Although Hungary is a Christian country traditionally or culturally, few have a living faith and trust in Jesus as their Savior. Furthermore, those that do, especially teenages and young adults, have little chance to really connect with others who believe the same thing they do or examine their faith further.
Melissa Karges, GEO missionary in Sopron, Hungary, and Sarah Berta-Somogyi, GEO missionary in Győr, Hungary, saw a need to help students get together for the purposes of recognizing their common foundation in Jesus Christ, building on that foundation through studying the Bible and prayer, and allowing them time to ask questions about how their faith relates to what they experience in their lives. The solution was to organize the first Hungarian Lutheran Schools Retreat, held March 1-3, 2013, in Révfülöp, Hungary. Melissa shared, “Many of [the students] tend to feel quite isolated in their faith. Part of that hope was to create something for students from Aszód, as their school doesn’t have a missionary. While the idea changed shapes a few times, what resulted far surpassed what I could have imagined.”
Even from the very beginning, Melissa and Sarah could see glimpses of how God had been preparing this group to come together even as they had been planning the activities for the weekend. Eight of the 11 students had attended a summer English Bible camp together, but the missionaries saw the entire group become cohesive as they spent the weekend sharing their faith.
The weekend began with icebreaker games followed by the first session which used Hebrews 10:23-25 as basis for the weekend and talks about laying out our foundation: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Over the weekend, sessions were held on God’s Word, prayer, and the fellowship of believers. On Saturday evening, Sarah and Melissa had told the students they could write any questions about faith or God on a piece of paper – anonymously – and they would try to answer them – using Scripture as the guide. Sarah shared, “The evening question and answer part just made me smile, because of the opportunity we were given to share answers to some difficult questions. One question relating to decision making was a particular difficult point for me in high school, and at that time, I had searched the Scriptures and sought Godly counsel to find the answer. It was like everything I’d learned came around full circle, and I had the chance to pass on that knowledge to these students. I know that this was not from the two of us: God gave us the wisdom and skills to share these things.”
Melissa added, “After a mentally exhausting day of working through some deep topics and wrestling with difficult faith questions, everybody was ready for a break. Sarah and I explained the concept of “popcorn prayer” which was new for them. It was one of the most peace-filled, thankful, and beautiful times of prayer I’ve ever experienced. The faith of this small band of youth brought me to tears.”
After some bonding time with an evening bonfire and s’mores, a morning hike, and praying together, it was time to go home. Everyone went back to their schools, their families, and their lives, but they did not go back unchanged, for God was surely working that weekend through His Spirit and Word! Praise Him!