The missionaries I came to meet with, Ted and Carol, picked me up at Budapest airport and drove me to their home about an hour and a half away. They live in a former mining town in Hungary. Their town’s people were the “poster children” for Communism because the workers were miners. Miners have big muscles, so they were celebrated in pictures and sculpture shirtlessly embodying the Communist ideal. The Communist dictators treated them very well because they were the poster children. So the town’s infrastructure was far better than most of the rest of Hungary.
This is the pretty town square viewed from T & C’s window
When Communism collapsed, there was joy all over Hungary—except for this town. They had lost their celebrity status and all the perks that come with it: the finest housing, cars, the best food, good schools for their children, etc. For them freedom meant learning how to scrape their resources together, working at whatever jobs they could find when the mine closed. Many in this town are nostalgic about the “good old days of Communism.”
Having arrived Saturday night, I had missed the gypsy Bible study (see Six Hours Late). But I did get to hear Ted preach. Over breakfast this morning I had mentioned the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-6) in conversation about how God is moving among the Italian Catholics (see Touching the Hem of His Garment). Ted said, “Guess what scripture I’m preaching about!” Yup! John 5:1-6. His sermon was really good, teaching me something new that I had never considered before.
Jesus had approached the paralytic and no one else. Why? Perhaps because everyone else had someone there to help them into the waters when they rippled. Ted said that it was strange that this man was alone. Jesus asked him a strange question, one I had always wondered about: “Do you want to be healed?” Of course He knew the answer, but it gave the man the opportunity to reveal something about his own character. He complained that there was no one to help him into the water. And even when he had been healed, he “blamed” Jesus because He had told the man to carry his bed home—in other words, to work on the Sabbath. And after he saw Jesus again, he ran to the authorities and told them that it was Jesus. Not one word of gratitude for his miraculous and life-changing healing. This guy had some definite character issues, which is something I had never really thought about before.
After church we walked around town a bit, returned home, and prayed together. Ted and Carol mostly work with gypsies, doing CHE, Community Health Evangelism. The CHE concept is great. It involves health, but not only the health of the body, but of the whole person: body, soul (mental/emotional), and spirit. I love the holistic approach, and it is so desperately needed in the gypsy communities of Europe. The gypsies are the most receptive of all Europeans when it comes to the Gospel message. They grab it with both hands. So we prayed together for them, for their family, and for their ministry.
And I pray daily for the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers for this mission field. The harvest is ripe, but the workers are few. If you are interested in missions in Europe, whether with gypsies or not, check out GoMissions.
God is good! Working with God is great! He’s the best Boss ever, and the retirement plan is out of this world!