by: UMC Hungary

25 years ago, a ministry with Roma was started in Abony (Hungary). Last year, a young couple started a two-year training at Wesley Bible School in Budapest – in order to grow in faith and to take over responsibility in the church later. It’s a journey that is everything but simple.

In the early 1990s, members of Szolnok United Methodist Church started to build relationships to Roma families in the nearby city of Abony. They kept in touch with about 30 people of different generations, many of whom lived under quite difficult circumstances. In the following years, it became visible over and over how God’s transforming power worked in the lives of these people.

From the very beginning, one man particularly focused on youth. He offered them educational assistance, and when he discovered their musical abilities, he organized guitar lessons for them. Today, Abony UMC enjoys the fruit of this musical encouragement. The whole work, however, could only be done because of the fact that members of Abony UMC opened their doors and made available their rooms so that the congregation could gather. It was in 2013 only, when a big house, centrally located, could be purchased. Two rooms were combined and transformed into a multi-purpose room for the congregation; in addition, there are a room for the youth and two rooms, which can be used as apartments.

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It has always been one of the most important aims to help members and friends of Abony UMC to grow in faith and to assume leadership positions. And then, suddenly, two young people, István Rafael and Mária Jakab, heard God’s call to exactly this journey. In the meantime they completed the first half of a two-year education at Wesley Bible School. István Rafael describes his first experiences as follows: «As a child, I had huge problems with learning, I had experienced many failures, I had been a poor student. Therefore I started this education with many awkward memories – and with fears and inhibitions towards learning.» Mária Jakab, who has married István in the meantime, had some quite similar emotions: «When we arrived at Wesley Bible School and met our future classmates, we thought: What are we doing here? All these people had a diploma – or even several of them. We had nothing at all. I did not see any chance and already decided to run away. But then our names were called, and we were told that we would be admitted to this education.»

Both of them learned a lot during the first year at Wesley Bible School. But it was not only a very meaningful and valuable time – it was also a huge challenge. István Rafael experienced how God transformed him through this education – and how God also encouraged him to face his fears and weaknesses and to never give up. That God’s power is made perfect in weakness, as Paul had written to the Corinthians, became a very important experience for him, as well. His wife Mária is also convinced: «It was not easy to study in addition to my job (and to study at all), but the Lord was with us.»

The UMC in Roma has ministries with Roma people at various places. This commitment has quite different aspects – from church development to capacity building to various educational programs. István and Mária would like to contribute with all they are and all they do that this commitment will continue to bear fruit in Abony – trusting that times and circumstances may change, but that God remains the same.

Source: UMC Hungary, Supt. László A. Khaled

Read also: “It all has just begun!”