Our Globally Engaged in Outreach (GEO) Missionaries who teach English, as well as the English Bible Camps, which run during the summer, impact many lives with learning and the Gospel. Sometimes, the fruits of those impacts are subtle. Sometimes they are immediate. Sometimes they are cumulative over time. When you combine the wonderful volunteers who run the English Bible Camps with a wonderful teacher and an extraordinary student, you can really see how God is at work!
This fall, GEO Missionary Sarah Berta-Somogyi, who teaches English-as-a-Foreign Language in Győr, Hungary, will help a student transition from Hungary to the United States to attend her Alma Mater, Concordia University, Irvine, CA (CUI). Sarah first met Daniel Varga six years ago when she began teaching him at Péterfy Sándor Lutheran School.
Daniel is the oldest child in a close-knit family of five. His mother is Nárcisz and his father is Péter. Daniel also has a sister named Nárcisz and a younger brother named Samu. He says that being the oldest brings responsibility with it, “but I’ve always enjoyed helping in anything my parents asked me.” Daniel’s family is also very close to his maternal grandmother, and they always come together on family occasions or holidays to celebrate. He says that his family is very close and “I can always rely on them, their love, support and encouragement have helped me countless times through my childhood and school years.”
At 6’5”, Daniel has found that his height is often the first thing people notice about him. However, he is also an extrovert, so he is very open to others and has many friends both in Hungary and in the United States as a result.
Dani has met many US friends through the English Bible Camps he attended during the summers in Hungary. His first camp was four years ago and took place at his school in Győr. Dani was encouraged to go by his previous English teacher, because of the opportunity to practice and improve his English, as well as the opportunity to meet many new people. Dani says,
I was very excited; English was one of my favorite subjects, so of course, I went. And it was one of the best decisions in my life, the 3 English camps I’ve attended have given me so much, I can’t be thankful enough to God for them. Improving all of my English skills, creating friendships with a lot of fantastic and awesome American people, and of course, strengthening and tightening my relationship with God. These camps, but particularly the second, made me the believer Christian person I am, and this might be the biggest and most important thing I can thank these camps for.
Every two years, students from Concordia University, Irvine, CA return to Hungary to run English Bible Camps for junior high and high school students (grades 5-12). Several of the past CUI volunteers have since or are currently serving as GEOs in Central Europe, including Dani’s teacher Sarah, Benjamin Helge (Czech Republic), and Melissa Karges (formerly in Sopron, Hungary). In this way, there has been a lot of continuity between the relationships built at the camps, and further relationships that could be shared as the CUI students came to the field as GEOs. Additionally, students from Hungary and CUI keep in touch via email and other means, even when they are not in the same country. Through these continuing relationships, people are strengthened and encouraged, and the Gospel continues to be proclaimed on a very personal basis.
Given his love of learning English and the experiences he had with American students, Dani started contemplating attending university in the United States. He says, “I always wondered in myself why I met all my American friends, why I could create relationships with them so easily, for there should be a higher reason, I thought.” Therefore, last summer, Dani’s parents consulted with Sarah about possible options for Dani. Sarah naturally thought of CUI, since the school already has a connection with Hungary, and Sarah herself is an alumnus. She was able to offer lots of insight and help Daniel with the application process. Daniel says many factors played a role in his decision:
the previously mentioned friends, who are going to be there, making it a very inviting place, I won’t be a complete stranger when I get there; the prospect of being able to grow a lot more in my faith sounded very good to me, and CUI is the place where this growth will surely happen; not only university, but life itself is going to be a huge challenge in the States, and being a person who likes to take on challenges, I didn’t hesitate much, even though it’s going to be very difficult to leave all the people I spent my whole life here.
Daniel was accepted and will head to CUI this fall to begin his studies. While he has received a scholarship, there are still many challenges — financial, cultural and emotional — to be faced in making the transition to an American university. Dani is ready to face those challenges and sees them as an opportunity. He says: “It’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime, which will not at all be easy at some times, but hopefully, it will give me the experience I can cope with in my future life.” Sarah knows that Dani is up to the challenges as well. In her last newsletter, she had this to say about her student: “I have seen this remarkable young man grow in many ways over the six years that I had the privilege of teaching him. He has grown as a leader and a person, and most notably, his faith has grown as well. I am excited to see how he will continue to grow at CUI, and how he will also be an influence on those around him there.”
Daniel has received a scholarship based on his academic abilities. Yet, there are still many financial needs. Please see below for how you can help support Daniel as he attends CUI. There is no doubt that Daniel will be as much of an asset to the university as the education, friendships, and faith life there will be of benefit to him.
Sometimes, the activities and encounters shared on the mission field seem so simple: English Bible Camps, teaching English in schools, conversations, emails, game nights, etc., but in reality God is at work in the simple things to draw all people closer to Him. We give thanks to God for Daniel, his exciting new adventure, the GEO missionaries serving in Central Europe, the many volunteers who have worked with English Bible Camps, and CUI.
- If you would like to support Daniel and other students from Hungary, you can do so by giving a tax-deductible donation through CUI. There are two methods for this: 1) Make out a check payable to Concordia University and then in the memo line write “Hope for Hungarians Scholarship.” Checks can be mailed to Concordia University Foundation, 1530 Concordia West, Irvine CA, 92612, or 2) Give online at www.cui.edu/giving. There will be a drop-down menu, and you need to select “other” and type in “Hope for Hungarians.”
- If you would like to give directly to Dani, contact Sarah at Sarah.Berta-Somogyi@lcmsintl.org.
- Please pray for Daniel during his transition!
- If you are interested in serving on a short-term team like those put together by CUI, or as a GEO missionary, please visit the Serve Now page of the LCMS.
- A huge thanks goes to GEO Missionary Sarah Berta-Somogyi for all of her help in putting together this article.