Over 700 members from across eastern Hungary committed to give flavor across their communities and build churches in a crumbling world during the Tisza Conference’s Fourth ‘Out of the Salt Shaker’ Mission Retreat, from April 13-14, 2018. The retreat theme echoed Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:13, when He challenged His disciples to be “the salt of the earth,” giving flavor to those around them. The weekend also saw a special dedication of staff for two centers of influence in Debrecen and Miskolc, Hungary’s second and fourth largest cities.
The Tisza Conference church region leaders expressed their delight with the response, as pastor and member attendance at the event has grown from 500 in 2015 to more than 700 this year. The conference, covering the east of Hungary, has 2,239 members in a population of 3.7 million.
A Mandate for Mission
Conference president Géza Hegyes-Horváth said the aim was to continuously “motivate our members to mission, to give back the vision that the mission is still possible with God, and that we have a mandate from God to make him known in the world.” Together with Trans-European Division region (TED) president Raafat Kamal, they said they were very excited to see that so many church members are interested in mission and wanting to work for God despite the difficulties of an increasingly secularized Europe.
“We think that we must catch the opportunity to motivate and train our members while they still believe that mission is possible,” Hegyes-Horváth said.
TED discipleship coach for Scandinavia Simon Martin joined Kamal to deliver pastoral training on Friday, just before the beginning of the retreat. Martin worked with the pastors to demonstrate that there are very simple and effective ways in which every church member can do mission and can lead Bible studies.
Later that evening, many more people joined them at the Debrecen Adventist church to worship God and to listen to Scripture teaching. Debrecen is some two hours east of Hungary’s capital, Budapest, and is the central church of the Tisza Conference.
Worship continued Sabbath morning with a larger audience. Martin spoke about the Old Testament war between Abija and Jeroboam and the covenant of salt (2 Chron. 13:5). “In mission,” he said, “it is more important who is with us than the power of the enemy.”
Martin added that every church member has a salt ministry to the community in which he lives. “We must add salt to the everyday activities which we are already doing,” he insisted. “So, let’s get out of the salt shaker!”
Centers of Influence Revamped
The day did not just contain preaching. Hungarians love music and so worship was also a real celebration of God’s goodness in mission via several choirs and singing groups. Yet mission is also dedication, and so the height of the celebration focused on the staff at two (Hope Centers) developed in the area.
The Debrecen center has been operating for three years but with new funding grants from the TED and the world church headquarters they have now expanded their activities. The Miskolc Center is a new start, with an enthusiastic group ready to begin activities in the city. The four employees, their spouses, and the volunteers who work with them were invited to the platform for a special prayer of dedication.
Hegyes-Horváth said he has received very positive feedback from church members, and that more and more are joining with the group which will be trained for mission. “Our purpose is to motivate people for mission and to find church members who are willing to be trained and work for God,” he explained.
A team of eight people across the conference are now working together to coordinate mission and to train as many as possible for mission.
“Let’s be salt and add flavour to the world!” he said.