Today I went with John’s 5th grade ICSB class to one of the Salvation Army homeless shelters in Budapest. The building was built by the Salvation Army in 1927-28 and operated as a homeless shelter for men until 1948 when it was taken from them by the communists. It remained some kind of shelter for men without families or just released from prison during the communist years in Hungary, but virtually no money was given toward upkeep. When the building was returned to the Salvation Army in 1991 it was in a shambles. They have worked hard to repair the building and rebuild the ministry to homeless men and women in Budapest.
John’s class brought supplies for the battered women’s shelter. The director met us at the men’s shelter to receive the gifts, since the location of the women’s shelter is secret. She was excited to accept diapers, baby food, bottles, toys and clothes for the children housed there.
The class was able to brighten the day of the 250 men and women who are served a free lunch there as well. The meal is simple, but provided every day of the year and cakes are donated for a nice dessert. They bring the people in to the dining room in three groups and the class sang Hungarian Christmas carols to each group.
I was impressed with two things today.
First, the ministry of the Salvation Army in Budapest. The officers discovered that 493 children in the 8th district are on a waiting list to get into daycare. While that might seem overwhelming, they are doing what they can. They opened a daycare that is currently able to care for 7 of them. That might seem like a drop in the bucket, but I’m sure it’s a cup of cool water to those 7 families.
Second, the 5th grade class at ICSB impressed me. Before we toured the facility, we were told to treat the people housed there with respect, to look them in the eye and speak politely to them. From what I saw, it seemed that every student did just that. One person even mentioned that they appreciated how the students honored them in their singing. When Andrew Morgan, the director, asked if they had any questions, he was flooded with good questions about the ministry there. These students seem mature and interested in how they can serve.
Today was a different day for me. Usually I’m talking with guys about the big picture. Today, I watched quietly as hundreds of lives were touched in the name of Jesus by some dedicated volunteers and 15 ICSB 5th graders.