The Experience Magazine 50th Year Edition

In 1895, the daughter and son-in-law of the richest man in Hungary built a grand country estate in the rural village of Tóalmás. The castle featured marble columns, a stunning glass arboretum and even a grand staircase modeled after the national opera house in Paris. But storybook castles do not necessarily lead to storybook lives. After a short life focused on worldly gain, the owner lost her fortune, became addicted to morphine, and sold the castle in 1911. The new castle owners were one of Hungary’s most famous families. The castle became their private summer estate, which they enjoyed until WWII began in Europe, during which they fled. Hungary became a communist state, and the castle and property became a communist youth camp – and thus it remained for forty years. By 1989, communism was dying in the former Eastern Bloc, and this presented an opportunity for Word of Life. The then- communist government miraculously signed a ten-year lease allowing Word of Life to freely use a beautiful castle with all its contents, even including beds, kitchenware and school desks. The “price” of the lease was that Word of Life Hungary was Hungary: Tóalmás Alex Konya

required to yearly give a free week of camp to four hundred kids from Hungarian State homes for the next ten years!

Camp inHungary began in1990, andmore than thirty thousand campers have attended since then. The Bible Institute opened in 1994, with Dave James as the first director. The school has a one-year program with an option for a second year, and it became an official, accredited WOLBI teaching site in 2016. From the beginning, the school has been bilingual (Hungarian and English), originally in order to allow students from other Eastern Bloc countries who knew some English to study in Hungary. The bilingual nature of the Hungary Bible Institute has allowed over a thousand students from nearly every continent in the world to attend. Typically, the school has 60-80 students enrolled per year from 10-15 countries. In addition to their on- campus activities, students can do summer and short-term ministries in any of the eighteen countries in Europe where WOL is established.

WOLBI Hungary is currently directed by Richard Oliveira.

33 The Experience

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