ENGLISH CONTENT OF THE JUNE ISSUE (1999)
Heavenly Father: There is one thing we all can do - we all can pray. And we can all pray wherever we are. Since You are everywhere, and not confined to sacred places, we can talk to You. You never tire or sleep, we may pray at any time. Since You are not limited by language, You accept each of us as we speak in our native tongue.
Our difficulty is that we do not pray as much as we should. some folk are not sure of the value of prayer. Some would rather worry than pray. Some prefer to wait until desperation comes before they pray. Your Son cautioned that people should always pray, so they will not fall out.
We have learned that prayer need not be confined to a place of worship, although it is appropriate there. You, our Father, are available at any given time. We need not carry our burdens alone, and we do not need to travel through life by ourselves. We count it a privilege to be able to come in prayer.
We pray for forgiveness of our shortcomings and sins. There is no one else to whom we may go. You O Lord, have made it possible for us to come. We have been forgiven because we have believed in Him whom You sent, our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that we may be more like Him!
We pray for friends and loved ones who have special needs today. Some are older and are tired of the fast pace. Some have fallen on hard times, and even wonder if any one cares for them. Some suffer hardship and pain, and need comfort and ease. Some are troubled by anxiety and depression. Send them the peace that You can give. Some are lonely and afraid. Be near to them, and assure them of Your love.
Bless those who are concerned about the needs of people who cannot take care of themselves. So many of our people must struggle with great handicaps and privations. Bless all whose concern takes them where there are folk who need a helping hand. Bless their efforts with success.
We appreciate our blessings: the guidance of the past, our present situations, our future hopes. We accept our blessings with thanks, and we pray that we may have opportunities to share with those who are less fortunate.
We come to You through Jesus, who opened our way by His great sacrifice. We come humbly, yet with assurance. Draw us by the power of Your Holy Spirit, and we shall worship in spirit and in truth.
We pray in Christ's name. Amen.
Pastors are returning to basic Bible preaching. The primary trend among sermons is for more Scripture exposition, or detailed explanations of passages from the Bible, Mark Johnson, managing editor of Preaching magazine (see link #1 below) told Religion Today. Pastors are "preaching with authority," he said. One hundred fifty pastors attended the National Conference on Preaching May 11-13 at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. It was sponsored by Preaching, the bimonthly journal for pastors. ..."The church is in a weakened state and our society and culture are in decline," most participants at the conference said, Johnson said. "In the aftermath of [the tragic shootings in] Littleton, we need to draw a line in the sand and stand up for truth." (Religion Today)
Most of the evangelical Christians in Kosovo have been forced to flee from Serb forces. About a third of the believers are missing and those still in Pristina, the capital, are constantly moving to escape the violence, Compass Direct News said. None of the 25 evangelicals in Prizren, the second-largest city of Kosovo, have been heard from. The city had 150,000 inhabitants, of whom 90% were Albanian. When the problems in Kosovo began to escalate and the need for Christian unity grew, steps were taken to form a mini-alliance. The Pentecostal Church in Serbia offered its organizational umbrella, but only one of the Kosovo churches accepted, Compass said. (Religion Today)
Two billion Christians More than 2 billion people worldwide will be Christians in 2000. Researchers David Barrett and Todd Johnson estimate that there are 1.99 billion people who profess Christianity today, about one-third of the world s population, the German Evangelical Alliance said. Roman Catholics constitute the largest group of Christians with more than 1 billion members, followed by mainline Protestants with 321 million. The world s Orthodox churches have 222 million believers. Anglican groups, which Barrett classifies separately, report 74.5 million. Charismatics and Pentecostals, including independents and others who belong to denominations, number about 449 million, the report said.
...Islam is the second largest religion with 1.19 billion adherents, followed by Hindu (774 million), non-religious (768 million), Buddhists (359 million), tribal religions (252 million), atheists (151 million), new religions (101 million), Sikhs (22.7 million), and Jews (14.2 million), Barrett said. ( ReligionToday.com, 1999. April 26)
ENGLISH CONTENT OF THE MAY ISSUE (1999)
Palm Bay, Florida
The mid-year business meeting of the Hungarian Baptist Convention Of North America took place during March 4-6 in Palm Bay, Florida. The meetings between our convention's leaders were very positive and blessed in their outcome.
It was our privilidge to have among us as our guest Mr. David Y. Lee, who is a Multicultural Evangelism Specialist of the North American Mission Board, (NAMB) based in Alpharetta, Georgia, a part of the Southern Baptist Convention. We were encouraged to hear him speak, emphasising the importance of working together, helping each other, knowing that we are all
part of God's family and His work. Mr. Lee assured us that they are continually thinking of us and that they care about our mission. He mentioned that their main purpose of their work is to serve and support the ethnic church groups, that they might be better equipped to spread the
Gospel. His inspiring words and actions gave us a renewed energy to continue our work, a work that we sometimes do through much joy or difficulties.
Dr. Bob Reccord, the President of NAMB showed his genuine concern about the ethnic groups earlier this year, when he organized the "President-to-President talk" meeting with the ethnic fellowship leaders this past January in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a very uplifting meeting for all of us that attended it.
We are grateful to God for the work that they do, and look forward to the possibility of meeting them at our Annual Convention during July 9-11, in Cleveland, OH where we are going to celebrate the 100th year Anniversary of our Hungarian Baptist Mission there. Please pray that God would make it possible for both Mr. Lee and Mr. Reccord to attend this occasion, and that He may bless them, and the work that they do for His glory.
Rev. Sandor Kulcsar, President
THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Pentecost, a Greek word meaning "fiftieth day,@ was from Biblical times a celebration of first fruits of the harvest and the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt Sinai. Fifty days after Easter, Christians celebrate Pentecost as the completion of Christ's earthly mission and the public revelation of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told the disciples that the Paraclete (meaning "Advocate" or "one called to stand next to") would come to instruct and remind them of all he said (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit helped the disciples understand the mystery of their Redemption.
On the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit inspired the disciples to continue the mission of Jesus. As they were strengthened to proclaim the gospel boldly, so the Holy Spirit enabled those who heard to understand, despite the differences in language (Acts 2:5-12).
The Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church on the first Pentecost just as it was for each of us in baptism. The Spirit continues to empower us not only to believe, but to act as disciples.
We need more than human virtue and intelligence to live as disciples. The Holy Spirit provides gifts. These gifts enable us to strengthen the Body of Christ, the Church, and influence the world by the way we live.
The greatest gift is love itself, and along with it, we are given the insight to recognize that God is the source of all love.
On March 3rd we said good bye to Erzsike Tresansky, she returned to her homeland after 40 years living in the USA. She will be greatly missed.
She will be staying with Udvarnoki Andrásné in Tahi. We wish her much joy and happiness in her twilight years. She was a true and faithful member of the Hungarian Bible Church since the late 1970's.
We wish not only to remember a wonderful person that the Lord had sent here to help us, but also to remember her beautiful voice when she sang songs not only to us but also to glorify God. May God continue to bless her, strengthen her and give her peace and joy in Tahi. ___Helen and Emery Olah
ENGLISH CONTENT OF THE APRIL ISSUE (1999)
MY CUP RUNNETH OVER (PSALMS 23:5)
by Rev. Denzel Alexander
When we study the 23rd. Psalm, and see all the wonderful blessings the psalmist describes as being his; we say that it is no wonder he proclaims: "My cup runneth over."
We understand the cup, as referred to here, describes the believer's capacity and desire for spiritual blessings and power from the Lord. Every Christian has such a cup, but each is different even as are our talents, our gifts, end our abilities.
We will look at some of the cups Christians have; realizing that many have the capacity for spiritual blessings, but lack the desire for them while others may possess a degree of desire while lacking the capacity.
First, the UPSIDE DOWN CUP. At a banquet, a cup left upside down on the saucer speaks of the person nor wanting any coffee. Many Christians seem to be saying the same thing as they rebel against God's leadership end will for their lives. They don't want to have their lives disturbed, and would rather keep the status quo. The capacity to be blessed and used of the Lord is there, bur their cup is upside down as if in rebellion to God=s will. Now, if the waiter pours hot coffee onto that upside down cop, someone will be burned. God does not force his blessings upon us, but if we are rebellious we will get burned.
Then there is The CUP FILLED WITH OTHER THINGS. It may be a large cup, but its capacity is restricted because it is mostly filled with other things. These things may be worldly or materialistic which will draw us away from the Lord. The Word of God tells us that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us. Christians can also get their cups filled with a lot of good things. Satan can deceive us by getting us busy, and our lives so filled with doing good things that we do not have time for the best thing. Jesus said: ASeek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and the other things will be added to you.@ How sad when people of great capacity get their priorities so out of order that they don't have time to serve the Lord and receive his power and blessings because they are too busy doing other things.
Next we will examine the LITTLE BITTY CUP. Doubting Christians who are unable to trust the Lord and his will for their lives may have a degree of desire for the Lord's spiritual blessings, but are hindered by their little faith. Christians must learn to trust the Lord for big things, and walk by faith. James tells us that the doubting man shall not receive anything of the Lord.
Then there is the OVERFLOWING CUP. God can fill it, no matter how big it is. This is the person who seeks God=s leadership in all of his decisions of life and can say with the Apostle Paul: "For me to live is Christ." Every child of God can have this overflowing cup.
Turn that cup right side up, and open your heart to God. Acknowledge your rebellion, and he will cleanse it and renew you.
No matter how good the things you are interested in seem to be, if they keep you from the Lord; get them out of the way and make room to put God first. Bring that little cup with your doubts and fears, and ask God to help your unbelief. Trust him for everything in your life and he will strengthen you.
To our lost friends we must say that until you come to Christ as saviour, you do not have a cup or the capacity for his spiritual blessings. "For without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6)
At a meeting held on March 5, 1999, the Finance Committee of the Hungarian Baptist Convention recommended to the Convention's Executive Committee that we give thought to the sale of our Bethesda Baptist Retirement Home complex in Palm Bay, Florida. The reasons for the proposal was that the management of the Home was becoming more and more complex and that there was a limited number of business oriented individuals within our Convention who were on the scene to oversee the operation. If we would sell the complex, and have the proceeds invested within our American Baptist Churches, USA in Valley Forge, Pa., the proceeds would generate far more interest than we would need for our Convention's mission projects. It also could provide the means by which our member churches could improve their local effectiveness.
On March 6, 1999, our Convention's Executive Committee authorized the Finance Committee to take preliminary steps to investigate the possibility of the sale of the property. This is being done at the present time. A report will be submitted at our Conventions next session during July 8-11, 1999 in Cleveland, Ohio. The matter will be fully discussed at that time and a positive vote
of our Convention constituency will be required before a sale can be made. The full details will be presented to you at that time for your consideration. Please give prayerful thought to this matter and remember those individuals who have the burden and responsibility to carry out the responsibilities which the Convention places with them.
Ida Botka Pato
On November 6, 1998, the Lord called Ida Botka Pato to her heavenly rest. She was the daughter of one of our beloved Hungarian Baptist pastors, the Rev. Joseph Botka. Ida's life revolved around her service and devotion to her Lord. She was happy when she could do service within her Sillman Memorial Baptist Church in Bridgeport, CT. She used her voice and talents to glorify God. She raised four children, a son, Daniel, and three daughters Lydia, Julie and Valerie. She also leaves behind two brothers, Joseph and Louis and two sisters, Julia and Irene. All of the Botka family are active in the service of the Lord.
Happy are the persons who serve the Lord faithfully during their lifetime. Their reward will be an eternal home with our Lord and Savior. Ida is now with her Lord and singing with the Saints of old in that heavenly choir. We will miss her, but we know that we shall meet again when God calls us Home. _______Ernest J. Kish
The Bible in 50 Words
"God made, Adam bit, Noah arked, Abraham split, Joseph ruled, Jacob fooled, Bush talked, Moses balked, Pharaoh plagued, people walked, sea divided, tablets guided, Promise landed, Saul freaked, David peeked, prophets warned, Jesus born, God walked, love talked, anger crucified, hope died, Love rose, Spirit flamed, Word spread, God remained."
ENGLISH CONTENT OF THE MARCH ISSUE (1999)
Though none go with me still I will follow... (5)
In the school, with her beautiful blond hair, Judith draws the attention of everybody to herself. She is the second wife of the famous singer who died recently, the one who sang about the water of life in "John, the Hero." The widow, who now is suddenly alone wants to learn a profession to support herself and their child. For a while Kamilla keeps in secret that the singer influenced her in her childhood. As if Judith felt some kind of spiritual relation, they talk a lot together and before exams they study together.
There is a small parish not far from the school, and after the long journey from home on overcrowded trams, Kamilla sometimes goes to the parish just to cool herself and to quiet her spirit before school, which makes learning easier. One day it turns out that Judith is practicing Catholics. Kamilla happens to meet Judith there. Both of them are surprised a little bit, but they are not suspicious, they know that neither of them went there to watch the other. One can feel that and trust in the other even at times when otherwise the parishes are full of spies. The friendship becomes tighter , Judith introduces Kamilla to her friends and when the choir of their parish makes an excursion, Kamilla goes together with them.
A very devoted boy, Joseph is a member of the choir. He likes to talk to Kamilla and they have mutual sympathy towards each other. Later he introduces her to his parents who are not against the Baptist girl until she falls in love with their son. Kamilla tells the members of her congregation that a catholic boy wants to marry her. Everybody reacts differently. There are some, who understand that the little orphan girl would like to have a family, but among the Baptists there is only one boy to about ten girls. The pastor, very diplomatic as usually, does not give opinion, just highlights the problems of mixed marriages. Some members are very upset and they give their piece of advice as well. But in the end Kamilla decides for herself that to be loved is good and to have a family is very desirable. But how could she fulfill her promises she has already made to the Lord? Joseph is very religious but definitely not the type who would like to go the heathen as a missionary. They politely say goodbye to each other. The separation is painful and Kamilla feels that because of her decision she might remain alone for life. From that time on she is afraid of dating, she does not want to disappoint boys she cannot marry, so she avoids even the possibility of temptation.
Coming together with another group of young people also influences Kamilla and prompts her to a more devoted dedication to her decision. After completing school, Kamilla gets a job just next to the place where Aunt Susan lives. Her first husband, who died a long time ago, was the brother of Kamilla's mother. Because of distance, in the past Kamilla met Aunt Susan very rarely. She is more than eighty years old, very religious and leaves her house for use by the Baptists. Often, there are prayer meetings in her house or in the house of another woman. Kamilla likes to go to see her aunt and to stay for the prayer meetings. The first prayer meeting virtually electrifies her. She is in flames again seeing and hearing young people of her age kneeling down and praying fervently as she had never heard before. Later Aunt Susan tells her that two of the young people were the children of the pastor who was dismissed just recently from work as the congregation=s leader. What was his sin? He wanted to evangelize in the nearby Russian army fort, giving Bibles to one of the soldiers stationed in Hungary. From one day to the other the pastor is put out on the street together with his wife and four children. These children still come back to pray together with the members of the congregation that sent them away? How unusual that is, this time Kamilla does not see, she just enjoys the love, the warmth, the intelligent faith that radiates from them. Her prayer life as well becomes more intensive, and her relationship with the Lord is renewed. "Am I not worth more to you than ten boys?..." -speaks to her a gentle but firm inner voice which is impossible to resist. ___Rev._Kamilla_Füredi
ENGLISH CONTENT OF THE FEBRUARY ISSUE (1999)
News at Bethesda
In November, we were advised by our Administrator, Robert Harlowe that he would be leaving us to accept another position in Orlando, Florida. This came as a complete surprise to us since we did not suspect that he was considering a change. In the business world these things happen and we must accept these things gracefully. The change came quickly and as a result I had to once again assume the responsibilities of management until a new manager could be appointed. I filled that position until January 1, 1999 at which time, with our Boards approval, we appointed Peggy Epling as our new Operations Manager. She had been our Financial Administrative Assistant for a number of years and had performed well in that position. We felt that Peggy would be able to operate the business of the Home in a professional manner, and still maintain control of our accounting. We request your prayers for her work here at the Home and for the success of our operations for years to come. Peggy, for the time being will continue managing under my direction. Until further notice, I will oversee our operations on a part-time basis. ___Ernest_J._Kish Chairman of the Board
Traditionally, Hungarians love their music. It plays a great part in our everyday life. For the people of the plains, the music of the country folk indicated the simple lifestyle inherent to country life. For the more sophisticated folk, they had the beautiful operas that all people enjoy
even today. For the young lovers, they had beautiful love songs with passionate lyrics depicting the true feelings of young love. For the people of God, they wrote or translated the beautiful hymns from whatever language in which they were originally written. These hymns are the ones that we sing even today. It is not only the music that is beautiful, but in many instances the Hungarian lyrics are even more beautiful than the original tongue in which they were written. This is why our present day Hungarian Baptist Churches enjoy the music that has been passed down to us by those living before us. Music is in our genes. Today, when I hear the choirs of
our churches or the combined choir during our annual get together, I view with pride our heritage. We have so many good singers, musicians and directors among us of whom we can really be proud. God has greatly blessed us with an innate talent that we should use to glorify His name.
Many years ago, we had sixty four Hungarian Baptist Churches in the USA and Canada. Every one of these churches had a choir, and some of them had either a band or an orchestra. They praised the Lord with their talents. I was, and still am a proud member of this group of musicians. Our band in Bridgeport, Conn. consisted at one time of thirty musicians. We played
for Sunday evening services and for street meetings. The bands of New Brunswick and Trenton, N.J. were also exceptionally fine units. The orchestra in New York City was under the leadership of Cornell Chopjak who developed a quality group of musical talent. Our three churches in Cleveland each had a fine band or orchestra. Many of our other churches also had good musical talent. Many of our old time musicians are now with the Lord, but some are still in the musical service of the Lord. An example of this is the children of the Rev. George Balla, the Rev. William Molnar and the Rev. Gabriel Petre. We are grateful to God for those of our group who serve the Lord with their musical talents. We are proud of the people who currently enhance our worship service with their God given talents. We would like to encourage all of our Hungarian Baptist church members to continue to develop and expand their musical services to the Lord. As we expand our spiritual services with our music, we also grow closer to God. David in Psalm 60: 1 and 2 exhorts us to praise God. "Make a joyful noise unto God all ye lands: Sing forth the honor of His name: make His praise glorious."
The attached old photo shows the band of our Hungarian Baptist Church of New Castle, Pa. in 1917. Identified are the Bass player, the Rev. Gabriel Petre, the Clarinetist, Joseph Ban, and the Baritone player to the left, the Rev. L. Lovas. They and all the others are a part of God's eternal musical organization.
ENGLISH CONTENT OF THE JANUARY ISSUE (1999)
Whither Thou Goest*
... is the amazing story of a modem day Ruth and Boaz. How God used a background of war, disaster, and family separation to bring His two children together will touch your heart and increase your faith.
American missionary Karl Faulkner found himself stranded in Poland with war breaking out and doors to sharing the Gospel closing all around him. Such were the circumstances which forced him out of Poland into Hungary, and eventually made him return to the United States. Had Karl misinterpreted the messages he'd received directing him to witness to the Jews of Eastern Europe? His answer would come years later, when he was contacted by the Red Cross. A family that had befriended Karl in Hungary now sought refuge from the Communist regime and needed an American sponsor. They were bringing friends with them, one of which was to become Karl's wife.
Terezia Toth left behind all the world she had ever known -- her relatives, church, and ability to earn a living even her language and social customs when she and her companions arrived in the United States. Thanks to the sponsorship of two Baptist Churches in Oregon, they were well provided for. But everything was different and strange. Life would be so much easier living among other refugees in California. Why was God asking her to stay behind and marry a man she did not know, who didn't even speak her language? Yet Terezia was willing to echo the words of Ruth, "Whither thou goest, I will go " committing to follow her husband wherever the Lord led. It was a vow that would try her faith and take her to the brink of reason. The end result was to become a marriage built on mutual devotion and endearing love, yielding eternal fruit blossoming in the garden of Paradise.
Whither Thou Goest, The Story of Karl and Therezia Faulkner A Modern-Day Ruth and Boaz as told to Sheila Brenda Stevens. ($8.00, including shipping).
For order or information contact Therezia Faulkner at: Ebenezer House, 757 Jackson Avenue, ARDSLEY, PA 19038. Phone: 1-215-887-3531
Ask Therezia Faulkner about her other three books written in the Hungarian language.
Elizabeth Ruth Ban was the second child, first daughter born to Suzannah Petrusan Ban and Joseph Ban. They were active members of the First Hungarian Baptist Church in Homestead, Pennsylvania.
A family service of memorial was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her brothers Joseph, Julius and John and her sister Elaine and members of their families in attendance.
The memorial service was led by her older brother, Joseph D. Ban, Emeritus professor of Christian Ministry, Divinity College, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
After appropriate readings from the Holy Bible, the family heard these words: "We are here to celebrate the life of our sister and friend. Elizabeth Ruth, or Ruth, as we called her, attended Munhall public schools. After graduating from high school, a friend encouraged her to submit her application to Westminster College in Pennsylvania. It was probably a good thing that Westminster both admitted her and provided a scholarship before our dad, Apa, ever knew that his daughter was going to college. Even a Hungarian father who believed that women did not belong in college, on the one hand, must recognize, on the other hand, that it is a nice honor to have your daughter admitted to Westminster and with a fine scholarship. In all fairness to the memory of our father, he did support all of his children in their efforts to acquire learning and career skills.
World War II ended during Ruth's college years. Upon graduating with her baccalaureate, Ruth began her teaching career at Hickory, Pennsylvania. After a year of teaching, she felt led to enroll in Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts. She earned the Master of Religious Education degree. There followed a year of work as Director of Christian Education and, as well, Director of the Day Care school at a Southern Baptist Church in Winchester, Virginia. Following this, she returned to public school teaching in Coral Gables, Florida.
Ruth had a loving interest in her several nieces and nephews during her lifetime. In her regular conversations with her brothers and sisters, she always wanted to know of each child by name.
For a few years, Ruth returned to Pittsburgh where she was employed as an executive secretary in the offices of a corporate pension fund. But in 1961 she moved to California to teach in the Los Angeles school system and there she found her place. She enjoyed her teaching and found great satisfaction in her work. She found many friends among the Hungarian Baptists who had settled in that metropolitan area. Whenever one of her brothers or her sister and their families visited her in her pleasant home on Gorham in Brentwood, Los Angeles, she made certain to take them to her school and have them meet the school principal and her classroom.
Elizabeth Ruth had an excellent reputation as a school teacher, as attested to by the many letters sent to her by parents and former students and by the testimony of her fellow teachers who spoke to Karen and John Ban and to Arline and Joe Ban in Los Angeles.
Elizabeth had been teaching in Los Angeles thirty-four years when she retired in 1995. She was a fiercely independent personality and did not confide in her family or her friends in the East, that her health was failing, other than admit that her foot was bothering her. In our last conversation by telephone, she began by saying, "Joe, I hear you are worrying about my health." When I said that I did have serious concern, she told me many things but assured me that she was doing all right.
Her family members owe a debt of gratitude to John Ban and his daughter Vicky who flew from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to be with Elizabeth Ruth in the final days of her active life. They provided care and I am certain that their presence beside that hospital bed made those last days more comfortable for Elizabeth.
How does one sum up the life of a person? We all remember how lively and vivacious she was and how much she cared for her family. She was generous in providing for the comfort of her parents in their later years. She loved her family and appreciate her friends. In California, Elizabeth Ruth found satisfaction as a teacher and enjoyed the support of good friends. She knew joy, a goodly measure of contentment and happiness. It is the place she wanted to be. It was the life she wanted to live.
She leaves her family and her friends with a void in our lives, but with a sense that while she lived, she enjoyed where she was and what she was doing. Without a doubt, Elizabeth Ruth would affirm:
"My lines have fallen on pleasant places, I have a goodly heritage." Psalm 16.6
-----Dr. Joseph D. Ban
MY DETROIT EXPERIENC
I didn't know what to expect when I signed up to attend the youth conference in Detroit. Is it worth taking off a weekend right before my midterms, I wondered. My doubts disappeared shortly after I arrived. I did not only have fun, meet many old friends and new people, but was also encouraged and blessed by the message being proclaimed.
I have just reached the end of a long period of spiritual drought in my life. God has revitalized it just a month before and this conference was instrumental in magnifying my joy over God's salvation, faithfulness and grace towards me. I was able to see the fact that God has saved me in spite of who I was in a new
light, that of awesome wonder and utter humility. His faithfulness to me till now and the assurance that he will remain faithful to complete the work he has started in me reinforced my sense of being unworthy. The knowledge that his grace will follow me all the days of my life and will enable me to live it for his glory amazed me for I am completely undeserving. Can you now see why I could hardly contain my joy and excitement over the prospect that I will spend eternity with such an unconditionally loving and gracious Father?
God pours these free gifts over me and you, enabling us to wait for him faithfully. Would you express your joy over this in your actions day by day?
ENGLISH CONTENT OF THE DECEMBER ISSUE (1998)
PASTOR BROWN RETIRES FROM THE BETHESDA BAPTIST CHURCH, PLAM BAY, FLORIDA
After more than nine years of faithful service to The Bethesda Baptist Church and the Bethesda Baptist Retirement Home, our Pastor retired on October 25, 1998. He had served us faithfully as spiritual leader and friend for almost a decade. We in turn responded by loving him and respecting him. It was not easy for us to say goodbye to Pastor Brown and his wife Margaret. But we must understand that one should be close to family when one begins to age and the "blessings" of ageing begin to cause us concerns. They will be moving to Madison, Wisconsin to be close to members of their family.
Our church honored them with a fellowship dinner on October 18, 1998.
At this time, the President of our Convention, the Rev. Alexander Kulcsar presented the Sunday morning message to all those in attendance. Pastor Brown had become an integral part of our Hungarian Baptist Convention. He always praised the efforts of our early founders who had the foresight to build a beautiful home for our ageing citizens. These old timers are now gone, but their efforts are still being enjoyed by many people. Pastor Brown and his wife Margaret too, will leave their mark on future generations because of their loving care and concern for our people. We wish them God speed in all of their days ahead. We will miss them, but we know that they love the Lord and remain faithful to the end. God bless you Pastor Brown and Margaret. Thanks for your faithfulness, and remember that we love you both.
Gods work however must go on, even when one faithful one decides to retire to make room for another man of God. We prayed hard and asked God for guidance in finding a suitable replacement. We believe that we have found such a man. His name is Denzel Alexander. He is a retired Baptist minister. He and his wife Wida will assume the ministry of our church and the home. Please continue to pray for us and to visit us whenever you are in Florida. Most of our old time Hungarian church members are gone, but the work in our church and Home will continue. We ask Gods blessings in all of our efforts.
Church Moderator, Ernest J. Kish
My Thoughts on my 80th Birthday
Rev. Kamilla Furedi:
Seek you first his kingdom ... (4)
On the September 1968 Parents' meeting, the new headmaster looks at those present and says, "Let the student leave the room." Nobody moves, so she repeats, "May I ask the students to leave this place?" Everybody looks around, including Kamillas brother. When the teacher sees that the boy turns his head left and right she reprimands him in irritation: "I am talking to you young man, dont pretend that you dont understand me!" "To me?" -asks the twenty year old boy. I beg your pardon, but I am here as parent, as the guardian of Gabriella Furedi." The headmaster turns red and the parents' meeting commences.
Because of the changed circumstances there is not enough time for study. The brother, Attila, gets married. Now three of them are working in the shop. Most of the times the boy is on his way to buy the goods for sale; his wife works at the counter. School ends usually at the same time, from there, Kamilla goes immediately to the shop to help her sister in law, and they go home together around 6 o'clock. When everything is finished at home, the dishes are washed, it is late at night -studying is difficult. The TV is not a big temptation now because the girl turns to her Bible more often. She came to understand recently that the Son of God had died for every sinner -herself included. If anybody unites with him spiritually in the present, it is as if he or she had died two thousand years ago on the cross and had been resurrected for an other life. Nobody who believes in Him should worry about the life after death, because whoever is one with the Savior in this life will be one with Him after death in the place where He now is -in heaven... What is more, God is the father of those who love his Son... He is the Father of the fatherless ... What a comfort! Kamilla prepares herself for baptism. The pastor, who is also a professor of systematic theology, goes through the points of the confession of faith with her. Slowly, she finds answers to her former questions but new ones come to the surface... In any case, she is more interested in theology than mathematics. Nevertheless, her brother is not happy about this growing interest. "You are again busy with the Bible instead of doing your homework. Your maths teacher complained just a few days ago that your results are very poor. Don't be so blind, you cant make a living with that." However, it is not possible to stop her. She doesnt only read her Bible but learns parts of it by heart, among others, the Sermon on the Mount: "Do not worry about your life... seek first His kingdom... ask and it will be given to you... how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
Indeed, the prayer, reading the Bible, the baptism does not hinder her study. On the contrary, they provide the kind of inside peace, which makes possible better concentration and her results become better and better. Teachers and schoolmates help her with understanding the study material. The influence of Robert is especially meaningful. He is the best mathematician in the school He wins such kinds of competitions that he receives advance admission to University. Unfortunately, he is the subject of the next tragedy. At summer camp, the boys have an accident. A big van falls on Robert and another student. Both of them are crushed to death by the heavy weight. Kamilla's question now is not whether it is worth living when even a young man can die, but what happened with Robert after his death. He was a good boy, helpful, with only one passion, mathematics. But is that enough? She feels sorry that she never testified to him about her faith although it was not a secret that she was religious. "I must be more courageous..." she tells herself. The opportunity comes very soon to speak about her faith. First it is difficult to say anything, but after a few words she experiences an energetic field around her, as if she were surrounded by angels. She becomes more and more excited as she looks for the proper words to express her belief about sin, salvation, eternal life. She is surprised to hear her own voice. "It is sweet to speak about the Lord..." she recalls afterwards. "Your name tastes good in my mouth..." -she prays. Now she understands the missionary about whom she read a book recently. She would like to follow that example, going to people who are very simple, who do not know the Lord, who do not have Bibles or are not able to read it. She is ready even to die as martyr; at the time when she reads that the number of the martyrs must be fulfilled before the Messiah comes back. To hasten the second coming she offered her body to the Lord together with her spirit.
In the same way as she kept from saying anything about her repentance in the laundry, she keeps her plan secret. But how to start? She doesnt know of any Hungarian who had become a missionary at the time, even before the communist era, there werent many. Anyhow, she wants to find out if she can study theology after high school, but her pastor suggests to learn a profession first. That is very understandable at the time when the State Office for Church Affairs controls everything -even the number of the students of theology- and is happy to hinder religious studies anyway. When one of the first female theologians marries a pastor and teaches "theology" to her own five children and to the one adopted child, it is good proof of the uselessness of the education of women. What a shame, say the heads, let us not allow more women to learn theology.
Kamilla not only passes her high school exams, she passes with a good average. Her excellent verbal presentations balance the poorer written exams. She is not afraid of the examination committee, she has already talked in front of her congregation several times. "How lucky I am..." -she says at the end with a sigh. "No, it is not good luck, it is providence'' - corrects the voice inside her.
After her graduation, she is not interested in choosing a profession. The first child of her brother is born. The family takes it for granted that the sister can help more in the shop and at home. Kamilla accepts the situation; clinging to her brother, she is afraid of independence. Nevertheless, she would like to have more freedom and to not have to work at the market always. She does not look for a job, but she finds one, and with that, begins the process of separation from brother, the market, the house of the family, and from everything connected to her childhood -even from the friendly congregation where she grew up, but that came later. Meanwhile, the Lord watches over every steps she takes, often calming her troubled heart, teaching patience with herself and others. From that time on, taking and giving, that is His policy as if working out an attitude, a readiness to depend only on Him; "leaning, safe and secure from alarm; leaning on the everlasting arms."
Summertime, on a hot afternoon, Attila's wife goes to the hairdresser and the beautician as well. Erika, who works there, knows the whole family and asks: "Did your sister in law pass her exams?" "Everything went well, there was no problem."
"What will she do now?"
"Nobody knows. She is very religious but there is nothing for her in that area. Otherwise, we don't mind. The soles of the religious workers are usually full with holes."
Erika grew up in a believing Protestant family. something moves her to help. "Listen, tell your sister in law that there is a place in the beauty salon. The apprentice for this year has withdrawn her application. Let her come into our office without telling her that I asked for her. Let her ask if there is a job available. It is not a bad profession, she could earn some money. Its easier than lifting up sacks of potatoes."
When the school year comes at the trade school, one of the apprentices says that she payed ten thousand forints to a master just to accept her. It was about six months of salary. The other student payed five thousand, the third one was able to get the place through influential friends. "And what did you do?" they asked Kamilla.
"What did I do? I went to the office of a beauty shop and asked if there was any place for me. And there was." "That is wonderful" -they all said.
ENGLISH CONTENT OF THE NOVEMBER, 1998 ISSUE
High-school brings many changes in the life of the teenager girl. New classmates, new friends, more difficult study materials take away from the time she devoted to church. The break up is not deliberate, yet it happens that she does not go to the prayer house for weeks. As a matter of fact, she does not go other times either. The mother sends her to a dance course, she does not like it. TV watching is added to her passion of reading. The TV programming fills out the familys time not only during the long winter evenings, but sometimes the days of the holidays as well. Meantime the mother is sick, she goes from one hospital to the other. The afternoons are passed by cooking and visiting the hospital. Kamilla is already in the second year of high school when her brother goes to the army for his mandatory draft. The absence of the big brother gives the girl a feeling of adulthood, although nobody expects it to come as quickly as it does.
One morning at springtime the mother does not feel well. The girl is sent to the school, but after a few hours she would like very much to go home. When the morning hours are over, she decides not to stay any longer. Not having patience even to wait for the bus she runs through the streets and falling in the door of the bedroom she sees her mother laying in the bed dressed in black. The father stands there and says distressed: "There was nothing to do..." The child does not understand what has happened. She goes quietly to the bed and touches her mother. The body is cold and stiff. When in a few days the presbyterian priest sings in the cemetery: "Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee", some Baptists sing together with him. The brother, who was released for the funeral must go back. Father and daughter remain alone in the quiet house, nobody wants to watch TV anymore.
It takes about two weeks from the funeral until Easter. Sorrowful days, full of bad signs, but how could a fifteen year old girl read signs already? There is nobody else around to prevent the coming tragedy. It is now spring break at school. Kamilla cooks every day for her father, but he does not eat anything. He is not talking either. When he is not working, he sits in the garden in front of the house. One night there is a strange noise in the room, as if a man was groaning. Going to the bed Kamilla sees her father harshly pressing his throat with both of his hands.
"Daddy, what are you doing?" --she asks but does not get answer.
Easter comes in vain, it does not break the deadly atmosphere.
The sun is shinning brightly on Easter Monday, but the room is dark, Kamilla stays in bed long. When she gets up her father is not in the house. She cooks quickly and at lunchtime she looks for her father. Because he is not at his usual place, the girl searches around the house. When she sees the open door of the attic, she senses what has happened. Like a sleepwalker, she goes up the ladder to find her father hanged up there. The coroner tells her he was dead already for three hours.
The twenty year old brother is immediately demobilized. He becomes the guardian of his sister, or Sissy, as he calls her. She continues with school but works together with her brother in the grocery. The boy gets up three o'clock at night or goes late in the evening to buy the fruits and the vegetables wholesale. Sissy is almost always alone in the house where her mother and father died. During these times she is full of fear and angst. One night is especially terrifying. Outside there is a big storm, but even inside the furniture creaks and groans. For an inside intimation she opens her Bible and reads what catches her sight. I Kings 19:11,12. The verses speak about strong wind, earthquake and fire, but the Lord is not in them. He comes in a gentle whisper. He does not want to frighten Elijah. Meantime, it is as if everything were quiet outside and inside the house. The storm ends. Kamilla reads the whole story, which quiets her, although deep in her heart she is still very confused. She is not able to understand the death of her parents and she is shocked by the reality of death. Is it worth it to live, if this is how life ends? Sometimes she would like to jump from a rock as she climbs the mountains together with her schoolmates, but something always holds her back.
In the evenings she starts to read the Bible again --mainly the stories of the Old Testament.
"God always helped his servants. How good He was to them. Okay, they had many troubles, but in the end, they were always on the winning side. I wish He would do the same with me, but who am I compared to them?", she wonders. Yet, a little star of hope started to gleam in the dark night of the troubled teenager. The hope that serving God makes this life worth living. She bursts out in tears and prays: "God, I wanted to be good so many times, but you see, now I spoiled everything. I do not dare to ask you again to let me go to heaven, but please allow me to serve you as long as I live in this world, otherwise I do not want even to live..." The prodigal daughter finds her way back to the house of her Father and now sleeps peacefully like a weaned child with its mother. At this time she does not yet know the parable and the prayer: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son, so make me like one of your hired men (Luke 15:18,19).
A PRAYER FOR OUR PASTORS
Bless our pastors today! Make Them too big to be little, too wise to be foolish, too spiritual to be worldly, too tall to get chips on their shoulders, too zealous to be idle, too cultured to be coarse, and too joyful to be morbid.
Save them from the love of big words, the fear of carnal people, the tedium of too many announcements and the pit of pointless preaching.
Strengthen them when they would be lured into shallow or deep sins, when the stand they must take will not be appreciated by the people who pay their salaries, and when they are the target of tongues whetted to a severe sharpness.
Empower them with the Spirit of Christ to make them effective in the pulpit, calm under pressure, and strong even in weakness.
Give them wisdom to wait when they do not know what to do, love when they must rebuke the wolf scattering rather than arise in self-defense.
Fill them with unction every Sunday, with enthusiasm every Monday, and with your Holy Spirit every day.
And help them not discuss their faults with anyone but Thee, O God. Amen.
ENGLISH CONTENT OF THE OCTOBER, 1998 ISSUE
The influences that can help to develop faith cannot be perfectly explained. Humanly speaking, the strong religious inclination of this child is almost inexplicable. Nobody talks to her systematically about the principles of faith, nobody gives her any clear testimony, nobody tries to convince her of anything. She never takes part in child evangelism. As a matter of fact, she grows up during the period of communist Hungary, when, many pastors do not even dare to say out loud the word, evangelization. If somebody still tries to evangelize, he risks police agents visiting him, searching his house and finding what they want: false proof of criminal action to have reason to put the pastor into prison. In fear, even the believing aunt closes the windows if on occasion she feels like singing at the sewing-machine.
Kamilla's father has a small grocery store where she likes to help him so she has some pocket money. For her mothers birthday, she buys a print of the Holy Family and presents it lovingly to them; "Jesus: How nice he is, certainly, you should love him very much." The mother does not know how to respond. She takes out the Bible from the cupboard and shows the child the Lord's prayer. Very soon all the puppets of the play corner are praying regularly.
The first play she watches in the theater is the masterpiece of Hungarian folklore, "John the Hero," who gets back his dead sweetheart at the See of Life. "This is like heaven," thinks the child, "but heaven is real, it is not a tale." She would like to go to heaven, and soon, if it is possible. However, she thinks, that only the very good girls can go there and she is not sure about herself. She is not praised very often --on the contrary... Her mother is sick, her father works from early morning until six in the evening. Tired and stressed, more and more often he shouts at the child: "You will cry if you do not listen the next time!" That "next time" usually happens the same evening, which is followed consequently with the promised flogging and crying. How could such a bad girl dream about heaven?
In the living room of Aunt Eszter there are hundreds of books on the shelves. Poetry, novels and lexicons. The eight-year-old child almost eats the books, reads everything that comes to her hands. One day she catches sight of a book, "Only For Sinners...". She feels embarassed asking if she could take the book home.
"Why? Are you a sinner?" they ask.
"Yes," she answers red faced.
At home she hides while reading the book, she doesnt want to be ashamed again. As usual, she visualizes everything she reads. In her mind she is in Britain with those hooligans who hurtle by on motorbikes among the people. When they repent, she says the sinners' prayer together with them. After having read the book she goes to the laundry room, kneels down on the tile floor and prays with her own words:
"Father, God, please forgive me. I dont want to be always as bad as I am. I will obey my parents. Help me to be good." She is overwhelmed again with heat, but not because of shame. A strange power goes through her body, as if she were changed. She takes back the book and does not say anything to anybody about it and about her prayer.
Soon her aunt dies and the uncle marries again. He does not go very often to the prayer house, so Kamilla begs her parents to let her go there alone. They do not forbid her.
"She can learn only good things there" says the father. The pastor of the congregation retires and the new pastor gives a modern translation Bible to Kamilla, which, she starts to read from the beginning. With vivid imagination, she follows the stories of the Old Testament and the life of Jesus, but the meaning of the stories is still hidden from her, not to mention the books of the prophets or the letters of Paul.
She is about 14 years old when, sitting in the first pew, she listens to a sermon about lukewarm believers. She is very frightened to hear that such are spitted out, what is more, vomited out from the mouth of God. As if the pastor understood her inner thoughts, he asks the girl to pray at the end of the service. Everything disappears from her eyesight; there is no pew, choir, pulpit, --its as if she were alone before the Almighty; struggling with words, begging him with great supplication:
"Please, never drive me away from you, I love you, do not let me become cold, I want to serve you forever."
The "amen" of the congregation confirms the prayer.
Shortly, she becomes a member of the choir. The godly choirmaster teaches her and the other children who visit the prayer house to sing, to play the piano and to play the violin. During the times of the Lords Supper, she is near to faint when the members of the congregation give each other the bread and the cup. No, not because she is left out, she senses something similar to the power she experienced praying in the laundry. When her friends asks to become members of the congregation, she also does so, but the request is not brought before the fellowship. After talking to the mother, the pastor asks Kamilla to wait. The mother does not want her daughter to commit herself to the congregation so young. (to be continued)
The Twenty Third Psalm (3)
Through the years I have collected some different versions of the 23rd Psalm, among them, another Indian version, a teacher's version, and a sailors version. I challenge you to write your interpretation of this beautiful psalm, relating it to who you are, or what you do (or have done in the past). Some could be entitled: A Mother's Version of the 23rd Psalm, The Homemaker's Version, The Business Man's Version, The Cooks Version, The Pastor's Version of the 23rd Psalm, etc.
I am not a poet, but I tried, in my own humble way to express what the 23rd Psalm might sound like coming from a church musician:
____Esther Petre Plyler
Martin Luther Prays
Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen Thou me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust Thee altogether. O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in Thee. In Thee I have sealed the treasures of all I have. I am poor; Thou art rich and didst come to be merciful to the poor. I am a sinner; Thou art upright. With me there is an abundance of sin; in Thee is the fullness of righteousness. Therefore, I will remain with Thee of whom I can receive but to whom I may not give. Amen.
Christianity is something which is meant to be seen. As someone has well said, "There can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy." A man's Christianity should be perfectly visible to all men. -- William Barclay
The world is on fire
If I straighten the pictures on the walls of your home, I am committing no sin, am I? But suppose that your house were afire, and I still went calmly about straightening pictures, what would you say? Would you think me merely stupid or very wicked? The world today is on fire. What are you doing to extinguish the fire? -- Corrie ten Boom
CONTENT OF THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE (1998)
Rev. Kamilla Füredi:
SOUL LIKE A WEANED CHILD
The Unwanted Child
The gray haired woman nervously walks up and down in the patients room of the gynecology clinic. Arguments and counter-arguments are flashing through her mind, as if she were in a deep inner war. Her son is already four years old, he was also born unexpectedly; when she realized that she was pregnant with him, it was too late to have him taken away. She doesnt mind now; the boy is healthy, nice, and intelligence radiates from his eyes. But if shes pregnant again, this second child must not be born, the risk is too high. What if she dies at childbirth? Who will raise the children? The father is above fifty now; where will he be in twenty years? What if the baby is not healthy; will it be born crippled, hydrocephalic or an idiot? In this age, anything can happen. When the nurse calls her from the consulting-room, the decision is made: abortion. She speaks with determination asking the doctor to break the pregnancy.
The fetus does not understand anything but has a strong sense of danger. While the doctor examines the woman, the unborn child tries to pull itself together as much as possible. "I must survive ...Oh God, hide me in the shelter of your grace" it says with every cell in it that is already formed. But can a child pray in the womb of its mother? Maybe not with words, but sometimes the wordless prayers reach heaven quicker then the most beautiful hymns. After the examination the doctor lengthily washes his hands and says: "You are not pregnant, you only have hot-flashes. This is normal in your age. Ill give you medicine; come back in a few weeks."
At the next consultation the woman realizes that the fetus is three months old, when, according to the laws of the country, the abortion is forbidden.
In the end of August, on an early morning, the sun illuminates the maternity room when the newborn baby starts to cry. Girl, as it was said in advance by the doctor. Bald, wrinkled, not as nice as the boy was. Big red spots on her face show how she forced herself into this world, as if she wanted to help the mother and the midwife in fear that otherwise something might go wrong.
"Mam, what is the name of the child?"
The boy is Attila, the mother wants something similar. "Let her be Kamilla."
"...and how about two names, for example Gabriella Kamilla?" "...okay: Kamilla Gabriella" --says the mother.
Mistakenly, "Gabriella Kamilla" is written to the birth certificate. Somewhere above, the "mistake" is approved and blessed: Let her be Gabriella, let the Mighty One be her strength. The name and its meaning, however, remain hidden from the child; it is used only in official papers. For the time being the girl is called Kamilla; it will be a long way until the name leads to be a confession of faith.
The mothers sister, Aunt Eszter and her husband, Uncle Victor are very happy for the child. They have neither children nor other relatives. The whole family of the uncle was killed by the Nazis, but he continued to escape deportation. They say that on his coat he wore a Bible verse under the yellow star and if he was stopped on the street, he talked so brightly about that verse that nobody hassled him any more.
After the birth the mother becomes sick more and more often, so the child spends lots of time with her aunt and uncle. She enjoys going together with them to the prayer house of the Baptists where everything is warm, purple-red and shining. The choir is simply fascinating, when the soloist lifts up his voice, singing: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, our feet are standing in your gates..." the windows tremble and the child gets goose bumps.
"When will we go to that beautiful Jerusalem?" --she asks.
The members of the small congregation are kind, the pastor is gentle, and the child listens to every word of his with such devotion that at home she retells the sermon to her mother almost word for word. The woman is surprised to see the enthusiasm of her daughter. In the past she too had gone to the prayer house but now she hardly can believe. Yet she sits down to the piano and plays and sings: "When I am sad and my heart is sinking though there is no reason to worry about earthly things, I go quickly to the Lord and ask him for a new heart..." The whole song is full of hidden meaning. The child does not understand but puts together everything she hears about Heaven, Jerusalem, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and waits impatiently for the time to go to the prayer house again. (to be continued)
The Twenty Third Psalm (2)
Thou Preparest a Table Before Me in the Presence of Mine Enemies.
Have you ever wondered why a shepherd would say these particular words? Its easy to understand this phrase once you know the conditions of the Holy Land where sheep graze. There are poisonous plants there which could be fatal to grazing animals if they eat them. So each spring, the shepherd must be constantly alert. When he finds these poisonous plants, he takes his mattock (a rod with a blunt edge like a hoe and a point at the other end) and he goes on ahead of the flock. he digs out these plants by the roots and lays them on small piles of rocks -- some built during the Old Testament days, where they will dry and are eventually burned. What is the enemy? The poisonous plants. What is the table? The pasture land. Once the pasture is cleared of such plants, only then will the sheep be led there to eat in peace.
Thou Anointest My Head with Oil; My Cup Runneth Over.
In every sheepfold you would find a large earthen bowl of olive oil, and a large jar of water. As the sheep come in for the night, they are led to the gate. As each sheep passes, the shepherd quickly examines it for briars (stickers) in the ears, snags in the cheeks, or weeping of the eyes, from dust or scratches. When such conditions are found, it is pulled out of line. Then each sheeps wounds are carefully cleaned. The shepherd dips his hand into the olive oil and anoints the injury. A large cup is dipped into the unglazed pottery jar -- not just half full, but always overflowing with water. The sheep will drink until it is refreshed. When all the sheep are at rest, the shepherd places his staff within reach, in case he needs it during the night. He wraps himself up in his woolen robe and lies down across the gateway, facing the sheep, for his nights sleep.
With such excellent care and attention, what else can anyone say except: "SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE: AND I SHALL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER."
___Esther Petre Plyler
I recently came across the following version: