Sandor Szenczy, founder and President Emeritus of Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid), died on May 21, 2022, at the age of 57.

After a difficult adolescence of drugs and alcohol, gang membership, and homelessness, Szenczy became a Christian during his time of service in the Hungarian army. He was first confronted with the truth of the Gospel during a conversation with an anonymous caller on a secret military phone line.

After leaving the military, Szenczy attended seminary and in 1994 became a pastor of a small church in Velence, Hungary. Within ten years, the congregation grew from 10 people to 100.

With a desire to follow Jesus’ command of love by caring for those in need, Szenczy founded HBAid in 1996. He received a widow’s gift of 5,000 HUK (about $25USD) and made a commitment to turn her contribution into $1 million USD in aid for North Korea.

One month later, with support from Baptist World Aid and others in the global Baptist family, a shipment of $1 million dollars’ worth of medicine, corn, and seeds was on its way to North Korea.

Under Szenczy’s leadership, HBAid grew to be one of the largest aid organizations in Hungary, providing humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and support for marginalized groups. With 70 full-time staff and hundreds of volunteers, the organization has worked in more than 25 countries to meet physical, psychological, and spiritual needs.

HBAid is recognized internationally as a skilled rescue and aid organization that aims to be on the ground within hours of a disaster. It coordinates the ‘Baptist World Aid Rescue24 International Team’ that consists of Hungarian workers and volunteers as well as members from the USA, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Malaysia, and the Czech Republic.

During Szenczy’s tenure as president from 1996-2020, he traveled to the sites of natural disasters, wars, and poverty including Kosovo, Vietnam, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Chechnya, and Iraq. He visited North Korea numerous times and was given the opportunity to speak in one of only two Protestant churches that exist legally in the country. He also held formal talks with the regime which resulted in an agreement for Hungarian specialists to work in North Korea

assisting disabled youth with cerebral palsy. Szenczy continued to partner extensively with Baptist World Aid in North Korea and around the world, including pivotal ministry in Iran following the 2003 earthquake and in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.

Through his work, Szenczy built relationships with leaders around the world, including meeting personally with four United States presidents. In 2007, he was recognized by Hungary for his contributions to the “the International Relations of the Republic of Hungary.” In 2015, he received the Hungarian Gold Cross of Merit.

“Sandor’s personal joy and bold humility resulted in fruit of passionate faith felt around the world. His love saved the lives of countless thousands, many of whom he would only meet in the eternal throne room of Christ,” said BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown. “His legacy of living as the hands and feet of Jesus will continue to be felt through a generation of leaders serving around the world out of his modeled wisdom.”

Szencky is survived by his wife, Katalin, five children, and grandchildren.