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Budapest became one city after the towns of Buda, on the west side of the River Danube, and Pest (pronounced "pesht"), on the east, were joined together. For the capital of a country so young to Western capitalist ways it is a surprisingly modern and fairly prosperous place. Buda is the older of the two halves and is attractively hilly, with lots of old, winding streets offering beautiful views across the river. Pest is completely flat and is now the commercial centre of the city, although certainly not without its charms by way of grand old monuments and buildings.
Our aim for this first campaign in Hungary was simple: to let as many people as possible know that we were there and were holding three talks about the basics of Christianity. We hoped that by so doing we might find some contacts to whom we could offer the Bible correspondence course in Hungarian or English. Never having preached here before in this way we were very unsure of the reception we would get, especially bearing in mind the country's history as a communist state.
The language is notoriously difficult. It really does not give the foreigner any clues as to either pronunciation or meaning. A man once said that Hungarian is closest to Finnish, but when asked how close he meant, the man thought for a moment and then replied, "About as close as English is to Persian."
After a Breaking of Bread on the Sunday morning, we set out in pairs to 'fly-bill' armed with pockets full of leaflets in preparation for the first talk scheduled for Tuesday evening. The main metro stations were the focus of our attention, as they were by far the busiest points in the city and thus many people could be reached relatively easily. The reactions to our efforts were mixed; some showed open disgust, screwing up their leaflet and angrily throwing it to the ground, but many others stopped to carefully read the whole thing cover to cover and then enthusiastically thanked us.
On the Tuesday evening, the night of our first talk, we were all nervously excited. How many would turn up? Slowly people started to trickle in - young, middle-aged and elderly, some smart, some looking poor - a mixture of people from all kinds of backgrounds. Sixteen visitors came. We were thrilled. The talks ran for the next two nights and several people came back to learn more. The presentations were given in English with a Hungarian translation. Then questions were taken, again translated back and forth, making the whole evening last about an hour and a half. Many people also stayed on for refreshments, and as they left they were given a copy of the notes from the talk with offers of literature and a correspondence course.
So it was that by the end of the week we had found a number of individuals who are now keenly continuing to learn. We hope that they may keep alive their enthusiasm to learn in the time that lies ahead.
|"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15)|