No Longer Strangers

There’s a long-standing rift between the churches of Hungary, but Tibor Miklós isn’t content to let it stay that way. He’s on a mission to unite congregations and denominations for the sake of the gospel—and he’s using the In Touch Messenger to do it.

As Hungary slowly emerges from the shadows of atheism, a new generation of believers is rising up to preach the gospel and lead their country back to God.  Now, nearly 30 years since the Soviet occupation of Hungary ended, the country’s rich Christian history is slowly coming into focus. And God is using dynamic believers like Tibor Miklós to cast light where there has been darkness, bringing hope to a culture that is ready for spiritual truth.

Messenger - HungaryTibor Miklós

Tibor has a heart for people who don’t exactly fit in—something he personally understands because of his blindness, but also because of his upbringing. As a young boy, Tibor’s parents abandoned him to Orphanage One—Romania’s infamous and impoverished casa de copii, or “children’s house,” where in 1990, British officials discovered toddlers tied to urine-soaked beds, after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Romanian dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. Tibor lived in one of its buildings from the late 1960s until 1983, when he left at the age of 18.

After years of finding his way through the world, and suffering the effects of retinitis pigmentosa—the degenerative eye disease that gradually took his vision—today, Tibor is a pastor and ministry leader. He works single-mindedly, joyfully, to develop meaningful connections with other leaders across Hungary with one goal in mind: to unite the church and care for the least among them. 

Religion in Hungary

By accepting Catholicism in 1000 AD, the Hungarians joined the Christianized nations of the West. Yet under communist rule in the 20th century, Hungary was officially an atheist state. Then in 1972, the Hungarian constitution proclaimed the free exercise of worship and the separation of church and state. Though Protestant denominations are present in the country, today, Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism are the most prevalent religious affiliations—much as they were more than 100 years ago in the twilight years of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. Since 1990, more than 200 additional religious groups have been officially registered in the country.

Pew Research Center found in 2015 that, while 76% of the population of Hungary declared itself Christians, Hungarians—like many Central and Eastern Europeans—could be described as “believing and belonging without behaving.” Most adults say they believe in God, and most identify with a religion, though some do so as an element of national belonging rather than a personal faith. Relatively few adults in Central and Eastern Europe say they regularly attend worship services, pray often, or consider religion central to their lives.

As Tibor’s prayers and concerns for the blind have increased, God has begun to bring still more marginalized people into focus, such as Hungarians with a broader range of disabilities, and the ostracized Roma people who speak Hungarian, but in many cases have not learned to read or write.

The In Touch Messenger Lab is working closely with Tibor and his network of ministers to distribute biblical resources perfectly suited to those who find it difficult to read on their own, for one reason or another. With the Messenger and Torch, those who were once neglected receive an easily navigable audio Bible and sermons in their native tongue.

Tibor understands that unity in the body of Christ is integral to reaching the people of Hungary for Jesus, so he works tirelessly to unite believers. For him, the words of Psalm 133:1 are critical to success: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” As in any country, inspiring denominations to work together comes with many challenges. And that’s particularly true in Hungary, where Tibor must overcome a rift between the churches caused by an unfortunate ruling the government made, officially recognizing some groups and not others. But in time, pastors are won over by Tibor’s heart for the lost and desire to see people brought to a saving faith. Through the Messenger, God is uniting churches in communities throughout Hungary—the device bringing congregations together for distribution events.

Messenger - Hungary

Brotherly Bond

“When I became blind and God led me to start this ministry,” Tibor says, he recalls asking God to give him some blind pastors to help with the work. And God provided Tibor with some invaluable friends, especially Paul (pictured above). “He was my encourager, and he’s next to me now.”

When the two men think back on their prayers for Hungary and their dreams for the Messenger, they’re overcome with gratitude to the Lord for the crowds that are coming to receive His Word.

But for Tibor, it’s critical that ministry doesn’t end once the Messengers are distributed. So he’s working with people all over the country to build relationships through small groups and mentoring—and witnessing the seeds of the gospel, planted by the Messenger, growing into an abundant harvest of faithful disciples.

Though Tibor’s ministry is expanding by the week, there’s still much work to be done. And that’s why every month you can find him in the upper level of Centrál Kāvéház, the oldest coffee house in Budapest, meeting and praying with nearly 100 influential Christian leaders. Together they’re lifting up their concerns to the Lord, and in the meantime strengthening the bonds of affection between them—an essential part of effective ministry.

But Tibor won’t stop working to reach all of Hungary. He’s looking out, far beyond his country’s borders—to Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Serbia, and the rest of eastern Europe. Wherever God tells him to go.

Related Topics:  Evangelism

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