White Unto Harvest

The Hungarian Work

Feature Editor's note: This month our headline article is from Hugh Walton (hugh.ginny@skooks.com) who is presently laboring in Budapest, Hungary.

Jesus said to His apostles: “Go make disciples of all the nations teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). The apostle Paul charged the young evangelist Timothy: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:2-4).

And thus we are in Hungary, beginning at Budapest, where the first Hungarian believed, repented and was baptized into Christ for the remission of her sins in 1992. Gospel preachers are going into parts of the world, namely Central and Eastern Europe even into Russia where the gospel has not been for many years. With the fall of the Iron Curtain that began in December of 1989 in Timisoara, Romania, doors have come open for the gospel of Christ to be preached.

All preachers can not, or will not, come to these countries in Europe, but some must! As Paul warned Timothy, he warns us, “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (v.3). Some doors are already closing as Russia passed laws forbidding any more preachers from entering their country to preach. And like in a number of these countries, they are concerned with the charismatic movement of the Pentecostals and the power of the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses. These governments view all religions of Christianity the same except for their deeply rooted traditional religions of Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

But, another group of so-called religious fanatics, cults and sects, those who want to control the mind, and even their very own coming and going, have come in the waves of denominational teachers and helpers to these lands. This has really frightened governments and citizens. And we suffer because of them! Any one, who points a finger and says we are a cult or sect, instantly brings persecution of some sorts. We cannot altogether defend ourselves from these attacks because we have no centralized world headquarters to offer as our credentials. We must tell them that our King and His throne are in Heaven, and I am humbly thankful to be able to proclaim my Lord and Shepherd above! But, as it did with Paul and the other apostles and preachers of that time, we are handed the same abuse.

These governments do not know God, and namely, Jesus Christ! They know that they must put up with the Catholics and Orthodoxists, (too much financial and people power in those religions), just like the Romans had to put up with the Jews. And it was the corroboration of the Jews with the Romans that put our Savior on the cross, and put His apostles in the same predicament. In like manner, these two traditional perversions bring pressure to bear on us and denominations that threaten their hold on the people of Hungary - at least those who say they believe in God.

So, we are not wanted by the religious traditionalists whose religions we condemn by the preaching of the Truth, and also, we are not wanted by the government as they view us, without earthly headquarters, as evil mind benders - a cult!

Communism is still strong in the minds of some government leaders and even the common citizen, and that curse has pounded God out of the mind of some. The Communists are generally atheists and do not believe in God who created the heavens and the earth, and all upon it. As the Russian cosmonaut who viewing the universe from his orbital pattern said: “I am looking, but I don’t see God out here either!” There are many like him in Hungary, as well as in Russia. They do not want us in Hungary trying to persuade Hungarians that God exists!

On Friday afternoon, September 4, one of our Christians received a call from the school master of the school that we rent meeting rooms from, notifying us that effective immediately, we could no longer meet in the school. A newspaper woman who had attended a meeting of the church back in March of this year had “blackmailed” the government to force us out! She accused us of “forcing Hungarians to believe in God!” Her threat to the potentates was that she would write a damaging story saying that the government was harboring and protecting a cult group in one of its public school buildings.

This school has been the meeting place for the church of Christ in Budapest since May 4, 1993. We had a very good relationship with the school and its schoolmaster. They greatly enjoyed the rent that provided extra things that their children so badly need. The schoolmaster was very distraught at losing this money. She said she knew and told her government bosses that we are not a cult or sect, but they said their hands are tied! The verdict stands. We no longer have a stable meeting place.

As I stood before the church with their teary eyes on that Sunday morning, I encouraged the brethren to stand fast in the faith and to thank our God that we could be persecuted in this small way for the sake of Jesus Christ. We are blessed to be able to feel some of the pain that our Lord felt while here on this earth. Jesus said of His earthly habitation: "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matt. 8:20). If our Lord had no place to call his own, why should we?

We have no place to turn for earthly sanctity! We are now marked as a cult, and that will follow us around the city, and even into the countryside. But, I believe our loving and caring Shepherd will give us refuge from the mouth of the roaring lion - Satan himself! I pray, as Paul did, and believe that our Lord will strengthen us for the fight, and through His word will show us the way. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” (2Tim. 4:17-18).

The church has overcome those teary eyes and has taken another step towards setting “in order the things that are lacking” (Tit. 1:5) and “equipping of the saints for the work of ministry till we all come to the unity of the faith, to a perfect man, that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro2 by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Eph. 4:12-14). Hungarian Christians are now thinking about their own destiny in Christ, and which options are the best for the church here in Budapest to exercise. As an American evangelist, I am only here for three or four years to help teach them the truth so that they might start the process of developing teachers and preachers to edify and build themselves up. Five American preachers have planted and watered, and God has surely given a bountiful increase. They have the foundation.

One Hungarian Christian has begun preaching every other Sunday with the blessings of the congregation. In the last business meeting, the men decided to begin paying this laborer for his hire as Paul commanded the church at Corinth to consider: “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1Cor 9:14, but see also v.1-13).

This zealous Christian was baptized just over two years ago. He is a retired bus driver who studies and applies every ounce of ability that he seems to have. His wife just recently obeyed the gospel of Christ on the same Lord’s Day that we met for the last time in the schoolhouse. Over the winter I will be spending a lot of time studying with him and getting him ready for teaching Bible classes. The church recognizes his leadership and listens when he speaks, but he is a humble man who does not take a non-scriptural position of authority over the others. An excellent preacher of the gospel is in the making! I must make sure I don’t get in his way, but give him what he is lacking.

I am thrilled that they are pulling together in these times of trials and tribulations, and are busy looking for the new meeting place and preparing themselves for the ministry that God has given all. Their spirits are good! They know that the Lord has seen them through a bad time, and that through adversity their faith has been strengthened.

Another step in the right direction is underway - albeit, a very painful step! We just recently found out that one of our sisters who was baptized in 1993 and lives about three hours away from us, is living in fornication. She was married for over twenty years with a man who has truly abused her since she obeyed the gospel, but perhaps for other reasons even before that. About 4 years ago, he moved out and began living with another woman whom he moved into town from far off. It is a small town and this brought much shame on her in the eyes of the people. She divorced him for adultery, as she should have - he was living in the adultery!

His mistress died about two years ago from alcohol abuse, and the man moved back into the house and the Christian woman accepted him on his terms. He said he would never marry her, he will just have life like he wants it, regardless of what God wants. The sad part of this is that she has accepted this defiled style of living and even says that she will never part from him and that maybe one day he will marry her again. She also blames the man’s alcoholism on her obeying the gospel, even though she admits that he was drinking before they ever married and divorced years ago.

The woman came to us and confessed this sin, but she really wanted the church to accept her in this way of living. Ginny and I studied with her for over eight hours, and many have written letters to her begging and pleading for her to repent, but her heart is hardened!

The church has studied the Lord’s teachings on this kind of behavior. The men have met together, and with the scriptures in hand, have determined that we must withdraw ourselves from her. The church considers her a member, and she does likewise. And since she has been living this way for over two years and all efforts having failed, then we must do, as the Lord would have us to do, and withdraw ourselves to try and save her soul in the final judgment. But we will continue to admonish her with our love and concern for her soul every opportunity we have (see 1Cor. 5:1-5 and 2 Thess. 3:13-15).

Again, as in the eviction, the church is walking together with the Lord in all matters. These two painful experiences have come right on top of one another, which has certainly been a test of faith for the Hungarian brethren.

The Bible correspondence course has been a great blessing for the saving of souls in Hungary. From time to time we have advertised this free Bible course that can be administered in English or Hungarian. We advertise in one of the newspapers that also reaches outside the city of Budapest. The church does not have enough money to keep an ad going regularly - its treasury is used mainly for renting the meeting place and paying the Hungarian preacher a meager wage. I have to depend on outside help to be given to me for advertising, especially just before a Gospel meeting or lecture series.

We just recently baptized a daughter, and then a month later, the mother, in the city of Szekesfehervar. This city is the third largest in Hungary and is about an hour away by train. Both of them took the Bible correspondence course, but were also greatly encouraged by the sister to the mother - she is a Christian and a blessing for us in the church here in Budapest.

A church is being established in Szekesfehervar and we will be going down to meet with them every Sunday afternoon after we leave the services here. Our Hungarian preacher and several others went down this past Lord’s Day to meet with them while Ginny and I were visiting with the brethren in Prague, Czech Republic. This was a milestone for the work in Hungary - all Hungarian Christians met together in this church’s first meeting! No Americans, or any other foreigner, were present!

I praise God for His Son Jesus Christ and the blood He shed for churches such as these here in Budapest and Szekesfehervar, Hungary. As a servant and preacher of the gospel of Christ, I must be diligent to see that every new convert to Christ is taught the importance of not only Him being their Savior and the King of His kingdom, but also the Head of His church “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

I pray that our work here in Hungary continues to grow on the foundation that has been laid by the preachers before me: Lynn Trapp, Jeff Archer, Richard Copeland, Alan Yeater and David Bunting. They graciously paid their dues for the Lord and for these precious souls that are thirsting for the Truth, after being squashed by Communism for all these years! And I also thank all the churches and individuals that supported them, as well as us! May God bless you!

  “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Rom. 10:14-15).

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For comments to the author, or to contribute news, reports, and information regarding preaching efforts in foreign lands, please contact Steve at 100416.655@compuserve.com

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