NC Baptists launch English Bible camps in Hungarian public schoolsby Meredith Brunson
A classroom full of Hungarian middle schoolers leaned in to hear the story of Jesus’ birth as North Carolina volunteers explained it to them. Many were hearing that story for the first time. The students then acted out the story with their classmates and memorized Bible verses in Hungarian and in English. All the while, the teachers in the back were meticulously taking notes; many of them were hearing the stories for the first time as well.
This scene took place in June when North Carolina Baptist volunteers traveled to Hungary to launch one of the most exciting projects in Baptist history: an English Bible camp held in public schools. Nowhere else in the world does an opportunity like this exist, and Baptists are making the most of it.
Reaching communities through public schools
All of this is possible thanks to a law passed by the Hungarian government in 2012 that shifts the responsibility of each public school from the government to a non-profit organization. Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid), a partner of Baptists on Mission (NCBM), saw the opportunity and took on 49 of the poorest schools in Hungary, containing a total of 17,000 children. These schools are called “B49” (the “B” stands for Baptist), and many of them have a high percentage of Roma children.
HBAid provides the schools with food and educational materials, and also provides them with opportunities to learn about God. Since HBAid’s involvement with the schools began in 2012, more than 1,000 people have made decisions to follow Christ.
NCBM joins the effort
Teresa and Alicia Jones, a mother and daughter who serve and minister to the Roma people through NCBM, came up with the idea of furthering the ministry by holding English Bible camps in the schools throughout the summer.
In June and July, two North Carolina teams traveled to Hungary to launch the first English Bible camps in two different schools. The first team went to a school in the most unreached region in Hungary. The region has 100,000 people, but few have ever stepped foot in the one Evangelical church there. This was the first evangelical presence the children in the school had ever been exposed to.
On the final day of the first camp, parents were invited to see a program put on by their children about what they had learned during the week. At the end of the performance, members of the North Carolina team gave a gospel presentation to the parents as well.
In the village where the second English Bible camp was held, the North Carolina team watered gospel seeds that had recently been planted in the community by HBAid — and many there were receptive to the gospel.
“I watched in amazement as the principal and his wife, teachers of the school, workers from the cafeteria, and parents together with their children flooded to the front of the gymnasium in response (to the altar call),” Alicia Jones said. “More than 150 stood together, praying to receive Christ and afterwards began crying, dancing and celebrating their newfound faith.”
With such a tremendous spiritual response from the schools, HBAid recognizes that follow-up will be essential in discipling new believers. HBAid President Sándor Szenczy’s goal is to start B49 school churches in September. Church services will be held in the schools’ gymnasiums, and students, teachers and their families will have a place to grow in their faith. Imagine the amazing things God will do through planting churches in public schools!
To continue this effort in the Roma communities, North Carolina Baptists are very much needed in Hungary. Reaching Roma communities for Christ involves igniting spiritual interest in the communities, forming deeper relationships with the Roma people, and planting churches. North Carolina volunteers are especially needed in these communities to ignite interest in the gospel through English Bible camps. Volunteers are also needed as teachers and church planters, as well as for medical and VBS teams.