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From Faith To Fellowship

 

My name is Viola Bolbas.  I live in Budapest, Hungary, with my husband and two children.  When I found Love God Greatly in 2010, I was a school teacher at home on summer break expecting my first child.  Entering a new phase in my life and looking for an online Bible study, this was just what I needed.  Three years into the study, I noticed that the ministry was looking for translators.  I felt the Lord was calling me to serve as a translator, but I didn’t want to do it.  By now, I was expecting my second child and had many excuses for not wanting to serve, but I felt the Lord kept asking me to write to Angela (founder and director of Love God Greatly).  When I finally contacted her, she said Love God Greatly needed a Hungarian translator and she would love to have me join the team.  By Christmas I was sitting in my living room reading the leader’s manual and wondering how I was going to do it.  God gave me a vision about how great it would be for Hungarian women to have these studies translated in their language, and I knew it would be a blessing for them.  My sisters were the first ones to join me, along with some friends.

Viola and sisters Eliza and Annabell (from l-r)

Viola and sisters Eliza and Annabell (from l-r).

My first translation for the ministry was January 2013.

What I liked about the devotional was that it was not someone else’s thoughts that I was reading.  This study was different because I had to figure it out for myself.  I have the Holy Spirit so I don’t need to wait for someone else to tell me what the Scripture means.  I started a Facebook group with my family and close friends, but didn’t want to publicly post my study because if I was to fail as a leader, I wanted to fail in front of them.  I began to pray for my group, we posted our SOAP’s and I tried to help them with their issues.

From the first moment, it was amazing and God blessed my step of faith.

We are celebrating our third year.  Some of my group members have been with me for all three years, some now have groups of their own and others God took some other way.  We are really blessed by seeing new people come.  I think that I’m the one who most needs the Bible study for accountability and consistent Bible reading.  After one year of translating and facilitating by myself, I came to believe there were others who might be able to help me.  I felt like the Lord was telling me it was time to begin delegating some of the responsibilities to others.  God was helping me build a team and slowly people were added.  Two of my sisters, Eliza and Annabell are also on the team and help me with various tasks from encouragement and translating to graphics design and group facilitation.

We now have a team of at least 15 people who are committed to follow the study as long as God leads them and they have some role in the group. Our team is called the Star Team from Philippians 2:15 and 16: “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” In the beginning I did it all, but it’s so much better now because everybody has a special part that they do best, just like in the Body of Christ. These people are so faithful. There was a season when I was sick and all I could do was my study, but the team kept it going. I am so blessed by how God added these faithful people to pray, to encourage, to do graphics, to facilitate groups and translate the blog posts. I love my team! I could tell stories about each one of them and thank God every day for their transparent walk with Him, for their prayers and for laying down their lives for other Hungarian women.

I am amazed at how God put us together to study His Word.

Of the Hungarian women who study with us, half do not live in Hungary.  People have moved from Hungary for family or financial reasons and miss their country and their language.  As these women are trying to settle into a new culture, they are able to maintain their Hungarian roots through the Love God Greatly Hungarian Bible study.  Others were born and live in areas of surrounding countries that used to be part of Hungary and therefore they speak Hungarian. We have had women from England, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Croatia, Romania, Austria and America studying with us. Some have found our Love God Greatly Facebook page or blog; others were invited by their friends or their pastor’s wife.  Altogether we’ve had about 250 women join us for one or more studies, and we have 100 women enrolled in the current study on prayer. During this study, for the very first time, my dear friend and co-facilitator Margit started a new kind of Facebook group for women wanting to study in smaller groups of six to eight and at a slower pace, digging into one SOAP verse a week. We have had amazing response for this kind of study as well and currently have four such groups running.

After Angela hosted the Intensive in Texas last year, we were motivated to hold our own Intensive here in Hungary.  I did not attend the Intensive in Texas but my sister Annabell was there.  When she returned from Texas and told us how much it meant to her, we began to make plans to gather our women and host our own Intensive.  Some of the women had been in the group for years yet we had never met.

It strengthens your faith when you can see these people, hug them and look into their eyes.

We rented a room at a church, ordered a cake to celebrate our third year together and had a small gift for everyone.  The gathering was scheduled for 9 am to Noon but we stayed until 1 pm.  There were ladies who traveled for three or five hours to get to the Intensive.  One woman didn’t have money so we paid for her to come by bus.  We couldn’t believe that women would get up in the early morning hours and drive for five hours to arrive at the gathering by 9 am.  The only complaint we had was that it was so short, and they wished we could have been together for the entire day.

Women gathered together for an Intensive in Hungary held in December.

Women gather together for an Intensive held in Hungary by Viola and her sisters.

Most of the women that came were from the Star Team, and I’d never met them before.  Now I could personally thank them for what they were doing – for their contribution for Hungarian women.

We laughed, we cried, we sang songs and we prayed.

Our theme for the day was about “Peace.”

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (ESV).

As women, we can be a positive influence as peacemakers or impact our surroundings in a negative way when we aren’t living in peace.  We broke up in small groups and SOAP’d on this topic.  It was so sweet. The women were open, brave, honest, broken and humble.  It was wonderful to get to know them on a deeper level.  I loved them before, but I love them now as some of my best friends.

During the second half of our Intensive we shared a video from Angela, and then Annabell showed pictures from the Texas Intensive.  She shared what she learned during the training sessions and what she learned from the other translators.  We prayed for each other and for the ministry.  We prayed to be strengthened in our individual walk of faith with God, as well as prayers for the ministry as a whole.  Some of the women have very little fellowship, and the Love God Greatly Bible studies and community of believers is like bread to them.

God blessed our time together. 

We plan to conduct another Intensive in Hungary this summer.  The women are talking about the next time we can get together and we will have an entire day for fellowship and praise and worship of our Lord.  We have discussed inviting other Love God Greatly translators who reside in neighboring countries to join us.  It would be good for us to be together.

Women study together during the Hungary Intensive.

Women study together during the Hungary Intensive.

As I think about how God has grown our Love God Greatly Hungarian group, I can’t help but think about my childhood and the environment that was created for me and my siblings.  One of the blessings of growing up in a Christian home was going to church with my family every Sunday from a very early age.  Having any foreign pastor visit from abroad was a huge privilege and a very rare gift to our church back then.  I remember my mother interpreting at these special services and often times these pastors came to our house for lunch afterwards because my mother could talk to them.  I learned my first English words from her.

My love for the English language and translating the Word of God started very early.

I watched and listened to my mom beautifully and cheerfully put those strange sounding words into our language.  I saw how important and helpful she was to all the people and how blessed the visiting foreign pastors were to have their messages interpreted and then to eat Sunday dinner with a family that actually understood what they were saying.  I also became a translator in our church for American pastors and chose English as my college major.  I don’t think it was an accident.  I am thankful for my mom’s example and the beautiful influence she had on me through her ministry and love of translation.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV).

Viola Bolbas, Budapest, Hungary

Post written by Joan, LGG Leadership Team Member

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