This morning at 6:45 am Paul and Jill Weaver (Paul is the Director of the Bible School here in Tólomás, Hungary and a former student of mine at DTS) and Mónika Rákossy (Dean of Women here and a friend that Sharon and I met about 9 years ago) met me at the castle entrance to head off to church. I have previously, mistakenly as it turns out, told people I was preaching in Budapest this Sunday. Really, I preached a Kecskeméti Baptist Church, in Kecskeméti, Hungary, about an hour south of Budapest. This church of about 200+ people was a real delight and they really refreshed me through their Hungarian singing and praying. The church building is an amazing 4-year old bright (many windows), original, wonderful place to worship. The building is on a dirt road (no parking lot) but many walked and before the service was to start the building was full including the balcony. Children were everywhere, partly as a result of their "pre-school" Christian program which has made many aware of this testimony. This church offers practical help (clothes, furniture, food, etc.) to those struggling. After taxes and government fees I understand, that the minimum wage is around $3.00 an hour (and the sales tax on most items is 27%!). Families require both spouses to work and even then it is sometimes difficult for many.
The congregation was a great mixture of older and younger with a great group of young people. The choir (see pic) was seating at the side of the congregation and sang beautifully though I didn't quite understand the Hungarian words! The worship team was made up of a group of young ladies and two men who played instruments and sang as well (I took the picture below as they were practicing before the congregation had arrived). I recognizes a number of the hymn and chorus tunes and made a valiant attempt to sound out the Hungarian words (although I soon realized that the sound I was making rarely matched the sounds all around me!).
I preached for 45 minutes with Mónika serving as my translator. The congregation seemed to appreciate the Word and comments by a few who could speak English as well as by the pastor confirmed that the Spirit had been at work through His Word. What a privilege to minister to those whose church came through some dark times during the communist era. Some of the older believers, especially those in ministry, endured much for the name of our Lord.
I love the pews in this church (which I understand is common in many churches in this country). They are made of word with a thin foam for keeping people OK but not too comfortable during the sermon! Even better however, is the fact that they each have a kneeling bench low in front and a "table" in front to place your Bible or hymnbook on or even a place to take notes! (And they make great obstacle courses for young boys as the picture illustrates.)Pastor Samuel Mike and his wife had the four of us to their home (an apartment within the church building) for lunch. Tea, soup, chicken, rice, potatoes, Romanian minced-meat, coffee, and a walnut dessert! It was a generous and filling meal. Using Mónika, who had to try and eat between translating for me, we were able to have great Christian fellowship and hear how our God is working in this church, the only Baptist church in this city of 110,000 (probably the seventh largest city in Hungary). I asked myself the question (and maybe you could ask yourself the same question), in America, how many evangelical churches do we have in each city for every 110,000 people? Praise God for those who have a commitment to church planting here in Hungary (and of course in many other places). In the afternoon the pastor was off to a "house-church" in another part of the city.
A wonderful drive back through beautiful Hungarian countryside and through small village after small village whose homes and shops have not changed much for the past 50 years or so. We passed to house-drawn carts, a number of adults on bicycles, and field after field with crops starting their growth. The country of Hungary is like the bottom of a bowl since it is surrounded by mountains, located mostly in the neighboring countries. It is flat fields broken but stands of trees, narrow roads, with small villages in the distance and other towns through which the road passes.
There is also a group of Word of Life students from New York who have arrived here on a one-week mission tour. They will be out in schools, witnessing on the streets of Budapest, and putting into practice what they have been learning in Bible School back home. What a joy to see the younger generation serious about taking the Good News throughout this world. What are you doing to help spread the Gospel?
Oh, by the way, I love the traffic lights like the one below that have timers in between the lights so you know exactly when you can use your horn to get the cars in front of you moving. Funny, though, I never heard anyone using their horns today. Maybe because it was Sunday and only Christians were out driving???
Would you like to hear the Hungarian singing I heard this morning? or, what I sound like translated into Hungarian when I'm preaching? See http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22036759