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Faithful Delivering Message of Hope to Eastern Europe

December 26, 1991|JANET LOWE

While some are concentrating on starting new churches here, other North County residents are trying to establish churches in different corners of the world.

Last summer, 30 lay members of Calvary Chapel of Vista traveled to Eastern Europe to continue street evangelism and a church building program begun several years ago by the Rev. Brian Brodersen. Brodersen became involved after meeting a young couple from Yugoslavia who wanted to bring the Christian evangelical movement to their own country.

Brodersen's first trip, in 1989, was intended as a fact-finding mission, though he was asked to speak at several churches in Hungary and Yugoslavia. He found that years of communist repression had strangled the liveliness of the established churches. Congregations were scrawny and most members were elderly.

In one city, he and other musicians he had brought with him decided to play live Christian music and deliver a religious message on the street.

"Within an hour we had a couple hundred kids gathered around," Brodersen said. "The police came and forbade us to continue, so we complied. But we told the kids where to meet us the next morning."

About 20 youngsters showed up for more music and Bible study, and that was the beginning of an effort that has led to a permanent presence in Eastern Europe for Calvary Chapel. Attracted by jazzy songs and young American enthusiasm, the growing churches in Hungary and Yugoslavia have attracted a youthful congregation.

Among the members of the Calvary Chapel group in Hungary last summer was Romy Kamitsuka, who used music to teach teen-agers in Baja, Hungary, about unmasking feelings. The teens then performed the mime piece in a corner of the city square. Kamitsuka said it was gratifying to see how music and movement can leap language barriers.

In a number of areas, street preaching continues, as do concerts in clubs and coffeehouses and at Bible studies in private homes. In Baja, services are being held in a billiards hall. In Subotisa, Yugoslavia, a building has been purchased and remodeled into a church. Members of Vista and Costa Mesa Calvary chapels have stayed behind to lead budding churches and to train Hungarian and Yugoslavian members to pastor and run their own churches.

While there has been a wave of Christian evangelism through Eastern Europe and the Soviet states since communism began to crumble there, Brodersen said much of the thrust has been characterized by tent-style revivals with no ongoing effort to establish permanent places of worship.

"My opinion is that unless you stay there and form a church," Brodersen said, "you're not really doing that much good."

Meanwhile, Romy Kamitsuka plans to take time off from her job as an assistant manager of a Jack in the Box restaurant in Del Mar to return to Europe as a missionary. This time, however, she will face an entirely different culture. Calvary Chapel will soon present its vision of Christianity on the streets of England.

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