May 31, 2017
This past week, as Watchmen on the Wall was taking place in Washington, D.C., two of the FRC team headed over to Europe to encourage the church and participate in an event focused on one of our core pillars -- the family. At this year’s World Congress of Families, held in Budapest, Hungary, our own Peter Sprigg and Travis Weber shared FRC’s vision and work with other attendees and networked with a number of Hungarian Christians. This year’s location was partially chosen because of the pro-family policies of the country’s current Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose government helped organize the World Congress in conjunction with an umbrella event titled the Budapest Family Summit. Mr. Orban himself spoke at a part of the Summit titled the Budapest Demographic Forum, at which he warned Europe about its declining birth and fertility rates which pose a major threat to its future.
While in Hungary, Peter and Travis had the great opportunity to connect with and speak to Faith Church, a large Pentecostal congregation headquartered in Budapest with satellite locations around Hungary and in surrounding countries. The church began in 1979 as founding Pastor Sandor Nemeth met with several fellow believers in a home. Persecuted by the Communist government throughout the 1980s, the church received assistance and encouragement from those outside the Iron Curtain, including pastors and Christians from the United States. Since the fall of Communism, the church has grown to more than 10,000 attendees at its weekly services in Budapest, and reaches over 60,000 throughout its network of churches and media. In addition, the Faith Church operates a TV station and radio programs, schools (including an accredited college named St. Paul Academy), social welfare programs, and publishes a weekly magazine. Faith Church strongly supports Israel (the church has hosted Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Soviet Jewish dissident Natan Sharansky), and is engaged in ongoing efforts to combat anti-Semitism. Currently, the church has a replica of a boxcar that was used to deport Jews to concentration camps during the Holocaust, and it is taking the car around Hungary in an education and advocacy campaign against anti-Semitism. It was due to Pastor Sandor’s presence in Washington several years ago for an event supporting Israel that we at FRC originally connected with him. We are very thankful we did.
We are particularly encouraged that Faith Church remains strongly engaged in Hungarian society on the same social issues we at FRC work on here in the United States, including human sexuality, pornography, and religious freedom. One evening, Travis and Peter had a chance to address hundreds of students from the church’s St. Paul Academy on these topics, and after briefing the audience on their areas of work at FRC, they fielded questions for almost three hours! Afterwards they met with key church leaders and the school’s administrators. The next night, Pastor Sandor invited Travis and Peter back to address the church’s whole congregation, which filled the 10,000-person capacity former brick factory taken over by the church. Travis and Peter again spoke on FRC’s work, and encouraged and prayed for the church to be a blessing to Hungary. In addition to this service, which was recorded and broadcast, Travis and Peter recorded several radio interviews with the church’s radio station, and Travis was also able to have lunch with Pastor Sandor. We should all be encouraged to know that we have fellow laborers in Central Europe who are also working to transform their societies for Christ.
Faith Church has become a “spiritual hub” of Hungary and Central Europe. We need to strengthen and encourage these and other Hungarian believers, who can be a blessing not only to their own nation but to those surrounding it as well. Many of them appreciate their government’s pro-family direction, but they need strength to continue to witness Christ to their government and fellow countrymen and women for the good of their nation and of Europe. Like us, in addition to working against secular cultural forces, they have to contend with those like George Soros—who is of Hungarian ancestry and continues to push his destructive notions of sexuality through Gender Studies degrees at his Central European University in Budapest.
Thankfully, those at Faith Church see and understand the threats. They weren’t intimidated by Communism, and they won’t be intimidated by today’s aggressive liberal progressivism. In that way, we (who have not faced Communism but now face the same aggressive liberalism here in the United States) can learn from their strong stand. Nevertheless, they still need our prayers as they “stand in the gap” for Hungary and for Europe.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.