TMCers on mission in Hungaryby Norm Miller
NAGYKANIZSA, Hungary (TMCNews)--Almost 4 million people live in Western Hungary. With about 35 small Baptist churches scattered in the region and little other evangelical ministry, that part of the world needs a concerted effort in planting gospel seeds.
Missionaries for the International Mission Board, Paul and Tena Brock have served in Hungary for about 12 years. And a handful of Truett-McConnell College students joined them in January, helping the Brocks, who are church planters and team leaders for the IMB's Western Hungary Team.
Paul and Tena live and minister in Nagykanizsa, where Paul said, "We found seven other varieties of churches to serve the 60,000 people who live here." The Brocks have served there for almost eight years. They previously served about four years in Sopron, near Vienna, Austria.TMC student Cody Gable (left) is explaining the significance of Easter to three Hungarian high school students. "I told how it symbolized Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and how we gain salvation from that. I also explained what salvation meant and what sin is. I was blessed to see how interested they were," Cody said. "I was also blessed to be on the trip because this was the first time I had ever shared the gospel with anyone."
Under the Brocks' direction, Truett-McConnell students interacted with local high school students in classroom settings.
"We wanted the local students to visit with some 'cool' American students who are believers in Christ," Paul said. "The Truett-McConnell students did a super job. They helped the locals see that it takes a personal relationship with Christ to be a believer, and that such a relationship makes a significant difference in one's life."
Paul reports that TMC students interacted with local students in about 20 different classroom settings. "Heaven only knows for sure," Paul noted, "but I would have to say their ministry was very effective, especially when the students met in smaller groups. That made the local students more comfortable in asking questions. You could see in the small groups that the local kids were listening closely."
Because TMC students came to Hungary with their testimonies already translated into the language and also printed, Paul said, "That was a big benefit. The Truett-McConnell students effectively shared their testimonies in the classes. It has been our experience that the printed testimonies will continue to be read and shared with others. So, it was nice to have their clear concise testimonies about their relationship with God."
Paul believes the TMC ministry influenced two local students to come to a youth night function his team hosted. "They had never attended before. This was unusual because most people here aren't that open to visiting in our homes until they have interacted with us in public a few times."
Truett-McConnell students definitely made connections with the local students and teachers, Paul said. "One of the teachers called me nearly in tears after the team left. She wanted to say goodbye, but she didn't get the chance." Several of the students are now Facebook friends, he added.
The TMC ministry also swung wide open the local school's doors. "I have offered to visit the school anytime they would want me to, and that is usually only once or twice a year. But for the teachers to invite the TMC team to so many classes every day -- that speaks volumes."Michaela Dickerson (right) told TMCNews that "going into the school and talking with the students about America and why we were there was fun. The students also answered our questions about Hungary, their culture and traditions." Noting the ministry of missionaries Paul and Tena Brock, Michaela added: "This trip opened my eyes to the life that missionaries have. Paul and Tena have a house church, and to see the Hungarians that attended listening so intently and singing the worship songs was something I had never experienced before."
Paul said he and Tena both enjoyed having one-on-one time with TMC students and hearing what God is doing in their lives. "That was exactly what the local kids and others they met needed to hear."
Truett-McConnell student Matt Caporale led the Sunday Bible study in the Brock's apartment. But Paul said he "almost panicked when Matt said he was going to share his testimony because we usually do a single passage expositional style. Yet, Matt did an excellent job of blending scripture and his testimony, and it hit home with several who were here that day. Matt put flesh on what we had been trying to teach over the last months."
"Tena and I both were encouraged," Paul concluded, "by the students' maturity level and their heart's desire to do what God had called them to do in this city, and with the rest of their lives."
Dr. Ed Pruitt -- Truett-McConnell's associate professor of Christian Studies/Missions - Chair, and director of the Harrison Center for World Missions -- led a team of five students on the Hungary trip. The students making the trek were: Matt Caporale, Cody Gable, Leighton Eldridge, Michaela Dickerson and Brett Fortenberry.