Our Story. God’s Call. Your Opportunity!

Our Story. God’s Call. Your Opportunity!

A special message from Brian and Ariel Dicks…

By now most everyone in our lives has heard that we are planning on moving to Budapest, Hungary. Many people have heard we are going to teach, and some have even heard about how God has brought us to this point. Right now, as our journey to Budapest is picking up steam, we want to share with everyone who is reading this just how God has brought us to this point.

We both grew up in strong, godly families who were a part of healthy, Bible-believing churches. Both of us made decisions to give our lives to Christ at an early age, while experiencing the testing and renewing of our faith that often comes with growing up in Christ. God made it evident early on that he was calling us to a life of service… Brian was called to teach Bible to high school and middle school students, and Ariel was given a love of science, yet still outdone by her love for children and students.

In bringing us together as two teachers looking to impact students for Christ, God made it evident that we would be given the opportunity to serve together as husband and wife.

In 2005, during his ninth grade year, Brian moved with his family to Budapest for 8 months, staying from August until the following April. During that time, he experienced what it was like to be a “missionary kid” or “MK,” a term he had never heard until that year. He experienced first-hand what it was like to leave friends and country for a culture that was completely foreign. He saw how difficult it was to maintain a spiritual and relational identity when all you’re doing is following where the Lord is leading your parents.

However, he also experienced the International Christian School of Budapest, ICSB for short. The school existed as a ministry to both missionaries and their children. It provided inexpensive yet quality education, allowing missionaries to stay on the field longer. Also addressed were the spiritual, educational, and relational needs of the students through the outstanding faculty and staff who felt led to minister to them. MK’s are encouraged at ICSB to make their faith their own, and their teachers also act as mentors and role models of how to serve Christ and love Him with all their heart.

When we started praying about going to serve at ICSB as teachers, God burdened us for them immediately. We applied for positions and interviewed with the staff, and within a week they had asked us to join them for a 2-year commitment!

In order for the school to offer affordable education to families who live off of the financial support of others, the school’s teachers also raise financial support before coming to the school. This week, we were appointed as missionaries with United World Mission, a sending agency that has a passion for seeing the global church both grow outwardly and come together inwardly. For serving in a school where multiple nationalities come together to be taught by Christian teachers from many different local churches, United World Mission’s vision was the same as ours.

The school needs us for the 2014-2015 school year, which begins in August. We are earnestly praying that God provides the funds in time for the first day of School! Our support level is $4,500 per month, and we have some up-front costs as well for transitioning overseas. We would be overjoyed if you would be a part of our financial support team! While of course we welcome any support at any level, here’s an example of how you can get involved at multiple levels.

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Would you prayerfully consider being a part of our support team? If you would join with us, you can visit http://www.uwm.org or follow this direct link. Also, please contact us by phone, email (briandicks115@gmail.org) or facebook if you have any questions or would like to meet with us! We are so very ready to serve the students of ICSB, and would love for you to be a part as well.

Why, God?

Why, God?

This morning I fiddled with a flash drive that was attached to a blue bracelet, and read the words that were etched into the rubber, “In Memory of Ryan Gill” How fitting that I read those words today. They reminded me of a time that I went through something big, something that hundreds of people in Budapest and at ICSB are going through right now.

I don’t profess to have been one of Ryan Gill’s best friends, though he had plenty. I was just his doubles partner in Tennis, and by extension at least a friend. I had recently learned tennis, and he was clueless, so I taught him all I knew (which didn’t take long.) We played in the district tournament and lost, but we had fun.

But I’ll never forget the night that got worse and worse.

On the way back from a 2-day field trip, our JE Biology class received a barrage of texts and messages that two of our classmates had been in an awful car wreck, and one of them was Ryan. We heard “they’re both o.k.,” “one is in serious condition but the other is fine,” “no, it’s the other way around,” and all other manner of conflicting reports. After arriving back on campus and going home, my girlfriend’s family came to pick me up to take me to the hospital where Ryan was being kept. My most vivid memory of the whole night is opening the car door to see and hear her brother sobbing loudly and heavily, and then hear someone – I’m not sure who – say the words, “Ryan’s dead.”

“What? How? Why?” I didn’t say it, but I thought it the whole way to the hospital. I remember seeing what must have been a hundred people on the hospital lawn, and the rest was a blur of crying, praying, and staring at nothing in particular. I still don’t know why God took Ryan from his family. From his friends. From his church. What I do know is I saw the peace of God break through. Slowly, yes, but determinedly so. Classmates grieved, and then came back to God. They were encouraged and grew in their faith.

This past week in Budapest, ICSB – the school we are heading to – lost a classmate. There are so many questions and very few answers right now. He was a high-school sophomore, and the brother of my brother’s best friend. My brother was in the house when they tried to revive Stephen. Hearts are breaking in Budapest and at ICSB, and students and adults alike are asking, “Why God?” knowing that they probably won’t receive the clear and complete answer they hope for.

Pray for them in their grief, pray for their comfort. Pray for the church as it performs its God-given duty to mutually encourage each other in Christ. Pray for God to bring the strange but beautiful peace that occurs in situations such as these. Pray for our future mission field.

February Update – Mission Boards and Invitations!

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Good morning, all.

It’s time for another update on Ariel and I and our journey towards Budapest! Another important piece of the puzzle was placed yesterday, as we were accepted into candidacy as missionaries with United World Mission! We have been invited to their “Starting Point” orientation week taking place during the first week of March, at their headquarters in Charlotte, NC. This will be a very important week as we learn about the work and ministry of United World Mission, as well as gain practical wisdom and information for our support raising process. Please be praying that God would begin a blessed and fruitful relationship with our mission board, so that He will be most glorified while we raise our support, as well when we minister in Hungary.

I’ve received many questions from others whom I have talked with personally about this step, and I want to take the time to answer a few of the more frequent ones.

 

Q: Why a Mission Board?

A: Because it enhances, strengthens, and protects the Great Commission.

I was just recently asked this question by a good friend. Why do we need a mission board? Can’t we just raise the money on our own to go? While I could write pages on this subject, I’ll keep it short and simple. A mission board is not required of God for true and effective ministry, but it is indeed incredibly useful. A mission board does many things, but there are three main reasons for its existence.

1) It assists the mission by keeping them financially organized and accountable. Instead of the missionary having to collect and manage hundreds of monthly checks and other monetary support, the mission board keeps track of all that comes in and monitors their financial situation throughout the term.

2) It strengthens the mission by providing the missionary with spiritual encouragement and fellowship both at home and in the country in which they serve, through the home office and other missionaries. Already Ariel and I have begun communicating through Skype and email with 4 other United World Mission missionaries and staff that are involved with the ministry in Budapest.

3) It protects the mission by evaluating and approving those Christians who are fit for ministry and evangelism. Over the years, the church has determined which questions to ask and what is required by God of those who spread his Word. Instead of letting anyone take the Word anywhere under “in Jesus name” regardless of what they actually teach, a mission board uses the application process to assure that the missionary takes the Bible and the kingdom of God seriously, and that they will be an accurate representation of Christ wherever they go.

 

Q: Why United World Mission?

A: It is just one strong, biblical mission board in a large body of strong, biblical mission boards.

To clarify, we could have gone with many different mission boards. Ariel and I do not want to have an elitist attitude in regards to our mission board… we did not pick UWM because we thought it was better or more biblically sound. There are, however, several reasons (not necessarily unique to UWM) that we chose United World Mission. First, it has a strong missionary base in Hungary, and a number of teachers at ICSB are UWN missionaries. Second, we appreciate the attitude towards evangelism that is evident in their very name. They hold that the mission of God is worldwide, so therefore their missionaries are located all throughout the world. They also hold that the mission of God is united, and while their missionaries’ work varies throughout each region, they are all united in purpose. Third, and perhaps most importantly, their statement of faith and philosophy of missions reflects a strong adherence to God’s word while still allowing for many different denominations to take part. Just as their worldwide missionaries are united in purpose, so are the many denominations of God’s church. For example, while a Baptist mission board may be strongly united in Baptist teaching, they might miss the opportunity to work alongside a Presbyterian who shares the very same faith and passion for ministry. There are strengths in each situation, for sure, and neither one is the right one, but we would prefer to work with the broad scope of the church.

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I was going to mention some additional questions, but I don’t think I want to draw this out any longer for now. Please pray for Ariel and I as we prepare for our orientation week, and as we begin to discover the support that God has already promised for us! Have a blessed day, and may God work in and through you today. 🙂

Of Faith and Patience

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

-Hebrews 11:1, NASB

Please pray that Ariel and I would have faith. And patience.

Those of you that know me well will discover that I like to know what’s going to happen and when it will happen. On a busy night at the restaurant, I’ll have my own personal, hand-written list of all the reservations… how many, what table, what time, etc. When I wake up in the morning, I mentally outline at what time I will do what during the day. To put it plainly: I don’t like uncertainty.

In our process of getting to Hungary, I was sure that by now, I’d be sending out support letters, talking to churches, and beginning to see support come in. But now, God is showing me just how clueless I am. This week, we learned we can’t be officially accepted by the mission agency until the beginning of March, and thus cannot do any support raising until then. To raise two years-worth of support in 5 months would be pretty difficult.

Enter my frustration, fear, and anxiety, and questions like “Will we ever make it?”

Now enter what God says about my attitude.

“With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

If God is all-powerful and always true to his word… which He is… and if He has called Ariel and I to Budapest… which we believe He has… than we have no need to doubt Him. All that’s left for us to do at the moment is to pray and do all we can to prepare, making the most of the time he has given us. So today, I spent a couple hours putting together the mailing list for our support letters. (For those of you who would like a support letter, email me at reachinghungary@gmail.com or contact me personally or via facebook!) 

So for now, we ask for your prayers. We ask that you pray for our strengthened faith, increased patience, and that God would provide like He’s said He would. Thanks! 🙂

The Christmas Post

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Ariel and I in 2011, enjoying some rare Tennessee snow.

Four days ago, I wrote an update for this blog, in which I made the comment that I might be writing in the future about our observance of Advent this year.

Well my friends, the future is now! (see what I did there?)

In all seriousness though, let me just take a second to tell you how wonderful a decision we think this was.

Have you ever felt the tension of balancing Santa, presents, Jingle Bells, snow, Christmas trees, lights, stockings, Charlie Brown, Bing Crosby, and Jimmy Stewart with Baby Jesus? If you say you haven’t, I don’t believe you.

My wife and I LOVE Christmas. The appreciation of “It’s a Wonderful Life” was one of my father’s greatest gifts to me (along with Duke basketball, but that’s irrelevant… right now), I check the forecast for snow constantly, and I still have trouble going to sleep on Christmas Eve. Ariel loves to decorate and bake cookies and buy presents for anyone and everyone. And we both love God fully and completely.

So how can we celebrate “the true reason for Christmas?” I try every year, and this is what it always looks like.

First week of December: “Christmas lights! Christmas tree! Christmas music!!!”

Second week of December: “Hot Chocolate! Christmas parties! More Christmas music!!!”

Third Week of December: “Oh my gosh, I need to get Christmas presents!!”

Fourth Week of December: “It’s almost here! *sees nativity scene* You know, I can’t forget what Christmas is about. I’ll say a prayer of thanks and read the Christmas story after opening presents.”

Sound familiar?

So it’s not really a balance. Actually, it’s just annoying tension for the whole month of December. How can I be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ when I’m so excited about the other part of Christmas?

While I’m sure I can still improve, I think I can truly say that we’ve figured it out this year; or at least, we’ve begun to.

I’ve heard and seen the full spectrum of reactions to the “Christian Year” or “Christian Calendar,” from near “calendar worship” to outright refusal and condemnation. I’m not here to give my two cents on that subject. However this year Ariel and I, having no background in the subject, constructed an Advent wreath: a wreath with four small candles around it (one for each of the four Sundays of Advent) and one larger white candle in the center. Every Sunday, we light the appropriate candles and read from the book Living the Christian Year, by Bobby Gross. Ariel reads the Scripture readings, and then I read the book’s response to each passage. We do this for about 30 minutes and then close in prayer.

So to put it simply, our suggested solution to Christmas tension is this: Celebrate two holidays.

That’s really basically what it is! We spend December decorating, buying gifts, singing White Christmas, watching the Grinch, and frosting cookies,  but we also spend it reading and thinking and talking about the coming of Christ, before in the manger and later as our king. And when Christmas comes, we’ll celebrate with gifts and carols, but then later in thankful prayer, and celebration for the truth of Christ. They don’t have to mix… I don’t try to force the attitude that my new coffee mug is a symbol of the gold, frankincense, or myrrh,  but we also don’t let Santa or stockings into our Advent either.

Before I leave this, I want to make sure I clarify a few things.

1. I’m not telling you to kick any and all spiritual elements out of gift giving and holiday cheer. Gifts are a great way of showing love, being thankful for God’s blessings, and expressing selflessness. In fact, everything we do should be touched by the effect of Christ in our lives. Just don’t feel like you have to mix Frosty with the nativity, or ascribe spiritual meaning to Santa Claus.

2. You don’t have to celebrate Advent, per se. All I’m suggesting is doing something that keeps the coming of Christ on the forefront of your mind throughout “the season” and keeping all other “secular” Christmas elements far away when you do so.

So Merry Christmas! Play Carol of the Bells, enjoy family, open presents, and eat candy canes… but also spend the month waiting, praying, anticipating, and then celebrating (cliche aside) the very best gift.