For Julia’s birthday at the beginning of March, we went on a little trip to the medicinal baths of Bükfürdő. When we returned to Budapest, I assumed I would be heading into the most intense time of the year with my “seniors” at school. The previous week, we had finished watching Forrest Gump together, and we had had a very deep conversation on the topic of love and hope. I thought I would be continuing that conversation as I taught over the next couple weeks. But all that changed in the twinkling of an eye.
While we were in Bükfürdő, the first cases of the COVID-19 virus in Hungary were being diagnosed. The number of cases quickly grew from 5 to 11 to 23 and so on. At the moment, there are well over 1,500 known cases in the country, and deaths have soared past 100.
As in other places, life in Hungary has come to a virtual standstill. Several weeks ago, the government declared that it was closing all schools. However, it also announced that education would continue online. This announcement came without any warning, and the schools were completely unprepared and ill-equipped. We suddenly had to ovehaul the entire educational system — quite literally — overnight! As you can imagine, these last few weeks were a bit challenging for me. But I think I am finally catching up with the learning curve.
At this point in time, I do not know if I will see my students in person again this year. I have a lot of contact with them via the internet, but that is not the same thing as being with them in person. Similarly, Julia does not know if she will see the students in the English Club or whether the MOPS ministry will meet again in the near future. And like my English lessons, her Hungarian lessons have been moved to cyberspace. Therefore, we would like to ask you to pray that we would be able to make the best of whatever opportunities we do have during the remainder of the school year. Pray that despite the circumstances, we would be able to share the hope that is within us and that we would be able to make the Gospel clear to those whom God has put in our lives.
As we have watched the COVID-19 virus spread from Asia, to almost every nation around the globe, we have watched the same drama unfold in almost every country. People have started looking for others to blame. Most often, they engage in partisan politics and blame members of whichever party they are not fond of. Yet, if people had listened to the warnings of those in the health profession and had followed their advice a two months ago, we would not now be in this current predicament. We went on eating, drinking and being merry as though this could never touch us. It was all just hype, we said.
Recently in our weekly team meeting, we read 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, which now seems more than timely. Here Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica: “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
As I was pondering where we are and how we got here, 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 came to mind. Here, the Lord said to Israel: “If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and My people, those who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and will seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heave, forgive their sin, and heal their land…”
Perhaps we need to stop looking for others to blame? Maybe the people of God have something they need to do now? Maybe our nation needs us more than we know? But this is going to require some humility on our part.
– By Will Dickerson, OMS Hungary Team Member