Into the Market PlaceDecember 2005 Project in Puspokladany
One of our major goals is to get the gospel to the people where they are. The apostle Paul went to where the people were already gathered together so that he could share the good news of Jesus Christ with as many as possible in the shortest amount of time. In Athens we see him "reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present." (Acts 17:17 NASB) Since that's what we want to do, also--get the gospel to the people where they are--we, too, wanted to go to the market place.
Every year at Christmas in downtown Debrecen they hold a special Christmas market where vendors sell toys, decorations, gifts, and other such items. We planned to rent one of these booths, but the company organizing the event mistakenly put us on the list for a different Christmas market in another part of town. Then just two weeks before its start, that event was cancelled. Through much prayer and seeking, God led us to go back to Puspokladany and rent a space in the local open-air market. This town is where a volunteer mission team had held a free blood pressure booth in the summer.
Almost every city and town has such a market--called a "piac" [PEE ahts]--somewhere in it, where many of the locals go to shop. But they don't just shop, they go to get a cup of coffee or a pastry, visit with their neighbors, or just hang around a bit. Market day is an event, not just a trip to the store. The Puspokladany market is open only three mornings a week, so a much larger percentage of the people turn out on any given market day than in the towns with full-time markets.
The piac manager first said that there were no places available to rent out, but to come early and see if another vender didn't show up. The first day there were several empty spots available, so we set up a small table and just gave away free copies of the Hungarian New Testament. People were very reluctant to come by the table and pick one up, because, for some reason, they felt uncomfortable with it. Most walked on by, giving the table a sideways glance but not approaching it. We did, however, give out several Bibles and make friends with some of the venders.
The next market day we set up the same small table, but in addition to giving away the New Testaments, also sold some things that were left over from a similar project in Prague and other donated items. The fact that there were products for sale on the table broke down the barrier of "strangeness," allowing the people to feel comfortable with stopping and striking up a conversation --also helping them to feel free to accept one of the New Testaments. It sure went a lot better when we had products to sell. The people would stop to see what we had, and then we could talk to them.
We were able to share the gospel with several people and gave away many copies of God's Word. Some people stopped more than once to talk with us. We did not get to spread the Gospel as widely as we would have liked, but we got to go deeper with the people we talked to.
Many new contacts were made and some older ones strengthened in this town. We are now in the follow-up process. Please pray that the people will read the New Testaments, and that new Bible studies will be established as the first step to planting a new church in Puspokladany.