Thursday, May 4, 2017

May Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,

Here is our May prayer letter. You will find a version for printing with pictures in the attachment:

Highlights from Esztergom:
There is a really good spirit at our church in Esztergom. A few weeks ago I preached a message on prayer. I had people write down the biggest prayer request that is on their hearts. I then asked them to come forward and pray for these requests and then drop them into a box, so that we could continue to pray for them. It has been amazing to see how many of these prayers have been answered. Almost every week we have had someone share a testimony about God answering prayer or working in their lives. We have also started having a special prayer meeting once each month, and I have been pleased by both the attendance and fervor in these prayer meetings. We are trusting God for great things!
Another great encouragement has been the launch of another new converts class. I almost never launch a new class until I have at least one person who has expressed an interest in baptism. Despite the fact that no one had approached me yet this year, I decided to go ahead and announce a new class anyways to be launched on April 23rd. What a pleasant surprise it was to see seven people show up for the first class! I am not sure that all of them even have a clear understanding of salvation yet, so please pray for souls to be saved, and many of these to be baptized in the near future.
These past few months, Charin and I have enjoyed doing the young adults’ small group. Easter Monday is a holiday in Hungary, so we had a bowling outing with them and then had them over to our house for a cook out and games. It has been great to develop a deeper relationship with these young people. It is sad that so many of our young people move away after high school. We are hoping that some of these young people will stay and be active members of our church.
Tata and Oroszlány:
As you know Gergo Szimon took over the church in Tata in March and Marton Csiha moved to Oroszlany in December. I was able to get together with the two of them on April 26th. It was great to hear how the Lord is working, and also their plans for the ministries in these two locations. Please pray for both churches to move forward for God’s glory.
Extended Ministry:
One of our ministry goals is to influence other Hungarian churches in the area of missions, church planting and evangelism. The Lord continues to open doors in this area. March and April were incredibly busy in preaching and ministry out of town. During the past two months I preached, taught or served in some capacity in churches, pastor’s meetings, or conferences in Pecel, Baja, Bicske, Gyor, Veresegyhaz, Arad, Dombovar and Pesterzsebet. Please pray that the Lord would use these opportunities to encourage pastors and churches to glorify God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission! I will be speaking to several more groups of pastors and leaders in May and June, so please pray for these opportunities, as well.
Summer furlough:
As previously mentioned, we will be in the US for almost 2 months this summer (July 6 – August 29). One purpose will be to get our daughter Esther settled and ready to start her first year of college. She will be joining Nancy and Ben at Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, Florida. We will also be visiting family in Tennessee and Indiana. We will be reporting in churches, as well. We have a few openings for ministry which I will list below. Each one is somewhat limited geographically, but please feel free to contact us if one of these dates would work for you. (For the Sunday services we would need to be within a 2 hour drive of the location mentioned). 
July 9th – Sunday evening – Pensacola, FL
July 12th – Wednesday evening – Chattanooga or Knoxville, TN
Aug. 2nd – Wednesday evening – South Bend, IN
Aug. 6th – Sunday morning – Nashville, TN
Aug. 9th – Wednesday evening – Knoxville or Chattanooga, TN
Aug. 13th – Sunday evening – Thonotosassa, FL
Aug. 16th – Wednesday evening – Jacksonville, FL
Aug. 20th – Sunday evening – Palm Coast, FL
Aug. 23rd – Wednesday evening – Jacksonville, FL
We appreciate your prayers. God bless!
Marc Patton

Young Adults Small Group

Group of Hungarian Pastors and Leaders in Arad, Romania

Monday, March 13, 2017

March Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,
The past few weeks have been very busy as I travelled to Germany and Romania, and also spent a week teaching at the Word of Life Bible Institute here in Hungary. I am happy to be back home for a bit. We have much to share about how the Lord worked in the past two months.
Gergo’s move to Tata:
Our church in Tata now has a new pastor! Gergo Szimon first came to our church in Esztergom in 1996 when he was a 7 year old boy. It has been an amazing privilege to see him grow up in our church, get saved, baptized, called to preach, receive his Bible training, get married, serve as my assistant pastor and now enter the pastorate. It was definitely a highlight of our ministry on February 26th  when we had a special service in Tata and officially handed over the pastoral duties to him. The church also gave us a nice farewell with many gifts and kind words. It was an emotional service for us, as we have invested nearly ten years into this congregation. 
Gergo and Rhode found a nice apartment in Tata and moved in on March 1st. Please pray for them during this transition time that the Lord would give them the wisdom and strength they need to lead the church. Please pray also for the church to accept their leadership and for there to be continued unity in the church.
Young Adults:
For Charin and I, we now have the challenge of leading the small group for young adults here in Esztergom that Gergo and Rhode had been leading. We have about 8-10 single young adults in this group, and we have really enjoyed connecting with them on a deeper level. Please pray that we will be effective in leading this group, and that we will help them deal with the issues unique to their age and situation.
Vertical Church:
I would also like to share how God has worked in a completely unexpected way in our ministry. This past summer I read the book Vertical Church by James MacDonald. The Lord used this book in a special way in my life. I saw areas in our churches and ministries where we were too man-centered and “horizontal”, and the Lord kindled a passion in my heart to see our churches become more vertical and more focused on God’s glory. In our monthly leadership meetings we began studying the Vertical Church principles together, and our church leaders also caught the passion. Together, we have begun working at moving our church more in this direction, and then an amazing thing happened…
In October, I had a Hungarian pastor friend of a large and influential church preach for us here in Esztergom. During the afternoon, he shared some struggles he was going through, and I handed him a copy of the Vertical Church. That seemingly minor decision started a chain of events that has been building in momentum ever since. This pastor was so moved by the book, that he asked me to come speak in his church about the Vertical Church the first weekend in January. He also began talking about the book with other Hungarian pastors. More invitations began arriving for me to speak about this subject. Lord willing, by the end of May, I will have spoken on this subject in two churches, three pastors’ meetings and also a national conference on evangelism and church planting. We have also begun developing a relationship with Harvest Bible Fellowship Europe which has its base in Arad, Romania. It has been fascinating to see the Lord opening doors in this area, that I wasn’t even seeking to open, and we are curious to see how the Lord will lead in the future. We are definitely excited about pastors and leaders developing a greater passion for God’s glory. Please pray that the fire and vision would continue to spread.
That’s all the news for now. We appreciate your prayers and support!
Serving for His Glory,

Marc Patton and family

Pattons and Szimons

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 2017 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,

2016 was an exciting year in our ministry, so I’d like to give a bit of an overview of the past year and also share our vision and plans for the new year.

We had a very eventful year in Tata. The biggest news, of course, was the selection of Gergo Szimon to be the new pastor. On December 11th Gergo, who has been working as my assistant pastor in Esztergom, was voted in by a strong majority to be the pastor of the church in Tata. We are currently in a time of transition as Gergo and Rose are looking for housing and planning their move. Please pray that they would find suitable housing at a good price. During the months of January and February we are sharing the preaching and pastoral duties. I am planning to hand over the ministry officially on February 26th, and he will begin full-time in March. I have been pastoring the church in Tata for 9 years, so this is a big transition for us and the church, but we are excited to see how the Lord will use Gergo and Rose in their new ministry! We are also looking forward to being able to invest more time and energy into our main church in Esztergom.

During the last year, we baptized four converts and added another by Christian experience. There were also four babies born so many baby dedication services! Good progress was also made on our building project. The courtyard/playground area was landscaped, and paving stones were laid, our open-air terrace was enclosed and turned into a hallway, new doors and windows were installed in the old building, and the outside of both buildings also received a layer of insulation.  There are still projects to be completed, but that will give Gergo something to work on in the next year or two!

We continue to face many challenges at our main church in Esztergom. On the positive side, we baptized four new converts in Esztergom as well, and also added another by Christian experience. On the challenge side, we had ten members either move away, or drop out, so our attendance has declined. We are thrilled to be able to send two young couples into the ministry, as the Csiha family moved to Oroszlany in December, and the Szimon family moves to Tata to take the church there, but from the perspective of our church in Esztergom, we are saying goodbye to two of our finest young couples and hardest workers. We are praying that the Lord will raise up others to take their places and fill their areas of service in our ministry.  

In Esztergom we also ordained two new deacons this past year. In 2017 we will be moving forward with a five member leadership team. I am very grateful for these laymen who have a high commitment to the Lord and our church. We are also seeking to develop new leaders to take the place of those who are moving on to other areas of service.

Our theme for 2017 in Esztergom is “Looking up, pointing up.” It is our desire to have an upward focus, as we look to the Lord in worship and prayer and also in hearing and obeying His Word. The Lord has brought several new seekers over the past year. There are about 15 unsaved people who are attending on a fairly regular basis. We are praying that this year will be the year when many of these commit their lives to the Lord and to the church. Please pray with us that 2017 will be a year of revival and growth in our church!

Other ministry opportunities:
One of my ministry goals is to influence other churches in Hungary in the areas of missions and evangelism. In 2016 I had many opportunities to speak in churches around the country. I preached at churches in Pilisvörösvár, Mátraszőlős, Pesterzsébet, Bicske, Zalaegerszeg, Oroszlány, Budafok, Fót, Komló and Debrecen. I also taught a week of classes at Word of Life Hungary Bible Institute.

I also recently published my first book in Hungarian. It’s title in English would translate into something like this: A Biblical View of Sex and Sexuality. I preached a series of messages with this title at our churches in Tata and Esztergom which was well received, and I felt led to put the messages into book form. I was able to find a Hungarian Christian publisher to undertake the publishing and distribution. The book came out of the printers on December 22nd, and we have already sold many copies. I am praying that the Lord will use it for His glory and honor. It has also opened up opportunities for ministry as I have been asked for an interview on the Baptist Radio station in Budapest and also had a church ask me to come speak on this subject.

Family news:
We were thrilled to have Nancy and Ben home for the holidays. They are both doing very well in college. Ben has been persuing a degree in music, but during the past six months the Lord has really been directing his attention toward missions. He is actively seeking the Lord’s will concerning his future. Please pray that the Lord would make His will known to Him. It was a special joy to have Ben preach for me in both churches on January 1st. Esther will be finishing her senior year in June, and we will be taking a brief furlough in July-August to get her settled in the US. She will be joining Nancy and Ben at Trinity in Jacksonville, FL. Charin continues to lead our children’s ministry and worship ministry in Esztergom, and also teaches English at two public elementary schools. Hannah is in 9th grade and active in the youth ministry. It is a privilege to serve the Lord as a family!
                                             Serving for His Glory,

Marc, Charin, Nancy, Ben, Esther and Hannah Patton

Christmas 2016

Ben preaching in Esztergom

Cover of my new book

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November prayer letter

Dear Friends,

Baptist churches in Hungary traditionally pick one Sunday during the fall and designate it as their Thanksgiving Sunday. During the past month we celebrated our Thanksgiving Sundays in both Esztergom and Tata. I was also the guest speaker at the Baptist church in Fot on their Thanksgiving Sunday in September, and I was again for the New Hope Baptist Church in Debrecen this past weekend. I was joking with Charin that after four Thanksgiving Sundays I am feeling VERY thankful for all God has done. J Of course, we will be celebrating our American Thankgiving with missionary friends later this month. I trust you too, will take the time to think about the great blessing of having a God who is sovereign and cares for His children.

One thing we are very thankful for is new converts in Esztergom. On October 30th we baptized four new converts. It was very interesting to see the age span of those baptized. The youngest was 15 and the oldest 90! Maria, who is 90 years old, lives just down the street from the church. A few years ago she was walking down the street and heard the music coming out of our church. She decided to investigate, and has been coming ever since. It took a long time for the Gospel to pierce through the religious confusion of her Catholic upbringing, but we were pleased to see her make a profession of faith just a short time ago. I was really amazed that she was willing to “take the plunge” and be baptized at her age. It was a great testimony to our church.

The other lady baptized is named Marika. She is the first convert reached through our thrift store which we opened two years ago. The transformation in her life is visible to all. She now works as a volunteer in the thrift store and is pointing others to Christ. 

Karcsi and Mate are both members of our youth group. Karcsi is the son of church members. He invited his friend Mate to church about a year ago. It was exciting to see both of them make professions of faith and express their desire to be baptized. Mate’s parents visited our church for the first time to see him baptized. The father especially seems interested and has promised to return in the future.

In our previous letter I mentioned my desire to bring in a national pastor to take over the church in Tata. During the past six weeks I had several meetings with the leadership there. Our five-man pulpit committee decided that we should consider Gergo Szimon, who has been serving in Esztergom as my assistant. The pulpit committee is recommending him as the next pastor of the Tata Baptist Church. Of course, the church still needs to vote on this, so Gergo will be preaching and sharing his vision with the church on November 27th. The church will vote on him on December 11th. Obviously, we would be thrilled if the church made this choice. Gergo has been a part of our congregation in Esztergom since he was seven years old, thus he shares very closely our vision and philosophy of ministry. If the church confirms his selection, Gergo and his family would move to Tata sometime next year to take over the ministry there. Please pray with us about this decision.

There is one other transition that I need to mention. Marci and Rachel Csiha joined our ministry in Esztergom about three years ago. They came with the desire to gain some experience before launching out into a ministry of their own. As you may recall, for the past year we have been actively helping a small Baptist church in the nearby city of Oroszlány. Marci and Rachel became very active in this work and now feel like God is calling them to move there and help rebuild this dying church. We will have a farewell service for them on November 27th, as they will be moving in early December. We are sorry to see them go, but we are excited that Oroszlány will gain a fulltime missionary couple with a desire to see that church revived and rekindled. Please pray for them also during this time of transition. 

Summer ministry opportunity:
I would like to close by mentioning a ministry opportunity for summer 2017. A Hungarian pastor friend of mine has a baseball outreach for children and teens. He would love to have a group from America come help him do a week long baseball camp next summer. If you would be interested in this opportunity, please drop me a line. I will be happy to put you in touch with him. 

As you can see this is an exciting time, but transitions can be challenging as well. Please pray for all involved to experience God’s leadership and grace.

Serving for His Glory,

Marc Patton

Baptismal service on October 30

Csiha family on the left, Szimon family on the right.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

October prayer letter

Dear Friends,

With school back in session, everyone is very busy. Esther is in her senior year of high school, so has a lot of extra school programs going on as well as drivers ed. Hannah is in ninth grade and had to choose a second language to study, so she added Spanish to go along with German, which she has studied since first grade. Of course, she is already fluent in English and Hungarian. J Charin continues to teach three days a week at two public schools in Dorog. She enjoys teaching, but doesn’t have much free time with work, family and ministry. For me, a new year of Bible Institute has begun, and all of our regular church programs are up and running again. Nancy and Ben are busy in their studies, as they both began their junior years at Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, Florida.

Focus on Tata:
During the past few months I began talking to the leadership team in Tata about beginning the task of looking for a full-time pastor. We agreed that the time is right, and on September 18th, I made the announcement to the church. Although most of our people knew that this time would eventually come, there was still a certain sense of surprise and even tears shed. Now two weeks later, I think that most have come to terms with this news, and it is my prayer that the church will move forward with unity. Please do not misunderstand: I am still pastoring the church in Tata, and I will be leading them through this time of transition. We want to find the right man for the job, who will maintain the philosophy and direction of the church and build on the foundation we have laid. We do have a plan in this regards, but we are going to take our time and go through the formal process, because I believe it is vital for the church to choose their next pastor and not have him “thrust on them” without their full consent. So please pray for the church in Tata and our leadership team, as we begin this process.

Please pray also for our building project in Tata. Tata has the finances to support a full-time pastor, but currently all that monthly surplus is flowing into our building project. We really need to complete the building, so that that money will be freed up to pay the new pastor’s salary. The end is in sight, but there are still several projects to be completed. The key projects are the insulation and painting of the exterior of the building, the expansion and remodelling of the mens and ladies restrooms, and the tiling of our hallway. We also need to purchase 100 new chairs for the auditorium, as we are using a combination of old chairs, and plastic lawn chairs borrowed from Esztergom. If you would like to help us complete these final projects, please send the funds to Global Faith and designate them for the “Hungary Building Fund.” 

Closing of Nagysáp:
I have mentioned in previous prayer letters that our church plant in Nagysap was struggling. Our regular weekly attendance had dwindled to one faithful adult, and a handful of not so faithful children. Over the past few years we have tried several different types of outreach to jumpstart the ministry there, but nothing has brought a breakthrough. We do not like to “quit,” especially as we have invested a lot of time, money and energy into this ministry, but we finally came to the conclusion that these could be and should be invested elsewhere.  We do not consider the past eight years a waste. We had two very clear professions of faith, who are still active in church. We also had other professions of faith, where we did not see much fruit, but God knows the heart. Scores of other adults and children heard clear presentations of the gospel. Gergo and Marci (and others) also gained valuable experience in the ministry. 

Missionaries do not like to speak of their failures, but I believe it is important to be open and honest about our ministry. During our 23 years of ministry in Hungary we have been a part of two very successful church plants, but we have also been a part of two failed church plants. It is difficult to explain why Esztergom and Tata succeeded and Nyergesujfalu and Nagysap did not, but we are trying to learn the lessons that need to be learned, so they can be applied to future churchplanting efforts. But above all we realize that any success that we have is due to the grace of God, and we rejoice in the fruit that He has given us. And we are looking forward to stepping out into other churchplanting endeavors over the next few years. So the closing of Nagysap has not discouraged us, it has rather freed us up to pursue other areas of outreach.

Well, more could be said, but we will leave the rest for our next letter. Thank you for your prayers.

Serving for His Glory,

Marc Patton

Church building in Tata - view from the front

Church building in Tata - view from the back

Monday, August 22, 2016

August 2016 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,
Summer is winding down, and we are looking forward to the fall. Here is an update on our summer activities.
Family Time:
It was a huge blessing to have Nancy and Ben with us for several weeks during the summer. We are excited to see what God is doing in their lives and their desire to know Him and serve Him. We also had the opportunity to take a family vacation together. One privilege of serving in Europe is the many exciting places to visit within easy reach. This summer we were able to spend a few days in Venice, Italy and also the Zell am See area of Austria. 
Day Camp in Tata:
June 27-July 1st we held our annual summer day camp in Tata. About 35 children participated this year, and more than half of the children are from families who do not attend our church. Charin was very involved in teaching and leading one of the small groups, but  our people in Tata also did an amazing job, and everything went smoothly. I brought a brief message to the parents at our closeout session. We were pleased to see one of the children return on a Sunday, and also the grandmother of another child has been to church a couple times since then and seems interested.
English Camp in Esztergom:
July 18-22 we held our annual English Camp in Esztergom. We had a great team of eleven Americans help during the week. We had about 55 children attend the morning camp, and about 40 teens and adults attended the evening classes. The spirit was great throughout the week. The morning is basically Vacation Bible School with an emphasis on English.  The children learn English Bible verses, stories and songs. The evening classes lean more toward language learning, but the teachers use the Bible and talk about the Lord. It is a great opportunity to plant seeds. We also invited everyone to our Sunday service where we closed out the English Camp. We were thrilled to have about 70 visitors come on Sunday, and they all heard a very clear Gospel message. 
Since then we have not seen any of these visitors return to church, but we are planning to invite many of them back again this fall. We will be inviting the teens to our regular youth meetings. We will be inviting teens and adults to Charin’s Monday evening English classes. I will also try to launch a monthly English Bible study for those who are interested. So we will continue our follow up on these contacts. Please pray that the Lord would work through these efforts.
During the same week as our English Camp we also held our annual VBS in Nagysap, which also went very well. We are always able to attract a good group of children, who enjoy the program and the attention of our American helpers. Our prayer was that we would see some adults and children begin attending our weekly service, but this has not come to pass yet. We continue to evaluate what the Lord would have us do in this town. 
Thanks again for your faithful prayers and support of our ministry. God bless!
                                                            Serving for His Glory,
Marc, Charin, Nancy, Ben, Esther and Hannah Patton

Patton Family in Austria

English Camp - American helpers