In 2000, Hungary celebrated 1,000 years since its conversion to Christianity. However, Hungarian people have now mostly lost contact with the gospel. They seek answers to life’s problems in material possessions, personal pleasures, alcohol, and false religions. Occult activity and Eastern mysticism, pagan witchcraft, ancient Magyar shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism, or a mix of these various spiritual ideas all increased in recent years. But mostly, people tend toward a non-religious approach that seeks material gain and personal pleasure. Ask God to expose all false teaching and empty philosophies, and to reveal Christ as the truth in this historically Christian nation.
Disillusion, dissatisfaction and upheaval against the government and economy in particular often characterize life in Hungary. The 1956 uprising and widespread demonstrations in 2006 and following demonstrate the desire for a better state of affairs. Political scandal has brought much disappointment and skepticism. Pray for elected officials, that they would look past political point-scoring, root out the widespread corruption and labour toward improving life for the whole nation.
The Church's impact in Hungary is uneven and inadequate. Some parts of the country are much more alive than others. Within the major denominations, including Catholic and Reformed, are vibrant charismatic and renewal movements. Independent and emerging churches are growing, but trust and unity need to be built between these and the traditional churches. In all groups, positive holiness and spiritual maturity are real needs. In Budapest, believers are blessed with many churches, but they often church-hop rather than commit to one congregation. Apathy and worldliness, as in so many lands, are challenges, even for evangelicals. Pray for unity, trust and cooperation to flourish among churches, and for the Holy Spirit to bring revival and renewal to all expressions of God's family.
There remains a great need for evangelism, despite the increasing amount and types of outreach and public ministry. Christians need to acquire confidence in the power of the gospel and its effectiveness when shared in the right way and in the Spirit. The number of nominal Christians is high, and millions of people have only cursory contact with the good news. There is still resistance to the gospel in much of Hungary. Pray for Spirit-led, creative forms of witness and for wisdom in how, when and where to reach out. Thank God for increasing levels of collaboration in outreach among churches and denominations.
Leadership training. Hungary is a Central European hub for theological education. There are four Christian universities providing education in theology, humanities and law, with several thousand students enrolled. There is an increasing focus on missions and evangelism. Pray also for the Protestant Institute for Mission Studies, the Pentecostal Theological College, Calvary Chapel Bible College and for teaching seminars run by New Hope International and others. Central European Theological Academy and Word of Life are two of several English-language theological institutions. TEE/BEE is increasingly used, especially to train laity. Pray for the younger generation to commit itself to the work of the Lord, and for the Lord to provide for those who take on full-time training.
Young people remain one of the most receptive groups to loving and culturally relevant witness. Pray especially for:
- Teaching of religious knowledge in schools, in the several hundred Christian schools and in public schools that invite this input. Increasingly, restrictions prevent teachers and evangelists from sharing the gospel in the public school context. Pray for freedom to witness in schools and for gifted people who focus on this ministry.
- Children's and youth programmes in churches. Since Hungary opened up, denominational and parachurch youth associations, such as YMCA, Awana, CEF, Dunamisz and others, have grown in scale and impact. Large-scale youth conventions are proving attractive. Foreign mission groups contribute much in this area of ministry.
- University students, who are open to most spiritual influences, both healthy and unhealthy. Nationally led international ministries such as Cru, MEKDsz(IFES) and YFC continue to grow in size and impact. But with over 200,000 university and college students in Hungary, the majority have no contact with a Christian group.
- Summer outreach programmes - by many Hungarian churches and by Barnabas Csoport, The Bible League and OM - train scores of young people from various denominations to participate in evangelism and follow-up work.
The Romani (Gypsy) community, Hungary's largest minority and most certainly its most socially and economically disadvantaged. This group has not seen the same spiritual breakthrough as have the Romani in Spain, France and Romania, but several new Protestant and charismatic fellowships are among them. Also, a number of agencies are attempting to meet their social and spiritual needs and, increasingly, ethnic Hungarians are gaining a burden to show the love of Christ to this needy people in both spiritual and practical ways.
Christian literature is in demand. Many new Christian publishing companies have been founded. The need continues for Christian books, written in Hungarian, that communicate the gospel to non-Christians in today's language and idioms. Balanced books, written in Hungarian, for the spiritual growth of believers are also needed. CLC has two bookstores in Hungary. The Hungarian Literature Mission is a major source of evangelistic materials.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.