During your time here you will be a member of our regular ministry team and help support the work that is already under way. You can expect to be heavily involved in our coffee house ministry which is part of our student ministries. We also hope to expand the ministry by letting you use your gifts and talents to serve the Lord in new ways. Currently we are talking with some national pastors about partnering for church planting. We have needed help with music and more personnel in general to get things rolling. Many of the praise songs are translated from English so you can simply learn the Hungarian words. It is my hope that we can have you help in these new church plants.
I would also like to add that I love working with student interns. A little background information will help you understand my heart. Our experience (Carolyn's and mine) working with interns dates back to the summer of 2005. For two summers American university students bicycled across eastern Hungary conducting ethnographic research work. It was a great way to get to know people quickly and we gained a lot of information. It was phenomenal watching them work and seeing the connections they made.
After the survey work was completed we wondered how well volunteers, especially students, and bicycling could be used to form new relationships for evangelism and church planting. The problem was that it seemed impossible to have a bicycle tour group travel across Hungary studying the culture and yet remain in one place long enough to build significant relationships. I thought that we could use a series of bicycle teams coming for two weeks at a time. Each team would cover the same towns and allow us to share Christ over and over in the same places. The problem with that plan was that the bicycle teams did not sign up consistently.
This of course meant a total rework of the strategy. I was in the middle of revising the plans when I met Dr. Rodney Harrison at Midwestern Seminary. He has successfully initiated church plants in an overseas cross-cultural setting using short-term volunteers. A long conversation with him and later with Dr. Dan Morgan at Southwestern Seminary solidified the idea that our summer interns could indeed be the catalyst for new church plants.
Bicycling was still the best method we had found for forming relationships in new areas so it seemed obvious we should continue the program. The question remained of how to stay in one place long enough to really begin to share on a deep level. One day the thought came to me that we could use day trips as a way of being both a bicycle tourist group and yet stay in a town long enough to build relationships. I could explain to people that we travel out from Debrecen and stay so that we have better access to the local sites.
In 2007 four university students put it to the test. It was our third summer with interns touring on bicycles, but our first with the new focus. Under the supervision of Dr. Morgan the summer project also became my master's thesis project. The project was partially successful with us being able to build relationships and share Christ with a lot of people. We were not, however, able to get a group formed to move toward a new church plant.
In 2008 the U.S. students planning to come had to cancel. A Gypsy church-planting intern from Romania came to help us build on the relationships developed in 2007 and establish a new work among the Gypsy community. It was an interesting experience. The door is open for future work, but we believe that a national needs to develop it.
In 2009, three students came, two from college and one from seminary. We used bicycling tourism once again. We focused our work on three different cities. Two of these we have been in many times before, in the third we were trying to start a new work. It is in the third city where we met several believers and we want to partner with a national church to go ahead with a traditional church plant.
We are building on our experience in the past and hoping to take the ministry even farther. One goal for this school year is to have you participate in a church plant by providing music and support. Many of the songs you will already know because they are translated from English. Even when you don't fully understand the meaning of the Hungarian you can learn to pronounce the words. We have had summer interns sing specials in church using this method. Also, songs are a great way to learn the language.
You can do the same thing with your testimony. We will make sharing your testimony a part of your language learning. That way you will always be ready to give at least a short witness in their own language.
This brings me to your first assignment. Write out your testimony on one sheet of paper in common vernacular. The optimal length is 1 minute. The max length is 3 minutes. After you write it, reread it, then take out all churchy words and rewrite it. Share face-to-face with another believer and have them observe your mannerisms to ensure that you appear natural and relaxed. Then begin immediately sharing with nonbelievers. If you don't do it in the States you won't be able to do it here. We will have your testimony translated and printed in both languages so you can leave it with someone.
During orientation there will be culture classes and more training on how to witness to Hungarians. In the past we had internet-based training before the interns arrived, but my schedule this year is not going to allow it. That means that the on-field training will be more extensive than times past, but this year the schedule has more time allowing for it.