The commemorative year celebrating the 500th anniversary of the emergence of Baptist preachers in the Carpathian Basin ended with a large-scale evangelisation event. The missionary focus of the jubilee commemorative year culminated in a sold-out closing event on 19 November 2023 in the Papp László Sports Arena.
The keynote speaker, Will Graham, evangelist and pastor, is the grandson of Billy Graham, who was considered one of the most influential Christian leaders of the 20th century until his death in 2018. Graham was a spiritual advisor to several US presidents, including Jimmy Carter, and many may remember his intercession in bringing home the Hungarian Holy Crown. The preacher first came to Hungary from beyond the Iron Curtain in 1977 and filled the Népstadion in 1989.
His grandson, Will Graham, is also a popular preacher, preaching the Gospel to crowds around the world, and this was the first time he has been to Hungary at the invitation of the Baptists to preach at the closing event of the jubilee year.
Fotó: Antal Saci
The joint event of the Baptist Union of Hungary and the Hungarian Baptist Aid was honoured with the presence of state leaders, as well as the leaders of partner churches and organisations. In his speech, Miklós Soltész, Minister of State for Church and Nationality Relations of the Prime Minister’s Office, drawing a parallel with the winning match of the Hungary-Montenegro European Championship qualifier on the same day, said that Christianity has been fighting against evil forces for 2,000 years, but with the help of Jesus we will win in the end.
Fotó: Jobbágy Csanád
On the small stage, a scene from 500 years of history brought to life the inner struggles of our Anabaptist predecessor Balthasar Hubmayer, who decided to keep his Baptist credo while awaiting execution in prison.
Will Graham preached the Gospel message based on the parable of the prodigal son to nearly 11,000 people.
Fotó: Antal Saci
Nearly one thousand people responded to the call, with young and old people coming to the stage for minutes to express their decision or commitment to Jesus. It was a moving moment for all those present, as the work of the Holy Spirit was made tangible.
Fotó: Jobbágy Csanád
In addition to the American band The Afters, a choir of 500 adults and children, a symphony orchestra, Dániel Révész, the EMABISZ (Hungarian Baptist Youth Association of Transylvania) and the MABIM (Hungarian Baptist Youth Mission) praise orchestra were also present. The choirs and orchestra service was preceded by months of regional rehearsals organised by conductor Kornél Győri. The hosts of the evening were Szilvia Révész, director of faith of the Hungarian Baptist Aid, and István Durkó, director of missions of the Baptist Union of Hungary. Béla Szilágyi, president of the Hungarian Baptist Aid, acted as interpreter.
Fotó: Mórocz Márk
During the celebration, Tomás Mackey, president of the Baptist World Alliance, and Alan Donaldson, general secretary of the European Baptist Union, welcomed the participants. They expressed their joy at being part of a large Baptist community in the world, and expressed their gratitude for the past, present and future. As the main organiser of the closing event, János Papp, the president of the Baptist Union of Hungary thanked the performers, advisers, volunteers, and all those who had been involved in organising the event, and concluded by asking for a blessing for all those present, and for all those who had given their lives to Jesus on this day. The organisers expressed their hope that the seed that has been sown will sprout in the hearts of the young people who are seeking God, and that they will all dedicate their whole lives to following Jesus Christ.
A video of the event is available on the link below:
Story from Baptist Union of Hungary (https://www.baptist.hu/500-years-birthday-baptists-celebrated-with-a-full-house-at-the-papp-laszlo-sports-arena/)