"Take Delight in the Lord, and He Will Give You the Desires of Your Heart"

The Diaconia of the Reformed Church in Hungary has become the country's largest afterschool operator after the Directorate-General for Social Inclusion deemed the operation of fourteen Reformed afterschools worthy of support for the next three-year period. The afterschools, which serve local children from typically difficult circumstances, include some that have been in operation for nearly a decade, but two newcomers will start operating in 2024.

Turgyán Sándor Sándorné

Photo: Levente Váradi

Half of the Reformed afterschools, which operate in nearly thirty locations nationwide, are supported by the central budget of the Ministry of the Interior, while the other half are supported by the Swiss Church Aid (HEKS) and the Roma Ministry of the Diaconia of the RCH. The daily routine, activities, and financial possibilities - and thus the requirements - of these afterschools differ considerably. Still, they have a common goal: besides tutoring and social inclusion, the most important thing is to help students to know the Lord and to accept Him into their lives. " Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." - the words of Psalm 37 could be the motto of the Mátészalka-Kertvárosi Reformed Parish since the opening of the local afterschool was preceded by several years of prayer. The congregation members have been asking the Lord for years to lead someone into the congregation who would carry out the service of the Roma ministry with dedication. God answered their prayer: without any previous church connection, Sándor Turgyán received a personal calling in his life, and it was in the Roma ministry that he discovered his own area of ministry. Four of the congregation members attended the Reformed Roma Ministry's training course, Together for Each Other, and it was here that they found the grant that opened the first door to starting the school. Events followed quickly: in September, the decision was made; in November, all the application documents were submitted; and in the autumn of 2022, the Reformed afterschool in Matészalka could start its operation.

"The children living in the camp were very open and interested. They were so eager to join our community that they signed up before the programme had even started," says Katalin Turgyánné Kovács, the school's manager. "My husband and I used to visit Roma families regularly, and they always welcomed us and were happy that we were working with their children. On our first visit, we took a photo with one of the boys, and he indicated at the time that he would like to apply for whatever we were starting. We have been active learners ever since, and I cherish that moment in my heart," says the head of the school, sharing her favorite memory.

Tanoda Turgyán Sándor 2024.

Photo: Levente Váradi

Twenty children have become part of the life of the school, taking part in maths, Hungarian literature, and language, as well as English language tutoring and Bible classes. A close bond has developed between the children and the staff who serve. They meet three days a week in the afterschool, where they can share a table at snack time and then continue their learning and tutoring in two groups. The results are already visible in the lives of the young people: their academic performance has improved, they read the parables of Jesus Christ carefully in Bible lessons, they ask questions, and they are able to discern how the love of Christ is shown in their lives. "Many people may think that the children and their families can be grateful to the school because we give them a snack, help them with their studies, take them home at the end of the sessions, and provide them with a programme. But I feel that it is really us who should be grateful to the children because they take the time to come here, and instead of sitting in front of the computer, they are here with us, sharing their feelings and thoughts with us, and we can see how the Lord is working in their lives," says Sándor Turgyán, who sees the students as his children, with gratitude.

Glory be to God that through the afterschools, hundreds of children in difficult situations all over the country can be supported and secured by the Diaconia of the RCH!