The Workers of Reciprocity

2017. december 21., csütörtök

Former volunteers and European partners celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the existence of The Voluntary Diaconal Year in Hungary (ÖDE) on November 8th in Budapest. In a celebratory volume published for the anniversary, volunteers, staff members, and mentors write about how the volunteer service has changed them over the last twenty years. 

“Thank you for two decades when the Lord allowed many people to represent the unity of the body of Christ,” said Bishop Károly Fekete in the opening speech on I Corinthians 12:26-27. He said that the body parts have to be enrolled in the school of volunteering in order to function as a body, experiencing reciprocity.

“Volunteering is often only self-education, a search for a future, in which the venue of the volunteering is almost secondary. However, reciprocity is the basis of Christian volunteering,” said Bishop Karoly Fekete, adding that the gospel is about the law of reconciliation, according to which we satisfy each other's needs. He stressed that it is a good thing to go to each other, to suffer and to rejoice together, but Christ alone, in our suffering, in the joy of the world, and in the certainty of our repentance, saves us. That we have nothing that we have not received. Christ's love keeps account of us, creates a community of us, but he is looking for each of us individually.

“A single human being is insufficient,” the preacher emphasized, adding thanks to God for “giving us needs and desires that allow us to live together in a community of brothers and sisters.” Finally, Bishop Károly Fekete thanked everyone who worked for unity and asked for blessings for the next decades of service.

The program office of the Diaconal Year works under the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid Organization, and was welcomed by Márton Juhász, managing director of the HRCA Organization, who himself served as a volunteer in England through this program at the beginning of the 2000s. In his personal reflection, he highlighted how his life path, his career choice as well as many other volunteers, has been fundamentally shaped by their ten month experience as volunteers. "I hope the next twenty years will be just as fruitful," added Márton Juhász.

Assembling the services of the fifteen countries on behalf of the Ecumenical Diaconal Year Network (EDYN) Janka Adameova, the chair of the organization, greeted the participants and emphasized that ÖDE was the EDYN's oldest long-term volunteer project partner in the Central and Eastern European region. "The ÖDE staff team is a deeply committed team with valuable professional experience, and we can learn a lot from them and whose experiences are worth sharing with others," she said. “The 500th anniversary of the Reformation reminds us of the daily reformation of our lives and the task of being the initiators of change in the communities where we live and serve.”

Emese Závodi, program leader, spoke about volunteering as a spiritual journey at the ceremony. Over the past two decades, looking back on one thousand and three hundred young people coming to Hungary and going to abroad, she emphasized: she wants to be a volunteer without power, but a real partner, to shape and be shaped by the environment, she added “It is a present and a blessing to accompany them in this experience.”

In the celebratory volume, volunteers share their experience of what the journey looked like. Both those from abroad coming to Hungary, or as Hungarians going to Western Europe emphasised: the 10-12 months offered to others in their lives was really important - because whoever once volunteered, continues to be shaped by their experience as a volunteer for the rest of their life. 

To Give One Year from Your Life- an interview with Rev. Emese Závodi, coordinator of the Volunatry Diaconal Year Program


Written by Zsuzsanna Bagdán

Originally published in Reformátusok Lapja

Translated by Ecumenical Office

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