Additional "From Further Afield" Articles


Around The World
Published: 4/9/2014 10:51:40 AM


Recently, I was given the gift of presence by a group of 37 people from Concordia University in Irvine, California (CUI). Those that visited were taking part in the Around the World Semester®, which means that this group of students and professors traveled around the whole world, starting at the beginning of August and arriving back in California on December 17.  As they traveled, they studied the history, language, literature, and culture of each place they visited. 

Although I had been working with the leaders of the group for many months planning their activities and their time here in Gy'r, Hungary, I was still quite nervous about what would happen.  I knew that before arriving in Hungary, they would have been to seven countries, including places like Mongolia, China, Thailand, Ethiopia, and India.  Not only did they learn in each country, but they also connected with local missionaries and human care groups to help meet people’s physical and spiritual needs.  In Ethiopia, for example, they did intense evangelism work and in India, they worked at the Mother Teresa Homes.  Being in Western Europe, I was worried that Hungarian culture would seem too similar on the surface for the group to really appreciate this place and the people who live here.  However, I prayed fervently for the Lord to use the group, and of course, despite my slight apprehension, the Lord heard my prayers and worked in ways that I wouldn’t have dreamed of. 

The group spent most of their time working with students at the school where I teach English.  They began by leading the weekly Monday morning devotion and introduced the theme of "Superheroes of the Bible,” using Hebrews 11 as the text.  We sang praises together in both English and Hungarian, and the American group kicked off a week of teaching English lessons at school. 

Each day, students learned about another Biblical Superhero and also how to connect this knowledge to their own lives.  Students talked to this group of Americans about faith in Jesus and about living in this faith.  It doesn’t often happen (except in my lessons and in religion lessons) that students are asked to formulate their ideas about faith and what’s in the Bible and share them with others.  These questions and their answers opened up opportunities for the Americans to talk with individual students on a deeper level. 

In the afternoons for two weeks the group organized activities like dance, drama, art, music, games, and sports.  It was a great joy for me to watch all the activities and participate in some of them.  As one person, I feel that I have good relationships with a large number of my students, but to see them building relationships with other Christians and encouraging each other in their faith was truly special.

During and following the time the Around the World Semester team was in Gy'r, I heard many stories from both the Americans and Hungarians.  One CUI student came to me so excited to tell me that she had spoken to a student about faith and how Jesus’ death and resurrection brought us back into a relationship with God.  On our own, we cannot earn our salvation or restore our broken relationship, but through God's grace shown in Jesus, we can live in this relationship with Him.  One of my students also tried to explain to me how he felt after worshiping with the American team.  He told me that being able to do that together helped strengthen his faith in Jesus and encouraged him to live out his faith here in Hungary.

About a week after the group left, I was drawn into an impromptu conversation with a woman who had interacted with them.  For four years I have been talking with her, praying that the Holy Spirit would work in her life, and that she would come to know Christ as her Savior.  She told me that she had seen a change in her life in the last years and that she wants to draw closer to God (before this point, she had questioned the very existence of God).  I about jumped out of my chair with joy, and we continued an emotional conversation about faith and Jesus. 

As I look at what the Lord has been doing in me and through me and through this team, I can see how He works through His people.  Sometimes this means changes in people’s lives in just a couple weeks, like my students who grew so close to the Americans and realized their need to strengthen their faith in Jesus, but sometimes it takes time for the Holy Spirit to work, like in the case of my friend.  Praise God that He uses us, even if we can’t see exactly how!  I thank Him for this glimpse, and I pray that He might continue to use me here in this place, in the lives of my friends and students, even as He uses you where you are.

Er's vár a mi Istenünk,

Contributed by Sarah Berta-Somogyi