This is my very first newsletter article for Global Ministries, and when I started, I was not quite sure how I would tackle it. I have only been in Budapest for four months, so how on earth can I assume to have an insight into the culture or life of this country in such a short time? But then I realized that it is not my perspective on the people here I should try to communicate; rather, it’s my view as a new Global Mission Intern in a new place with a new job that I should write about.
My time in Hungary thus far has been nothing but positive. As a mission coworker I feel that this is an impressive feat. By definition, I am uprooting my life and incorporating myself into a world that is literally foreign to me. I am thousands of miles from home for at least a year and all I can do is hope that I like the people I work with and the work I do. Yeah, there’s NO WAY that could go poorly…
And surprisingly enough, it didn’t. I arrived in Budapest and immediately felt that I had been welcomed home. There are very few times in your life when you are absolutely sure you have chosen the right path or know you are in exactly the right place, but that is how I feel here. I needed this adventure, I needed this leap of faith and I needed these people! There has been more hospitality and generosity poured out to me in the past four months than I ever could have imagined. It is clear that God has led me here. God knew how much I needed this new beginning, this new ministry in Hungary, and perhaps how much they needed me in return.
My service here is interesting. My placement, my work, my routine are not what most would consider “real mission work,” and this is something I struggle with. I serve with the Ecumenical Office of the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH). My work is solely English communication for the national church. I work with other members of the ecumenical team to, in essence, communicate the life and work of the RCH to its international partners. Mainly, I write articles and conduct interviews concerning the different fields of ministry and general church news to feed the church’s English website, newsletter, as well as Protestant media outlets. Additionally, select news from the Hungarian communication department is translated and used. It is challenging work to be sure, but it is so far removed from what my mission coworkers around the world are doing, and ever so often I find myself asking, “Do I add up?”
When I see those words written, I feel so arrogant and contrite. They leave a bitter taste in my mouth, because sometimes I find myself believing them. I say them as if what I’m doing is somehow bad – as if I would be more useful serving somewhere else, somewhere I was really needed. But, I know that’s not the truth. I know I am filling a void in an area that the RCH really needs addressed. I say this because Hungary, linguistically, is extremely isolated. Their language is very difficult and very unique. It is also a language that is not widespread, which means that it essentially does not exist outside the borders of Hungary. That being said, there is a wealth of information being showcased by the church’s communication department, but because it is written in Hungarian, few outside of the borders will understand it. This means any news article or update has to be translated into English or German, which, believe me, is easier said than done and just generally time consuming. But, in a time when the worldwide church is more connected than it has ever been, international ties and relations are essential.
So, I see my place as a communicator, telling the church’s story. I see that I’m a vital cog in this machine. But how do I shirk this feeling or definition of somehow not being genuine or substantial enough, not being a “real missionary?” I think the first issue is our definition of the term – our idea of the work we do somehow being the only metric of success, failure and acceptance. In reality, it is a narrow definition that is markedly out of place in the very broad, diverse and rich vocabulary that surrounds it. The beautiful thing about mission is that it can occur any and everywhere. The work that is done is as unique and colorful as all the places it takes place. The cultures and people make mission so much more than any one person. It is a united effort fought alongside people of different backgrounds and beliefs. It is the knowledge that you are enough. God has blessed you with the talents necessary to accomplish great things, but we must do it together, and we must answer the call wherever it may be. For me, I was called to Budapest, Hungary because I have a talent that directly aligns to a need, and what may seem like a menial task of writing or proofreading is more helpful than we, as native English speakers, could ever imagine.
The other problem we run in to with our definition of mission is this idea that our worth is a direct result of the work we do. Since when did productivity become the deciding factor in a relationship? Shouldn’t a partnership be about supporting each other and learning from one another while our journeys of faith overlap in a certain place for a finite amount of time? Now is the time to reconsider our outlook on service and our definition of mission. Now is the time for new beginnings. God has allowed us, through God’s grace, to experience the wonderful diversity and fullness of this world its many and varied people. It is our challenge to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God, which means living our lives with the purpose and knowledge that we are but a tiny part of Christ’s body.
It’s a humbling thought to imagine as we approach Lent and Easter – God’s grace. God’s sacrifice has given us the ultimate new beginning, one that is not deserved by a single soul on this earth. And yet, here we are – cared for, trusted, loved. We have been given a gift that we could never earn through a sacrifice made solely for us. No matter how broken or shattered our world seems, we are all here by the grace of God, and it is this grace that binds us all together. We are all equal around the table. Now, it’s our turn to be the extension of God’s grace and the invitation for a new beginning.
Amy Lester serves as a Global Mission Intern with the Reformed Church in Hungary, based in Budapest, Hungary. Her ministry is possible because of funds provided by Week of Compassion of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ. Amy serves as a facilitator of international communication, writing proposals to international organizations, receives and guides the international guests, and many other duties.