SZEGED, Hungary (BP)–Official reports were bleak following last year’s devastating cyanide spill into Hungary’s Tisza River. But a year later, local communities are rebuilding with optimism, thanks in part to Southern Baptist relief assistance.
Officials initially estimated that the river’s food chain had been destroyed by the spill and would take years, perhaps decades, to recover. The disaster left many Hungarian families who had relied on commercially fishing the river without much hope.
The International Mission Board responded by funneling emergency relief funds to communities hit hardest by the spill.
Ed and Eniko Jordan, International Mission Board representatives in Hungary, used the money to provide boxes of groceries for families and hot-lunch meals through local schools for children of fishermen. Each grocery box included a Hungarian Bible, an encouraging book of messages and an evangelistic tract.
“With tearful eyes [the families] gave thanks to God,” Ed Jordan said, “and expressed appreciation to us for a group of people called Baptists.”
Many Hungarians told the representatives they felt as though Baptists were the only ones to truly show God’s love, Jordan said.
“The news went out on national television that Baptists are a people who care,” he said, “and who try to show God’s love through action.”
More than six months after the spill, the Jordans received a special gift from local fishermen. In early December, two men brought the Jordans 40 pounds of live fish, a staple of a Hungarian family’s Christmas Eve feast. The fishermen had caught the fish in a local lake since the Tisza River still is not commercially fishable.
“More than six months after Southern Baptists gave help to the fishermen’s families, that act of love was still in the hearts of these families,” Jordan said.
The Jordans shared the feast of fish with four non-Christian families who expressed gratitude to have enough fish for their own Christmas Eve dinner.
“Thanks to the faithfulness of Southern Baptists, the gift goes on!” Jordan said.