Service & Community in Budapest

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Believers & Refugees Draw Close through Service and Community in Budapest

Story by Kathy Symborski and Christmas Beeler
Photos by Josh Larson

Having lived through civil war in his home country of the former Yugoslavia, Calvary Chapel Pastor Árpi Horvát Kávai of Golgota 11 (G11) in Budapest, Hungary, understands the significance a supportive church community plays in building resilience. As refugees continue to disperse throughout Western Europe, he and his small church of about 50 believers house and feed those who come to them, but also find unique ways to create a sense of community for each individual.

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Believers in Budapest, Hungary, pull bicycles out of a van for Ukrainian refugees. Calvary Chapel pastors Árpi Horváth Kávai (right) of Golgota 11 in Budapest and Stan Marinussen of Calvary Chapel Haarlemmermeer, Holland, collaborated to gather and bring the used bicycles to refugees in need of hope.

One of the first things they did was to translate Sunday services into the Ukrainian language. This has drawn people from all over Budapest, even from other churches, together in worship.

Many in the congregation have opened their homes and created living spaces in areas from offices to pool houses. Pastor Árpi compares the limited resources they have on hand to the miracle of the fish and the loaves found in the Gospels. “We’ll bring what we have, and God can do a miracle and multiply it. So far, in many of the requests we have had, we were able to somehow make it work—to the extent of God doing the impossible.”

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A Ukrainian mother shows her baby the free bicycle she just received. Budapest is a bike-friendly city; having bicycles will give the refugees more freedom and control over their chaotic lives.

Recognizing a need for transportation for the refugees, he came up with an idea that would bring people together through a bicycle distribution. Knowing there were many used bikes in Holland, Árpi collaborated on a four-week project with Stan Marinussen at Calvary Chapel Haarlemmermeer, Holland. Stan was able to collect over 50 bikes and, outside of paying for small repairs, God worked on peoples’ hearts to donate all other costs—from shipping them to Hungary and relocating the bikes from the logistics base to downtown Budapest.


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Pastor Árpi recently distributed 35 of those bikes; some to people in his church and the rest disbursed to the community. He will send the remaining 18 bikes down to Pécs, Hungary, where a large number of Ukrainian evacuees have gathered. “This is a great opportunity for people to organize trips around the city, as Budapest is bike friendly, and almost everything is within 15 minutes of our area,” said Árpi. “In circumstances when they have lost so much control over everything, having control over a few things is key.”

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Pastor Árpi encourages a woman during the bicycle outreach. The team distributed 35 bikes, some to people in the church and the rest disbursed to the community. The remaining 18 bikes will be sent to Pécs, Hungary, where many Ukrainian evacuees have gathered.

Many refugees who have come to G11 have expressed how comfortable they feel, that being in the community is much like a second home to them. Árpi noted, “They have told me they don’t even feel like refugees. What they testify resoundingly of is that God is using this [war] to bring them to the realization of how important it is to be heavenly minded and be connected to other saints. The fellowship of the believers is much more important than they thought.”

He added that many of his contacts, including missionaries, in Western Europe often wondered over the past years if they made the right decision to serve where they are. Citing Mordecai’s challenge to Queen Esther that the fate of her nation rested on her courage, “Such a time as this has come up so many times,” stated Árpi. He is keenly aware that his connections throughout the Calvary Chapel family are structured around friendships—and that has contributed to how effectively and efficiently they have been able to minister to the displaced and to each other.

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In a glimpse of better times, a teenager joyfully helps a little boy ride the bicycle he just received.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forevermore. Psalm 133:1-3 

Pastor Árpi likens the fellowship of the believers to Psalm 133. “Like fine oil, signifying the Holy Spirit … and dew suggesting refreshment … we are experiencing God’s Spirit in somebody else, and receiving refreshment through somebody else.”

“Everybody (at G11) is becoming more Christ-like. Some of them because they are displaced and are forced to think more of heaven and the beauty of the believers, the fellowship; and those who are serving are becoming more Christ-like as they serve in ways they haven’t before,” he observed.

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George Markey Jr. (center) and his wife Sharon (left) engage in conversation with a Ukrainian refugee. George has served as a missionary in Ukraine for many years and is now the pastor of Calvary Chapel Kyiv. He and his family are refugees themselves during the war. During their time away from Kyiv, he is one of many CC pastors and missionaries working from border countries to serve and help refugees.


To support this work assisting refugees, use this PayPal link: (all funds received through this account are used to care for the displaced from Ukraine).


(To learn more about Calvary Chapel University, visit their website or read our past coverage on the school)

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All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.