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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!