March 29, 2020

In Hungary, Adventist Pastor Cares for Marriages During Coronavirus Isolation

Tamás Ócsai, Trans-European Division News

The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a threat to our physical health but equally a challenge for our emotional and relational lives, according to experts. As the quarantine in China loosened, people went in unusually high numbers to apply for divorce, according to the Global Times.

Couples therapists report that too much time together can raise tensions in a relationship that are perhaps not noted so much at other times. This is why many couples head for therapy after Christmas and summer vacations. Media reports say that police officers report long weekends and national holidays as leading to a rise in domestic violence.

Gabor Mihalec is a pastor in Hungary and a licensed couples therapist. He recognized the particular family issues related to lockdown during the coronavirus crisis and started “Couple-minutes,” a ministry to support couples during social isolation.

Every evening at 9:00 p.m., Mihalec opens his personal Facebook page to a live event.

“I chose this time because the children are in bed, and the parents have finally some time for their relationship,” he said. “I want to give them insights to spend this time in a creative and constructive way.”

The feedback he has received is much greater than he expected, he said. About four hundred people follow the live event every evening, and the number of those who watch the videos during the next day reaches as high as 12,000, with many people sharing his advice across their social media accounts.

Mihalec not only gives sound advice about conflict solving, effective communication, and other important topics but also answers questions from viewers that have come up in their relationships during the day.

His unusual ministry has sparked interest across Hungarian media. He has been interviewed by a national radio station, Kossuth; and many websites are sharing his videos. Hungary’s leading financial magazine, HVG, published an article about the initiative, sharing it as a good example of how to ride out the crisis.

“The new door that God opened to us gives me more work than I had earlier,” Mihalec stated. He can no longer travel as before, he said, but “it brought our family members even closer to each other.” This new initiative, he concluded, “has become our regular, common program every single evening. I don’t know anything about viruses; I am not able to heal people; but I am very happy that God showed me a way, how my family and I can be of benefit to the world in the time of need.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division News Network.