A few months ago, when the refugee crisis was at its peak in Europe, White Fields Church collected money to purchase Bibles for refugees, mostly from Iran and Syria, who had come to Hungary and had either become Christians or were interested in Christianity.
Bibles, especially Farsi (Persian) Bibles are expensive and hard to come by, but we were able to send 50 Bibles in various languages to those working on the ground with these refugees. Last summer, my wife Rosemary was able to meet with some of them in Debrecen, before the refugee camp there was closed this November. Since then most of the refugees have been moved to Bicske, near Budapest, and Békéscsaba in South-East Hungary. Those in Bicske are coming now every Monday to Golgota Budapest to learn the Bible and have Hungarian lessons.
The friends of ours in Budapest who help them asked me if Travis and I could come down and meet them today since we were in Hungary and our church had purchased these Bibles for them.
After breakfast with some friends from the Eger church, Travis and I took the train to Budapest, met with some friends at the church, and then went and joined the refugee Bible study, which was in English with translation into Farsi.
After Bible study, I got the opportunity to speak to the group. I told them about how Rosemary and I had spent years doing refugee ministry and we had seen several people from Iran come to faith in Jesus, and how we had also seen some of those people have their lives threatened, one man was attacked and almost killed, for their new faith.
For these people, the Gospel really is a matter of life and death – of all or nothing. As a result of becoming Christians, their lives will be at risk from their fellow countrymen for having converted and they will likely be disowned by their families and communities. However, though they may lose everything for following Christ in this life, they will gain eternal life in the next. Is it worth it? They would say: Absolutely.
One of the men, when they received the Bibles that our church sent them, held it up and said: “In my country I could be killed for reading this! Think about how powerful the message of this book must be that they want to do everything to keep us from reading it!”
One of the things I told this group, was that we were glad that we could provide for them the Bibles that we did, and that if they needed more, we would be happy to provide those also.
After I spoke to the group, I prayed for them. And after the prayer, Lisa, a missionary with Calvary Chapel in Hungary came over and showed me an email she had just received as I was speaking, from the Hungarian Bible Society, that they had located 30 Farsi Bibles, but they weren’t cheap. Lisa showed me the email and asked if I was serious about providing more Bibles…
We said yes, and we were able to purchase 30 Farsi Bibles for these young believers who have never owned a Bible of their own before. One of the men had received a New Testament in his language before, but was eager to read the Old Testament. Another man had received a Bible from us back in September, but had given it away to another man who wanted to read it and needed another one for himself to read.
Can you imagine not having access to a Bible? Or your faith being a matter of life and death? That is what these people face for their decision to follow Jesus.
God is doing a great work amongst these people, and he is going to use them to be evangelists to other refugees in Europe. These people are our brothers and sisters in the faith. Please pray for them and consider ways to support them. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
This morning began early, jet lag does that to you. Before church Travis and I discussed that we would go for a short run. I had an idea that maybe we could run over to see the Kossuth Egyetem (the university in Debrecen which is the largest in Hungary), so we left the church at 6:45. What began as a short run turned into a 10 km run through the medical university and the Nagyerdő (Great Forest), but it was a great way to see the city.
At 10 we went to church at Golgota Debrecen; I taught and my long time friend Jancsi translated for me, as the church’s services are bilingual. At the end of the service, Bodi, the pastor, prayed for us and then I spent a long time catching up with old friends.
After church we went to eat with friends, and found out that Bodi was planning to drive to Hatvan, near Eger, so he was able to give us a ride to Füzesabony, where Jani, the man who took over for me as pastor of the church in Eger, picked us up and brought us the rest of the way.
We are staying at the flat of someone from the church who is out of town at the moment.
Tomorrow we will go up to Budapest for a meeting with some Iranian refugees who recently became Christians. White Fields Church collected money to buy Bibles for refugees a few months back, and these people were some of the recipients of those. 3 of them were baptized last Sunday and they asked if we could come meet them, so we will do that tomorrow and then come back to Eger for a series of meetings with friends.
I will post pictures tomorrow. We haven’t been able to get a proper Internet connection; I’m posting this from 2G mobile Internet.
For the next 10 days I will be in Eastern Europe, first Hungary, where I lived for 10 years, and then to Ukraine.
The main purpose for my trip is to teach at a Pastors and Leaders Conference in Kyiv for Calvary Chapels in Ukraine. During my time there I’ll also be going down to visit a ministry White Fields partners with in Svitlovodsk.
Since I’m in the area, I’ll be visiting friends and ministries in Hungary, in Debrecen, Eger and Budapest.
Currently I’m in Debrecen, the 2nd largest city in Hungary, the city where I first lived when I moved here. This is where I met my wife and enjoyed 3 years of fruitful ministry to youth, refugees and university students.
Tomorrow morning I will speak at Golgota Debrecen, the church we used to serve at here, and then will spend the day with the pastor and his family.
I’ll be posting more pictures throughout my time here, so stay tuned.