“Hungarian Baptists saw a need,
and they have responded. They
are demonstrating compassion
that reflects the heart of Christ.”
It is 5:30 in the morning, and Lagos is in the kitchen of the Balaton Center (a facility of the Baptist Union of Hungary) beginning to prepare breakfast. Soon, families begin to arrive in the dining room, chatting and having coffee before sharing a meal together – now a daily routine. For more than 50 women and children, the Balaton Center has become their home since they fled the violence in Ukraine.
These refugees, Roma people from an area of Ukraine near the Hungarian border, struggled to find a place to stay when they entered Hungary. Many faced discrimination along the evacuation route as well as the challenges of navigating border crossings without documentation.
But Hungarian Baptists welcomed them in. Marsha Scipio, Director of Baptist World Aid, had the opportunity to tour the center during her visit to Eastern Europe in March.
“Hungarian Baptists saw a need, and they have responded. They are demonstrating compassion that reflects the heart of Christ,” she shares.
During her visit, Marsha met Lagos who serves as the response coordinator and heads up the center’s efforts to provide for the refugees in their care. Many were sick, scared, and depressed when they arrived. “Sorrow and pain were on their hearts,” Lagos describes.
Lagos does the shopping as well as the cooking for the group. His wife, who was a teacher, finds educational exercises for the children. Afternoons consist of outings to a local playground, and a children’s minister from a neighboring church also visits to minister to the families.
In addition, Hungarian Baptists are working to help families become legally established in Hungary. Since many do not have birth certificates and are unable to read, Lagos and other volunteers accompany them to the immigration office to assist with the required paperwork.
On Sundays, the Roma men join their families at the Center. These men have been working and living outside of Budapest since before the war began, so Sundays at the Center provide a cherished opportunity to reunite – particularly amid such challenging circumstances. Together the families share a meal and are invited to attend Sunday services. Attendance is not required but encouraged. “We never know when the Word of God will arrive to their hearts,” says Lagos.
Utilizing financial and food donations and drawing from an abiding love for people, Lagos and his team have been able to provide compassionate care for weeks – even when exhaustion threatens to overwhelm them.
“Sometimes I’m really tired. The day is long,” he says. “But we will do this as long as they need it.”