This weekend, we celebrated 111 years of the Satu Mare Hungarian Baptist Church!
The celebration was beyond what we could have imagined or hoped for. Both Saturday and Sunday mornings began with courtyard fellowship with pastries, coffee, soft drinks, and fresh fruit.
The Saturday afternoon worship began with the worship team leading in songs and Joseph sharing scripture. Everyone who spoke, preached, prayed, or sang had been a part of the church during its history. People had come from all over the world - literally - to share in this special time.
Messages came in from everywhere from those who could not be there — the Jubilee was even live-streamed!
Lajos Budai, Oradea pastor, began with a message on God's fulfilling his promises of redemption, strength, and His faithfulness. Then Joseph opened up the service to share "memory testimonies."
Bonnie and Floyd shared of the impact of the Satu Mare church through our partnership of 23 years and on their lives - friends, partners, and family.
Mrs. Bartha (pastor's wife 1969-1990) shared what she remembered and would say to the church today - great testimony and a challenge to parents.
Elizabeth Vekas shared of her 33 years in the church (20 years as pastor's wife) as seasons in serving the Lord: camps, women's ministry, elderly ministry, women's camps, the gift of guests and groups - great blessing - and thanked God for the strength and grace to serve.
Barna Kovacs shared a brief history of Satu Mare (began as Salt Market—1000 yrs). Then came the history of the church using Isaiah 43:2 on fire and water. The church began with an evangelistic meeting and 22 people were baptized to begin the church. The structure burned in 1943 during WWII.
The present building is the second building that took them through the Communist period. In 1970 the river flooded and much of the city was destroyed; after that, all helped to rebuild the city and the church. The lesson of history is: do not fear the difficulties - they bring us together. Communism presented opportunities to meet needs and to grow a close fellowship. No one could stop the church from growing together. During the 1980s, immigration began to impact the church as people left for the West. With this, the "immigrants" took their faith wherever they went like missionaries.
There was also a time for those who had come "home" to share their testimonies of the church's impact on their lives. They shared what they saw in the vision of the church: mission vision still alive, love among the members, and strong spiritual life.
One man gave a very moving testimony of how the church had led him to faith and encouraged him. But, he left the ways of the Lord—he lived with a "haunted heart." Then the church received him back after a bad time. His message: God can lift us from the depths.
Saturday evening was a youth praise team concert and a message from Daniel Pusok, Pastor Toronto, who had served with the church during his seminary "apprenticeship." Daniel preached on how to draw near to God from James 4.
Worship began with trumpets sounding and singing "God of our Fathers whose Almighty Hand." The Worship team led in praise and Joseph read Scriptures - focus on God's plan for us - God at work in all circumstances - our call to obedience. We are living sacrifices unto the Lord. The choir sang "My Tribute."
Floyd preached (translated by Jozsef Kovacs) from Hebrews 12:1-3. Joseph prayed at the end a very moving and powerful prayer. The children left for children's church led by Judith Kovacs.
After the children left, pastors who had been connected to the church brought greetings and word to the church (about 5 minutes each).
Dr. Pal Borzasi, President of the Hungarian Baptist Convention of Romania/Pastor, shared from Psalm 50 - praise to God. Rev. Daniel Pusok, President of the Hungarian Baptist Convention of North America/Pastor, shared from Acts 4:33 on successful church - used by God and multiplied by God. Rev. Bela Szekely, Sarmasag Pastor, spoke of thanksgiving not only in bad times but good times, power, and hope to live in joy - the Lord had led them through so much with power and hope - good times living in joy. Rev. Deszu, Acas Roma Church, shared from 1 Thessalonians 1:1-6.
Barna shared the history of salvation through baptism pictures since the beginning of the church. The church has a register of all those who have been baptized since its beginning. We were reminded that the church is generational - each generation must come to repentance and faith in order for the church to continue and grow. A time of prayer for those who the church no longer has contact with was led by Elizabeth Vekas. A beautiful song of God's faithfulness from generation to generation was sung by a multi-generational choir.
The church's deaf ministry began 25 years ago as Zoltan and Elizabeth Vekas prayed for a deaf faith community for their daughter, Blanka. Today there are 12 members and 3 who preach.
Pastor Szabo Szilard brought a brief message on Looking to the Future. After the service was the offertory song: Floyd's favorite Hungarian hymn "The Conquering Hero." The service closed with "When We All Get to Heaven."
After service, there was a group picture taken in the courtyard. We shared a meal of outstanding goulash and fresh bread!
The Satu Mare Church did an excellent job of carrying out the 111-year Jubilee. The services and fellowship were so meaningful and brought Glory to our Lord and God.
Can't wait til the next Jubilee!