Additional "From Further Afield" Articles


Published: 5/2/2013 12:11:19 PM


As some of you may have read in my opening blog, I first came to Hungary eight years ago as part of a short-term mission team from Concordia University in Irvine, CA.  We came to Gy'r, Hungary to lead two one-week English/Bible camps for junior high and high school students.  I never thought that two weeks could change my life so profoundly, but after that experience I began praying and learning and seeking Godly counsel about the possibility of coming back to Hungary as a long-term missionary.  I still serve here to this day. 

Another thing that I didn’t realize completely until I moved here was the impact that those camps had on the students and teachers who attended them.  I always wondered if the changes I saw in the students after one week really made a difference in their lives, but I’ve been able to see at least some of that answer in the last four years that I’ve lived here.  My students eagerly look forward to this camp (as it happens, every two years), and they maintain friendships with the American team members who come.  More than that, the ideas and Bible stories that they hear at camp take root in their minds and lives.  For some, it has meant that they now pray or read the Bible.  For others, it is the new realization that believing in Jesus as your savior really means something, that it’s not just a hollow belief or mere tradition. For still others, it means knowing Jesus as Savior, or having a renewed faith-walk.  I had always hoped that the camps had this impact, but when I hear stories from students and teachers, I see that it’s real.

Take Ildi as an example. She attended three camps, and she continued to develop throughout the course of all those years.  She has since told me how she sees the ways the camps impacted her life with Christ.

"The theme of the first camp was ‘Splash!’ and it was then that God ‘splashed’ into my life, and I began to learn more about Him and my relationship with Him.  I began reading the Bible more, and my mom and I read it together, too.  The theme of the second camp was ‘Shine!’ and I learned that I can shine the light of Jesus to other people.  The theme of the third camp was ‘Go!’ and now I’m going to new places and meeting new people who need to hear about Jesus.”  

Ildi is now attending university in Hungary, working with an international student organization, and looking forward to graduation.  She continues to live her life as a Christian and share her faith with others.

It’s truly amazing what Jesus can do in the life of a person in just a short time.  This week, camp started again and will continue next week.  I’m excited to see how the Lord will use His Word and His people to plant and grow the seed of faith in the lives of many.  And I’m sure that His people will not leave unchanged.

I’ve been blessed to see a larger glimpse of the picture over the last years, and it has also encouraged me to continue spreading the Gospel here in Hungary.  For many of us, it may sometimes seem like we’re not making a difference, not doing enough, or not getting through to people.  But I encourage you to take a step back and try to see more of the whole.  Our efforts are not in vain.  We know that, "[...]as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)  

God’s Word, which we speak to others, changes things. Many times we’re tempted to look at programs and camps and Bible studies simply as programs and camps and studies and numbers and percentages; we forget to look at the people.  Who came?  Why?  What happened to them?  Were their lives changed?  How can we connect with them at a deeper level?  How can we help them?  How can we meet them where they are at and present the Gospel to them in a way that makes sense for them and their lives?  

I love camps because the focus is on the people, on the kids and teachers who need to hear the Gospel, on those who need to be shown that Christianity is not just a set of rules or a stuffy ritual, but that Christianity is Jesus alive and active in His people. I pray that we respond to God’s love and forgiveness by taking the opportunity to lookat people outside the church and truly see them and connect with them and share Jesus with them.  And who knows, perhaps more of us will have the blessing of hearing a story like Ildi’s.

Er's vár a mi Istenünk,

Sarah and Ildi

Contributed by Sarah Berta-Somogyi

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