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Ethics & Religion
Column #2.004
Jan. 8, 2020
Hungary Supports Persecuted Christians
By Mike McManus

The nation of Hungary has established a national office to support persecuted Christians. It is the first government in the world to do so.

On Nov. 25-28 that office sponsored a Second International Conference on Christian Persecution (https://www.iccphungary.com).

Some 800 religious freedom advocates, church leaders and victims of persecution attended. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban personally spoke, declaring, "Four out of five people persecuted for their faith are Christians, and some 245 million Christians around the globe suffer extreme persecution."

Faith McDonnell, who reported upon the conference, noted that "Memories of evil haunt Hungary. In recent memory it was dominated by the Fascist Arrow Cross Party and then by the Communists. These memories are the impetus for the Hungarian government's aid to fellow Christians who face the persecution and horror that they faced- and even worse. It gives them a sense of solidarity with "these brothers and sisters."

Many of those attending the conference also visited the House of Terror Museum, which was the former headquarters of Nazi-allied Arrow Cross Party who rounded up and deported or exterminated hundreds of thousands of Jews. A poignant memorial to their handiwork is on the riverbank - featuring thousands of the shoes of men, women and children. The "Shoes on the Danube" commemorates some 20,000 Hungarian Jews who were murdered.

Later the building became the Communist Secret Police headquarters that "liberated" Hungary from the fascists. The House of Terror "wishes to commemorate" the thousands of its countrymen who were detained, tortured and murdered in the building. "Apart from the detailed presentation of horrors, this exemplifies that the sacrifice for freedom was not in vain." The struggle against the two most oppressive systems of the century, it says, "led to the victory of freedom and independence."

The country has re-established Hungary's Christian identity. Prime Minister Orban harkened back to Hungary's founding a thousand years ago by King Stephen and the king's Christian faith. He pledged his government's commitment to promoting biblical marriage, sanctity of life, and reaching out to persecuted Christians with practical and generous aid.

Remarkably, Hungary now has a thriving Jewish community. Soon after Orban's return to power in 2010, Budapest's oldest and the world's second largest synagogue was rededicated. The Dohany Great Synagogue has been praised by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the "symbol of a Jewish renaissance."

Hungary provides its aid to those who are currently being persecuted directly to the churches rather than through a third party. A reporter, Mario Safi, says that is "the humility to defer to the persecuted themselves who are more aware of their needs" than any independent group. This allows Christians to rebuild their churches themselves.

Some of Hungary's aid to Christians is targeted at future generations of leaders with scholarships for 300 Christian students from persecuted areas such as Iraq, Egypt, and Nigeria. Hungary will increase the number of scholarships annually.

Reporter Faith McDonnell concluded, "Seeing the passion, philosophy and programmatic excellence with which the Hungarian government is providing aid for persecuted Christians made me eager to share new contacts with them."

The International Conference she attended was "admirably ecumenical," she reports. The speakers were Roman, Syrian, Chaldean and Maronite Catholics, Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopian, Coptic, and Russian Orthodox, Hungarian Reformed, Evangelical Lutherans and Assyrian Protestants, Evangelical Americans and others.

However, she believes the Hungarian Government needs to know more about Christians being persecuted and slaughtered by Boko Haram and Fulani jihadists in Nigeria. They are Anglicans, the largest Christian denomination in the country. They "are hit hard by persecution because of their long track record of evangelizing Muslims who are coming to faith in Christ."

Ms. McDonnell asserted that "Hungary is under attack for its stand," but provided no details. She simply states, "Those who stand for Jesus' persecuted and broken body are vulnerable to many forms of attack." But the leaders of Hungary Helps "have already commented on how reaching out to bless the persecuted has returned blessings to themselves."

My question to readers is this: what are you doing to follow Hungary's example of serving persecuted Christians?

__________________________

Copyright (c) 2019 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to www.ethicsandreligion.comm. Hit Search for any topic.

 

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