For Jack and Cindy Ippel, Christian Reformed World Missions partners in Hungary, pizza parties equal ministry opportunities.
Jack teaches English conversation to public high school students in Budapest. Cindy does administrative work for two missions agencies. Several times a year the Ippels make pizzas at their small apartment to feed Jack’s hungry teenage students and a few colleagues.
“Pizza parties are just one way of allowing students into our lives and, hopefully, us into theirs. It’s very unusual for students to get into a teacher’s home, and they are intrigued and appreciative of the invitation,” says Jack.
Every fall for three years the Ippels have returned to Hungary, committed to sharing their faith with their colleagues and Jack’s students.
Many Hungarian youths know little about Christianity. During 40 years of communist rule, religion was sharply repressed. By the time communism fell, Hungary had become a largely secular society.
“Because of the oppression . . . over many generations, there is a sense of hopelessness and fatalism,” Jack says. “Alcoholism touches every family.”
Most Hungarian youths are resigned to life never changing for the better, and think of church as something for older people.
Convinced that true hope comes only in Christ, the Ippels model a Christian lifestyle and focus on building relationships with Jack’s students, praying students will yearn to know more.
The approach seems to be working. Last year after one of Jack’s classes, a student said he’d observed Jack’s faith and wondered how to become a Christian himself. Jack now regularly meets with that student.
“We can see that God is using us to bring hope into [our colleagues’ and students’] lives. . . . This is where God desires us to be.”
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