Amy Lester

How would you describe the mission of our partner in Hungary?

The Reformed Church in Hungary describes itself in this way:

"We understand ourselves as a "border-crossing" community in every sense of the word: crossing political borders for expressing church unity and communion with other Hungarian-speaking Reformed Churches. Similarly, we move beyond the walls of the church in mission and social ministry in order to transform the church into a welcoming community that reaches out to youth, and transforms society by taking responsibility in social life and by standing on the side of the needy and vulnerable. 'Going beyond borders' affects our community; it challenges old and traditional forms of being a congregation and living out the church. Going beyond also means for us 'going far beyond our own capacities.' The Reformed Church is an ever-reforming church."

How do you fit into the mission of the Reformed Church in Hungary?

I am working with the Ecumenical Office (Foreign Affairs Office) of the Reformed Church in Hungary, focusing on English communication. My purpose is to communicate the life and ministry of the RCH to its foreign partners, and others around the world, through regular newsletters and website updates. The main focus of my office is to maintain foreign relationships with sister churches, and my position enables the church to produce much more quality English material than they previously were.

What led you to engage in this calling?

Mission work has always been a passion of mine, and I had considered the GMI program for quite a while, but for one reason or another I always found a reason or excuse not to apply. Finally, I was at a point in my life where I need to make a change; I needed movement in my life. My pastor at home mentioned one day that the GMI application deadline was approaching and I just knew that this was something I should do. So, I sent in my application and within a week Global Ministries called me back asking how I felt about serving in Hungary. As it turns out, our partner in Hungary sent in a GMI job description that was essentially tailor-made for my qualifications and only a week later, I turned in an application perfectly designed for their needs. When I filled out that application last year I had no idea what I was getting in to, but the Lord knew where I needed to be, and I’m thankful for that every day.

Is there a passage of scripture that carries special meaning in your daily work?

"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body." Ephesians 4:25

What are some of the challenges facing the people of Hungary and the Reformed Church?

One thing is the political climate in Hungary that has been tumultuous as of late, and unfortunately in the current system, the church relies on funding from the state. This is a sensitive situation and a relationship that is a strain on the church as well as often misunderstood or viewed negatively by its other partner churches. As a result of the church’s financial dependency, addressing political issues can be difficult.

In addition, the Reformed Church in Hungary is a member of the Hungarian Reformed Church, which is a collection of Hungarian-speaking Reformed churches in, and beyond, the borders of Hungary. These communities in neighboring countries were separated as a result of the Trianon Treaty following WWI. The churches signed a collaborative constitution in 2009 binding the churches together in common language, heritage, culture and belief. However, it is not a legal church, as all of the churches retain their individual leadership and organization within their respective countries. I would simply ask prayers for this community as it continues to grow in its fellowship together.

What lesson have you learned working alongside the staff of the Reformed Church of Hungary?

I think the lesson I have learned from my area is perseverance. There have been a lot of negative situations (mostly political) that Hungary has had to face as a nation and that the church has had to overcome, but through it all they have never lost their faith. I find that devotion and perseverance inspiring.

What is a common phrase overheard in the Hungarian church?

"Áldás békesség” meaning blessings and peace

Are there books that have shaped your understanding of your work in Hungary?

  • Bridge at Andau: The Compelling True Story of a Brave, Embattled People, by James A. Michener
  • One minute stories

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I have shared a recipe for pogácsa a kind of Hungarian cheesy biscuit in the Global Ministries cookbook.

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Amy Lester