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31 August 2016

Above Bar Church and Eastern Europe

Chris Chanter thumb Chris Chanter Church member
Romanian Lady

Above Bar Church’s mission and heart to bless the people of Eastern Europe has spanned approximately 45 years. It began with a meeting between the then minister Leith Samuel and Josef Tson, who had escaped from Romania to the West.

Another contact in those early days was Pastor Josef Markus, a senior pastor of a group of churches in Czechoslovakia. Leith visited Slovakia and the congregation in Levice on a number of occasions. In 1972, the Samuel family visited with a wish to encourage the pastors and young people in the churches. Travel in those days was mainly by car in order to take goods to support Christian families practically, and of course books and Bibles – a vision was born.

A visiting student

Later on, a student came from Hungary to study: Ákos Bukovszky. While he was in Southampton, he came to faith in Jesus. This all strengthened links with churches in Eastern Europe. Ákos was instrumental in developing the mission, accompanying and translating on the various visits. These were mainly to the Transylvanian areas of Romania as well as Oradia, Zalau, Borla and Cluj-Napoca. When this was happening during communist times, visitors were not allowed to stay with local church families. Instead, they were required to stay in hotels which were ‘bugged’ and their bags were searched.

The baton has been carried by various people from the church family right up until now. In the early days, when the travel was by car, it would be loaded with clothes, shoes, soap and other goods that were difficult or too expensive for the locals to buy.

Practical help

Support over the years has also included helping with building church premises, supporting pastor’s salaries, and also the beginnings of the building of the Harghita camp. The camp is used extensively to this day for children, youth, church leaders, and special needs camps. In recent years, we have been able to continue monetary support for the refurbishment or rebuilding of village churches in both Hungarian-speaking and Romanian-speaking places in Romania.

Self-sufficiency

A key focus has also been on self-sufficiency, and we have sent lorries with boxes of seeds, which were distributed through the churches. These increase opportunities for sharing the message of Jesus as well as enabling individuals to make use of their gardens by growing food for themselves and sharing with those that had none.

Personal visits

Small groups of young people have also visited Romania. With the church in Gilau, they joined in a mission to Roma children before travelling on to Horezu for another mission.

Romania was the last of the Eastern European countries to be freed from communist rule and there still remains many needy areas, particularly the rural villages. The work continues through contacts established over these years.

This has mainly been through the Veress/Budai families. Daniel Budai spent a year with us here at church on the Transform Programme. He now leads the teenage group in his home church in Odorhieu.

If you’d like to find out more or get involved in our links with Eastern Europe, contact Chris Chanter via the church office »

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