I was extremely blessed to serve on the mission field of Eastern Europe this summer in Hungary and Romania. Once again, I experienced the Lord bearing good fruit through the ministry organizations we partner with.
This 2015 Missions Report Part One covers the SOZO Festival in Baja Hungary. (Part Two will cover the School of Worship in Romania.)
SOZO Festival Staff
About 200 people representing over 20 nations congregated to be discipled, equipped and mobilized at SOZO Festival 2015, July 13-20.
SOZO international staff (this year about 60) arrives at the beginning of the week, sets up the logistics for event, and serves participants through out the 4 day conference. It’s a lot of work and everyone stays very busy!
About the Conference
The SOZO Conference features a daily morning worship and ministry time. Ministry messages were from a human trafficking/rescue ministry in Budapest (day 1), a church planting ministry in Romania (day 2), and an intense session of intercession for the many nations and ministries represented (day 3).
After the morning meetings each day, there were six hours of discipleship seminars and workshops held through out the venue. I led the Worship Seminar with Cathy Heiser from Belmont Church. There was also a Leadership Seminar, Youth Seminar, and Children’s School of Worship. Finally, a Gospel Choir track was held at the end of each day.
About the Content
There is high value in the teaching and training that happens in these workshops. This is a major reason SOZO is so transformative for the participants. In America we tend to take training opportunities for granted, but in this part of the world, the equipping and personal connection with instructors is eye-opening and life giving.
Through the years I’ve met many people through out this region who credit a SOZO seminar or leader who changed their perspective and their life.
In the evenings we held concerts open to the public on Wed, Friday and Saturday night. Guest artists came from Hungary and Romania.
Thursday night we shared the love of Jesus in a fun gospel outreach to the Roma (Gypsy) village outside of Baja. The children loved the face paintings, balloons and games. The gypsy worship band “Amaro Del” shared with a powerful anointing to proclaim the gospel.
We also shared a dramatic skit. Then the band finished up with a big celebration and dancing broke out!
Several kids came to the Lord through that event. It was … wonderful.
Every day we have meals together. A light continental breakfast, an authentic Hungarian lunch (always with soup), and a light dinner of salads and sandwiches.
Later during the evenings, we have “Cafe SOZO” where folks share acoustic music in an outdoor coffee house atmosphere.
Some are amazing, a few are humorous, all are very creative and quite different. It’s just a beautiful thing to have a safe place to share your art and be comfortable in your own skin.
So … the SOZO rhythm is an exhausting pace. But it’s also very fulfilling, and a lot of fun.
The weather that week was also extremely hot, over 100 degrees for much of the event.
The SOZO Spirit!
The atmosphere of “the SOZO spirit” is a beautiful thing to experience.There’s nothing else quite like it. As we live in community, breaking bread together, getting to know one another and seeking the Lord together, you see a transformation take place.
Distant strangers become instant friends, ethnic enemies pray for one another, attitudes and prejudices are changed.
The spirit of acceptance and encouragement permeates “SOZO nation.”
Political tensions may be rising in the volatile Balkan region, but this small group of Christians is interceding for the nations and setting an example of Christian harmony.
Praying For Baja in City Hall
Our very first activity was to be invited into city hall of Baja (population 40,000) where we learned of the economic and spiritual background of the town. Our host was city councilman and long time SOZO friend Danca Ballint. At the end we prayed for the city and closed singing “Doxology” in the council chambers.
He invited us into his office for coffee and deserts.
Then he asked if we would sing more. The staff thought we were a trained choir, but we had just met!
I led us in choruses of I Will Give You All My Worship, Here I Am To Worship, Mighty To Save, and How Great Is Our God.
They were very touched. It was a beautiful thing and an awesome beginning!
The Next Generation
Children’s School of Worship
So much talent! So much potential!
Ana Molnar, 18, from Romania has been coming to SOZO with her family every year since she was a little girl. She has become one of the top young violinists in Romania, winning competitions at the national level.
SOZO Worship & Gospel Choir
SOZO Youth Seminar
Our U.K. friends Josh & Amy Morley from England led the SOZO Youth Seminar. They have such a big heart for youth. Amy is also a very gifted singer / songwriter / artist.
One very effective method they used was to share from a story book called Adoptive Father – Picture Book of Love.
After the gypsy outreach, a busload of the gypsy kids joined the group, and many gave their hearts to Jesus.
Teaming Up With David Molnar
“Korah” means to dance!
At our last morning worship session, I led worship with Erin from Visible School USA and Ruslan, a gypsy leader from Ukraine. She led a new Jesus Culture song called “Glorious”. Then I pulled out the old Delirious song “What A Friend I’ve Found”. In the middle of that we took turns having different nations take a turn singing the chorus “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus … Friend for ever” in their own languages. Everyone cheering on each nation. A beautiful SOZO moment for sure.
Then we got Jewish (which also sounds a lot like Balkan music!) with “When the Spirit of the Lord Moves Upon My Heart, I will dance like David danced”. A huge line dance filled the room, it was awesome!
It’s All About The People
This is a good work, and based on the feedback I heard from participants new and old, the Lord is continuing to use SOZO ministry to impact the people of the Balkan nations for the glory of God. Despite “smaller” numbers than I’ve seen in the past, I think God is very much in this thing.
There is something unique about the way God manifests His loving presence in this mosaic of differing cultures, skin tones, ethnic groups and especially – languages. It literally changes lives.
If you can ever go, and God willing, there will be an an opportunity in 2016, I would encourage you to pray about coming as staff if this vision resonates with you. If you can’t go, pray about being a sender!
Thank you to everyone who prayed and supported my trip this year. It’s a blessing to be able to go, and it’s a blessing for those who can “send”. You are a blessing!
The Lord be with you!
Next Up: School of Worship in Romania [2015 Missions Report Part 2]