Christian Endeavor was a significant part of Dr. Ralph Winter’s young life in the family in which he grew up. On April 25, 1997, he received a newsletter entitled “Christian Endeavor World” with a write-up in it entitled “Hungarian Christian Endeavor.” It says that in August of 1996 for two weeks the Hungarian Christian Endeavor Union organizes two English speaking camps as part of their summer Camp Program. Numerous Endeavorers from the British Union accept the invitation and go off to a thrilling experience that helps them know more about what is happening in Hungary as it seeks to build up the work of Christian Endeavor among the young people. In 1989, most of the people who reconstitute the Hungarian Christian Endeavor Union are in their late sixties and early seventies.
The first camp attendees are primarily late teens and early twenties. Their English in some cases is poor but they are determined to give this a try. Would the camp counselors be up to the task? Each day begins with a Hungarian breakfast, morning worship, and a Bible Study with the week’s studies being from the Gospel of John. How would the counselors know if the campers are on their wavelength? First, the counselors have to speak slowly. Second, a group study follows the Bible study and the campers must answer three questions:
- What have we read about God today?
- What have we read about Jesus today?
- What have I read about myself today?
The reports from the campers later in the day give the counselors an idea about how well the message in English is being communicated. Alongside Bible study and worship, the counselors teach songs and choruses in English. The first day is tough but by the third day the counselors are surprised to find out that not only are campers adding to their English but they are asking questions! Every night the counselors prove to themselves with a sing-along and Gospel message that God is at work in these young people’s hearts. They rejoice as campers share testimonies on the last night around the camp fire about what God has been doing in their lives this week. One counselor writes, “[Because] it [has not been] all study, walks, games, a trip along the Danube, [and] bathing in the hot springs,…each night we [go] to bed tired but rejoicing that we…accepted the invitation to take part in their English camps.”
For the second camp, the team of counselors dwindles from five to two. This camp has much younger people as campers. The first camp’s young people had been studying English for a few years in school and college, but the second camp’s young attendees are Juniors just starting in their English studies. The counselors re-plan the program. One of them thanks God for the experiences at Junior camp in Scotland. Based on those, they plan new programs and hope they are effective. By God’s grace they are. Bible lessons are much simpler, each camper learns 12 new English words each day, and games and songs become part of the teaching. The highlight of this camp occurs on a walk in a beautiful forest area in Hungary. Counselors ask campers to collect items to use in the making of a Bible picture. The counselors wonder if the message will in fact reach the young learners. “Amen, it [does], as ‘The House Built on the Rock and Sand,’ ‘Noah and the Ark,’ ‘The Sower,’ and ‘The Burning Bush’…appear before our eyes. The last night [is] marvelous as they [dramatize] ‘The Prodigal Son’ and ‘The Good Samaritan.’” The counselors’ hearts are rejoicing. The Word of God in faltering Scottish/English gets through and they see God in the campers’ lives. It is worth all the tiredness of speaking slowly. Tears are in the young people’s eyes who attend these camps. As they say goodbye, the counselors are glad that God has enabled them in a small way to be His Servants.