Ministry Under Lockdown
Ministry under lockdown:
What a unique time of life and ministry this has been for all of us! Thankfully our “lockdown,” which began March 16, is slowly winding down. We hope to reopen both of our churches on May 31st. We are grateful for the Lord’s goodness to us throughout this time.
Focus Church Budapest:
It has been amazing to see the resilience of our church in Budapest. Considering that we were only six months postlaunch, it has been amazing to see how the church has continued to hold together during this challenging time. Here are a few blessings:
1) Our media team jumped into action and had a livestream up and running in time for our first Sunday under lockdown. Since then we have added equipment, purchased
programming, added team members and seen the quality continuing to improve. It is our plan to continue the livestream even after we are back to regular services.
2) The livestream itself has given us outreach to people we may have never reached otherwise. We are receiving steady reports from our members about their friends and relatives who have been watching the livestream. Please pray with us that we will see many of these come to church as soon as they are able.
3) Our small groups moved online and continued through this time. Essentially all of our university students moved back home because their studies were moved online, dorms were closed, etc., but because we were using Zoom or Messenger video calls, they could still stay in touch with their small groups. In fact, one of our gals was an exchange student in Italy, and she has been faithfully attending her small group from there.
4) One other blessing is that the offerings have stayed strong and even increased a bit during this time. Our people moved seamlessly to online giving.
One thing we did notice was the difference between our very young church in Budapest, and our slightly older church in Esztergom. Our Budapest church handled the move to online ministry much more smoothly. Things were more challenging in Esztergom, where especially the older generation struggled with connecting to ivestreams, Zoom calls, etc.
Esztergom Baptist Church:
Our church in Esztergom is still a bit behind the curve. We have been doing a simple livestream using my cell phone, but we are just now getting a team together and buying equipment to get a better livestream up and running. Because we were unable to continue our small groups online, I began streaming a Bible Study on Thursday evenings to replace the small groups. Overall the church has done well. Offerings in Esztergom have also been hitting budget. Some of our older people couldn’t figure out online giving, so they would ask me to drive by and pick up their tithes. This did give me an opportunity for a brief visit with them at the door. Another positive is that in Esztergom we also saw many nonbelievers watching our livestreams, so we were thankful for that!
One of the blessings during this crisis has been more time with the family. With all of our extra meetings and conferences cancelled, I was actually home every weekend for 2 months. That has not happened in a long time! There have been four of us at home during this time. Charin teaches in the public schools, and with the schools all moved online, she has been working from home primarily preparing and uploading videos for her students. Hannah ended up finishing her senior year of high school online. The
students only went into school to do their final exams, and she just finished her last one yesterday. There was no graduation ceremony for her, but we tried to make it a special day and celebrate as a family. We also have 21-year-old Betty Pasztor living with us, whose parents passed away a few years ago. Our other kids are doing well with Nancy and Keith in California, Ben and Kelsi in Zanzibar, Africa and Esther in Florida.
Current plans would have us in the US from July 14-August 26th. One purpose will be to get Hannah settled into college at Cedarville University in Ohio. Another purpose will be to raise some much-needed additional support, so we are already working on setting up meetings with both churches and individuals. Of course, we will be getting around to visit our family as well. Obviously, there is still a lot of uncertainty in regard to international travel, but God is good, and He knows when and where we need to be! Thanks so much for your prayers and faithful support!
Serving for His Glory,
Marc & Charin Patton