Friday, December 13, 2002

Signs of Life from Hungary -- 81

Zeist/Budapest, 13th December 2002

'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life' (Jn 8:12).

'You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden' (Mt 5:14).

Dear Friends and Family,

Receive warm advent and Christmas greetings from my temporary home in Zeist, a comfortable garden house on Vondellaan (no. 10, tel. 06-15406127), particularly comfortable since I got a new stove yesterday. I am grateful for this quiet, centrally located spot, close to my two sisters and their families, and near to my sending Church in Houten, in the centre of the country.

About 'more fever' and rest

In these days of advent, we focus on the promised Messiah, Who came to bring perfect peace, shalom, on earth. He is the Healer, the One who gives purpose to relationships, the Light of the world, who calls His disciples, His Church, to follow in His footsteps and not to put that Light under a bushel, but to let it shine clearly. But in our world, which is characterised by 'more fever': buy more, own more, relax more, work more, enjoy more etc., it is a great challenge for all who follow Jesus to keep Him at the centre of our attention and not to loose sight of the relationship with Him and others.

I pray that we will all have the courage over the Christmas period to include Sabbath times in our daily routine, so that we can focus our attention on the One needed.

“Rest rust”?

Recent months, and in particular recent weeks, were again particularly hectic (I can hear some of you saying, Will things ever be any different with Anne-Marie?). Our financial and administrative coordinator Kati Kerekes is still recovering from a serious operation, which means that matters she would normally deal with, such as responsibility for the building project, financial and legal matters and the restructuring of the Missions Institute, fall to me.

Besides this, there were also structural problems in organising the library, which required a lot of extra attention. Fortunately former missionary workers Angelika and Andras Jo held their ground in the difficult work of classifying the collection. Again you realise that the pioneering work of establishing a missionary library, with a unique collection of books - for Hungary and for Central and Eastern Europe - brings with it problems in a class of their own. The world of the Hungarian university library is suddenly confronted with a completely new discipline, and is there then the willingness to adapt the system? Fortunately the bumps have been ironed out. Even Ma Kool offered a much appreciated helping hand in the reorganisation - she came a week before I went on furlough to help me 'fasten off the loose ends'.

Update: today I saw the result of the fantastic work of the last weeks in the library. Great progress was made. But problems continue: since the middle of december two of the three library computers fail to work. We now have enough capable workers to continue the timeconsuming cataloguing work, but they have to work in shifts with only one functioning computer. You can imagine what happens when students are looking for literature. Pray for a quick solution, the more since the postgraduate program is to start soon which requires an accessable, catalogued library!

Missiological Research Fellowship

During the last week of November, the Missiological Research Fellowship was again held. What began about three years ago to assist a handful of doctoral students who write theses about missiological subjects for the University of Utrecht has now grown to become a multi-faceted, international, interdenominational group of about forty participants, the majority actively involved in missiological research. During three days doctoral students in missiology, recent MTh, and PhD graduates lectured about their subjects of research. It was very informative to hear about 'Factors in the rise of the (Protestant) foreign mission movement in Central-Eastern Europe', 'The Hungarian reception of the Dutch missiologist Johannes Hoekendijk', 'Taboos in the Central European Church'. Various studies dealt with the life and work of Hungarian missiologists at the beginning and middle of the last century. Extremely interesting was the lecture about the Romanian immigrant Churches in Spain by a Spanish pastor who is studying in Prague. It was surprising to see the cross links and the continually recurring thread: the regularly recurring conflicts with Church structures by those who were actively involved in the work of missions and evangelism. Because many of the members of the Research Fellowship are (or will be) involved in missiological teaching, for the first time there was a special lecture focusing on how to go about. It was an eye-opener for us all to hear from a Polish professor of missiology that from Poland alone there are already about 3,000 Catholic missionaries active worldwide!

A high light of the week was the establishment of the Central and Eastern European Association for Mission Studies (CEAMS), an interdenominational platform for (future) missiologists. The aim in brief is to help one another in the area of the study of specific missiological questions which are related to the 'post-Communist' context of Central and Eastern Europe, and the exchange of experiences in missiological education, which in many places is still in its infancy. We received responses from all over the world. The reception was attended by the general secretary of the International Association for Mission Studies, the Dane Birger Nygaard.

Building project: good news and bad news

One thing became clear during the conference. The capacity of the present lecture room and the library has become completely inadequate. We have definitely grown out of our shoes. There is a pressing need for more extensive accommodation for courses and meetings and adequate study places for graduate students in the library in order to make good progress in their work possible.

The good news is that considerable progress is being made on the new seminar room on the third floor. It looks as if the deadline of 1st March 2003 will be met. We are grateful for the gifts received recently.

The bad news is, however, that a considerable sum is needed to complete the project. It is the case that there has been an increase in the estimated costs, partly due to the fall in the exchange rate of the dollar with regard to the forint of 20%! Also some gifts initially pledged have not been received, and even though we received a substantial gift for equipping the library, this can only be used when we reach that phase. To a lesser degree, it is a question of extra expenses which have not been estimated. At least 50.000 USD is needed!!! In the next Signs a more detailed update.

Postgraduate program in mission launched!’

We are grateful that everything has been arranged so that the postdoctoral program in missions, missionary Church development and cross-cultural ministry can start at the end of March 2003. Many serious candidates have already applied (more information available from Hilda Rohn, The deadline for application is February 15.

Update: in the middle of December we sent out about 60 letters to responsible people in the Church. Within three days 90 (ninety) people asked for more information! It confirms our sense that there is a great need for teaching and training in missions.

But the completion of the building project is also of great importance for this course! Please pray for a speedy completion. May we call on you for help in this by means of a Christmas gift?

Finally: 'furlough'

You will not be surprised to know that after such an intensive period, I am looking forward to a time of rest to 'recharge my battery' again and to visit family and to strengthen the bonds of friendship. In a period of furlough like this, it is also good to strengthen the contacts with my sending Churches. But to be honest, there is also another side to this. As I have to be back in Hungary by mid January because of the preparation of lectures for the coming semester, I can only come for half of the official time of “furlough”: five weeks instead of ten. This period covers what is known as the deputation weeks, talks about the work given to highly diverse groups around the country. This requires a lot of preparation. And of course, a period of “furlough” like this is also an important opportunity to strengthen all sorts of partner relationships with the missions institute. This takes time too!

Update: in the end it turned out that my time of “furlough” was even more busy than my usual schedule in Hungary. Not only the many talks contributed to it, but also the persisiting problems with my laptop computer were a great hindring factor in preparation.

In addition to this, I heard the day before yesterday that the defence of my qualifying thesis will take place on 14th February next in Debrecen. As you know, I expected this already in November. I still have to prepare two lectures for this, on subjects set in advance.

A personal note

In my qualifying thesis, I paid a lot of attention to missions as a matter of relationships, and linked with this, the concepts of Sabbath and shalom. If there is one thing to which I have paid much too little attention recently, it is precisely these matters! As they say in Hungarian, 'Vizet predikal es bor iszik' (You preach water and you drink wine), in other words, 'Practice what you preach!'

Thanks and prayer

* May I ask you to pray for wisdom in filling in my 'furlough', so that despite everything, it can be an 'unhurried' time of ‘recharging my battery’? (Update: I missed your prayers, but due to many technical problems and a computer crash I could not send this Signs of Life)

* Give thanks and pray for the staff of the PMTI. They have been wonderfully dedicated in recent months. It was great to share the burden with a team like this.

* Please pray also for the countries which today in Copenhagen are to be officially admitted to the European Union. New doors for cooperation are opening up. What does this mean for missions in Europe and cooperation and exchange between Churches in the area of missions and evangelism?

I wish you all a blessed holiday period. I am snuggling down again in front of my stove with my feet up. This seems to me to be a good start!

Thank you for your continued concern and prayer.

Yours in Christ, our Saviour,

Anne-Marie Kool

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Signs of Life from Hungary -- 79 and 80

'Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.'

Ezekiel 47:12


8th November 2002

Dear Friends and Family,

The weekend of the Reformed Gazdagret Church at the beginning of October was in many respects a sort of oasis. With more than fifty participants - over a third of the whole Church - it was a good opportunity to get to know one another better, to pray together, to share the fellowship of the saints in love and care for one another, and together to reflect on what it means to be a missionary Church. One song that was sung a lot was based on this verse from Ezekiel 47. Bear fruit! But what does this mean today?

Witnesses in the market place!

If you are concentrating on a certain task, then there is a great danger that your world will become smaller and smaller. For a short time, this may not be so bad, but as the Church of Jesus Christ, as followers of Him, we are called to live out the Good News in word and deed in our families, at our work (our 'market place') and in society. What does this mean in a society, which in so many respects is in a stage of transition?

Being witnesses in politics...?!

At the end of September when - a year after moving house - I finally informed the town hall of my change of address, to my great surprise an election card was pressed into my hand. I was suddenly confronted with the weighty question of what it now means for me as a Christian in Hungary to make a political decision. For months, this had been a subject of great debate among my friends, but as an 'outsider', I was not obliged to take sides. Now suddenly I was!

I have asked one of my colleagues, Mrs Veronika Hafenscher, in this Signs of Life to give an impression of what is going on at the moment in Hungarian society, with an eye to the key phrase in almost all news broadcasts, az EU csatlakozás, accession to the European Union, but also with regard to the present political situation. Parliamentary elections took place in April, which produced an almost fifty-fifty result for left and right. At the end of October, they were followed by municipal council elections. The result is a tense situation.

Political controversies are causing sharp divisions among Christians

Veronika tells: “since the political changes of 1989-1990, there have never been such sharp political controversies as now, and they are severely testing the Christians in Hungary and unfortunately are often resulting in sharp divisions. Consequently, many questions have arisen: Is it permissible for Christians to be involved in politics? Is it at all possible for Christians to play an active role in political life? Under the ‘old’ system, this was not even an issue, because Christians were an undesirable element in politics and social life. This is why the confrontation with moral questions of faith of this kind represents a completely new situation. We are in the middle of a learning process, but the problem is that by the time we have learned what it means to bear political responsibility in a way that is pleasing to our Lord Jesus Christ, it may already be too late to put it into practice. I believe we have a very great task to pray about these questions, so that we will gain insight into what we should do. I believe that there are many questions we cannot solve, but we can certainly be a ‘sign of Life‘ in society and in political life. We should demonstrate an attitude, a method of working, which brings something new, which is motivated by love for the good of society, so that the whole world can see...” (John 17)

Towards Europe???

“An increasingly tense issue is that of accession to the European Union. In the past year on many occasions and in many places, we have declared that we do not need to join Europe, because we already belong to Europe. The fact that we have been separated from it for the last fifty years and that our nation has been broken is a historical tragedy, but it does not mean that we are not Europeans. To join the EU, de facto we must submit an application, we must fulfil criteria, and we must lobby a great deal. This is why we are a bit frustrated. How we see it is that Hungary will actually remain what it has been throughout the centuries, that are the defence fortress of the West, and it is in precisely this role that our country has been destroyed, impoverished, reduced and later separated from Europe. We are a small nation, but with a rich European culture and our roots are in Christianity. In our Churches, we are praying and striving for the people of Christ to arise again from these roots, and for a new sort of moral, political and social atmosphere to be a 'sign', determining that the country will be built up again and will develop and in this way will really become 'European'. We are certain that there is much for us to do in this area as disciples of Christ today.

'As one of the older members of staff at the Missions Institute, I am convinced that the Missions Institute fits in well in the Hungarian reality of today. Our colleagues know the social concerns and problems, and this is why they are trying to address the questions of Church members about missions in theological education and training work. We are together seeking the guidance of our Lord Jesus Christ through His Word and Spirit with regard to these questions.'

An important footnote can be added to this. Precisely because many official representatives of the Churches and many ministers have not kept their party-political preferences to themselves - instead of giving an indication of which principles are important for Christians to keep in mind - it has sometimes become very problematic to be a missionary Church apart from party-politics. People of both the political left and the political right fall under the mandate of Christ to the Churches: to be witnesses to Him in word and deed among all people. Pray that the Spirit of reconciliation and love will bridge the gaps.

Setting to work again with great fervour

Veronika continues: “Coming closer to home, a few remarks about life at the Missions Institute. At the beginning of September, we started up again. We are very thankful, because our staff are full of enthusiasm and vision and really want to get to work. Every week, we have staff meetings in which we try to solve problems together, and in which we pray a lot, and intercede for many people, in which we study God's Word together, but in which we also have a lot of fun, and are really pleased that we can set to work again together.'

Praise and prayer

1. 'It is a great joy for us that Anne-Marie has finished her qualifying thesis, which not only turned into a 'weighty' book (of a mere 180 pages, AMK), but also contains a lot of interesting material and a new perspective, which in our changing world points to the work of God here, and also to the place of man in God's world. These new aspects of mission, which we have to learn, will also be important for the missionary workers of the future. I am convinced that this thesis, just like the first one, will become a text book.” (As you know, Veronika helped with the correction of my thesis, and she knows it better than anyone else. Pray for funds to publish the thesis in Hungarian and English, which many have requested already. Another footnote: at the moment it is not yet known when the defence of my thesis will take place. I think it will be at the end of January or in February, AMK).

2. “Teaching courses missiology has begun again in the seminaries. One of the most important tasks of the Missions Institute is to equip people for missions and evangelism, so that our Churches will not neglect this important task.'

3. “In the last Signs of Life, we spoke of the expansion project. We are thankful for the gifts from partner Churches and friends of the Missions Institute, which we received in September and October. We are almost there! This is heart-warming! In October, this project was started up again, which is very important in order for us to start the postgraduate course in missions and Church advancement next year. (Footnote: we would ask those who are interested to make this known to us already,

In conclusion

In recent months, we have suffered a lot from illnesses. Our financial and administrative coordinator, Katalin Kerekes, had to undergo a serious emergency operation in mid- September because of a perforated appendix. For a time, her condition was very critical, but fortunately she is getting better. Veronika was recently told that in the near future, she must undergo two eye operations. She is suffering from a rare eye condition. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors and for healing.

In mid October, I was briefly out of action myself because of back problems. One morning, there was just no way I could get up. Normally you would then telephone your doctor, but I did not have one, because in the fifteen years that I have been here, I had not previously needed one. It was heart-warming how much help I received from all sides. Miraculously, I was up and running again within a week, just in time to receive the delegation from my home congregation in the Netherlands, the Reformed Sion congregation in Houten, and just in time to spend a few days with friends on an autumn tour of Austria, and to enjoy the many sparkling streams lined by magnificent trees, a reminder of Ezekiel 47.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

with thanks for your concern, support and prayers.

Anne-Marie Kool

Sunday, June 9, 2002

Signs of Life from Hungary -- 78

Budapest ,

6th September, 2002

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Ps. 23:4

"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Ps. 103:1-2

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,


Last Wednesday, the hour had come! After a summer of hard work and (literally) being in a cold sweat, I left loaded down with at least sixty-five pounds of paper, consisting of eight bound copies of my thesis and a thick file of publications and necessary documents, for the University of Debrecen to present myself officially for the qualifying examination. The home stretch really was hard going. In putting the finishing touches, I received some fantastic help from my colleagues. Veronika and I spent four days sitting on my terrace reading out aloud the entire text, in my experience the best way of doing the final corrections. Mariann compiled my professional CV, with all the publications, lectures etc. (which showed me that I have not been letting the grass grow under my feet in recent years!). Szilvia arranged for my thesis (of "only" 180 pages) to be copied and bound. Pali rushed to my assistance in loading my heavy bags into the car. The official defence of the thesis and the two public lectures I have to deliver will take place in the autumn.


When you are studying for something, sometimes you can't help but ask yourself, "What am I doing? Is it worth it: investing so much time and effort in getting another qualification?"

Looking back, it has been very good that in recent months I have been forced to summarise and evaluated the past decade of ministry in Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe. The research for my doctorate was based on the past. Now I have attempted to link lessons from the past to an analysis of the present with an eye to the future. I hope that this study will make a contribution to the discussion about coming to terms with the Communist past, which often hangs as a shadow over the present, and still acts as a millstone around the necks of Church and society. Pretending the shadow is not there does not solve the problem. Focusing on the relationship between individual and community in the transition period of the last ten years, I have tried to analyse in more detail the missiological questions related to this transition, concentrating on the missionary calling of the Church in today’s society. I have investigated these questions from a Biblical and missiological perspective.

Some conclusions

As a conclusion, I have outlined elements of an emerging relevant missiology, of a missionary ecclesiology for Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe at the beginning of the twenty-first century. With this approach, I have also tried to show the relevance of the subject of missiology (the science of missions) in theological education. This discipline has not only to do with far-away-countries, with church and mission in the non-western world, but also with the difficult missionary task of spreading the Gospel in our Western culture. The reflection on a so-called domestic missiology is in many places still in its infancy. It seems as if it is easier to deal with issues of far-way countries and cultures!

In my study it struck me anew that we can learn a lot from Churches in the non-western world. This implies that we must take on an open, listening and learning attitude with regard to what is going on in the Churches in the "traditional" missionary fields, even though there are often great differences. They know from experience what it means to live as a minority among people of other religions. Then what really matters is living out the gospel as an alternative Kingdom community. We can also learn a lot from their missionary spirituality!

Another conclusion is that in Europe we have the tendency to idolise Church structures and traditions bound up with them. I intentionally speak of traditions in the plural. Our missionary task in Hungary and in Europe is to translate the Tradition with a capital letter into a way of being the Church, which is Biblical and relevant. This means that many sacred cows will have to be sacrificed, in order to live as a witnessing, healthy, commissioned Church, which is "in the world", but not "of the world".

Postgraduate program in missiology

For a few years we have been working on developing a postgraduate course in missions, evangelism and Church development for pastors and religious education teachers. Probably people who have degrees in different subjects will also be eligible to apply. In recent weeks, we have been able to make considerable progress. In many respects, the studies for my second thesis have been the theoretical basis of this! It will be a two-year course with six weeks of lectures each year, with a strong focus on individual study, peer tutoring and practical placements. We expect that we will be able to start at the end of January 2003. The program will also be open to students from outside Hungary. It will intentionally be bilingual (English and Hungarian). The process of validation in Hungary and by an English university is at an advanced stage!

The aim of the program is to equip (future) leaders to guide their Churches to be open, witnessing, missionary communities in this period of "transition", but also to train people to be witnesses and to plant Churches in other cultures, for example among gypsies or refugees, in the city or in the countryside, at home or abroad.

How can we help?

Often I am asked, "How could we support the work of the Missions Institute?" It is a great miracle that until now we have been able to function without serious financial problems. To be honest, I don't like writing about finances. But now I feel have no choice. The responsibility is becoming too great to bear alone.

On average, yearly about 40 % of the operating expenses have come from within Hungary, despite the fact that the budget has increased considerably in the last seven years. But in recent months, we have really been experiencing the effects of the worldwide recession. From various quarters, we had received (even written) pledges for considerable gifts, a total of 65,000 euro, partly pledges for covering the operating costs and partly for the expansion project. This is about half of our year budget. Unless miracles happen we will probably not receive this sum. From our side: we feel that more than ever, we must appeal to Hungarian Churches and individuals for support. We are thankful that Mrs. Ágnes Kertész is now part-time employed to help in the area of development and constituency relations. In the meantime, we will faithfully carry out the task that the Lord has entrusted to us. We trust that the Lord will then provide for the rest.

You can help in two ways:

* We are looking for new donors, who are willing to support our work regularly, and

* we are praying that we will find Churches, individuals and organisations who are wiling to invest with a one-time significant donation in the work of the Missions Institute. This means investing in people, and in so doing in the future of the Church in Central and Eastern Europe!

Facility development project

Last year you helped a great deal with the roofing tile project! We are thankful for your sacrificial support even in the last months. More than sixty five percent of the next fase is received or pledged. But for the seminar room to be used in the postgraduate program by the end of January 2003 thirty-five percent of the total sum completing the seminar room is still needed, about 35,000 USD. Beside this, ten extra study carrels with computers are needed in the library. The expansion of the library requires in total 10,000 USD.

To put it differently: the seminar room provides places for thirty-five people, the library needs ten study carrels, so in total forty five places are needed. We have already received gifts for twenty-three places, and are looking for Churches, organisations and individuals who are prepared to take out "shares" in the remaining twenty-two places. With an investment in these “shares” for the Kingdom, you will have the promise of a reward in heaven! One places costs symbolically 1,000 USD.

10 "shares" of one study place @ 1,000 USD: 10,000 USD

20 "shares" of half a study place @ 500 USD: 10,000 USD

50 "shares" of quarter of a study place @ 250 USD: 12,500 USD

125 "shares" of one tenth of a study place @ 100 USD: 12,500 USD

Personal footnote

Nothing much came of a holiday this summer. After I had dotted the final "i" of my thesis at 3 a.m. in the morning of 12th August, I left at 7 a.m. for the Netherlands. Some eighteen months ago I had been invited to give a lecture at a Fellowship of European Evangelical Theologians (FEET) near Cologne, and I decided to make use of the opportunity to pay a brief visit of a day to the Netherlands. But, it turned out to be two days! The car journey of 1000 miles went very well. I made it in a day, also thanks to the warm hospitality and delicious meal of my special friend Barbara who lives near Salzburg! It was very good to meet my parents and the rest of the family.

After an enthralling conference about European Christianity in a worldwide perspective, I went to the east of Germany, to the famous town of Halle, where once the first chair of missiology was established. I attended a very interesting European conference of missiologists. It was the first time that I had met European colleagues and could exchange views with them. I knew many by name and from their publications, but not personally. To my surprise, the theme of my thesis fitted seamlessly with a part of the conference. This meant I was already able to “test out” some of my conclusions before the actual exam. Actually, I had the feeling that this was already the exam. I am thankful that I can report that I did not "sink"...


Thank you for your continued concern and prayers. I received a lot of cards, e-mails and telephone calls as tokens of support. This helped me a lot with the home stretch of my second thesis. At the end of this year, I hope to come to the Netherlands again for a (brief) home assignment. This will be from 10th December to 12th January.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Anne-Marie Kool

Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Signs of Life from Hungary -- 77

Budapest, 5 July 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,

"This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces corn - first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear." (Mark 4:26-28)

"From everywhere to everywhere"

About ten years ago, a book was published with this title about the great changes which were taking place in missions worldwide. Countries which used to send out missionaries have become mission fields, and the former mission fields in the non-Western world are already sending out more missionaries than the Western countries.

The Brazilian missiologist of Dutch descent, Tonica van der Meer, is a living example of this new development. This colleague in a double sense is at present visiting Hungary and tells from her own experience how much the interest in missionary work has grown in Brazil in recent years. For years, she was herself working in very difficult circumstances as a missionary in Angola, establishing Christian work among students.

Now she is teaching at a missions institute in Vicosa, Brazil. The students show a great interest in mission work among Muslims. All sorts of special courses are given in the area of missionary training. Much attention is paid on training courses in spiritual formation, prayer and pastoral care for the students. Each year as part of their training as missionary workers, the students go on a field trip abroad lasting about a month. We in Central and Eastern Europe can learn a lot from the passion and enthusiasm of these Christians from non-Western countries! The way they organise missionary training courses is also very instructive!

More special visitors!

Another high light of last month was the visit of Dr. Raymond P. Seven and his family from America. In 1997, Ray and his wife Dottie worked for six weeks as volunteers in the Missions Institute. Their contribution in establishing the organisational structure represented a great step forwards at that time. Since then they have been part of the faithful circle of friends of the Missions Institute. Now they came with their children to show them some "precious places" in Hungary and Europe. Even though they can really be referred to as senior citizens - both of them are about eighty - I noticed that there was a great temptation to come and help again! And we would not have refused!

New members of staff

The period of reflection and self-evaluation of the last months appears to have been particularly useful. All sorts of obstacles in the functioning of the missions institute are being revealed. How can we help the Churches in a more structural way to become missional or mission communities? How can we better involve in our work those who have already gained experience in this trainings ministry? How can we improve the functioning of the board so that it can be more involved in matters of content? In this process, we have also had to take some difficult decision, especially with regard to the functioning of our financial and administrative coordinator. With mutual consent, we came to the conclusion that his capacities lie in a different area than that of the post which he is now filling.

It was a great miracle that within a few weeks, we had found a new member of staff for the task of financial and administrative coordinator. Her dedication to this task is revealed by the fact that she is willing to carry out this task for a much lower salary than she has been receiving hitherto. Kati started work yesterday. I have known her since she was a student.

Another reason for much thankfulness is that at last the vacancy for a part-time member of staff for PR and fundraising has finally been filled. About twelve candidates applied for the job. After many discussions, it was unanimously agreed that Agnes was the most suitable. She will be starting work in September.

Actually, I have the strong impression that you have been praying a lot about finding new members of staff considering the fact that we have made so much progress this month.

For a number of you, Dora Bernhardt is an old acquaintance. In the past, we worked together on setting up the Christian Student Work in Hungary. She studied several years at Regent College in Vancouver, CA. She is going to join our team in the area of missiological teaching and program development.

Give thanks for these new appointments and pray for wisdom regarding finding the missing pieces of the jigsaw for our team. We have been talking to a few people about the job of missionary church development. We hope to take a final decision at the beginning of September. Please pray also that the new members of staff will quickly feel at home in our team. And pray for the required funds to fall through.

Closing of the academic year

The months of May and June are always particularly busy because of the end of year exams and the entrance exams. The more than twenty students of the theological academy in Papa had to write a final paper for to the introductory course in missiology on the theme of which elements they would want to emphasise in a new paradigm or model for missions in a context chosen by them. As the students came from five different countries, the papers showed a very interesting picture of the present Church situation in Serbia, Romanian, Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary. One of them wrote about the importance of city missions, another about how the tiny Hungarian minority in the north of Serbia could fulfil its missionary calling. A third wrote about strengthening the Ukrainian speaking Reformed Churches in Carpathukraine. Part of the task was to discuss these topics with their local pastors. Some of the students reported that the pastors were so surprised by the questions of their students. They never thought about church life different than just the maintenance mode. During the oral exams, we discussed further the themes of the papers. These were fascinating discussions. Pray that we will soon find new staff people to help in the follow up of these discussions. Several students showed a great interest to invite the staff of the Mission Institute to help in training their home congregations to become open mission communities. Unfortunately the papers were teeming with grammatical mistakes!

In order to be admitted to the theological academies, the candidates have to take an oral and a written exam, followed by an admissions interview with the Church commission for theological education. Of the twelve candidates, ten were admitted. It strikes me time and again with what a sense of responsibility this Church commission carries out this task. People are really aware that the decisions can have a great influence on the future of the Church. After all, it is about the admission of future leaders of their congregations! In general the interest for theological education in the whole of Hungary seems to be diminishing. We wonder what could be the reason for this.

How far have you got? A serial with/without an end...

After the above, you will not be surprised to know that despite my good intentions, I have not been able to make much progress with my second thesis. There were just too many current affairs to which I had to attend. I have again been able to get several deferments for the date of submission. However, this month it really must be finished, so that the commission can examine it by the end of August.

But I have made some progress. Last week I had to give a lecture at a particularly interesting conference about "Believing without Belonging" in Breklum, Germany, on the theme of my research. I had accepted this invitation already in December, not knowing then that there would be so many obstacles in the way of finishing it off. It was a great encouragement for me to hear the predominantly positive responses to my presentation.

Please pray for peace and concentration during the coming weeks, so that next time I really can report that I have finished.

Finally: "All by itself"

This summer won't be much of a holiday for me. I am going to try to take a bit of a break at the weekends. There are no two ways about it, my second thesis must now really be finished! Whether this will happen "all by itself", I don't know!

We have now decided that the decision about continuing the renovation of the lecture hall and the extension of the library must be postponed until the end of August.

Please pray that by this time we will have received sufficient pledges to be able to take a positive decision.

I sincerely wish you all a good holiday period, a real Sabbath time of physical and metal rest and relaxation. May it be for the comfort and strengthening of us all, so that the growth of God's Kingdom will take place "all by itself" (Mk 4:27).

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Anne-Marie Kool