“Many people here ask me how you have kept your faith after all the suffering you have been through, how you still believe in the existence of a merciful God! I do not really understand this question, but I always answer them with another question, which is: Isn’t the hundreds of situations and moments of danger that I survived sufficient for me to be convinced that there is a merciful God who helps and protects me?”
– the question that sums up so many lives and shows hope in times of persecution.
Such testimonies could be heard at the Mass for persecuted Christians on Sunday, March 19, 2023 in the Inner City Parish Church, where Tristan Azbej, State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, spoke, and some of the scholarship holders of the Scholarship Programme for Christian Young People also bravely stood up to testify and share their lives and experiences of persecution.
Father Zoltán Osztie, who celebrated the Mass, awakened hope in the hearts of those present with the following parable, known from the first centuries, emphasising that even in these difficult times there is Someone to whom we can turn, who can be our Source of Joy:
“The Moon is a celestial body that is dark, dry, cold in itself, yet one of the most beautiful phenomena in the sky. It is a luminous heavenly body, which does not get its light from itself, but from the Sun. It is the light of the sun that continues to radiate from it. And then we must immediately think of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, our shining sun and our light – from him comes the light that shines in the darkness. We are the moon, and the risen Christ is our rising sun and our light, who is the light of the world in the terrible darkness,” he said.
As State Secretary, Mr. Tristan Azbej, stressed, this Holy Mass and participation in the Holy Mass “is a common expression of our compassion and love for our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters“, some of whom were testifying on the spot. He reminded those present that “it is not so obvious in every part of the world that Christian believers can receive Communion, the Most Holy Sacrament, and participate in worship and Holy Mass. Sadly, not all of our Christian brothers and sisters have the opportunity to live their faith with such naturalness and serenity.”
The Hungary Helps Program was created precisely to help persecuted Christians in a world where persecution is increasing year after year, where an average of 13-15 Christians are murdered every day for witnessing to the name of Jesus Christ. “This initiative, unique in the world, has made it our national mission to combat persecution of Christians,” he said.
The scholarship holders, who stood up in front of the audience with great courage, told of the violence, injustices and cruel loss of loved ones in these countries, and despite all the trials, they were filled with hope and trust in God. As one of the girls who gave testimony said, “the list of atrocities goes on and on but in all these, we still have solid faith in God. We are always thankful to God for the gift of life every day, for his provisions, protection, and sustenance.”
They also shared their personal memories, the wise advice of their grandparents, saying “put all your efforts to build a human being, not a building, because when you build a human being in the right way, they will have a forever home, which is the church“.
In Pakistan, “Christians are considered second-class citizens and are discriminated against in every aspect of public and private life. Christian women and girls are particularly vulnerable in Pakistan, reports indicate there is a silent epidemic of kidnapping, forced marriages and forced conversions of Christian girls and women in Pakistan.” says a Pakistani scholarship holder, and yet she continues, “I am from a catholic family, and we believe in God our Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. As a Christian me and my family believe in Jesus as the Son of God and his death and Resurrection“.
According to one Syrian scholarship holder, there are those who have been forced to flee and move with their entire family because of the constant violence and persecution. He said that entire Christian neighbourhoods were being attacked, bombed, countless Christians made homeless, and how this brings Christian communities together, and therefore “the church remains close to the people, and the family remains united within the framework of the Christian life“.
“The existence of this scholarship for persecuted Christians is a second opportunity for a Christian to pursue his education and gain knowledge in Hungarian universities so that he can return again to his country and develop his society and rebuild his country hoping to live in a better situation in the future“.
At the end of the event and the Holy Mass for persecuted Christians, those present were able to listen to the Lord’s Prayer in the language of Jesus Christ, in Aramaic, thanks to one of the testifiers.
Please welcome the recording of the prayer:
“May God sustain us all in his love.“
– C.M.N., scholarship holder