The Bad, Old Days in Europe when Communism trapped the Hungarians
Sharon and Martin Van Horn moved to Vienna, Austria, in 1981 to share the Gospel with Austrians. At that time Vienna was the end of the Western World, since it was situated at the Iron Curtain separating the West from the Soviet Communist empire. Budapest was the capital of Hungary, and to reach it an American had to wait in long lines at the border to buy a visa and have his car trunk and undercarriage inspected by police. Hungarians dreamed of freedom they could only hear on the radio or read about.
One Wednesday night a mysterious, bearded Hungarian with a heavy accent visited the prayer meeting at our little Austrian church. Ferenc Varga lived in Traiskirchen refugee camp. It turned out he was not a communist spy, but a man who had moved to Guatemala and become a Christian. Now he wanted to reach Hungarian refugees, who had escaped to the West, with the Gospel. Could I help?
For two years I drove vanloads of Hungarians, who mostly spoke no English, to our church or a local facility where I shared the wonders of a Bible and the Jesus Christ that they had had no chance to learn about. I had the privilege of baptizing five men before they moved on to America or Canada. It was a wonderful opportunity that God opened to me and our coworkers.
Then came the Fall of the Iron Curtain
Then in 1989 to the surprise of all observers, the Communist Empire fell. Czech students visited Vienna to give us pieces of barbed wire. I actually have this small segment of the Iron Curtain.
A Hungarian man withstood the pressures of communist atheism and pastored a small church. Now he has over 200 churches, one of them in Vienna, Austria. They are known as the Hit [Faith] Churches. On April 4, 2010, Easter was celebrated on the public square in Budapest by 1,300 church members.
We have been set free: from atheism, communism, sin, death, fear, the Devil’s lies and unbelief. Celebrate together with these European believers. Savor the freedom that Jesus has given us all.