lightning McQueen

Here are some pictures the teachers took at óvoda - they had a full Hungarian folk band!

Ballet at the Opera House

As we are getting closer to the day when we will leave Hungary, we have a list of things to do before we leave.

For years I have been promising to take Rosemary to a ballet. Realizing that time is running out, and also because Rosemary's birthday is on Thursday, I finally took her to the ballet last night in Budapest.

The national ballet performs in the Hungarian State Opera House - a building that I have always wanted to see.
It was a great experience. Here are some pictures:

Opera Colonade

Opera House



Magyar Állami Operaház


Monday, February 13, 2012

Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov
Originally uploaded by nickandrosemary

I took this photo in Český Krumlov, Czech Republic quite a few years ago. I always thought it was a good photo and it was even my desktop background for some time, but it never got many views on Flickr - until a couple days ago when someone put it up on their Tumblr.
Since then it has been viewed a lot and been favourited by some. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is viral, but it is cool to see how fast things can spread on the web.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Farewell Dear Dacia

In June 2010 we bought our first new car - a 7 seater Dacia Logan MCV.

Today we said goodbye to our dear car, which we loved very much. It really was a great car. We had hoped to take it with us to the US, but it would have been too complicated.

The car sold very quickly - within only a few days of us putting it up online, and amazingly, we actually got more for it than we had hoped :) God is good, and he keeps using things like this to confirm that our move to Colorado really is His leading.

Farewell Dear Dacia! You will be missed.