Ferenc Visky – A Short Biography

Ferenc Visky (July 1, 1918 – October 5, 2005) was a minister in the Hungarian Reformed Church in Transylvania and a leader of evangelical revival in Romania who spent several years in prison under the Communist rule of that country.

Ferenc Visky (the native form of the name is Visky Ferenc; this page uses the western name order) was born in Egri (Satu Mare county), which at that time was part of Hungary, becoming part of Romania in 1920.

In 1936, he finished secondary school in Satu Mare, and fled across the border into Hungary with his best friend, the poet Sándor Gellért, to study theology at Debrecen University. While still a university student, he came into contact with the Reformed renewal movement associated with the CE (Christian Endeavor) Bethany Association under the direction of Dr. Aladár Szabó.

After graduating, he served for a while as assistant minister under Dr. Endre Kincses in Mateszalka. At the end of the Second World War, he married Júlia Sollich from Budapest and together they decided to move back to Transylvania. In 1944, they secretly crossed the border into Transylvania and began their service in Egri.

In 1958, he was arrested together with 18 associates, mainly other ministers, and in the so-called “Bethany-ists trial on September 6, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison and forced labor for “the crime of organization against socialist public order”; he spent most of his sentence in the prison at Gherla. His wife and their seven children,(the oldest was twelve, the youngest was two years old) were deported to the Bǎrǎgan. In 1964 the entire family was unexpectedly released.

Although he had many opportunities to leave Romania for the West, Ferenc chose to stay and served as a minister in the Reformed church until his forced retirement. He also wrote several books, was a much sought after speaker, and played a key role in the founding of Koinónia Publishing and the Genezius Association for university students, both based in Cluj, Romania.

Older men and women in Hungarian culture are called bácsi [BAH-chee] and néni [NAY-nee], respectively, meaning uncle and aunt, a term of respect and affection. Thus, Ferenc was always known as Feri bácsi while his wife, Júlia, was Jucika néni.

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Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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