ReachBudapest

Staying Alive in the midst of a Dying World

Preach the gospel to yourself everyday. Are you familiar with this expression?
 
Some years ago I began to earnestly make this practice a reality in my life. Because I became a follower of Jesus as a child, I have sometimes slipped into an apathetic attitude towards the miracle of the good news and my own desperate need for it. Preaching the gospel to myself every day has helped me break out of that apathy, and it has recently also been helping me face some significant ministry challenges.
 
Each and every day, I must remind myself that before I met Christ, I was counted among the "walking dead" all over this planet. Men and women who are in active rebellion against God and are facing a certain destiny of eternal separation from their loving Creator. But somehow, amazingly, unexplainably, God chose me to receive new life through His son. And not only did He breathe new life into my rebellious body, but He adopted me as His son, alongside His very own son, Jesus. He did this so that the new life which has been breathed into my body would be an example to a dying world of God's patience and grace towards other rebellious humans. And the reason he gave me this "death-to-life" story is so that I would to join Him in His work in this world.
 
I was dead, but now I am alive. And the purpose of that new life which has been breathed into me is so that I would bring glory to God and invite others to experience this new life as well.  This is how people like the Apostle Paul (in Ephesians 2) and the Apostle Peter (in 1 Peter 2) described the gospel.
 
But even though I am filled with this new life, I live in a dying world.
 
In writing about his own death-to-life experience, Martin Luther described this world using a more "earthy" version of the word "privy". When I read that recently in Eric Metaxas' excellent biography of Martin Luther, I could completely relate — because there are most certainly times in which the world to me seems like a $#!@-house. And living as a made-alive man in a dying world sometimes feels like it has the potential to strangle the life right out of me.
 
Here are a few current examples: I want so badly for the church that I lead to more vibrantly display the gospel in our neighborhood, but I can't seem to make the progress I desire … I'm having some major relational challenges with some people who are close to me … Our car broke down last week and the cost of the repairs exceed the value of the vehicle …  A misspelling in my name on official documents threatened our foundation and had me tangled up in bureaucratic red-tape … a misunderstanding with a construction contract meant that a colleague and I spent three hours sitting across from two lawyers trying to sort out the mess … and that's only just the start of my little corner of the world at the moment.
 
All of these things have been causing me to feel dead inside, and I realize that I even sometimes behave like a dead man, too. Can you relate?
 
There seems to be a steady gravitational pull in this world toward deadness. And because of that, God has shown me that the reason I must preach the gospel to myself every day is to remember that I am NOT dead – I am ALIVE!. And that it is only the new life that God has breathed into me which makes me distinct from the dying world in which I live. What's more, it is God's plan that by seeing expressions of the new life that God breathed into me, the people around me who inhabit this dying world would desire to find new life themselves.
 
So I'm preaching the gospel to myself every day, in order to remind myself that through Christ, I am alive! Of course I will face struggles and challenges every day in this dying world – should this surprise me? But the gospel has brought me from death to life. And that by seeing the life that lives in me, others will see Christ.
 
Can you relate? What works for you when the gravitational pull of this dying world threatens to strangle the new life out of you? How are you able to live "totally alive" in a dying world?

— Posted by Mark, who leads the team of EFCA staff serving in Budapest.

There are currently a number of unique opportunities to join the ReachBudapest team in disciple-making and church multiplication in Budapest. See the opportunities

Sowing Seeds of the Gospel in Higher Education

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Every semester, 50-60 eager university students attend one of my two-hour seminars during their mandated training week. During this week, just prior to vacation days, all students must select from a variety of seminars presented by their professors or guests. The sky’s the limit on topics, so I strike a balance between professional topics for teacher education students and personal topics for students in any major. "Dating for a Healthy Future" (for women only) is a seminar I’ve repeated several times. It’s always filled to capacity and this semester, a couple of men actually attended! The university has a religious heritage, so sharing biblical truths and my personal faith, while perhaps not expected, is certainly not rejected. University students are often openly searching for answers about the meaning of life. These students are engaged in the discussion and often ask hard questions; honesty is in abundant supply.

What tips can you give us about making a relationship deeper? What helped you stay married? Marriage isn’t important in Hungary. Why would a certificate make a difference? I don’t want to marry but I want to have a good relationship.

Lively discussion ensues as students talk in small groups and challenge one another’s views. And always, I tie it back to God’s word and his instructions for marriage. After two years at the university, I am noticing repeat customers and actually remember some of the students’ names! After the presentation, I offer students a chance to sign up for discussion groups that will take place outside the university. Usually about 10-15 students are interested, and some of them contact me individually to meet. In June, the discussion topic will be Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. Please pray for our meetings – that the timing will be right and students will have open hearts. They are always eager to stay after class and share personal stories, and these discussion groups will give us a chance to form real relationships.

Few professors are Christians, but there is a small presence on the faculty at this university. One of the professors tells me that our prayer times are most precious to her; she so appreciates taking these students before God and asking for their salvation.

Other opportunities to speak present themselves periodically in the educational world, and there is always a way to weave in the love that I have for Hungary and the reason that I feel God has called me there. Please pray for the harvest as we labor together to bring the gospel to the lost!


— Posted by Robin, an educator and disciple-maker who splits her time between living in Budapest and the US.

There are currently a number of unique opportunities to join the ReachBudapest team in disciple-making and church multiplication in Budapest. See the opportunities

Profound Peace

profound-peaceOn Saturday December 10, the coffeehouse was filled with musicians and artists who performed here throughout the year, here to celebrate Christmas together and so that we could thank them. We wanted to make sure that they know how valued they are, and how they helped to bring peace and life to the community this year. As I thanked them, I reminded them of that — of how different people are comforted by different things, how peace is brought to people so profoundly through art and music and how meaningful it is that we could offer more than 50 programs this year because of them.

This is important because one of our goals is to add to the life of the community. Through these artists, we are able to connect with more people in unique ways that touch their hearts. In the two years we've been open, we have established relationships with customers, musicians, artists, and other business people in the area. We have ample opportunity to interact with people daily and share with them the Peace so many of them are searching for. It happens in spiritual conversations we have with customers as they celebrate joy with us and pour out their griefs with us. It happens between us as colleagues as we are being constantly refined by each other to be more like God. It happens in the gallery as artists express the beauty of creation. It happens on the stage, through beautiful music that moves souls. It happens as musicians ask to come back again and again – not just because of the great setting but because “there’s just something different” here. It happens as a musician who has become a dear friend takes the time to help us with a marketing project. These are spiritual, gospel-filled opportunities that happen regularly and we are thankful.

– Posted by Cassidy, who lives and works in Budapest, spending her time helping the coffeehouse to be a place where deep relationships form and where people encounter Jesus, the Prince of Peace

[NOTE: There are a number of opportunities to participate in the work of the coffeehouse! If you are interested in learning about how you can support the project with your prayers, or through a financial investment, contact Cassidy.]

Joy in the Father's Heart

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The blind and the lame came to Jesus in the Temple, and he healed them. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were indignant. They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’” Matthew 21:14-16

I believe there was joy in the Father's heart this morning in Budapest.

As we normally do, several members of the ReachBudapest team went again today to a transitional home for refugees living in Budapest. Along with a team of volunteers from YWAM, we ate breakfast, played games, told stories, and worked to build friendships with those who live in the home, families from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, and Somalia, just to name a few. These precious men, women, and children are in the process of making Budapest their home. But in many respects they are unwelcome here, struggling to learn the language, find jobs, put food on the table, and make friends. These are people who are longing for someone to befriend them, accept them, and love them.

I think that's why I was particularly moved this morning as I heard their voices singing praises to God, proclaiming the good news of Jesus' resurrection, the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, the goodness of the Father's love. The picture above was taken during the singing today. I wish you could have experienced the joy that filled the room! As I heard the voices lifting the song, I had an image of the Father dancing above us (Zephaniah 3:17). And I found myself moved to prayer that the children and adults who were finding such joy in the words of the songs and the rhythm of the music will one day know in their hearts the truths they are proclaiming, finding the friendship, acceptance, and love they are searching for through a restored relationship with their Creator God through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Opportunities abound for serving among refugees in Budapest. We're currently praying that God brings to the ReachBudapest team those who He has prepared to join in this important work. For more information on this and other opportunities in Budapest, click here.

— Posted by Mark

New ReachBudapest Video Introduction



We're pleased to share a new introductory video piece for the ReachBudapest team! Special credit to the ReachGlobal Europe filmmakers for helping us tell the story of our city. Watch for several more ReachBudapest pieces coming from this team in the near future.

Refugee Christmas Party at Bicske

The ReachBudapest team is blessed to work together with a group of local ministry partners in Budapest to serve regularly at the Hungarian Immigration Office’s refugee camp in Bicske, just a handful of kilometers north of Budapest. On December 21, we participated in a Christmas party for the approximately 250 men, women, and children who are living in Bicske while they are awaiting the approval of their paperwork to settle permanently in Budapest.

In addition to singing, food, and a presentation of the Christmas story, individual food packages were distributed to each individual and family living in the camp. Here are some pictures of the day:

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The Guest Apartment at the KMK is piled high with canned food, dry goods, and personal hygiene items, in preparation for assembly into packages. Much of the food was donated to the Eastern Europe Mission by a Swiss charity.



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Along with a bunch of our friends from across Budapest, the ReachBudapest team was responsible for assembling the 250 food packages, and preparing them for distribution.



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After transporting them to the party location at the Refugee Camp in Bicske, the food packages are ready for distribution at the conclusion of the party.



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We’ve been out going door-to-door inviting people to the party, and as the program begins, the room is filling up!



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Nearly all the 250 residents of the Bicske camp came to the Dining Hall for the party. The current residents of the camp come from all across Africa, the Middle East, and Cuba.



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We’ve dusted off the “flannel graph” as Father Christmas helps tell the Christmas Story. Simultaneous translation is begin done by a Hungarian woman into Farsi and an Egyptian woman into Arabic.



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Some Afghani guys provide a little entertainment after the program, as we’re enjoying our food and drinks.


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Here’s an evidence of what a unique place Bicske is — Mohammed from Somalia is dancing with little Cynthia from Cuba.



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Donning his stylish red bathrobe, our dear friend István distributes the gifts dressed as Télapó (Father Christmas).


Before loading up into our vans to leave Bicske for the night, the group of volunteers from all over Hungary and from around the world stood in a circle, shared stories of testimony, sang a Christmas song of worship, and prayed that those who live at Bicske might this year truly experience Immanuel – God With Us, and that the peace that only the Prince of Peace can bring would rule and reign over Bicske.

Celebrating Ministry Partnerships in Budapest



KMK Partner Evening 2015

The KMK is a ministry and community center in Budapest’s 11th district that serves four churches and thirteen ministry and civic organizations. Nearly 1,200 people pass through doors of the KMK weekly, attending a worship service, ministry program, community event, or as a guest at the coffeehouse.

The motto of the KMK is “The place that brings us together.” We see this motto expressing itself in the “bringing together” of churches, ministries, and ministry leaders from diverse backgrounds in an expression of unity that will cause people to see Christ (John 17), as well as in the “bringing together” into relationship and community those who know and follow Jesus with those who are yet to know Him.

Representatives of the organizations served by the KMK gathered on November 24, 2015 to share updates of how God is at work in and through their ministries. Watch the complete video, below.




Europe’s Crisis: God’s Opportunity

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“Europe faces a multi-dimensional crisis with huge implications for European states and for Christian mission. Yet the Christian message of hope is the same one that has sustained generations of Europeans through all the crises of history: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Europe’s crisis is God’s opportunity.”
Read the entire article on Lausanne.org

Join Our Team!

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God is calling the ReachGlobal team in Budapest to a broader physical presence in the city, and towards the fulfillment of this calling, we’re  asking Him to bring us new teammates who will publicly live out their Christian faith in the space God has prepared for them on the cultural highways of Hungarian society, invest themselves into the lives of disciple makers, and contribute to the formation of new communities of believers. 

Is God calling you join us in the work of proclaiming the gospel in one of the great historical cities of Europe? There are innumerable ways in which your God-given gifts, abilities, and experiences could contribute to the redemptive work He is doing as the gospel transforms Budapest, making it at a place of regional spiritual influence. 

The following SHORT-TERM (12-23 month) ministry opportunities are currently available. (Do you sense that God is calling you to a LONG-TERM (2 or more years) role in Budapest? Let’s talk about how God may have uniquely prepared and gifted you to join our team in the work that He is doing in our city!)

PROVIDE TECH SUPPORT AT AN ART CAFÉ COFFEEHOUSE
The humanities, including art, music, literature, poetry, and more, are one of the most significant cultural highways in the city of Budapest. Use your technical skills with audio, video, and lighting and join the programming staff of an art café coffeehouse that seeks to use concerts, exhibitions of art, and other cultural experiences, to build bridges of relationships within this highly secular, art appreciating, society. 

TEACH CONVERSATIONAL ENGLISH IN CASUAL SETTINGS
Hungarians are interested in improving their conversational English skills, and the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of conversational English clubs allow plentiful opportunities to build bridges of relationship and to communicate the gospel in word and deed. Besides conversational English clubs, English language discovery Bible studies, game nights, nature hikes and city outings are among the opportunities to use the English language to share spiritual truth with Hungarians. 

BE A VISUAL / DIGITAL STORYTELLER
In a secular society that demonstrates a belief that “God is dead”, there is inestimable power when believers tell their personal stories of a living God who is actively at work in their own lives. Serve churches and Christian organizations in Budapest by helping followers of Christ share their stories in compelling, visual ways. (Special skills needed: Experience in visual communication / storytelling and video editing. Must provide own equipment.)

DISCIPLE HUNGARIAN STUDENTS
Each summer, many Hungarian teens make a decision to become followers of Jesus Christ as a result of Outreach English camps in Budapest. Join the ReachBudapest team and walk alongside these teenagers as they begin their lives as disciples and grow to become a generation of Hungarian disciple-makers! 

TEACH ENGLISH IN A HUNGARIAN PUBLIC SCHOOL
Public high schools in Budapest are regularly seeking native English speakers to join their staffs as volunteer English teachers. In this remarkable way, God is opening a door for followers of Christ to have a place of relational and spiritual influence in one of the most secular sectors of Hungarian society. (Special skills needed: Degree in education, TESOL training a plus. Teaching experience preferable.)

For more information on any of these opportunities, or for further information, contact us at: budapest@efca.org

Good Fridays and Holy Saturdays

guest post by Katie, serving for 2015 as a short-term missionary with the ReachBudapest team

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Over the course of this most recent Lent and Easter season, I read through a Lenten devotional by NT Wright, called “Lent for Everyone.” It was really a quite impactful devotional—I often ended up reading what I had read that morning aloud to my roommates as we began our days, simply to share in the richness of thought it contained. This was also the first time I had so intentionally and so fully walked through Jesus’ story during the season of Lent and by the time I arrived at Easter weekend, both in the physical world and in Matthew, I felt the movements of Jesus’ life on earth in a new way. I held a fuller picture of Jesus’ work on earth, a better understanding of what it meant when he said at the beginning of his ministry that “the Kingdom of God has drawn near”. He was declaring that God himself had come down into the muck and mire of his creation, and was bringing this Kingdom with him. I realized that this very holiday was the culmination of that movement—that Easter weekend was the weekend when Jesus brought heaven and earth together in a way it never had been before, and that out of that connection, something new was being formed. Out of the messy collision of this communion God was and is working, even still today, to bring transformation, redemption, newness, with Jesus as the King.

Through this experience I was struck by how this transformation seems to work, that this culminating point in the Christian narrative is one that I often still act out on a micro level over and over again in the day-to-day every day of life. As a Christian, and specifically as a Christian engaged in full time ministry, I am often living through little Good Fridays, Holy Saturdays, and then Easter Sundays, in a rhythm that ebbs and flows with the movements of pain and joy, loneliness and community, work and rest that are inevitable in such a line of work. In this rhythm, I am confronted with the paradox of the Christian life: it was finished once and for all 2000 years ago, yes, but I look around and realize that it also isn’t yet. Because while all is ultimately now set right, somehow simultaneously nothing is right. I live through moments where life is full of sorrow or confusion or hurt, as though Jesus has just died and even hope is hiding from me. I live through moments when the world is numb and the work is hard, and seems as though Jesus had just stayed dead in the ground. And then, of course, there are the moments when joy and hope and life break through, and it is as though Jesus has risen again. And then the cycle repeats itself.

Now it is true that through in each of these emotional moments of life, Jesus is actually still risen, it is true that what Jesus heaved as he took his final breath holds as always true even when I feel like it isn’t…it is, truly, finished. But, in a strange way, in order to declare this it is as though I have to trudge through the experience of this ultimate event over and over again. Though frustrating sometimes, I find deep beauty in this process. In going through it, I am shown that the work of Jesus wasn’t a musty, stagnant, solid thing meant to stay bound, caged in time 2000 years ago. This event was meant to be active and moving and alive. It was meant to be fluid, it was meant to transcend time. It was meant to be lived and relived by the world, and by us, over and over and over—yesterday, today, and then tomorrow again, each time re-declaring its truth to a world that often wants nothing to do with it. In this way, Jesus meets the pain of this world here, now, today, and responds to it directly, right here, right now, today. This constant re-realizing of the Easter story is not something to fear, nor is it something to push away as lack of faith. I think it is redemption in motion.

Alongside this recent reflection, I was reminded of the “Grand Inquisitor” chapter of The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. It is in this chapter that Alexei says nothing in defense of his religion, even after his brother Ivan (the most intellectual of the four brothers) exerts himself completely setting up what he views as the ultimate argument for his unbelief in God. Instead, Alexei answers Ivan’s questioning and argument in the same way Ivan’s Christ responds to the Inquisitor’s attacks, giving his brother nothing but a loving, comforting kiss. When I first read this chapter of the book I remember being amazed at how frustratingly Biblical this answer is. This response somehow echoes of the God who answered Job’s cries for rescue from suffering, not with an explanation or immediate relief, but instead with a long exhortation saying nothing more than he is God and Job is not. It likewise echoes of the Messiah who, though the Jews hoped he would ride into their world in triumph and on a war horse, instead rode in on a donkey and his triumph was in his death (and resurrection). Both of these answers to the very real question of pain were, to say the least, underwhelming. Like the kiss with which Alexei bestows on the problem of pain, on his brother’s pain, these answers seem to ignore the question completely.

But the beauty in these answers is that perhaps, by ignoring the question, they more fully address it. The answer takes onto itself the painful reality that has birthed the question because it does not try to explain, argue, or fight away this reality. In this way the answer, if that is what it is, is able to instead hold the weight of the question. The answer seems to show, though it gives no direct resolution, that answerer knows what is causing the asker to ask, and in acknowledging this addresses the root of the question.

If we stop and think about it, what other answer could we want than this? God, in response to Job’s suffering offered himself. And God himself, in the person of Jesus, offered himself as the answer to the oppression and slavery his people felt by taking on himself the full weight of the oppression, the very root of the oppression—sin. What fuller answer could have been given? He didn't explain or argue away the question, he didn’t explain or argue about why he came to die instead of fight. He only said that this is the way it had to be, and accepted the question as valid enough to die for. And in doing this, he removed the threat of even death itself from his people. From the whole world should it choose him.

And so, in the moments when I live through the Good Fridays, Holy Saturdays, and Easter Sundays of life here in Budapest, I see the call to live like Christ in this sense. It presented itself recently when a friend shared with me about hurt and pain present in her life right now. My first instinct was to try to convince her of the hope and truth of Christ and Christianity (though it is true), to explain away or fix her hurt. But I thankfully resisted this urge, and instead listened to her and prayed for her. I am thankful because, though I wanted to fight against it, I was witnessing a Good Friday moment—a moment when I caught a glimpse of the hopelessness and helplessness that weighed on the cross that Christ carried. In the Good Fridays and Holy Saturdays, I learn from Christ to resist the knee-jerk urge respond to the pain of this world by trying to fix it, trying to present it with answer to justify or argue against it or argue it away or into submission. I learn from Christ, rather, to carry it, to be in it, and allow his Spirit to move instead of me. I share in the sufferings of Christ this way, remaining as a faithfully present witness to this pain. And though I may pray without ceasing for my friend, and though to this friend God may seem dead, I cling to the hope that this is just Good Friday. That though Jesus seems dead, as Tony Campolo famously declared, “Sunday is coming!” Choosing to shoulder her pain, I cling to the promise of Christ for her, that this is not the end, that the final Word hasn’t been spoken. In doing this I declare the truth of the death and resurrection of Christ here. Christ is here, moving in this world. His work was not nailed to the cross or even stuck under the boulder of the empty tomb of 2000 years ago. It is moving and active, carried by his Spirit, in Budapest, right now, today.

"In the CIty" - a video we love!

Coffeehouse Opening

The following remarks were shared by Mark Revell, ReachGlobal Budapest City Team Leader, on Friday, August 1 2014 at the opening of the coffeehouse in Budapest:

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We can see messages and images of physical renewal all around us today in the neighborhood. Buildings and public spaces are being rehabilitated. The park next door is becoming a truly beautiful place. The new subway line is pumping new lifeblood into the community. Formerly deserted retail spaces are now filling with new businesses. The neighborhood has a new sense of hope, because things are renewing on the outside.

But there is a problem with renewal that only comes on the outside, because the truth is that renewed buildings will one day fall again into disrepair. Graffiti may, unfortunately, decorate the crisp clean walls of the Metro4. New businesses may one day close their doors. All those things which brought such hope will eventually disappoint.

We know that just as this city is in need of outward, physical renewal, the need for spiritual renewal is much greater. Hearts are cold; marriages, families, and lives are broken; hope is lost and disappointment has left its mark on the lives of those living around us, and we can see it on their faces. But if the physical, outward renewal that initially brings so much hope will one day disappoint, what message do we have for those in need of inner, spiritual renewal?

The biblical writer Ezekiel was acquainted with broken, disappointed, hopeless people. And speaking as God's prophet, he wrote:
"I will give you a new heart, I will put a new spirit in you. I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my ways."

We have found that there is a hope that does not disappoint. It comes not from renewal on the outside, but by renewal on the inside. It comes not from fresh paint or new tile, nor from a new dress, a fresh hairstyle, a change in job or a new spouse. This kind of lasting renewal is what Ezekiel wrote about when he spoke about trading a heart of stone for a heart of flesh.

Our opportunity in this unique season here in this community is to share stories and images of that true spiritual renewal, that inner renewal. Our opportunity is to be modern day prophets hope, following the example of Ezekiel and Isaiah and Jeremiah, speaking boldly of a true and lasting Hope, a Hope which does not, will not, cannot disappoint. A hope and a future which comes only through a restored relationship with Creator God through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

And the coffeehouse is committed to that purpose, to being a place where the aroma of coffee meets the fragrance of Jesus Christ. It is for that reason that we created this space, it is for that reason that we gather here tonight to celebrate what God has done in providing everything that was necessary for it to come into existence, and it is for that reason that we will pray to dedicate this space to God's glory and for the advancement of the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ.