All who are Hungary
Take eleven eastern Europeans, four English people, two Americans, one Scotsman and one Hungarian Canadian Israeli, of all ages and different church backgrounds and what do you get? Well, from 12 to 21 June, what we had was a first-rate team of people who came together for the purpose of evangelising the Jewish community of Budapest, the capital of Hungary. The week was full-on and by the end of the second day of evangelism, the team were tired and weary but there was very little tension. Feri and Bogi Kozma, CWI’s field workers in Hungary, had put together a programme of learning and evangelism that was remarkably blessed.
Take eleven eastern Europeans, four English people, two Americans, one Scotsman and one Hungarian Canadian Israeli, of all ages and different church backgrounds and what do you get? Well, from 12 to 21 June, what we had was a first-rate team of people who came together for the purpose of evangelising the Jewish community of Budapest, the capital of Hungary. The week was full-on and by the end of the second day of evangelism, the team were tired and weary but there was very little tension. F and B, CWI’s field workers in Hungary, had put together a programme of learning and evangelism that was remarkably blessed.
Each morning during the five days of outreach, after devotions – which consisted of a time of prayer and meditations on the healing of the man born blind in John 9 – we gave out tracts on the streets and invited people to a series of evening events at the Pince A90 youth club. The street tract was a reworking of a leaflet written by Paul Morris thirty years ago. The cover asked, ‘Are YOU the kind of person who enjoys those games and word puzzles that show how clever you are? YES? Well, try this one and claim a free book.’ Very few people refused the tract.
All you need is love
F assembled a singing group that improved with each day and attracted attention in pedestrian precincts, railway stations and public concourses. We set up a sketch-board with a large red love-heart on it over which ÉN ... A ZSIDÓ EMBEREKAT (‘I ... THE JEWISH PEOPLE) was added.
There is a great deal of political anti-Semitism in Hungary and we wanted to let the Jewish people know we were for them and that we were not anti-Semites. We also wanted to catch the attention of the general public, including anti-Semites, and in the preaching presented four reasons to love the Jewish people. Spraying a stencilled picture of Abraham on the board, we explained that Abraham and the Jewish people were called to bless the nations, and that they have blessed the world in many ways. We also made the point that God told Abraham he would bless those who blessed him and his descendants and curse those who cursed them.
Second, a graphic representing Moses explained that God’s Law came through the Jewish people and that the Ten Commandments became (until recently, at any rate) the bedrock of western
civilisation and jurisprudence. The Law teaches us the difference between right and wrong and causes us to long for salvation from the judgement of God.
The picture of Calvary illustrated the fact that Jesus the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, is Jewish. He fulfilled the promises delivered through the ancient Hebrew prophets by being born to a Jewish virgin in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, he rode as King of the Jews into Jerusalem on a donkey, he died for our sins by having his hands and feet pierced and rose from the dead on the third day.
The final picture was of Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, a Jew who suffered great hardship and even death to share the good news of the Jewish Messiah with Gentiles. Those were four reasons why we should all love the Jews, the Jewish God and the Jewish Messiah.
People gathered to listen to the message and talked with team members afterwards, and by the end of the week F had the contact details of a good number of Jews and Gentiles. Not everyone was pleased with us, however. On the first morning, an angry lady took a photo of us all, announcing she was going to report us to the police. It’s good to get responses like that. When people are angry about the gospel it means they have understood what we are saying.
In the afternoons and evenings, evangelistic events took place at Pince (pronounced ‘pincer’) A90, the evangelistic centre in central Budapest, renamed the Nachamu Café for the duration of the outreach. Across the street from the Nachamu Café was a hospital. We didn’t know it was a hospital because most of us on the team didn’t understand Hungarian, so some team members began to give out invitations to the evangelistic events to people going in and out of the building. The result was that two mothers brought their daughters to the craft activities in the afternoon. One of them, Andrea, was a sweet little girl with a malignant brain tumour. The other, Eva, was eight years old and suffering from a very rare, life-threatening, progressive auto-immune disease that is causing her to become piebald, her face to change shape and blood clots to form in her lungs. Eva’s mother was overwhelmed by the love and concern shown to her and her daughter and Eric, who is a doctor, prayed for God to do a miracle of healing in the little girl’s life.
In the evenings at Pince, lectures on the theme of survival drew people along. The topics dealt with included issues such as bad news from the doctor, debt, loneliness and the Holocaust.
The week was great but it was full-on. Even though the team members came from different cultures and from different theological traditions, they gelled together well and worked hard. They succeeded in laying a foundation on which F and B can now build. On a personal note, by the end of the week I felt exhilarated and was overflowing with gratitude to God for granting me the immense privilege and pleasure of taking part in this great week of ministry.
Full reports to follow soon.