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Homework Club

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Every weekday afterIMG_4309noon except Friday we help the kids to do their homework.  This is so very important because most of their parents don’t speak English so they can’t help them at all.  Most of these kids started school not speaking a word of English themselves either and just picked it up as they went.  If they have questions, if they don’t understand something, their parents can’t explain it to them so they fall behind.  Needless to say they also need someone to tell them to sit down and actually DO their homework.  We pack the tables and chairs out in front of the apartment buildings (thanks to the year-round good weather in California) and pack it all away when we are done.

After homework is done the kids can let some of their energies out on the little dirt field behind the buildings by playing some soccer.  We also pray with them.
– Csaba

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Camping at Calicinto Ranch

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At the end of March I had the privilege to serve as a counselor to a group of boys from our three neighborhoods who also participate in programs run by Lot 318, another organization we often work together with.  They were able to arrange for a three day long trip for the kids to the wonderful Calicinto Ranch and needed some help.  The kids were full of excitement and anticipation.

I thought I had it all figured out: they will be happy and overwhelmed by all the new experiences and I will be worn out by trying to keep them calm.  I was right with the first part, but totally wrong about my own experience.

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Their sheer joy for all the activities we have done together, or for the most simple things such as having their own bed to sleep in at night humbled me and touched me so deeply that I hadn’t anticipated.  Seeing their faces as they learnt songs about Christ and as they sang it again and again and they slowly realized the meaning of the lyrics was so wonderful.  I know it was just three days, but I’m sure they all will have moments they will remember for a long time.  …I surely will.
– Csaba

Easter Reminder

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This Saturday, before Easter Sunday we wanted to have a chance to remind everyone of the meaning of Easter in our small Anaheim neighborhood.  So we grilled some hot dogs, played some Christian music and gave away some toys and kids’ clothes to anyone who came by.  And every visitor also got a bilingual brochure with the salvation message and a small Book of John in Spanish.  …The first person to come over early in the morning to get some toys for his kids was actually one of the young guys from the gang who threatened us soon after we moved here.  He came over with a big smile and left with some toys for his toddlers and the salvation message.  We made friends.  He and one of the other toughest guys also say hi to us kindly lately.  I’m glad, but I still feel a little “iffy” sometimes.  I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t…  The kids of course stayed to play till late afternoon. We talked about God, Jesus, Easter, creation and resurrection. God is good!

– Agnes
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Bible Verses for March

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 smile February 29th
“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭6:47-48‬ ‭NIV‬‬March 7th
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

March 14th
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

March 21st
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Starting Weekly Memory Verses with the Kids

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 Daniel's HW Each month has a topic.  We also explain the verses and talk about them to help the kids relate God’s word to their lives. These are the verses for this month:

February 8th
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
‭‭John‬ ‭13:34‬ ‭NIV‬‬

February 15th
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

February 22th
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Almost One Year

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We are approaching the end of our first year serving in our 3 small communities.  With continuous prayers and the Lord’s blessings we achieved that people know us and accepted us.  We learnt a lot during these past 11 months about urban ministry.  We now see the various effects of people’s cultural heritage and family situation on their developing identity, on their outlook on life and on their chances to break out of a cycle of crime and poverty.  When we moved in here we were on fire for the Lord and felt that we could change the world for the better.  Our fire is now more like red, burning charcoal and we feel to be much smaller.  We now know that WE cannot achieve anything, only HE can.  Our best is to be available, pray and discern His will, be obedient and act in bold faith.  We now see people’s needs here more clearly and the obstacles we face when we try to impact their lives.  We need to better focus our efforts on sharing the Gospel and trust God’s Word to do what only HE can do: work in people’s heart.  Please pray that instead of falling into the trap of trying to help them with all their problems, we will focus on talking to them about Christ and His love for us.  Please pray for:

  • The successful organization of regular prayer walks in all three neighborhoods
  • The development of a small community field in two of our neighborhoods
  • Protection from evil for the three neighborhoods, for the other missionary couple (Josh and Adriana) and for us.

Why I Believe All That Blah-Blah…

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A few years ago my Mom asked me how I could believe all that “blah-blah” in the Bible. Virgin birth, casting out demons, resurrection of the dead, Heaven and Hell – things an intelligent person who learnt that only what we can scientifically prove or rationally explain are real – should dismiss. My heart sank. I SO wanted her to open her mind at least a little to the view that had been held by millions throughout history and even by many leading scientists of our age, most of whom started out as atheists.

I told her about that overwhelmingly wonderful moment when the creator of the universe reached out to me, lifted up my chin, looked into my eyes and opened His mind to me. He revealed to me who He was:  the God of the Bible, which was His true and living word and His personal message to me, to us.  He gave me a most amazing and indescribable glimpse into His mind which I can only put into words like “seeing and understanding the entire universe for a moment that for me lasted much longer than a moment”.  I have never experienced such sharply brilliant beauty, such an overwhelming joy of understanding and such intense LOVE.  Without audible words He told me He loved me and wanted me to belong to Him. I don’t have the right words to express any part of this experience, but it was like I was surrounded by and floating in this beautiful space filled with the most amazing starlight which was His LOVE … for me, … for us.  I of course became His child and my heart was overflowing with gratitude and joy.

When it was over and I was “back in my human mind”, I couldn’t explain it but I was a new person. I could no longer see the world the same way as before. “Reality” completely changed for me. No one could explain this away. This single experience of my life was much more REAL than anything else I’ve lived through. Everything else I understood with and through my own human mind. But this I understood by having given a glimpse into God’s mind. It was an altogether different level of understanding reality.

How I wish I could convince  everyone that there IS a spiritual world that we can’t see, can’t prove, can’t explain, – nevertheless it is there and it is REAL. That there IS a God, the creator of everything, from whom we all are separated by our fallen human nature.  A God who loves us and wants us to seek Him, long for Him, open our hearts to Him, pray to Him and reconcile our relationship with Him so after our earthly life ends we can be with HIM in the most wonderful spiritual realm. I SO want everyone to understand that there IS a devil who fights God and his goal is to make sure that as many people as possible will not believe in God and the existence of the spiritual world, so they will never reconcile with God and thus their soul will be casted down to the realm where he will be. Hollywood’s depiction of hell and its demons is scary but the real place and the evilness of its creatures are much more horrific.

If you have just one tiny opening in your mind and heart for God, He will keep reaching out to you. All you need to do is saying “yes” with a full heart. And though not everyone’s conversion experience is the same as mine, once it happens and He changes your heart, you will KNOW. You will KNOW that He exists, He loves you and you belong to Him.

For several years I had long conversations about all this with my Mom. Sometimes she took it with angry rejection, sometimes with somewhat polite frustration. The pain of not being able to get through to her made me cry often after hanging up with her. I have to admit that a few times I gave up on her, but my love for her didn’t let me leave it at that.

One morning at her age of 82 three weeks before she passed away she called me all excited. It happened to her: suddenly everything I said made sense to her. SHE SAW THE LIGHT! As I listened to her I knew she was a whole new person full of excitement, joy and hope because she knew God! My joy was overwhelming!  … And soon she went home to be with her new Lord.

I ask you, please open your heart, your mind just a tiny bit, … that maybe … just maybe … this is all true: God exists and the Bible IS His true word, His message to us. And although nowadays it is very unpopular to say anything like this, it does not change the fact that if God says that Jesus is the only way, … then Jesus IS the only way.

-Agnes