The International Christian Internet Church (ICIC) has launched its English language worship services in cyberspace to reach especially those who otherwise don’t visit a regular church, its Hungarian co-founder announced. “Many people live in countries such as Saudi Arabia or China where being a Christian can be dangerous,” said Rev. Lazlo Banfi, who himself suffered under Hungary’s former Communist regime.
ASSIST News Service (ANS) – 3 March 2002 – “Christian television may be better, but in many countries that is not allowed. Especially in these cases the Internet is a good alternative,” he added in an interview with ASSIST News Service. Banfi also notes that “many people steer clear of churches. Though they are searching, they find church services unfamiliar and often too formal.”
On Sunday, March 3, his sermon on www.worshipservice.hu [this website does no longer exist – 21.08.-2016] was dedicated to “the Almightiness of God”, and called for people to accept His Son Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord.
Banfi (42 and married with two children) told ASSIST News Service that he expected many people to visit the free-of-charge site, following a similar success with his Hungarian language worship services.
“Since we started the Hungarian web pages nearly a year ago, about 36,000 people from around the world found us from 27 different countries,” he explained. But Banfi’s ministry is not without controversy.
Some Hungarian church leaders and politicians object to what they see as his efforts to convert people, and Banfi was threatened with a law suit. In addition there have been suggestions from within the junior governing party, Hungarian Democratic Forum, to set up a Council for Sects, to monitor non traditional groups and churches.
Banfi stressed that the Catholic Church, Hungary’s largest denomination, “believes that people can only confess their sins through its priests and church.” “But we give an opportunity to everyone, regardless of their background, to come to Christ and accept Him as their personal Saviour.”
Domestic pressure was apparently also a reasons to register the ICIC as an organization in the United States, although its services are prepared and send to the Internet from Banfi’s home in Hungary. “This is clearly an international ministry and Internet has no borders. That’s why it will be very hard for the authorities to shut us down.”
He has “a lot of support from co-founder and pastor Glen Howard, an American who founded the International Church of Budapest.” Banfi wants to set up a prayer (phone) line for people from around the world which he said was so far difficult “because of time zones.” But he can be reached via e-mail and the net. “Perhaps in the future we can make this church an interactive family. We don’t have a building, but we are alive in cyberspace and function as a virtual congregation, ” he said.
The pastor has been preaching the Gospel for 25 years, after he gave up his life as leader of a youth gang that was involved in robberies, drugs and “anything you van think off.” In 1972 Lazlo Banfi decided to become a Christian after reading a brochure with the testimony of a young boy. He soon became an active church member and later pastor, but these activities lead him into troubles with the Communist authorities. (Pictured: Pastor Banfi in front of the famous Chain Bridge in Budapest).
Banfi said he was not able to receive a top position within a foreign trade company, and that the Communists watched him closely. Despite these difficulties he managed to become a successful businessmen after the collapse of Communism.
“I feel that God wanted me to prepare for this Internet mission,” he said. Banfi hopes that Hungary, which in 1956 had his anti Communist revolution crushed by Soviet soldiers, now leads “the spiritual battle” for Christ.
Stefan J. Bos
According to information provided by ANS, award winning journalist Stefan J. Bos was born on the 19th of September 1967 in a small home in downtown Amsterdam, in the Netherlands not far from the typewriter of his father, who was (and still is) a Reporter and ghostwriter. Already at a very young age Bos decided to become journalist and finally arrived in Hungary, the same country where his parents had smuggled Bibles during Communism. Bos has traveled extensively to cover wars and revolutions throughout the region and received the Annual Press Award of Merit from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his coverage about foreign policy affairs including Hungary’s relationship with NATO and the European Union.
This article was published by ANS (ASSIST News Service). ASSIST is an evangelical ministry started by journalist and author, Dan Wooding, as a way to help Christians living under difficult circumstances, and to share the Gospel with those who do not know Christ.
[Assist News Service can now be found at the URL: http://www.assistnews.net/ – 21.08.2016]