November 22, 2017

Olde World Baptists: Mihály Kornya, the Peasant Prophet (part 3)

David Potter

This post is the third 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)


As Kornya entered a village where he was scheduled to preach, he saw two men standing in the road holding clubs. He greeted them pleasantly and asked them what they were doing. They told him that there was a deceiving preacher named Kornya about to enter town and that they were there to prevent him from coming. Realizing that the two had not recognized him, he told them not to treat the preacher too harshly and walked on. After preaching in the village, he left town by a different route.

One can see Kornya’s defiance of hardship in the number of times he baptized people in the winter when they had to break ice in the river in order to perform the baptism. These baptisms are not only a testimony to Kornya’s zeal, but also to the devotedness of his converts. One could perhaps understand that a single person could have the zeal necessary to stand in the icy waters, but the fact that so many were willing to be baptized in this manner proves the effectiveness of Kornya in communicating his love for Christ to others.

In Bihar some youths set upon him and took him to the town well, where they poured at least ten buckets of cold water on him, leaving his clothes icy. This incident occurred at about Christmas time.

While in jail in Berettyóújfalú, Hungary, he realized that the prison contained Calvinists, Catholics, Lutherans, Jews and Greek Orthodox, but no Baptists. Then he said to his fellow-prisoners, “This High Sheriff is an interesting man. He wants to prohibit the practice of the faith of those of whom there is no one in the prison.” On his release, he said to the High Sheriff, “Sir, thank you for sending me there, because none of them were a Baptist in the prison. Now at least one of them was a Baptist.” Embarrassed, the High Sheriff shook hands, a forced smile on his face.

In another village, they tied a cylindrical furnace to his back and beat it with sticks like a drum as they drove him out of town. In yet another village they tied brushwood to his back before chasing him out. In another place they chased him out of town hurling sticks and stones at him.

On market day in Beius, Romania, the streets crowded with people from surrounding villages, Kornya went looking for someone to transport him to a village where he was scheduled to preach. A stranger approached leading a horse and handed Kornya the halter, promising to return in a few minutes. Kornya did not even get the opportunity to protest that he did not have time to do so before the man disappeared. A short time later, the owner of the horse appeared with the police and accused Kornya of stealing him. Kornya protested his innocence and returned the horse to the owner, but the owner was not satisfied, so the police took Kornya to city hall.

Kornya explained what had happened and was released. By this time a substantial crowd had gathered, and Kornya took the opportunity to preach to them from Matthew 12:25, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil things.” According to one version of the story, he mounted the horse he had supposedly stolen and preached from there. Afterwards five of the hearers were interested enough to follow him to the village where, two hours late, he still kept his preaching engagement. For a long time after that, many still accused him of being a horse thief.

The next post will feature a man interrupting a baptismal service by threatening to kill Kornya with an axe.

David Potter serves as a missionary in Hungary with Baptist World Mission.

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