Lost and Found in Budapest

Crossing the Petőfi bridge on the 4-6 tram, (and you know rowdy that always is) there’s a moment of silence as time slows down just a little bit – almost imperceptibly (or maybe only in my mind). Looking to the north I see a view of the most beautiful parts of the city, framed by the window of the tram. It’s almost like it’s meant to be a postcard or one of those living trading cards from Harry Potter where the famous witches and wizards are not only pictured but actually smile and wave – kind of like that. The perfect moment captured in time. I try to so hard not to close my eyes and instead memorize every detail in case I tragically, unexpectedly never seeit again.

I feel like a frustrated sponge – already too saturated to take more in beauty and unable to do my job – but this is what I was made for! As humans we’re created to enjoy beauty – drawn to the things that please the eyes of our souls. When I see something truly beautiful, I sometimes describe it as making my eyes feel “juicy.” Imagine things like lush, green grass after a few weeks of springtime rain, the sun setting over the sea, or an intricate work of art. It’s like taking a bite of the perfect nectarine and the juice is so sweet and runs down your chin – only this all happens in your eyes. I sincerely hope you’ve experienced it.

More often than not in Budapest, I find myself with juicy eyes. It’s different in its beauty than other cities I’ve experienced – with the old next to the new, clean next to the dirty, the once destroyed turned into something even more precious, all the while forcing us to remember what once was and long for what could be. Artist Makoto Fujimura has written, “Beauty is in the brokenness, not in what we can conceive as the perfections, not in the "finished" images but in the incomplete gestures.” I see this in the bullet holes that remain in sides of buildings and in those areas of the city that haven’t yet been touched, those neighborhoods where no one has yet begun to wash over the past. I see it in the beautiful bridges that are flanked by crumbling buildings. I see it as old ladies fill their homes with whatever they deem as beautiful, whether it all “matches” or not and as homeless people make homes for themselves in corners of the city.

This city and country have, undoubtedly, been broken. It’s a place that has suffered and persevered and succeeded and then been brought back down and over again. And that brokenness, paired with “incomplete gestures” to fight against and work toward unachievable perfection create an atmosphere of beauty that provides inspiration. I believe it is because of this that the city is so full of artists, musicians, dancers, designers, contractors who do the work of renovating the broken. Everywhere you look there are gestures toward a finished image that will never be complete.

At the coffeehouse I run, we have hosted an artist named Dóra Votin. Dóra once showed some work that she’s done over the years with old, discarded planks of wood. She takes the ugliest parts – the knots and holes and chips and burn marks and fills with them with gold and metal and precious paints and emphasizes those broken pieces and they become the most beautiful. That is what Budapest is to me – a city with good reason to be hopeless, full of brokenness and ugliness, but that is instead becoming a precious stone, a city of “gold.” A city of such beauty that it makes one’s eyes juicy.

As the tram continues down the tracks, brining me to my neighborhood, I smile. It’s a neighborhood that is constantly under construction, constantly experiencing renewal – which means it’s constantly filled with cranes and trucks and dug up roads. And as annoying as they are (and as often as I trip over the uneven sidewalks), I walk around with wonder, being drawn always to remember what was and look forward to what will be.

– Posted by Cassidy, who is overwhelmed at the beauty of Budapest and longs for spiritual renewal which is energized by the gospel to accompany the physical renewal happening all around her in the city.

Staying Alive in the midst of a Dying World

Preach the gospel to yourself everyday. Are you familiar with this expression?
Some years ago I began to earnestly make this practice a reality in my life. Because I became a follower of Jesus as a child, I have sometimes slipped into an apathetic attitude towards the miracle of the good news and my own desperate need for it. Preaching the gospel to myself every day has helped me break out of that apathy, and it has recently also been helping me face some significant ministry challenges.
Each and every day, I must remind myself that before I met Christ, I was counted among the "walking dead" all over this planet. Men and women who are in active rebellion against God and are facing a certain destiny of eternal separation from their loving Creator. But somehow, amazingly, unexplainably, God chose me to receive new life through His son. And not only did He breathe new life into my rebellious body, but He adopted me as His son, alongside His very own son, Jesus. He did this so that the new life which has been breathed into my body would be an example to a dying world of God's patience and grace towards other rebellious humans. And the reason he gave me this "death-to-life" story is so that I would to join Him in His work in this world.
I was dead, but now I am alive. And the purpose of that new life which has been breathed into me is so that I would bring glory to God and invite others to experience this new life as well.  This is how people like the Apostle Paul (in Ephesians 2) and the Apostle Peter (in 1 Peter 2) described the gospel.
But even though I am filled with this new life, I live in a dying world.
In writing about his own death-to-life experience, Martin Luther described this world using a more "earthy" version of the word "privy". When I read that recently in Eric Metaxas' excellent biography of Martin Luther, I could completely relate — because there are most certainly times in which the world to me seems like a $#!@-house. And living as a made-alive man in a dying world sometimes feels like it has the potential to strangle the life right out of me.
Here are a few current examples: I want so badly for the church that I lead to more vibrantly display the gospel in our neighborhood, but I can't seem to make the progress I desire … I'm having some major relational challenges with some people who are close to me … Our car broke down last week and the cost of the repairs exceed the value of the vehicle …  A misspelling in my name on official documents threatened our foundation and had me tangled up in bureaucratic red-tape … a misunderstanding with a construction contract meant that a colleague and I spent three hours sitting across from two lawyers trying to sort out the mess … and that's only just the start of my little corner of the world at the moment.
All of these things have been causing me to feel dead inside, and I realize that I even sometimes behave like a dead man, too. Can you relate?
There seems to be a steady gravitational pull in this world toward deadness. And because of that, God has shown me that the reason I must preach the gospel to myself every day is to remember that I am NOT dead – I am ALIVE!. And that it is only the new life that God has breathed into me which makes me distinct from the dying world in which I live. What's more, it is God's plan that by seeing expressions of the new life that God breathed into me, the people around me who inhabit this dying world would desire to find new life themselves.
So I'm preaching the gospel to myself every day, in order to remind myself that through Christ, I am alive! Of course I will face struggles and challenges every day in this dying world – should this surprise me? But the gospel has brought me from death to life. And that by seeing the life that lives in me, others will see Christ.
Can you relate? What works for you when the gravitational pull of this dying world threatens to strangle the new life out of you? How are you able to live "totally alive" in a dying world?

— Posted by Mark, who leads the team of EFCA staff serving in Budapest.

There are currently a number of unique opportunities to join the ReachBudapest team in disciple-making and church multiplication in Budapest. See the opportunities

Sowing Seeds of the Gospel in Higher Education

Every semester, 50-60 eager university students attend one of my two-hour seminars during their mandated training week. During this week, just prior to vacation days, all students must select from a variety of seminars presented by their professors or guests. The sky’s the limit on topics, so I strike a balance between professional topics for teacher education students and personal topics for students in any major. "Dating for a Healthy Future" (for women only) is a seminar I’ve repeated several times. It’s always filled to capacity and this semester, a couple of men actually attended! The university has a religious heritage, so sharing biblical truths and my personal faith, while perhaps not expected, is certainly not rejected. University students are often openly searching for answers about the meaning of life. These students are engaged in the discussion and often ask hard questions; honesty is in abundant supply.

What tips can you give us about making a relationship deeper? What helped you stay married? Marriage isn’t important in Hungary. Why would a certificate make a difference? I don’t want to marry but I want to have a good relationship.

Lively discussion ensues as students talk in small groups and challenge one another’s views. And always, I tie it back to God’s word and his instructions for marriage. After two years at the university, I am noticing repeat customers and actually remember some of the students’ names! After the presentation, I offer students a chance to sign up for discussion groups that will take place outside the university. Usually about 10-15 students are interested, and some of them contact me individually to meet. In June, the discussion topic will be Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. Please pray for our meetings – that the timing will be right and students will have open hearts. They are always eager to stay after class and share personal stories, and these discussion groups will give us a chance to form real relationships.

Few professors are Christians, but there is a small presence on the faculty at this university. One of the professors tells me that our prayer times are most precious to her; she so appreciates taking these students before God and asking for their salvation.

Other opportunities to speak present themselves periodically in the educational world, and there is always a way to weave in the love that I have for Hungary and the reason that I feel God has called me there. Please pray for the harvest as we labor together to bring the gospel to the lost!

— Posted by Robin, an educator and disciple-maker who splits her time between living in Budapest and the US.

There are currently a number of unique opportunities to join the ReachBudapest team in disciple-making and church multiplication in Budapest. See the opportunities

Asking. Seeking. Knocking.

asking-seeing-knocking This week in the high school student ministry we participate in, there were some special moments of digging into Jesus teaching on prayer. I find that the conversations are rich and honestly intense as these students share important things together and process through what faith in Jesus means. We heard from two of the guys this week that this the best part of their week!

Sometimes the conversations, which are mainly in Hungarian, take quick turns into topics that are difficult for us to follow because we're still learning vocabulary. In these times, it is such a joy to know God is at work in us as we pray, trust, and wait for the conversations to come back around to familiar ground. It is also so kind of God to allow us to observe Dávid, the leader of our church-planting team, speaking clearly and his wife Judit, leading the students from a place of close relationship both with the students and God. This week as the students brought up suicide as the opposite of waiting on God to answer our prayer either with “Yes, or no-it would not be good for you, I have something better.” (Suicide is a common topic with the students. Hungary has a very high suicide rate especially in males according to the World Health Organization.)

In Matthew and Luke, Jesus says: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” “In ‘thanksgiving’ we recount blessings received and thus strengthen our confidence and enable ourselves to wait trustingly for what we pray." (Martin Luther)

One of the students this week processed that verse in this way: ”We are giving thanks to God for his answer in advance as we trust Him and wait on the answer.”

It is such a joy to hear and see God at work in these teenagers. This Kingdom community continues to grow in students and depth. My heart is moved as many of the students are the only believer in their family.

– Posted by Cindy, who along with her husband Harold is a part of a pioneer church-planting team in Óbuda, the 3rd District in Budapest.

There are currently a number of unique opportunities to join the ReachBudapest team in disciple-making and church multiplication in Budapest, including joining the faculty of the Hungarian public school that Cindy writes about above. See the opportunities

Peace Be Still

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mark 4: 37–41

Sometimes I’m in the storm, sometimes the storm is in me. After serving for two years on the ReachBudapest team, I returned to the US to jump into the process of becoming a long-term member of the team. This meant debriefing, reapplying, and raising more support to return all while living stateside. It is a year of in-betweens, feeling the burden of having my heart in two places. One rich asset to my time in the States has been participating in The Orchard Network Residency program. Designed for pastors, church planters and missionaries, the residency involves learning and growing and in the areas of life, skills, and doctrine. I’ve had the great privilege of learning from different leaders at the church and, through our training sessions, have grown in my theological foundation for ministry. Through this residency, my love for God’s word, the local church, and global missions has continually increased. There is a sweet camaraderie amongst participants, and it is a joy to see how God is at work in the Chicago area and around the world.

My heart aches to be in Budapest right now, but this season of in-betweens is how God is teaching me to be still, to be patient. He is teaching me the importance of the local church, and He is calming the waters of my soul. It’s a season of waiting, in the calm and stormy seas. When the wind starts to blow and the waves rock my boat, I sense Jesus commanding not only the waves of the storm to be still, but my own heart as well. In these last couple months of home assignment before heading back to Budapest, I am thankful for the stable foundation of God’s word, for the body of Christ, and for the message of the Gospel, our motivation for all that we do.

– Posted by Betsy, who is learning to rest in the assurance that Jesus is in the boat.

To discover how you could join the ReachBudapest team, click here to see available ministry opportunities. You can find more information about The Orchard Network at their website

Bringing the Nations to Budapest



If you would have asked me in 2009, as we were preparing to move to Budapest and devote ourselves to disciple-making in a different culture, whether I imagined that I would be building friendships with Afghani refugees, I probably would have found it easy to say "no". At the time, there was no indication that our work in Hungary would include a focus on Muslim people.

But all of that changed in 2015, when God began bringing people from some of the hardest-to-reach nations on the planet to the cities of Europe. Today our harvest field includes a significant number of Afghani people who fled from Kabul due to the violence caused by the Taliban, and are now setting in Budapest. A number of these families live in a refugee transition home where I volunteer regularly, and I am seeing God at work. One young couple in the home, expecting their first child, are brand new Christians. My prayer is that God would use this couple mightily as disciple-makers among their own people.

What if Budapest is the place where Afghani people meet Jesus? What if a worldwide movement of the Spirit among Afghani people would radiate from Budapest?

One of our biggest challenges in reaching these Afghani people is language. Adults generally have very limited language ability in both English and Hungarian, so evangelism and discipleship will most effectively happen in the Dari (or perhaps Farsi) language.

Do you have a heart for Muslim people? Do you already speak Dari (or Farsi), or are you willing to learn? Could God be calling you, or someone you know, to Budapest in order to reach Muslims for Christ? Let's talk! Drop me an email.

– Posted by Mark, who continues to discover daily new depths to the statement, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are my ways your ways". (Isaiah 55:8)

Back To School

The ReachBudapest team is motivated by the knowledge that God has shaped each one of us for a particular place of influence in society. He's given us skills, experience, and passions that equip us for a "space" or "lane" that is uniquely ours! We want to enter into those spaces as disciple makers, inviting people into relationship with Jesus and into community with other believers. As a result of professional connections made over the years with other educators, I was invited to give a teacher in-service at a public school. The local church sponsors this event annually, where students are dismissed for the day, and while teachers are in professional development sessions, other teams of church volunteers work with the school’s janitors on projects to improve the physical plant. This is but one way that the believers seek to support their local schools throughout the year.

I was asked to develop sessions that would inspire the teachers while giving them practical ideas for student-centered instruction in their classrooms. And by the way, the 60 or so teachers would have students ranging roughly from first to eighth grade. My first thoughts: “Wow, God, what an opportunity you’ve provided! Thank you!” My second: “ That’s impossible! I have no experience in Hungarian curriculum and instruction. A day off of school where the teachers VOLUNTARILY come to an inservice? Now that’s pressure! I’m not even sure it can be done well given the spread of grade levels. How can I possibly make this work? Help!”

Help was on the way! My most creative colleague “just so happened” to be joining me for a research trip in Budapest and its surrounds during the same timeframe. Having worked together as professors of education for over 15 years, we’ve developed a trust and a presentation style that complements the best in one another. “Guess what?” I cheerily told him. “We’re adding a teacher in-service during your trip!” Despite the fact that we weren’t at all sure what to expect, we set to work making plans that could be morphed at a moment’s notice into several different directions.

As we traveled to the school that crisp November morning, I was a bit apprehensive. I had met the pastor of the church and one of the teachers at the school, yet knew very little else about the situation. My colleague admitted to being scared (repeatedly and to anyone and everyone, only half in jest). In our own educational system and culture, we have been successful, but in a new context, we had little confidence in our own abilities to bring anything useful to this group of teachers. And make no mistake; the teachers of Hungary are VERY intelligent! We prayed for God’s favor and direction and plunged in!

We could not have received a more gracious reception with the faculty! They were attentive and adventurous, participating in all kinds of group activities. They laughed at our jokes! We all had fun and learned from one another. We affirmed their expertise and they drew from ours. We chatted at lunch and parted at the end of the day with an invitation to continue the dialog as educational colleagues.

We count it a great privilege to have the honor to work alongside local Christians who are reaching out through their schools, supporting and blessing their community’s faculty on a regular basis. Our prayer is that we, alongside local believers, will continue to be the aroma of Christ in their lives (2 Cor 2:14,15) for the sake of His gospel.

– Posted by Robin, an educator and disciple-maker who splits her time between living in Budapest and the US.


The Beginning of a Church

It is so exciting to see God work in new and unanticipated ways. He never ceases to amaze us in how invites us to participate in His work in the city. One of the long-term goals of the ReachBudapest team is to have an expanded ministry presence in Budapest, and to contribute to the launch of new churches in those locations. In the past year and a half, God provided an opportunity for our team to participate in the launch of a new church in the area of Kőrösi high school in Óbuda, the northern part of Budapest. The church planting team is led by Dávid, a Hungarian seminary student who is also the religion and ethics teacher at the high school.

On of our roles on the church planting team is to lead an English Club for parents and friends of the students at the school. These classes, while not evangelistic in nature, help to build relationships even though language is a challenge at times. Many questions arise during the discussions in class, and when this happens we take every opportunity to share our love of Christ and the hope we have in Him. In December we had an “American Christmas dinner” at our apartment in Óbuda. (photo below)

Every Wednesday after school, Hungarian teen believers are meeting with Dávid to study the Bible. They are inviting their friends that are searching for truth. The students have many questions about the scriptures, life, and what it means to live as a follower of Jesus. This is the beginning of a church and we pray that God will grow and expand it in His time.

This Christmas we gave Hungarian/English parallel Bibles to the adults in the English classes and to the teens. Several have shared with us that they have begun reading the God's word regularly! One couple memorized John 3:16 in English and recited it to the English club after we returned from Christmas. Please pray that as this new young church takes root, that God will use these Bibles for His glory.

There are currently opportunities to join this and other ministry projects Budapest. We're currently praying that God brings many more to join the ReachBudapest team. For more information click here.

– Posted by Harold, who along with his wife Cindy is a part of the church planting team at Kőrösi High School in Óbuda, on the northern edge of Budapest.


Playing games at Harold and Cindy's flat after the "American Christmas Dinner"

Merry Christmas from Budapest


With this beautiful Hungarian advent song, the ReachBudapest team wishes you a blessed, Christ-filled Christmas! (click the play button to view the video.)

Profound Peace

profound-peaceOn Saturday December 10, the coffeehouse was filled with musicians and artists who performed here throughout the year, here to celebrate Christmas together and so that we could thank them. We wanted to make sure that they know how valued they are, and how they helped to bring peace and life to the community this year. As I thanked them, I reminded them of that — of how different people are comforted by different things, how peace is brought to people so profoundly through art and music and how meaningful it is that we could offer more than 50 programs this year because of them.

This is important because one of our goals is to add to the life of the community. Through these artists, we are able to connect with more people in unique ways that touch their hearts. In the two years we've been open, we have established relationships with customers, musicians, artists, and other business people in the area. We have ample opportunity to interact with people daily and share with them the Peace so many of them are searching for. It happens in spiritual conversations we have with customers as they celebrate joy with us and pour out their griefs with us. It happens between us as colleagues as we are being constantly refined by each other to be more like God. It happens in the gallery as artists express the beauty of creation. It happens on the stage, through beautiful music that moves souls. It happens as musicians ask to come back again and again – not just because of the great setting but because “there’s just something different” here. It happens as a musician who has become a dear friend takes the time to help us with a marketing project. These are spiritual, gospel-filled opportunities that happen regularly and we are thankful.

– Posted by Cassidy, who lives and works in Budapest, spending her time helping the coffeehouse to be a place where deep relationships form and where people encounter Jesus, the Prince of Peace

[NOTE: There are a number of opportunities to participate in the work of the coffeehouse! If you are interested in learning about how you can support the project with your prayers, or through a financial investment, contact Cassidy.]

Concert, Classroom, Workplace: a Gospel Opportunity


It’s December 1st and in the music classroom at the International Christian School of Budapest, we are in full on practice mode for our upcoming Christmas Program, “One Bethlehem Night”. So much so that I find it very hard to get the songs out of my head! We are presenting the Christmas story in song and word, and this morning as I was working on some of the details I was reminded of the great opportunity I have as a teacher to remind both students and their families of the great and wonderful gift that we were given. Jesus, our hope and our salvation, the greatest gift from a loving Father who sent His Son to heal a broken world.

As a teacher, I have a captive audience in every class. Some of my students know Jesus and are following Him with all their hearts. And some of them, although they may have heard the Gospel message many times, have not yet placed their trust in Him. A Gospel Opportunity, it’s right in front of me and yet many days go by when I am distracted by the routine of class, life, lessons, that it’s often a missed opportunity. And you? God has uniquely placed you somewhere in the world where there are people who need to hear the Good News too!

As the Christmas season approaches, I know there will be many opportunities for ALL of us to share the hope that lies within us. My prayer is that whether it’s in class, at a concert or at our workplace, that we will make the most of every opportunity we have to share Jesus with those who have yet to believe. What greater gift can we give?

– Posted by Jodi, a disciple-maker and member of the ReachBudapest team who teaches elementary music at the International Christian School of Budapest. Interested in joining our team? Visit our opportunities page.

Night of Choirs

night-of-choirsSaturday was a big day for music in Budapest. A church that I’ve attended several times hosted a choir performance in a couple of main squares around their building as an opportunity to get to know their new neighborhood. A large annual music festival, Ez Az A Nap took place in a sport arena in the city, gathering a couple thousand people to worship together. Surely there were other performances at churches and auditoriums around the city.

I, however, attended a different kind of musical event – with very little prior knowledge about what I was getting myself into – but I had a connection and a VIP wristband, so there I went. When my friend Karol and I first arrived, I thought, “Oh, this is so cute.” Groups performing in squares and courtyards with fun decorations and signs to point you to the next venue. I quickly realized I had underestimated what a big production this would be. 20 venues, 50 choirs, and altogether around “500 voices united in song.”

The idea came from some members of one of the participating choirs four years ago – with a goal to popularize community singing – and it apparently resonated with many people as around 2,500 people gathered together last night to take part.

Walking from one fantastic performance to the next, I had an opportunity to chat with a friend (who happened to be the main organizer of the event) and she told me more about the thought behind it. She talked about how Hungary is a signing nation – in the shower or in the car – and how it’s a shame that there isn’t more public singing, even on the tram. She talked about vulnerability and the honor it is to stand next to someone with an open heart, allowing them to hear you sing and in return celebrating the voice of the person next to you as well.

I was reflecting on her comments as I sang with hundreds of other people in a shared church service in the park this morning and realized that, without this opportunity to weekly sing in community with others there would be a big hole in my life. I felt so thankful for that outlet and thankful that the creators of this event are offering this opportunity for those who don’t have that privilege to take part in the joy of singing together, even for a night.

All who remained until the 11pm finish gathered together in one area and sang a special song written just for this evening. Here is a loose translation of this hauntingly beautiful song:

The sun has set.
The silence has come.
A haunting breeze amidst the clouds,
The moonlight treads contemplatively;
The silence has come.
A haunting breeze amidst the clouds,
The moonlight treads contemplatively,
As if over the ruins of fantasy, fantasy;
As if over the ruins of fantasy, contemplatively.

(Csemiczky Miklós – rough, unchecked translation by me for informational purposes – original text found here.)

— Posted by Cassidy (photo: Kovács Márton)