In Loving Memory of Rev. Ferenc Visky

This short eulogy is the translation of a text I have written in memory of one of my mentors, Rev Ferenc Visky. Friends of mine at Koinonia Publishers in Cluj asked my permission to include this text in the new edition of the little book The Foolishness of God,  which, of course, I have accepted as a great honour.

I render here this excellent translation of my text.

* * *


Rev. Ferenc Visky and his wife Júlia,
as I have first met them, in the garden
of their parish house in Paleu, Bihor

Knowing Rev. Ferenc Visky has been one of the happiest things that ever happened in my life. When I was invited by his daughters, Lidia and Maria Magdalena, to visit their family in the village of Paleu near Oradea, I did not know what to expect. I already knew the stories of his seven years in communist prisons, where he met Richard Wurmbrand, and of the deportation of his wife and seven small children to the Bărăgan.


Viskys – 1964, after the entire family was reunited

But meeting the real people was a totally different matter. However, once having met, we could never part ways. I befriended his children and our paths intersected many times afterwards.


Rev. Ferenc Visky and his wife Júlia, 
at the daily ‘table talk’ in their house

For me, as an Evangelical, the classic Reformed and Pietistic participation in regular Bible reading, discussions, prayer and singing before every meal was a new discipline. And then, there were the church services. I had never heard sermons like this before. Even if I understood only parts of it through translation (unfortunately, I don’t speak Hungarian) I could get the message in the spirit. I had never seen a man preparing his sermons like this. Days without end, reading, studying, praying, writing at his desk in the kitchen and (at least, apparently) totally unhindered by all the noise and movement around him. At those times, he was mostly silent at the ‘table talk’, rather listening (to us, maybe, but surely to God). And, after all this, every Sunday morning was a treat, a spiritual banquet.


Feri bácsi and Jucika néni at his work desk in the kitchen

I will never forget that New Year’s Eve, some time in the mid seventies, when almost 150 people celebrated in their home, with almost 100 also sleeping there overnight. I have never seen such a mobilization when preparations for bedtime were begun. The whole family was like a well trained team on a battle ship. We all slept well, after telling stories long into the night, but I doubt there was any space in the house where someone was not sleeping.

How could I forget the Eucharist we all shared that night when, for the first time in my life, after the consecration of the gifts, Feri bácsi asked me, a young Baptist, to distribute the bread and the wine. It was in that place that I learned the meaning of true ecumenism, something that changed my spiritual DNA, forever.


A typical gesture of Feri bácsi, when he was trying to make a point

I owe much of what I am as a Christian to those experiences. Oh, how many heated discussions I had with Feri bácsi when I still believed, to his dismay, that a Christian could and should be an anti-communist (thank goodness, I changed my views some years later). He thought that anti-communism will, sooner or later, but almost inevitably, bring with it a hatred for communists, which is incompatible with the Gospel of grace preached by the crucified Lord. Oh, how I wish this message would be heard by the many Muslim-haters that we see in the ‘Christian’ world today!


Feri bácsi  visiting Richard Wurmbrand

Reading this book, you may be surprised to find in Feri bácsi a saint of Richard Wurmbrand’s caliber. Enjoy! May he be a model for you, as he was for me.

And as Richard could not be what he was without Bintea, in the same manner, Feri bácsi would not have been what he became without his saintly wife, Jucika néni, (Júlia) who could equally be a model for our ladies. Blessed is the people that still has such saints. May we treasure their memory forever!

Author: DanutM

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

3 thoughts on “In Loving Memory of Rev. Ferenc Visky”

  1. Ca sa facem pace cu teologii care au umor, si find postul mare citeva anecdotice:
    – 1- Cei ce-au auzit povestile pastoreale ale lui Feri bacsi stiu ca multe sunt cu un membru al bisericii sale, postas de mesere: “Cel mai mare teolog pe care l-am cunoscut vreodata era un postas. Nu eram interesat ce spun ceilalti din comitetul bisericesc ci doar de parerea acestui om de mare sensibilitate duhovniceasca” – povestea Feri baci.
    – 2- Tineri din Arad dupa vizita la biserica lui pastorului Visky remarca: “Unii cam dormeau la predica dvs”
    “Da” -se scuza Feri bacsi . “Cind episcopul i-a ‘ntrebat pe teologi ce trebuie facut daca doarme lumea in biserica, teologii au raspuns: trebuie trezit pastorul”
    – 3- Ultima carte pe care i-am citit-o cuprinde amintiri (70) cu prieten,etc… Acolo, Feri bacsi apare un om relaxat si cu umor, chiar poznas. Multe povesti sunt cu Wurmbrand. Apare insa un RW mai putin cunoscut: ne-ecumenic, principial si chiar incapatinat.
    Cea mai surprinzatoare amintire e intitulata “Un om cu miini de aur”… In ea e vorba de unul Iovin de la Arad care, in inchisoare reusea, sa fure de la bucatarie. Dar nu fura pt el ci pt colegii care se tiriau in patru labe epuiazati de munca si inanitie… Visky se mira cum reusea omu’ asta, desi perchezitionat, sa strecuoare ceva de mincare pt ceilalti…

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  2. Mr. Danut, you say that anti-communism will eventually lead to hatred of communists, which is not compatible with Jesus’s teachings, yet I see a very sharp and sometimes aggressive attitude in your writing and comments toward fundamentalists, of any kind.

    How does it look a grace-shaped spirituality towards fundamentalists of past and present?

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    1. Good question, Vasile. I will have to think more about it.
      I guess my anger is based on my conviction that fundamentalism is more dangerous that communism, because it is the devil disguised as an angel, while communism is clearly the devil himself.

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