We received an email asking for information about our ministry. As I was replying, I thought it would be good to post this as a journal on our IM page, just in case anyone is new to our ministry and doesn’t know our story! If you already know our story, skip ahead to the bold letters for the most recent news.
Thank you for your interest in our ministry.
I’m going to start with the question of why we chose Hungary. We were actually commissioned by International Ministries for mission work in Liberia, West Africa. I was a career English teacher, and Larry had retired from being a maintenance supervisor at a state youth corrections facility. We didn’t seek to become missionaries; we were American Baptists who were raised to love and support missions—in fact, we met on a mission trip to Chiapas, Mexico in 2006. We felt dramatically called to our mission life when Larry happened on a new button on the International Ministries website, “Get Involved.” There was a list of new mission opportunities, and specifically, two missionaries were wanted at the Baptist school in Liberia: a maintenance supervisor and an English teacher! We couldn’t ignore the call. We prayed and shared the idea with our mentors, and we began the process of becoming Global Servants with International Ministries.
We left for Liberia in March of 2014. Unfortunately, after serving there for only three months, the Ebola outbreak interrupted our work. The schools were closed for the following year. International Ministries had a partnership with Hungarian Baptist Aid who was looking for English teachers. Thinking we would have something to do until Ebola blew over, we came to Hungary temporarily. When it was time for the next school year to start, the Liberian schools were still closed because of Ebola, so we continued in Hungary in the fall of 2015. Shortly after school started, a ministry opportunity opened up for Larry (I’ll give more details below) and it became clear that we would stay in Europe. We’re now starting our 8th year in sunny Téglás, Hungary.
You asked how we combined our community service with evangelism. We work and serve, and opportunities to share the gospel arise as God opens hearts. I’ll give you an example from just yesterday. The group of kids I started teaching when we first arrived are now 8th graders. Today they will take a high-stakes language exam in English—we will see results of our efforts: the culmination of the work of my Hungarian colleagues and my presence as a native-English speaking lecturer in the schools for eight years. I have no doubt that the kids will succeed because they can have complex conversations with me. Last night, I made a video and shared it with the kids in their private Messenger group, praying for them and sharing one of my favorite Bible stories. In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat leads the Israelites in prayer and fasting because they are surrounded by formidable enemies. The Lord tells them to stand firm and watch how he will deliver them. I read verse 17 to the kids in Hungarian and blessed them for their work. I don’t explicitly teach Bible lessons, but I am free to share my faith. I have challenged them to learn the Lord’s Prayer in English, and I have shown Christian films and how I personally practice my faith.
My husband, Larry, has a different role. When we first came to Hungary, he did not have a clear job. In Liberia, he had the huge task of improving the school’s infrastructure and leading the maintenance staff. In Hungary, the school was already nice and well maintained, and the language barrier prevented any real interaction with the staff. But then in September of 2015, Hungarian Baptist Aid asked all English-speakers in country to help serve the refugees that were flooding in from the Syrian war crisis. This began Larry’s two-fold ministry here in Europe: he has travelled all across Southern Europe, partnering with small NGOs and European Baptist churches to serve the refugees, and then working with these churches to serve their own impoverished communities. So, my work in Hungary provides the home base for him to travel to serve in refugee camps and to visit Baptist communities in need, providing firewood and even crisis relief after the earthquake in Croatia last winter. Tomorrow, Larry and our oldest daughter, Ruth, will travel to northern Serbia to visit our partner Zoltán Nyúl and his churches, distributing firewood to the poor in their community; early in November he will travel to Bosnia to provide aid to the freezing refugees camped along the northern border.
I hope this has answered your questions about our ministry. We have many resources online if you’d like to know more:
Our page on the International Ministries website has monthly journal entries, and this is the portal for giving if you feel led to partner with us: https://www.internationalministries.org/author/lr-stanton/
Our public Facebook page is a great place to follow our ministry. We share pictures and videos, including my 30-Second Updates that give snippets of insight into our work: https://www.facebook.com/StantonGlobalServants/
On our YouTube channel, we have a collection of very nice, short videos that we’ve had produced over the years, and they are excellent introductions to our work: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLALiC0brIMEytxjy3ncy_29KTeCb4Al5D
Please feel free to share any of these links and information with your church and other mission-minded friends.