By Jeremy Merillat
The FamilyLife ministry in Hungary is still in its infancy. Our team is composed of just three staff couples, but our list of contacts is growing. Inspired by the American Weekend to Remember® event, we decided to create a similar environment for the couples involved in our ministry. We scaled it back, repackaged it, and launched our Evening to Remember series over a year ago. Each month we invite couples to join us from around the city for a fun evening with a romantic dinner, a challenging discussion on marriage, and an enjoyable game or activity. In the beginning, we scrambled to plan these events and practically begged people to attend. After a year of consistent meetings though, we’ve overcome many of the initial obstacles. People sign up ahead of time, and we’ve even filled up our event space on occasion. More importantly, we are hearing stories of how God is working in the lives of those who attend.
Recently, I saw Krisztian and Panni, who, just three years ago, experienced the tragic loss of a child. The grief was crippling, and I remember meeting with Krisztian in a quiet pub on a blustery winter night not long after they first heard news that their child would not survive. He told me that every marriage in his family had failed, and he was sure their journey would end in divorce too. However, through much counsel and prayer, Krisztian committed to growing in his faith. At the Evening to Remember, he and Panni were smiling and affectionate towards one another as they told us they are expecting again.
Catherine (my wife) met a woman named Csenge over a year ago. After their first conversation, Catherine told me that she’d had the strangest discussion on spirituality she could ever remember. Csenge and her husband lived in an open relationship, and her beliefs stretched the limits of Catherine’s metaphysical imagination. The only thing Csenge was certain of was that she would never limit herself to the practice of Christianity. She and her husband are regulars at our events now, and they recently reached out to our coworkers saying they want to renew their vows to each other. Csenge said that she is growing increasingly convinced of Christ’s uniqueness and her need to follow him.
Gábor told me about his struggles with alcoholism at an event last fall. His wife wanted to take the kids and leave, but he had managed to curb his addiction to alcohol by replacing it with marijuana. He wants to be clean though, and he and his wife have started attending an Art of Marriage Connect® group. After a recent event, I saw them speaking to the keynote speakers long after the program finished. The road ahead of them seems challenging, but we are excited to introduce them to God’s great love and power over addiction.
As our ministry grows and we look for ways to increase our impact on this community, we rejoice in the interactions we’ve had so far, recognizing that God is at work in our fledgling ministry to Hungarians just as he is around the world.