December 18, 2017

Olde World Baptists: Mihály Kornya (6)

David Potter

Mihály Kornya recognized the importance of music. Three of his daughters, Mária, Sára and Teréz, translated most of the early Hungarian Baptist hymns from German. This they did anonymously and without material compensation. The three daughters traveled with their father, and even without him, to teach the new hymns to the people.

Kornya took pity on the sick and afflicted. Normally his first act on entering a village was to inquire about the sick and then to visit them. He would read a Scripture text, speak words of comfort and pray with them. This care that Kornya showed to suffering people enhanced the value of his preaching, for these people who received his attention were more eager to hear his sermons.

Kornya’s sermons were neither loud nor long. He believed that the appeal of what he said should result from content, not from volume. He would not preach long, even if the audience liked it and wanted more. He sometimes began by commenting on the words of the song that had preceded the message.

Sometimes he would add thoughts after the message. His messages were full of illustrations which brought the truth home to the audience in ways that they could understand. He did not learn preaching from books. His messages were tailored to his audience, to whom he wanted to present Christ. He knew what had saved him and he knew what would save others. He preached everywhere he saw an opportunity: in church, on the streets, on trains. Once he spoke to a great crowd at the train station at Oradea. On another occasion he preached at a park in Arad. What gave him delight was not a captivated audience, but the salvation of sinners.

Kornya and children:

(1) When old people rebuked children for being happy, Kornya remarked, “The old wine has forgotten that once it was must.”

(2) On coming home from church, some children ran forward ahead of the group. He said to them, “Wait! When the swine-herd lets the pigs go home, some of them go forward and some just hang behind silently. Which group is more valuable that you would choose?”

“The one that hangs behind silently.”

“And why?” asked Kornya.

“Because those are heavier and more valuable,” the children said.

“See, if you know which one is the best and more valuable, then you also know which way of behavior is more proper.”

(3) The Baptists of a certain village were persecuted outcasts. The children of a Baptist widow were forced to endure taunts, ridicule and even violence at school and as a result they often came home crying. When Kornya visited their home, he always asked, “Well, boys, are you still able to carry the cross?”

And they answered proudly “Yes, we are.”

Kornya and marriage custom: An argument arose on the proper attire for a bride on her wedding day. The girl in question wanted to wear a long gown, veil and a wreath. The older people opposed her. Kornya reasoned thus. “Dear brothers, it is not good this way. For the girl is not independent before or after the wedding but only on the day of the wedding. Before the wedding her parents told her what to do. After the wedding her husband will tell her what to do. This is the only day in her whole life when she is not under commandments. Why do you want to take away from her this only one day long independence? Let her rejoice on this day and do not take away from her nice dress, veil and bridal wreath, if this is what she desire. The Scripture tells us what the beauty of the bride is. We all should go before God in nice clothes. She is coming before God on her wedding day. Nice clothes ought to be worn in weddings, not just in parties. Let her make up her mind in this matter even though this is not the custom in this village.”


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


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