Recap of Recent Travels

I just got back on Saturday night from a 2-week trip, during which I was in NYC, Turkey, Hungary, Ukraine – then a quick jaunt to Southern California, before making my way back home just in time for daylight savings! My internal clock was so confused by that point that losing one more hour of sleep didn’t even register.

Hungary

The purpose for the European trip was to visit White Fields‘ missionaries and ministry partners in Hungary and Ukraine. I got to spend time with Pastor Jani and others from Golgota Eger, the church my wife and I started back in 2005. We also spent time in Budapest at Golgota Budapest and with the leaders of the Anonymous Ways Foundation which helps to rescue women out of sex-trafficking.

Ukraine

After a few short days in Hungary, we flew to Kiev, Ukraine where Mike and I taught at a Pastors and Leaders Conference for Calvary Chapel Ukraine. Our topic was “movement dynamics” and we gave biblical and practical instruction about leading missional churches for about 50 pastors and church leaders from all over Ukraine.

Kiev

On Sunday morning I had the privilege of preaching at Calvary Chapel Kiev. Here is the video of that service if you’d like to watch it:

After church we spent some time with George Markey, one of the pastors of Calvary Kiev, and he shared with us the vision for urban church planting in Kiev – a city of about 5 million people. Their vision is to plant 30 churches in Kiev in 5 years! This year their goal was to begin with 2 church plants, and God has already raised up people for those in the northern Obolon region of the city and in the southern Teremky region. Please join in praying for God’s work in Kiev through Calvary Chapel and for this big vision they have for church planting!

Ternopil and Kharkiv

Sunday evening, three of us got on an over-night train to Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, near the Russian border – while Mike and his wife Marika took a train in the opposite direction, to Ternopil in Western Ukraine to visit friends from Calvary Chapel Ternopil.

In Kharkiv, we visited with friends from Calvary Chapel Kharkiv, including Pastor Victor Fisin and Assistant Pastor and missionary Nate Medlong, whose aunt is a member of our church. Nate and his wife Diana are on the front lines of ministry to orphans and children in the foster system in Kharkiv. God is doing great things through their ministry, so please keep them in prayer.

UETS

Returning to Kiev, I got to speak to the students of Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary on Tuesday morning, and then we spent time with one of the teachers and the director of the seminary afterwards. UETS is a doing a great work, raising up pastors and leaders from all over the former Soviet Union. They have a strategic partnership with the seminary I am currently attending: London School of Theology (LST), and they have several hundred students attending their many campuses all over Ukraine and one other former-Soviet country. Pray for their work!

California

While the others from the team came back to Colorado, I had one more trip before I came home: I went to Thousand Oaks, California for the first Expositors Collective – an interactive seminar for young people who have a desire to preach and teach the Bible well. As one of the leaders, I coached a group of young men who had a range of different experiences: from Bible college students to interns, to a staff pastor who sometimes preaches at his church. It was a great event, and one that was geared towards ongoing mentorship. This was only the first of what will hopefully be an ongoing collective to encourage expository Bible teaching in the next generation. For more information, check out expositorscollective.com

It was a great trip, but I’m glad to be home, here where God has called me to be!

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Good Times in Eger and a Surpise in Heves

Yesterday we spent the day in Eger. The church here has a car, which we were able to borrow and I was able to Travis out to see the site where we do our English Camp outreach every summer.
A couple from the Eger church, Zakk and Mira joined us and we went to Heves, where in 2010 we started an outreach fellowship which morphed into a gypsy church. Before I left Hungary, this ministry really took off, and it has continued to be a big part of the Eger church's outreach focus.
It was a weekday afternoon, so not everyone was around, but 20 or so people gathered to see us.
While we were there, some people came up to me and showed me their 4 month old baby – a baby they had named after me, Nikolasz, because I had been their pastor! I was blown away and honored and humbled that someone would have felt so impacted by our ministry there that they would name a child after me.
I prayed over their church and over a woman who is sick, and then we came back to Eger, where we met with people from the church there. The church organized an open house for people who wanted to come and see me, and it was a great time of catching up.
Afterwards Travis, Jani and I went out to the thermal bath in Demjén until midnight and talked about life, ministry, church and family before returning to our apartment for the night.
We will see Jani and Tünde again on Friday, because they are coming to Kyiv for the pastors conference I'll be teaching at. Please pray for their family and the ministries they lead in Eger; they are doing well and doing a great job with the church. It has been wonderful to see Jani develop as a pastor over the past 4 years.
Currently we are on the train to Budapest. I have a few meetings today and will teach tonight at Golgota Budapest (Calvary Chapel Budapest), and Travis will be getting together with Németh Laci, the pastor of Golgota Dél-Pest to go see the city and to discuss the ministry Laci leads to combat human trafficking in Hungary. Laci is doing a great work, and we would really like to find out if there is anything we can do to support him and the work he is doing to set people free from modern-day slavery right in his own backyard.

Some of the people we met with in Heves
Little Nikolasz, who was named after me
Communist statue at the site of our English Camp. It says Faithfulness to your nation, Faithfulness to your party!
Hanging out with people from Golgota Eger at Jani and Tünde's house

 

Photos From Our Trip So Far

Preaching at Golgota Debrecen with my friend Jancsi translating. The church is biligual and does all services in Hungarian and English.
Refugee Bible study in Budapest with Farsi translation. They use “Simply Jesus” to teach the Gospel through movement which requires minimal translation.
Many of these Iranian and Afghan refugees recently became Christians
Pastor Jani of Golgota Eger representing for Longmont City!
Elegáns Eger
This is how we got around in Debrecen in Bodi’s tiny car…
Bodi bácsival a Békástónál

 

A Day in Debrecen

This morning began early, jet lag does that to you. Before church Travis and I discussed that we would go for a short run. I had an idea that maybe we could run over to see the Kossuth Egyetem (the university in Debrecen which is the largest in Hungary), so we left the church at 6:45. What began as a short run turned into a 10 km run through the medical university and the Nagyerdő  (Great Forest), but it was a great way to see the city.

At 10 we went to church at Golgota Debrecen; I taught and my long time friend Jancsi translated for me, as the church’s services are bilingual. At the end of the service, Bodi, the pastor, prayed for us and then I spent a long time catching up with old friends.

After church we went to eat with friends, and found out that Bodi was planning to drive to Hatvan, near Eger, so he was able to give us a ride to Füzesabony, where Jani, the man who took over for me as pastor of the church in Eger, picked us up and brought us the rest of the way.

We are staying at the flat of someone from the church who is out of town at the moment.

Tomorrow we will go up to Budapest for a meeting with some Iranian refugees who recently became Christians. White Fields Church collected money to buy Bibles for refugees a few months back, and these people were some of the recipients of those. 3 of them were baptized last Sunday and they asked if we could come meet them, so we will do that tomorrow and then come back to Eger for a series of meetings with friends.

I will post pictures tomorrow. We haven’t been able to get a proper Internet connection; I’m posting this from 2G mobile Internet.

I’m Back – and Shelby the Elder

I just got back from a 12-day trip to Hungary and Ukraine, the bulk of which was spent visiting the church my wife and I planted in Eger, Hungary. This church was celebrating their 10 year anniversary, so I and my fellow pastor from White Fields Church went to celebrate with them at a weekend retreat where we did the teaching. We also had great times of fellowship with church members and were able to spend some quality and hopefully encouraging time with the church leadership.
Conference in Eger, Hungary

After Hungary we travelled to Ukraine, where we visited a church which White Fields partners with in the city of Svitlovodsk.

The stand of the Lenin statue in Svitlovodsk, which was toppled last year and then painted with the colors of the Ukrainian flag

It’s good to be back home and I look forward to writing more as time permits.

In the mean time – I wanted to recommend a new blog, authored by one of the elders I serve with at White Fields: Shelby the Elder.

Check him out, engage with him and leave him comments and encourage him to keep on writing!

English Camp in Hungary

This July I was in Hungary for just under 2 weeks, leading a team from White Fields Community Church in Longmont to serve at the English Camp outreach hosted by Golgota Eger.

My wife and I started this camp when we were living in Eger and looking for a way to effectively reach young people with the Gospel. This was the 9th English Camp in the hills outside of Eger – and over the years, we have seen God do such great things through it and so much great fruit come out of it.

For the past several years, the camp has been at full capacity of what we can fit at this location, and the amount of kids we can reasonably handle and minister to well – around 130.

Here is are 2 short videos which highlight the long-term impact that this outreach is having on youth in this part of Hungary:

 

Having Passed the Baton

For many years, the third week of June was one of the highlights of the year for my wife and I. That’s because this is the time when the Foundations Conference takes place in Vajta, Hungary. Foundations is a conference for Calvary Chapel missionaries and national workers from all over Eastern Europe to gather together for a week of fellowship and teaching. It was a time for us of seeing friends we often only saw at that conference, as well as a time of being recharged physically and spiritually, and seeking the Lord.

This year I’ve been keeping up with some of what’s happening at Foundations on Instagram, where I get to see familiar faces and places.

Today on Instagram I saw this photo, which filled me with so many emotions:

In that picture are friends of mine, and they are praying for a young man named Jonathan, who is serving as a missionary in Eger, Hungary at the church Rosemary and I started 9 years ago. Standing behind him is Jani, a man who I first met when he was not a Christian, but who I had the privilege of leading to The Lord, pouring into, raising up in ministry, and who is now the pastor of that church in Eger.

I remember how on the last night of one of these Foundations conferences several years ago, I was up front praying for people, and Jani came up and asked me to pray that God would bless him and his wife with a baby. Only a few months later, we got the good news that Tünde, his wife, was pregnant with their first child.

I’m a bit jealous that I can’t be there withy them right now, but it fills me with so much joy to see these guys who now carry that baton, going for it with all they’ve got. It is a good feeling when something you started takes on a life of its own.

How did I know it was time to leave Hungary?

My wife and I were missionaries in Hungary for over 10 years, where we were doing church planting and humanitarian work with Calvary Chapel. In 2012, we moved from Eger, Hungary to Longmont, CO.

A friend recently asked me how I knew it was time to leave Hungary, and how God spoke to me and led me during that transition. I thought that a video blog would be the best forum for answering that question. Check out my response in this video.

If you have any questions about this topic, leave a comment below – and if you have any questions you’d like me to answer here on the blog, feel free to email me at nick [at] whitefieldschurch.com

I Believe in Miracles; Here’s Why.

I believe in miracles because I have one walking around in my house. Here’s our story:

In January of 2010, my wife Rosemary was in her final month of pregnancy with our second child, a girl whom we had decided to name Felicia, which means “happy”. It has been a pretty smooth pregnancy, with one exception: in the last trimester she experienced intense itchiness in her skin, like it was on fire. It was so unbearable that she was unable to sleep and sometimes resorted to standing outside in the cold to numb her skin. We now know that this was caused by a condition called cholestasis, in which the liver stops functioning, and isn’t cleaning the blood. This condition went undiagnosed, and led to what happened next.

Rosemary went into labor naturally, and was quietly getting ready to go to the hospital, but at one point her contractions suddenly went from being 9 minutes apart to being 2 minutes apart. She had a sense that something was wrong with the baby, so she told me that we needed to leave immediately, and left our 2 year old son with our neighbors and we rushed to the hospital.

We arrived at Markhót Ferenc Megyei Kórház, the hospital in Eger, Hungary which was about a 10 minute car ride from our home, just a minute or two after 8 o’clock that morning. The nurses took Rosemary into the room to measure her vital signs, while I waited outside in the hallway. At this point I assumed that everything was fine, and that I would be welcomed into the birthing room shortly, as I had been with our first child who was born in that same hospital. I started emailing my parents on my phone, letting them know that the baby was on her way.

Only a few minutes later, the door to the birthing ward was flung open, not by a nurse inviting me in as I had expected, but by the doctor, who came running into the hallway, nervously yelling to others down the hall to come immediately. He then turned to me and said, “There’s a problem with the baby”, and disappeared back behind the door of the birthing unit.

Over the next few minutes, 20 or so doctors and nurses ran past me into the room where my wife was. I didn’t know anything, and when I asked the nurses what was going on, they told me they couldn’t tell me anything — only the doctor was allowed to do that, but they privately said that it was bad and the baby may not survive. At one point a nurse ran into the birthing ward carrying a plastic tube of some kind, and a few minutes later 3 nurses ran out holding a little body wrapped in towels, while one of them pumped frantically on that same plastic device as they transported her to another area of the hospital.  After about an hour of nervously waiting for any news, I saw our doctor, who knew I was a pastor, and as he ran past me in the hall, simply said: “Pray!”.

Three hours passed as I waited for the doctor to call me in and tell me what had happened. I was called into the office of Dr. Kovács Krisztina, the head of the neonatal department. She explained that when they had first called Rosemary in for examination, they were not able to find the baby’s heartbeat, and they had to do an emergency caesarian. She explained that they didn’t know why, but that our daughter had gone without oxygen for quite a long period of time. At this point I asked the question which had been on my mind for hours: “Is my baby alive?” “Yes, she’s alive, but there is a good chance she will not live through the next 24 hours. And if she does, then you can be sure that she will have life-long serious disabilities, because she went so long without oxygen, that she has suffered serious brain damage.” Her APGAR score was a 1, the lowest score possible. She was not breathing at all, and the only reason she got an APGAR of 1 was because she did have a faint heartbeat.

Dr. Kovács explained to me that there is only one treatment for babies in this condition, but it is very experimental, and so I would need to sign a consent form. The treatment involved putting the newborn baby into a morphine induced coma and then subjecting them to hypothermia to try to salvage what was left of their brain and other vital organs which had started to die due to the lack of oxygen. I signed the papers, and then was taken into a room, where Felicia—whose body was completely grey and lifeless except for the fact that a respirator violently caused her chest to rise and fall—was in an incubator, and she was wheeled in to where Rosemary was. Rosemary had been put under during the emergency surgery and was just coming to—and they made her reach in the incubator and touch Felicia. Basically, they were making sure she got the chance to meet her baby and say goodbye.

Right after that, Felicia was wheeled outside, where she was taken by a special ambulance from the Peter Cerny foundation, which helps babies get to the Semmelweis university hospital neonatal intensive care unit in Budapest. Semmelweis is the best equipped hospital in the country for neonatal ICU, but they have limited space—room for 10 or so babies at a time, so they only take the worst of the worst. When Felicia arrived, we were told that she was in the worst condition of any of the babies in that unit.

I went home and packed up my son to go to Budapest to be with Felicia—and I quickly wrote a blog post asking people to pray for a miracle. I would continue writing posts about Felicia, which were then shared on social media and sent around the world. Thousands upon thousands of people began praying for Felicia’s healing from every corner of the globe, and messages began filling my inbox from places like India and Africa, from people I had never met, telling me they were praying for God to heal our little girl for His glory.

For the next 2 weeks, Felicia was unconscious. She had wires and tubes sicking out of every part of her little body and she was on a respirator, because she was not able to breathe on her own. During that time the doctors conducted a blood test and found an enzyme in her blood that indicated brain damage. A normal level of this enzyme would be 25 count – Felicia’s level was 1500 count; very disheartening news. The doctors told us to prepare for the worst. They were unsure if she would ever wake up from the coma, and even if she did, it was unsure if she would ever breathe on her own, not to mention whether her nervous system or vital organs would function properly. Not only had she gone without oxygen, but she had inhaled meconium, which filled her lungs and throat, which had developed into pneumonia. She had also inhaled meconium, which had then infected her digestive tract. We were told there was a good chance she would be in a vegetative state for her whole life.

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In the NICU during the coma

All we could do was pray. And so we asked everyone we possibly could to pray for her – churches around Hungary and throughout the world began praying for her. People I had never met began approaching me and telling me, “I’ve been praying for your daughter!” Our church in Eger came together to support our family; the community of Calvary Chapels in Hungary rallied around us, praying for us and encouraging us constantly.

After 7 days of being in the coma, Felicia woke up. Rosemary got to see her that day for the first time, but it was bittersweet. Although Felicia was alive and awake, she showed signs of being handicapped. Her eyes were crossed, she could not focus on anything, she could not swallow, and did not move. We left that night with a sense of heaviness, but once again wrote a blog post asking people to pray for Felicia to be fully healed.

The next day we walked into the ICU to find a different baby in Felicia’s bed; it was her, but she was so different than the night before, that we hardly recognized her! That night, her condition had changed completely. She made eye contact, was moving, had started swallowing milk and making noises!

After another week in that unit, Felicia was transferred to intermediate care, and then to Developmental Neurology at a different hospital in Budapest. She had suffered brain damage; even though seemed to be doing better, she was still very sick; she basically had no reflexes. Rosemary spent a week in the Developmental Neurology department being trained by doctors to do reflex therapy with Felicia at home in order to create new pathways in her brain, taking advantage of the abundance of stem cells that babies have. During this time we continued to pray for her healing.

For 8 months, we spent 6 hours a day doing therapy with Felicia. At times we had people come live with us to help cook and clean, so we would be free to care for our little girl. At one of our regular visits to the neurology department, after 8 months of therapy, we were told that Felicia was healed. She now had all the normal reflexes that a baby her age should have; reflexes being a key indicator of healthy brain function.

All the doctors and the nurses who witnessed Felicia’s recovery told us that it was a true miracle—that they had never seen a baby who was in that bad of a condition – the worst in the entire country when she arrived – get better, and not just get better, but to the point of having no symptoms!  Felicia had 5 different doctors who treated her, and each of them told us that surely God must have healed her.

On Felicia’s first birthday we had a party. To this 1 year old girl’s party, people came from all over Hungary and even from the United States. Most notably, the head doctor of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Semmelweis, who had personally attended to Felicia during her time there, Dr. Szabó Miklós, as well as Dr. Kovács Krisztina came to the party, and Dr. Szabó spoke, and told everyone that as a doctor, he can attest to them, that Felicia’s healing was a genuine miracle. He said that he never accepts invitations from the families of his former patients, but he drove up to Eger from Budapest for Felicia, because her story was so special and remarkable to him.

God healed Felicia. When Felicia was 18 months old, we were told that she would no longer need a neurologist. She was given a completely clean bill of health!

In 1 Chronicles 16, David says:
[8] Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
[9] Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
[10] Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
[11] Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
[12] Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered,
[23] Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day.
[24] Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
[25a] For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
[28] Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
[29] Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
[31] Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”

Again and again in this song of David – he says “tell” of his wondrous works. Remember the miracles he has done, and bring glory to God by declaring those things to the nations, so that all will see that He indeed is Lord of heaven and Earth!

Today Felicia turned 4 years old, and she is completely healthy in every way!  She is a true miracle.

We will never forget, and we will continue to faithfully tell our story for His glory.

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