it’s been way too long and so much has been going on here at Golgota Szeged, so let me ask for a few minutes of your time to share with you all that Jesus has been doing at Golgota Szeged.
Ongoing ministry to refugees
When the Hungarian government locked down the Southern border with Serbia in the middle of September, the number of refugees coming through Szeged went from a flood to almost nothing. With the stream of refugees began being directed by the Serbian authorities to Croatia (then on through Western Hungary) we thought our role in the refugee crisis was pretty much over.
Little did we know that God had other plans for us. After the borders closed, staff & students traveled to a couple different refugee camps and began ministering to some guys (mainly from Iran and Africa). Because their request for asylum was rejected they were transferred to a small camp about 25km outside of Szeged. It’s basically a holding camp where they wait as they appeal their case. The students and staff came down to this camp in Nagyfa and got us connected with these guys. So over the past couple of months we’ve been doing what we can for them. This entails organizing 2-3 cars every Sunday to get these guys to and from church, as well as buying them groceries and topping off their cell phones with money that was donated for this purpose to Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe.
|hanging out with Saman and Peter after church|
It’s been amazing to get to know some of these guys and hear their stories. A few of the guys fled Iran because of persecution, one brother was taken away by the secret service & beaten multiple times, even being shot in the leg to get info from him about a home church network. A good friend from Calvary Vista, missions pastor Rob Nash, recently help get us some solar audio players as well as “The God Story” DVD’s in Farsi for these guys. It’s a way for them to share the Gospel in the camp.
The logistics of helping these guys & getting them to church hasn’t been easy as the members of our church are all busy with jobs & families and we don’t have too many available cars. So please pray for God to strengthen us & provide for us so we can keep serving these guys by getting them to church & helping them to grow in the Word. A few of the guys have been approved for asylum and are planning on attending Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe.
|our refugee brothers worshiping with the body of Golgota Szeged|
Now I know there is a lot of talk in the media & the US presidential debates about the refugee issue, and trust me, as being someone “on the ground”, dealing with these people, and dealing with questions of people in the church about “why are they coming here?” and “are we safe?”, I can tell you that there are no easy answers to the questions that this crisis raises.. So while many people are torn, and welcoming these guys in our church has caused a couple people to stop coming, I would simply ask you to pray that the Gospel would change these people as they come to Europe for whatever reason. The fact is that the Gospel is the only thing that can change people, be it us in the West or people from the Middle East, Africa, or wherever.
What’s really been cool to see is that the church has been growing recently in size. We’ve seen new people come as well as believers who’ve been hurt in other churches. It’s exciting to see people come, get healed, grow in the Lord, and get plugged into the church. We’ve also been blessed by the new births in our church & the great fellowship that happens at our monthly church lunches.
|dedicating my little buddy, Máté|
Every year we do a Christmas Eve service and when we started doing this about 7-8 years ago I think there were 10-12 people at our first Christmas Eve service. This year the church was absolutely packed with over 70 adults. What made it really exciting is about 20 people who came had never been to our church before. I was so happy that 3 of my students brought their families totally 12 people. This was really good for the church to see that as we shine our lights and as we invite people, they will come. I told the church, if you’re afraid to share the Gospel, just invite people & I’ll do the work of preaching the Gospel.
|worship on Christmas Eve|
Because we’ve seen some growth over the past 4-6 months, there is an excitement in the church about what God is doing. As a result, we’ve felt that we don’t want to just try to do more but we want to stop and pray & figure out what God is doing and get involved in that.
So we’ve decided to start of this year with a week of prayer. We’re in the middle of it right now & we’re just gathering every night to pray & seek the Lord for our church, city, region, and country. It’s exciting to see people come out and join us in prayer for the city.
The weekend of January 22-24 about 15 women from Golgota Szeged will be attending the Golgota national women’s conference. It’s always an encouraging time for them (pray for the men who will be staying home with the kids!!)
Even though there has been a lot of joy in the past months, one “sad” thing has happened. One of our elder, Badri (he’s from India) told me that he got a job in South Korea and will be moving with his family at the beginning of February. Badri came to Hungary about 10 years ago to do research at the University of Szeged Biology Center. A year after he got here, his future wife, Mary came to Hungary and it was almost 7 years ago that I was honored to officiate their wedding. A little over 2 years ago they were blessed with a beautiful little girl. Badri has been ministering to the “internationals” of our church for years and has led the English speaking Cell Group. He’s also been part of the worship ministry playing the djembe. Last year he finished his PhD and has been applying for jobs in Europe. But God is taking them on the next step of their adventure to South Korea. It’s sad to see them go but we know that God is leading them & will continue to use them in South Korea. Seeing someone go like this is a little exciting cause we don’t know what God is going to do next or who He will raise up to take over the things Badri was doing. One thing is sure, God has brought someone to replace Badri in the worship, but other than that we’re open to whatever the Lord has for what’s next for these things at Golgota Szeged.
we don’t have any plans to visit California in the foreseeable future, mainly because of finances even though it’s been almost 2 years since we’ve been. It’d be refreshing to take a trip sometime so please keep this in prayer.
we both continue to be super busy, raising kids, teaching English, and ministering at church. this is, honestly, a difficult time of life but we're looking to the Lord for strength and wisdom in it.
|oh Christmas tree|
|do you want to build a snowman?|
we need to make a big decision soon for Zara. She'll start 1st grade in September and we have to decide which elementary school to send her to. In the next few weeks there will be "open houses" put on by schools and we'll be visiting them to see what is going to be the best fit for her. Please pray for us to have wisdom in this area!!
we rejoice that the last time the doctor examined Zara's scoliosis, he said that he's not going to send her for an x-ray because he sees that her back has improved a little. this in it self is a miracle cause growing up, Odi never heard "it's getting better" only "it's getting worse". Sometimes what is super hard is having Zara do her exercise at home. Please pray that she'd look forward to and like doing her physical therapy at home.
partner with us
as always, I’d like to let you know how to partner with us as we seek to build God’s Kingdom here in Szeged & the surrounding region.
first and most importantly you can join us in prayer. here are some prayer points
- wisdom, safety, and provision in ministering to the refugees
- that the relationships in the church would grow
- that we’d continue to be salt & light in Szeged
- that we’d hear clearly from the Lord about His plans for Szeged & that we’d get involved in that.
- for God to raise up more people to serve in different areas of ministry
- provision for a possible trip to CA in the next 18-24 months
you can also help support the ministry here financially. you can give your tax-deductible offerings through either Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa or Calvary Vista.
here is the info through Calvary Chapel Vista on their website. you can give by clicking here you just need to follow the process and when it asks for the donations put the amount in the "missions" box and in the memo note that it's for "Kyle & Odi Eckhart in Szeged, Hungary". They then will get that to us with our regular monthly support the beginning of each month.
through Calvary Costa Mesa, you can give here (https://www.easytithe.com/f/?k=6SSHN0DEHB4KG6DH) all you need to do here is go down the scroll down list to my name and the money will be sent to us.
thank you for taking the time to read & prayerfully considering these things.
in, by, and for Jesus,
kyle, odi, zara, kiera