Being equipped for ministry means being ready to serve faithfully in fruitless seasons and fruitful seasons. Over the past 5 years, I’ve had the opportunity to minister in a small city in Hungary called Tapolca. Every summer, our church has sent a team of high school and college students to run a two-week evangelistic English Camp. During our days there, we teach English, play games, and build relationships with Hungarian teens. But every day, the students hear God’s word preached and spend time discussing it in small groups.
Over the years, I’ve had a chance to preach during these camps. It’s hard enough to know whether teenagers are following you at times. But when you add the cross-cultural aspect, and the reality that we are only with these students for two weeks out of the year, it can feel as if there is little fruit.
However, this past summer I was able to see God work through the many years that people have been faithfully serving. I had the opportunity to baptize a Hungarian teenager who had been coming to camp for the 6 years that it has been going on. Her story is like many of the teens we have seen in camp.
Initially, she came to camp for one reason: to improve her English by interacting with native English speakers. She had little interest in the Bible or Jesus. While Hungary would call itself a Christian nation, there is only a small presence of vibrant faith in the whole country. Much of its Christianity is cultural.
She went through her first year of camp relatively disengaged from the messages. But she decided to come back to camp again because of the relationships she had built and the fun she had.
As the years went by, she learned more about who Jesus was and what he had done for her. Two years ago, she accepted Christ after a discussion with one of our team members. She confessed the weight she felt over her sin and trusted in Christ for forgiveness.
Things didn’t get easier though. She wanted to continue in fellowship with other believers, but her parents forbade her from attending Bible study with this small group of believers. They feared that she was entering into a cult. It brought about a season of loneliness and doubt into her life.
But God was faithful. After asking God to confirm his work in her life one night, she heard a song come through her window. Outside, her town was putting on a musical play about the events of Pentecost. This particular song proclaimed the reality that Jesus was king over all things.
This reminder of Christ’s control over all things rejuvenated her faith and led her to make the decision to be baptized on July 5th—the two-year anniversary of when she accepted Christ. It was a helpful reminder to me of what Jesus told his disciples:
Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:35b-38)