Benjamin has been preparing for the last year to be sent out by a Reformed Baptist church in Malaga, Spain. Martin Rizley is partially supported by HeartCry, and is one of the pastors in Malaga. Under Brother Martin’s care and oversight, Benjamin and a group of family and friends will begin planting a church in Budapest this fall.

Testimony of Conversion

It was a great privilege for me to be born into a Christian community where I could hear about God and learn the teachings and events about Jesus Christ from the Bible. I grew up always being aware of God’s existence, His power, and knowing that I should consider Him of very high importance.

I have had many generations of Baptist ancestors on all sides of my family. My mother is also a Baptist; a true born-again believer. She constantly prayed for my brothers for me, regularly taking us to Baptist churches and children’s camps every summer.

While in these places, I heard the gospel many times in a simple but correct way. I could broadly understand the truths about the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, God’s just judgment, the need for repentance, the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and salvation by faith alone. These circumstances helped me learn basic things about who God is and see my sinful situation.

But with this knowledge, I continued to live far from God; clinging to my sins without repentance. I had no sincere joy in seeking to have a relationship with God, no satisfaction in obeying His guidance, and no regret in what He deemed wrong. 

While I sometimes sought to do what seemed right, it had not been with the end goal of giving God all the credit and honor so that His greatness might be evident in all things. When I have strove for something good, it had ultimately been for my own sake, and for increasing my pride and easing my conscience. 

As the years passed during my childhood, I became more and more afraid of the consequences of my sinfulness. I had no hope of somehow compensating for my sins with any good deeds. 

I feared death, and that God would be right in judging me for my sins. 

Meanwhile, I longed for the things that are sins in God’s eyes. 

I knew they were wrong, but I felt that they gave me real joy. I could not change; I could not exchange my desires. 

God reached down to me out of His great love, and led me out of this state. Gradually, I became more and more ashamed of my sins and loathed them. The weight of my guilt became increasingly desperate, and I longed to be finally reassured that God had forgiven me. In the meantime, I felt that it would be very tough if I wanted to follow Christ, and I was reluctant to take on the responsibility of doing so.

I turned 13, and at the Christian children’s camp that I regularly went to with my mother, I was particularly burdened with the weight of my sins.

I believe that is where genuine repentance began in my life. I turned from my sins and turned to Christ to save me. It took me a period of life more til I fully believed in the finished work of Jesus Christ, which I had heard and read about many times; applied even to me. 

For a while, there were several more times when I doubted the reality of my salvation, the forgiveness of my sins, or my ability to follow Christ in the long run. In addition, based on what I had learned earlier, I thought that if I wanted to be baptized and become a church member, I would have to make a strict commitment to an exemplary life, and I was still unsure if I could keep it. 

But over the next few years, I became more and more certain that I was saved. I was no longer looking to myself for a reason for God to forgive my sins, but was instead reassured that the sole basis of His grace towards me was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

From then on, I did not see the story of Christ’s death on the cross as merely a great event. God, by His grace, had done the transforming work in me to trust in Christ with complete faith, who loved me so much that on the cross, He bore the just judgment for my sins, which should have been mine. I understood that He had paid the entire debt I owed to God by His death, so there was no further punishment; He had taken it all for me. I believed that God had also forgiven me for everything, without me having anything to do in return. He had freely pardoned me in full because of Jesus Christ.

At that time, I thought a lot about the first verse of the forty-third chapter of Isaiah: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.” I felt then that this was a much needed confirmation from the Word. At the age of seventeen, I was baptized and joined our church. At that time, I was still pondering whether I could indeed be faithful to Christ for a lifetime. However, I was now absolutely sure that my sins would be forgiven by God, for Christ’s sake alone, and therefore I could hope for eternal salvation in heaven.

Then I also understood that it is God Himself who, by His grace, changes me, enables me to believe in Christ, and gives me the desire to live sincerely and joyfully for Him. I have experienced this increasingly. God has changed me, and entirely by His grace, step by step, my thinking and desires have changed. I was more and more disturbed by my sins, more and more ashamed and hated them, and more and more I wanted to be cleansed of them. I longed to know more and more about Jesus Christ, whom I would one day meet face to face. God shaped my heart to love my church and fellow believers, to love knowing more about His Word, and to enjoy participating in various church ministries, among them youth ministry. 

After I was baptized, I began to share my faith with my classmates and other friends, which continued to be a significant part of my life at university and beyond. Anything that I could do for His glory has been because He alone has made me able to do it.

Since then, as a believer, I have experienced God changing my life furthermore, and as a result of His work in me, I can have the conscious, ongoing reality of loving Him because He loves me as a heavenly Father. I trust only in Jesus Christ because only He is so precious that God lovingly accepts me to Himself through Him. 

Call to Ministry

I believe that one of the ways God began to equip me for further pastoral ministry was that the work of evangelism became more and more a part of my life. From the end of my high school years, I began sharing the gospel with my classmates and friends on my own. Then, while I was studying mechanical design engineering at the University of Technology of Budapest, I joined a university student ministry that taught me their evangelism methods and involved me in their team. 

After that, I became a student leader among them and have been very involved in evangelism, personal discipleship, and training others in these things. We also organized evangelistic camps and went on evangelistic mission trips inside and outside of Hungary. I also did a lot of work within the Hungarian Baptist Denomination in children’s ministry and youth ministry. I have tried to apply the evangelism and discipleship methods I learned in my university student ministry everywhere I served.

In the meantime, my believing friends and I have discovered biblical English-language sermons on the Internet, through which God has helped us understand the clear message of the Gospel better. The preachers we began to listen to taught about the gospel with a consistency we had not heard before. Later on, we came to understand that what they all had in common was, among other things, an unconditional commitment to the authority of the Bible and that the doctrines of grace and the truth of God’s sovereignty were central to their theology. These have become our convictions as well. We came to agree with the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 and other historic Reformed Baptist confessions, too.

My Christian friends and I continued regular evangelism and personal discipleship, but we did things differently after these realizations. We organized evangelistic training conferences in several places in Hungary, where we put a strong emphasis on preaching to groups of young Christians, clarifying the content of the gospel message, and correcting misunderstandings.

We were delighted to feel that God was leading us closer to the truths of the Bible. However, in our churches, we have encountered a lack of acceptance of these essential beliefs about God and the gospel that we have seen as true based on the Bible. For many reasons, we believe that the state of theology and practice in our churches and denominations is troubling and sad. The overwhelming majority of the protestant or evangelical churches in our country are characterized primarily by Arminian theology, pragmatism, and sometimes superficiality, or liberalism. Some Christian friends and I prayed, waited, and tried to talk with our leaders repeatedly for years, but we still did not see a church where we could assuredly commit ourselves for the long run after all this. We were faithful members of our various Baptist churches, but we thought something needed to change.

In the meantime, I was invited to preach about the gospel in various places, and I received more and more feedback. In different churches, youth groups, and conferences, many people said that the way I spoke about the Word was helpful and edifying. During this period, alongside my engineering work, I wanted to grow in my theological knowledge and was keen to apply for some theological training. However, I found that from my perspective, the same problems in the churches were present in the seminaries, but even more intensely. Therefore, I did not apply anywhere, but tried to educate myself in theology based on reliable books and teachings.

My Christian friends and I continued to pray that God would give us a suitable church where we could worship, serve, and proclaim Him in a way that pleased Him. During this time, I thought that perhaps God was leading my life towards a pastoral vocation. It became more and more valuable to me to know God better through His Word, preach the Word occasionally, share the gospel from time to time, and deal with the plight of eternal souls. I thought to be the most important vocation, the one worth devoting my life to, and although I would love to be a successful engineer, I would love pastoral work even more. 

I believe God has confirmed and reaffirmed this for me as I often studied Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus in the Bible. 

Several pastor acquaintances have asked me in the past if I would be open to pastoral ministry. My believing friends, with whom I regularly prayed and evangelized, also said that it would be good for me to be a pastor and that they would love to serve the Lord together with me in a church. My wife also thinks that I should follow this calling, and she supports me in every way. 

In the light of all this, with much fear and trembling in my heart, I believe that God has prepared me to step out in faith on this ministry journey. 

It has also become clear that missions everywhere must be about planting local churches, and the local church must be at the epicenter of everything else. We see a great need for faithful evangelism, biblical worship, and church planting missions in Hungary. We have been praying for the past few years that, God willing, He would open a door for us to plant a Reformed Baptist church here in Budapest, focused on biblical preaching, prayer, discipleship, and evangelism. 

We believe churches should plant other churches; sending out people who can be elders in their new congregations. Therefore, we did not want to start anything self-appointed. We tried to find a suitable sending church in Hungary or Europe with whom we agree on their teaching which could serve as a spiritual background for us and give us advice in our ministry. Through personal contacts, we came to know such a church in Málaga, Spain, where the pastor, Martin Rizley, is from the United States and whose sermons we had previously been able to listen to in English on the Internet. 

As we got to know each other better, we found that we agreed in our beliefs, theology, and church practice. We also developed an excellent relationship with the brothers and sisters in Málaga. For years we regularly talked, video-conversed, prayed together with the church elders, and visited each other several times. They have confirmed that they see my calling and our plan for church planting as coming from the Lord, and would be willing to stand behind us as a sending church. I believe that through this open door, God has also reassured me that He intends me for pastoral ministry.