“And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them” (Genesis 26:18).
Hungary’s history has developed a special type of Jew. Our people have embraced the identity of their country of residence more than in most European countries. Before World War II and the Nazi Holocaust, our people had begun turning to Christ at the highest rate in the world. The wells of this spiritual awakening have been stopped by the Nazis as well as by Communist “Philistines.” Now is the time to reopen these wells.
You may know that Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, was born in Hungary. The site where he once lived is now a Jewish Museum. Although Hungary was homeland to the father of Zionism, Hungarian Jews have always been great patriots, willing to lay down their lives for Hungary’s future. Jews were overrepresented in our great revolution and war of independence in 1848-49 as well as in the first World War, where many of our forefathers gave their lives for the Hungarian homeland. The majority of Hungarian Jews learned the Hungarian language, and many became specialists, like Zsigmond Simonyi (Hungarian language historian) or Blanka Péchy (actress and founder of national competition of correct pronunciation).
The death of the six million Jews in the Nazi Holocaust was a painful wake-up call. As Jews, we would never be fully accepted as part of the Hungarian nation. Many left left during the 1956 revolution when the borders were open for awhile. They started a new life in Israel or the USA. Many who stayed wanted to forget everything that would remind them of their past, including the God of Israel. They became Communists. But there was also quite a number of Hungarian Jews who—between the two wars—became Christians. As a result of the efforts of the Scottish Mission, a reported 97,000 Hungarian Jews received Christ.1 No doubt some were motivated by the hope of escaping persecutions, but many were motivated by true conviction. I personally know several Jewish people who became Christians during the war when they saw Christians risking their lives to save them.
As a result, today I hear many interesting stories. Klára is a medical professor who does volunteer work in the Jewish hospital once a week. Both of her parents have one Jewish parent. She was raised by her Jewish grandmother who had become Catholic and taught her both traditions. Klára introduced me to Gábor, whose mother was the first Hungarian cultural attaché in Israel after the fall of communism. During this time he stayed with his mother’s best friend: a Protestant pastor! Gábor attended church with them every week. Yet, he hasn’t yet come to faith in Jesus.
Gábor attends Calvary Chapel’s midweek service when they teach from the Old Testament. He is also studying the Bible with us to learn more about Jesus. Please pray for his salvation.
Klára has also connected me with the Jewish community of Balassagyarmat, where the president of the Jewish community is a Catholic man of Jewish ancestry. This man, Béla, spends a lot of time organizing Jewish life in Balassagyarmat as well as events that bring together Jewish and Christian participants. He is eager to meet with me as a representative of a mission to the Jews!
I talk to Christians with Jewish spouses, adult children of mixed marriages and so on. I have also been speaking with Lili, a student of Arabic studies who has Catholic Jews in her family tree.
God began something remarkable in Hungary which the enemy has tried to stop. After about 70 years, I believe the time has come when, by God’s grace, we can reopen Abraham’s wells and let the living water flow through the land.
1 Data of Sir Leon Levison, president of the Hebrew Christian Alliance quoted in “To the Jews First” by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser (2008, Chosen People Ministries) p. 229.