Following the end of the Second World War, over three million East
Germans made their way to the West as refugees – but that was over a
period of more than ten years. Today, over a quarter of a million
refugees have landed on the Greek islands, (far more than the number the
EU is attempting to divvy up between the member states) and a further
300,000+ are poised to follow in the immediate future from Turkey. In
the light of such huge human waves, it comes as no surprise to find
resistance from the homogenously closed societies of Central and Eastern
Europe; particularly Slovakia and Hungary, which have no tradition of
integrating large numbers of refugees from other cultures.
The Lord will doubtless be leading you in various ways to pray about
this situation, but in this article we are going to focus on Hungary,
which has been much in the news recently because of its decision to set
up a fence around its borders, but which has actually been on my heart
Since most of Hungary’s nearly ten million people are nominal
Christians, this would be an excellent time to pray for the grace of God
to be at work in this nation, which has long been considered relatively
resistant to the gospel. Let’s pray for bold and inspired leadership to
arise that will bring faith alive to many, rather than just retrenching
behind high fences.
Back in 1989 Viktor Orbán was a passionate spokesperson for urging
Russian troops to leave Hungary. Since becoming Prime Minister, however,
he has been accused of becoming a “little Putin”, harassing civil
liberty groups, backing oligarchs and clamping down on the press and
media in along similar lines to those currently being practiced in Russia.
Viktor Orbán’s stance (as presented in a recent edition of The Times) is
that Europe’s identity is fundamentally threatened by the mass influx of
migrants, most of them Muslims, who will live together in parallel
communities that won’t integrate if they are allowed in.
Orbán has quite deliberately consolidated his grip on power by setting
up an “illiberal” nationalist state. In the process he has increasingly
been and adopting authoritarian practices he once opposed. No surprise,
then, to find him keener to reach out to Vladimir Putin than to
Brussels. The EU has shown a considerable amount of tolerance so far
towards this attitude; far more than it would extend to a nation that
was seeking to join the European Union – but how long will Brussels can
continue to say nothing about someone who is actively working against EU
core values? Voices are even being raised in some quarters to urge
sanctions against the country – an example of how swiftly tensions are
rising in Europe. See for example how the refugee crisis has reignited
tension again between Serbia and Croatia.
A Heart for Hungary Prayer Guide
The following extracts are taken from an excellent monthly guide that
the IMB Eastern Hungarian Team have produced to provide informed and
relevant prayer for Hungary.
Hungarians greatly value their privacy. Residential neighbourhoods are
lined with row upon row of steel fences, guard dogs, heavy locks and
sturdy gates. Entrance into a person’s yard is by invitation only. They
tend to guard their private lives just as much or more than their
How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And
how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? Rom. 10:14a
Pray that this barrier can be overcome so that they can hear the good
news of Jesus Christ, while at the same time having their privacy respected.
Christianity has been reduced by many to a set of rituals rather than a
true and vibrant relationship with the Saviour. Many resent the
implication that they need anything outside of what they already have.
They cannot picture a Jesus who calls them “friends” and wants to spend
time with them and draw them close to Himself. They do not see past the
acts that they perform for their worship, to a loving, personal
relationship with God.
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and
truth. John 4:24
Pray that the church will be revived to vibrant relationship with Jesus
Christ and that this would spread throughout the people.
Local leaders have more of a direct impact since much of the permission
to work in an area or to hold special programs comes from them. In
larger towns and cities there is a mayor not only over the entire city,
but also a mayor over each district. Much of the business side of the
work must be done through these local offices and through the local
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and
thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are
in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all
godliness and dignity. (1Timothy 2:1-2)
Pray that good relations can be established with the local leaders, that
the work will be advanced and not hindered.
Since religion is considered a private matter, people who speak too much
about God or Jesus Christ are often seen as fanatics or assumed to be
cult members. This has hindered many from sharing the truths in
scripture for fear of being labelled or alienating others. However, many
church leaders have been asking us to pray that they and their
congregations would boldly proclaim the gospel.
And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given me in the opening of
my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel…that
in proclaiming it I may speak boldly as I ought to speak. (Eph. 6:19, 20b)
Pray that believers will openly and boldly share the great mystery of
the gospel without alienating others.
This excellent publication highlights many other equally helpful points
for prayer: for example the important role that music plays in Hungarian
life; their generally serious and intellectual approach to life; their
enjoyment of small study groups; their desire for closeness (despite
strong family connections, 70% of people would say that they do not have
a best friend) suspicion of outsiders; pray that God will fan the
traditional Christian heritage into life.
This brief but moving video clip will also help us pray for Hungary: