Olde World Baptists: Mihály Kornya (5)

David Potter

This post is the fifth 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, Part Four)

The following story was told to the author by a Romanians Baptist preacher who grew up in the village where it happened.

When Kornya arrived at the village of Gurbediu, the Romanian Orthodox priest from a neighboring village had warned the people that a heretical preacher was coming their way. Kornya was arrested as soon as he arrived and imprisoned in a barn with a bull. This bull was so dangerous that no one dared to enter the pen where he was kept. They just threw his food over the wall. Kornya was very slender. He hunkered in a corner of the pen. The bull, which had very long horns, was not able to reach Kornya because his horns hit the walls, and he was not intelligent enough to turn his head sufficiently to gore the preacher. The bull continued to charge and butt to no avail for several hours until he fell asleep from exhaustion. The warm breath of the sleeping bull kept Kornya from freezing to death on that cold night. Kornya was not allowed to preach on this first visit to the village, but God used his life to preach. One year later he baptized thirteen converts in there.

In the village of Tulka he was arrested and locked in a cold room in the middle of winter. The judge hoped he would freeze to death, or at least be afraid to return to the village for a long time. There was nowhere to sit in the room and Kornya shivered in the cold. Eventually he found a large stone and he began to roll the stone over and over to keep warm, as he sang, “Jesus, Savior of my soul, hold me on your breast.” He survived the night with undamaged health, rejoicing. The cruelty of the judge created sympathy among the people and a number of them responded to his preaching with salvation decisions.

The Greek Orthodox Bishop of Arad had heard that many former Orthodox in Tulka had become “Kornyaists” and resolved to visit the village. A huge crowd gathered to meet him and the priests who accompanied him at the train station. They arrived in the village in a splendid carriage and with great pomp. The wiser ones in the crowd knew that they had come because of Kornya. “They … go to Tulka because everybody has been a Baptist since Miska Kornya went there to preach.” Except for the Baptists, the whole village came to the mass which the bishop celebrated.

By noon, the mass was over and the bishop ate dinner. Eventually the bishop spoke, “I have something important to say.” Then he addressed the local priest, inviting him to move to Arad. “You will be a canon there; just come,” he said.

“I do not go,” replied the priest.

“But it is a great job for you,” insisted the bishop.

“I will not go,” the priest repeated.

“But eventually you won’t have any followers here,” protested the bishop.

“No problem,” said the priest. “I do not go. I was born here; I have lived here; I will die here. I will not go.”

“But everybody becomes a Baptist here.”

“No problem that they become Baptists,” replied the old priest. “They do not quarrel, fight and steal anymore because these ‘Kornyists’ are good people. I have a better life here now and I do not have much problem with them. It is even better for me here.”

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