This post is the fourth in a series concerning the life and ministry of Mihály Kornya, the Peasant Prophet, who preached the Gospel for more than 30 years in Hungary and Romania. (Part One; Part Two; Part Three)
Few incidents show his raw courage like the time he was about to be attacked by an angry man wielding an axe. The scene unfolded like this: In 1893, Kornya was preparing for a baptismal service at Kisháza. Changing tents had been set up beside the river. One of the candidates was a woman whose husband was opposed to her being baptized. She took this opportunity, because her husband was off in the forest chopping wood and did not know that she was about to be baptized.
One of the ladies of the woman’s acquaintance found out about what was about to happen and, since she was also opposed to the baptism, sent word to the husband in the forest, saying, “Come, because your wife Szaveta went to be baptized!” The husband began to curse, because his fellow-woodcutters began to laugh and mock him. Enraged, the husband took his axe and ran to the site where the baptism was about to take place. He intended to prevent the baptism of his wife even if he had to kill her in order to do it. He arrived at the site just as the baptism was about to take place.
On the husband’s arrival, the atmosphere of the meeting turned from joy into fear. The women hid themselves and the men stood around them to protect them. Kornya calmly approached the husband and addressed him kindly, “Fratye Mandru, I am glad you came. All right, now, come and help us with your axe! It was wise to bring your axe. Here is this wooden pole: sharpen it and pin this down here to support the tent. If you pin this pole down and the wind blows, we do not have to worry that the tent might fall down. Just believe me, Fratye, it will work. See, in the same way it is good for our earthly tent to have someone beside it, the Lord Jesus Christ, who protects us not to fall down into the depth of hell.”
Kornya waited for him to finish the job and then said, “All right, now, stay here and watch this tent. See, those people are standing packed over there and there is nobody else besides you here to watch. But if you don’t want to help I can call somebody else.”
“It is not necessary,” replied the man. “I will remain here.”
“Now I will start to preach and later I will come up to you and ask something,” Kornya added.
Everyone looked on silently as these events transpired and now a great calm came over them. Kornya then preached from Matthew 3:10, “And now also the axe is laid to unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” He said that everyone who does not receive Christ as Savior is like the fruitless tree. Unless he repents, he will be cut off and cast into the fire.
After the preaching, Kornya said to the husband, “Will you remain here, or will you take your wife home?”
“I will remain here,” replied the man. “Baptize me too.”
Silence reigned by that river-side. Tears flowed as Kornya baptized candidate after candidate. Several registered their desire to be baptized at the next baptismal service. Following the baptisms, Kornya preached again on Mark 12:30-31, love the Lord and love your neighbor.
When the service had ended after an hour and a half, Kornya accepted an invitation to eat at Fratye Mandru’s home. At the next baptismal service, the husband too received believer’s baptism.
David Potter serves as a missionary in Hungary with Baptist World Mission.