High School Students in Budapest Hear the Gospel through The Story of Hope
After serving as a public-school teacher for 15 years in the state of Michigan, Mike Southwell heard of the need that the International Christian School of Budapest (ICSB) had for a high school principal. Mike had grown up in a family that was very supportive of missions and missionaries. That interest had continued in his own life, and he now saw a wonderful opportunity to expose his own family to missions in a powerful and tangible way. He took a sabbatical and, with his wife and six children, offered to serve short-term for a year while they sought to fill the position. The one year turned into two, they added another member to their family, and soon felt God was calling them to invest at ICSB long-term.
COVID-19 presented some real challenges to the end of the 2019/2020 school year and even more so for the beginning of the new year this fall, but also an unexpected, fantastic opportunity to impact students with the gospel. One of the teachers was not able to return to Hungary from the United States in time, so Mike took over her class for the first few weeks. It was an English Language Learner class consisting of six students. Of those, four were new to the school and Mike found out that three of them had never been to church or heard the gospel. As Mike started teaching the ELL lessons, one of beginning activities was for the students to identify new words they were unfamiliar with while reading and bring them to class to find their definitions. One of the new students brought in the word “salvation” and asked what it meant. This led to a great discussion where Mike was able to briefly present the truths of the gospel.
On his way home after school, Mike thought, “I really want to spend more time developing the students’ understanding of God’s redemptive plan.” Mike had previously attended The Roots of Faith courses and spent two years, along with his uncle, teaching through them at their home church in Michigan. He had witnessed the power and benefit of studying the Bible chronologically. At home, he remembered that he had enough copies of The Story of Hope for each student, so brought them into class the next day and began teaching through the lessons. This sparked great dialogue, not only helping the students to learn and practice more English, but also revealing that several of the new students were clearly interested in learning more and understanding the Bible. After the teacher arrived for the school year, she continued to study the rest of the biblical events with the students. One of the female students came to Mike later saying she wanted to pray asking God to save her, and he was able to guide her in her faith response to the gospel. The other students have not yet made faith commitments but continue to show interest in God’s redemptive story.
Mike shares that this time of teaching through The Story of Hope with these students was invigorating. He says that it also got him thinking and evaluating their Christian Studies curriculum at the high school. He realized that what they were using was probably well above the language ability of those students who do not have English as their heart language, and even more crucial, above their spiritual understanding. For this class, he recruited one of his teachers to take them through The Roots of Faithmaterial for the rest of the year to give them a firm understanding of God’s big story.
“I am so excited for the opportunities that these materials have given my school to reach these kids for Christ!”
International Christian School of Budapest began in 1994 to serve missionary families and others in the central European region. It now has over 200 students from 18 countries. Pray for International Christian School of Budapest that they may see much fruit in the lives of their students this year.