It’s been a week since I arrived back in the States from my trip to Budapest, Hungary, and I have started to learn how to adjust back to my normal routine of life after such a profound and enlightening trip. As I have told many people at home after returning—this trip was exactly what God wanted me to do in order to show me what I’m supposed to do.
I am currently studying Intercultural Studies at Asbury University, which is a distinguished title for “missions.” From what I have experienced on the mission field so far, and from what I have learned in a classroom setting, I thought I had a pretty solidified understanding and comprehension of what global missions looks like and how it functions.
But God has an incredible sense of humor sometimes.
The time that I spent with Jonathan, his family, and the OMS team in Budapest completely altered my preconceived notions of what full-time ministry looks like, as well as what it shouldn’t look like. This trip allowed me to experience the value and necessity of relational ministry, as well as the opportunities it creates to form fruitful connections and relationships. My experience with missions thus far has been heavily project oriented—and while this is needed to a degree, it shouldn’t be the only foundation of ministry. It needs to be combined with relationships. And while relationship building might not reap instant results and gratification, it’s what makes genuine ministry possible. Sometimes we get so caught up in “doing” ministry that we forget how important it is to just “be.” The missions experiences that I have had prior to this trip have been so focused on “doing” that they compromised the need to “let go and let God,” especially in the context of relationships.
Throughout the week, as we discussed the meaning of the Great Commission and of the call to evangelism, I gained a strong awareness for the need of intentional discipleship. In missions, there has historically been a high-drive for numbers, meaning that we try to get as many people exposed and converted to Christianity as soon as possible, and sometimes this happens in the form of building more churches. Don’t get me wrong, churches are important. But when there is more value placed upon creating an institution rather than creating and fostering disciples, there is a problem. If there is no framework of discipleship available to new believers, then it becomes easy to get caught up in the surface-level evangelism that so easily misleads people in missions today.
The last important insight that I received from this trip was the importance of ministry on a small-scale level. Sometimes it’s all about one person. Especially in an urban city like Budapest, you’re not always able to reach the masses—you might just walk with, grow with, and disciple one person or a few people at once. One relationship can open doors to other people and opportunities that otherwise would have remained shut. This is a really hard concept to implement on the mission field because we’re often accustomed to believe that ministry is only successful if it’s generating high results. Many times when we start to gain the quantity, we start to lose the quality.
Overall, I am in awe of the ways that God moved in my time spent in Budapest, and in the ways that He is continuing to move now—subtly and tangibly. I know that the knowledge, insights, and stories from this trip will be shared for quite some time and will be formational in my continued study of missions. I hope that as more people visit this field, they will be just as changed and enlightened as I have become, and that the desire to someday return to such a remarkable city and ministry will always remain.
– By Lauren Hemenover, OMS Hungary Short-term Trip Volunteer