Soon the war was over and Vilma received a verbal message. A gentleman came to her door. He
came from Dachau. He was Arpad's younger brother who was deported to the same place from
Transylvania along with 22 other family members who all died in the gas chambers. He explained
that by "accident" he met Arpad in the concentration camp and although they did not right away
recognize each other, soon they embraced each other realizing that they were brothers. Then,
when the war was over and the Americans took over, Arpad developed Typhoid fever and ended
up in a hospital. There he nursed him, till he was well enough to be left alone. Then, - on his way
home - he decided to stop by at Vilma's house to tell her and Irma that Arpad is coming home
soon! Vilma and Irma were overjoyed.
Still, a few weeks went by before Arpad could walk home from Germany. First, he stopped by an
Uncle's place in downtown Budapest to borrow some decent clothes. He didn't want to scare his
family by arriving dressed like a scare crow. Then, rushed home. When he arrived, only Vilma was
there. Irma was in school. But the two were overjoyed and their joy only increased when she
Arpad did not talk much about his experiences in the concentration camps. He could not talk about
them. His memories were too painful. But eventually it turned out that - even during the hardest
times - he did not loose heart. Instead, he preached the Gospel by
encouraging the dying; strengthening the weak; from his meager ration feeding the hungry; and
relating to his tormentors with a forgiving spirit. Once again, he preached verbally and
nonverbally. However, he was only able to do these because Christ, the Messiah lived in his
heart, strengthened and used him. Also, because instead of escaping he took upon himself to
suffer with his own, be deported, and - depending on God's support - live the life of Christ
wherever he was sent. After all, who else could God have used to encourage the suffering Jews
in those death camps, if not another Jew who knew the Messiah? And who could have provided a
more powerful witness to the forgiveness and love of the Savior than someone who practiced
forgiveness himself? Such a high calling could have only been fulfilled by someone who made his
vocation to be a preacher of God's Word in word and deed. Arpad was such a man. Are you
such a person also? Am I?
With the end of World War II and Hitler out of the way, the little family was hoping never to be
persecuted again. But they were wrong. For, soon it turned out that their situation did not change
at all. Only the reason for their persecution and the type of persecutors changed.
So far they were persecuted because of Arpad's Jewish backgroung although at the age of 16 he
accepted Jesus as his Savior and became a Christian by conviciton. At this time they persecuted
him and his family for being just that; practicing Christians.
What happened? As soon as Arpad returned home from Germany, he began to preach in his
church at Rakosszentmihaly, again. In addition, he started to attend evening classes at a Budapest
Theological Seminary as well. At the same time, he continued to work in a Reformed printing shop
too, which was soon confiscated by the new communist government. When the church opened up,
more and more people came back and the work went well. In the printing shop however, - after the
confiscation - the religious printing marerials were exchanged for governmental documents and
papers while the management was replaced too.
Arpad worked hard at both places. Once again, he prepared his sermons in the early week-day
hours; while at work he produced - what they called - 150%. In other words 50% above avarage.
Still his life became harder and harder due to what now was the religious persecution of the
government till one day they decided to prevent him from preaching altogether. What happened
was this: In 1950, the government passed a law according to which only licenced preachers were
allowed to preach. Since Arpad held a secular job as well and was not a full-time preacher; he did
not get a licence. However since the need was great in his church the members begged him to
continue to serve. Arpad tried to comply with their request but from then on did not preach from the
pulpit rather kneeling down in front of the first row, delivered his messages in the form of a prayer.
This went on undectected for a while till the communist party sent out a spy to one of the elderly
members. He acted like an honest seeker who is looking for a good church. The lady was pleased
that she could witness and gladly shared with him the fact that her church is one of those he would
want to join because, their leader, Arpad Fulop is a good teacher.
Within a few days Arpad was in trouble. His trouble began with the printing shop's manager
ordering him to come to work at night when there was no night shift. Arpad became suspicious but
followed instrctions only to find out that - when he arrived - the shop was locked. Still, he did not
give up that easily. Since the shop was situated in a half-basement, he walked around the building
and shook every door and every window to see if one or the other would not open somehow. After
a lot of trials, he found one rest room window unlocked. Immediately, he climbed in and finished
his "quota" for the day. From then on he snuck into the shop before closing and hid in the rest-room
till everyone was gone; then, finished his work of the day.
However, one afternoon, when he was walking toward the building before closing time, he met his
manager in the front yard. Immediately the man began to screem: "Mr. Fulop! Why are you
sabotaging? Why aren't you finishing your job as you used to?" Arpad continued to walk toward
the boss and when they were face-to-face in a soft voice replied: "Sir, I am not sabotaging. I
finished my job and more; as always. If you want to see what I produced, I'd be glad to show you."
Then added: "However, may I ask you to do me a favor? I heard that you will be transferred to
another shop. Would you please take me with you? You are such a great manager that I would
like to stay with you." These words melted the boss's heart and he began to whisper saying:
"Mr. Fulop: stop preaching in the outskirts of Budapest; namely in Rakosszentmihaly! You see the
government wanted to incarcerate you so you will not be able to preach there anymore. But they
didn't want the free West to find out that they persecute Christians. Therefore they needed a
reason to prosecute you. Thus, they asked me to prove that you are sabotaging. Under these
pretenses then, they could have done with you whatever they wanted to. This is why I asked you to
come to work at night and locked you out so you would not be able to finish your job. If you have
to preach at all, go to a little country church where nobody is watching you. But please, please do
not preach in your present church any more! Never, ever! Now, you better do what I said; else
both of us will end up in jail."
Arpad quietly thanked the man for his advice and followed his recommendation. He never, ever
preached in the church of Rakosszentmihaly again. Instead, he found a little country church in the
town of Veresegyhaza where there was no preacher and the need was great. From then on he only
The people in the Veresegyhaza church were extremely thankful that someone was willing to serve
there. Of course, Arpad became even busier than ever because from then on he not only had to
get up early on week days to prepare his sermons, but also on Sundays in order to travel long
distance to this little country church. In addition, he also came home late on Sundays because he
was preaching there both in their morning and evening services. Still, he was glad to do that. Not
only because this way he was able to avoid incarceration but also because he believed that once
again, God allowed this hardship in his life in order to bring glory to his name and bless
Arpad and his family through it all. He preached there for six years.
And what happened to the Rakosszentmihaly church? By the time Arpad had to leave them, they
could afford to invite a paid preacher and did so. As a result, their problem was solved also and
God' work did not suffer at all.
In fact, - according to Arpad - God used the persecutors and persecution for sending him
to a new field where the need was greater than around Budapest. Thus, although the
communists caused a lot of pain for him and his family during the days of persecution, the
Lord turned everything into blessings. He always does that with his own if only they
seek his will above all. He'll do it for you too, my suffering brother or sister!
Although Arpad was glad to serve in Veresegyhaza; after six years the Lord sent him on anyway.
This is what happened: One night during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, his son-in-law found out
that the next morning a truck would be available on which they could take a ride to the border, in
order to escape from Hungary. He also found out that several of their friends were planning to take
a ride on it also for that purpose. Since during the revolution no public transportation was available,
and under communist rule nobody owned a car; they were going to use this opportunity to get to the
border. The news of this opportunity sounded like a miracle to them. Still, they had a hard time to
decide whether to go or stay.
Arpad's wife and son-in-law were ready to escape. They were tired of the persecutions. But Arpad
and his daughter were more on the cautious side. Thus the little family did not decide that night.
However, next morning when they turned on their little short wave radio and heard that even more
Russian troops were coming into Hungary to defeat the revolution; they too were ready to flee.
Quickly they got dressed, put some important papers in a paper sack, and a little food, and ran to
meet the truck. (By then Irma and her Husband, Mike who lived with her parents, had a 3 years
old daughter, and Irma was four months pregnant again.)
They reached the truck just in time before it left. However that one only took them to Angyalföld.
There they had to take another one which took them one town off the border the same day.
When they arrived one town off the border, the truck-driver let them off and told them that from
there on they are on their own. But they didn't know where they were, nor which way the borders
were. None of the others knew either. But most of them started to walk in a direction they thought
it should be and escaped the same night anyway. Arpad and family however, were talked out of
continuing their trip by a local man who had pity on them. He actually approached them himself and
invited them to spend the night at his house and promised to help them to cross the border the next
day. The family accepted this kind stranger's invitation and spent the night in his kitchen. He did
not ask for anything in return. He just wanted to help the poor refugees.
Then, early next monring the man went ahead to the final town and called back to let them know
that the coast was clear and they could follow him. (He only had a phone because he worked at
the railroads. No one else had one, those days.) He also told them to follow the railroad tracks and
he will meet them half way and give them further instructions.
Within an hour they met. He then took them to the final town and put them up in a house whose
owners they never even met. There he told them to wait till nightfall again.
By the time it got dark, the house and the town was filled with wall-to-wall potential escapees. When
it got dark, a local man appeared at the door and told the people to form a long line, keep quite, and
follow him. Irma happened to get at the head of the long line. Thus, all others had to walk with her
speed as a pregnant women. That was a miracle also.
The air was crisp and their walk was long. But finally they reached the border without harm. The
guide said farewell, they gave him all their Hungarian money and some jewelry (although he did not
ask for anything) and ran across as fast as they could. Suddenly the crowd became noisy and
extremely happy. Some kissed the free soil, some jumped up in the air, some of them said a silent
With this they arrived into the free Country of Austria where in the nearest town they were fed then
transported to a temporary shelter and the next day to a camp in Vienna. When they arrived there
Arpad recommended that they look up the local Baptist Church. They did and the church
immediately invited them to move into their Sunday school room promising to put some cuts up for
them and take care of them. They accepted the invitation. Since they now lived downtown Vienna,
it was easy for them to commute to the American Embassy by street car and apply for, and work
on, their immigration to the US. Thus, within three weeks their immigration papers were prepared,
and they were able to board a plane to the country of their dreams: The United States of America.
Arriving here, they were put up in an old army camp called Camp Kilmer in NJ. (All Hungarian
refugees were temporarily lodged and kept at that camp.) There they had to wait till they found a
sponsor in order to get out. Arpad and family asked the Pastor of the First Hungarian Baptist
Church of New York, The Rev. George Balla, to sponsor them. He did. Thus by December 14th,
1956 they arrived into the great city of New York and - for a month - were put up and cared for by
Then, since Arpad found a job already in a Hungarian printing shop, and his son-in-law in RCA, the
family was able to move into their own apartment and be self-supporting.
At the same time, they joined the First Hungarian Baptist Church of New York also and became
active members. Arpad began to teach the Hungarian adult Sunday School, while the rest of the
family served in other capacities. Then, in a year or so, he was invited to preach in Hungarian at a
little bi-lingual Baptist Church in Garfield, NJ. He accepted. Once again, during the week, he gladly
worked in a printing shop and on Sundays commuted by subway and bus to the church. Thus,
God called Arpad away from Hungary but put him to work in the USA where the need was
even greater for someone being able to preach in Hungarian, than there.
Then, in 1963 something else happened. Rev. Balla, the pastor of the New York church had a
heart attack and collapsed on the pulpit. He recovered but not enough to preach. Therefore, the
church invited Arpad to become their preacher. Since by then, the Garfield church didn't need a
Hungarian speaker anymore because all of the members were able to speak and understand
English, Arpad accepted this invitation and preached there till he reached 70 years of age, or in
other words for ten years. At the same time, he worked in the printing shop up to that time also.
He enjoyed serving the Lord for free or for just a little honorarium and supporting himself and wife
(or family) from the printing job to the end.
At age 70, he and his wife moved to Palm Bay, Fl. There once again, they joined a little bi-lingual
church and Arpad began to teach the Hungarian Sunday School with a friend till the age 78. Then
he developed Parkinson's Disease and could not teach any more. That didn't mean though that he
stopped to witness altogether. But let me tell you more about that next time. Right now, I would
only like to point out that since Arpad completely surrendered his life to God at age 16, the Lord was
able to send him where the need was the greatest all through his life; even to the far country of the
USA. Then used him and blessed his work. This is how he became a refugee and preacher of
the refugees as well.
God is willing to send you and me where there is a need also, if only we are willing to completely
surrender ourselves to him and serve him in whatever capacity. We can count on that! For, he
who called Simon and Andrew into his service, calls us too saying:
"Follow me, and I will make
you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19)
THE AILLING ARPAD
Arpad was very happy in Florida. First, because he was still able to serve the Lord.
Second, because there he picked up the hobby of gardening and the climate was perfect for
that. He was actually able to plant and harvest twice a year. He grew delicious, fresh
tomatoes, green peppers, squash and other things. But one day, after eight years, he fell
and broke his right wrist. Afterwards, he was never the same. He began to trip and fall
more often and drag his feet some. As a result, he had to give up gardening.
Soon, he began to become forgetful as well. At that time, he had to give up Sunday School
teaching also because he noticed that from one moment to the other he would forget what
he wanted to say. In the begining, Vilma tried to encourage him to keep on keeping on.
However, after visiting one doctor after the other and finding out that he was suffering
from a strange type of Parkinson's Disease; she too had to give in.
From then on, Arpad's health quickly deteriorated. He fell more often; and had a hard
time to concentrate or speak. Till, he could not walk nor speak at all any more and needed
However, he was still able to witness. For, during those days he witnessed with his action
because whenever people came to visit him expecting to find a sad, discouraged, cranky
man they found him to be happy, trusting, friendly and patient. He did not complain or
hold grudges against God or people. Although he could have drowned himself in self-pity,
or could have blamed God for allowing the cruel SS soldiers to mistreat him and possibly
cause his illness, or even the communist government of Hungary for causing him a lot of
stress. But he didn't. Thus, people who went to visit him with a trembling heart went
home encouraged just by watching his attitude. In other words, his attitude and actions
preached louder than any of his sermons could have.
I'm not saying that he resigned himself to his illness and gave up. Not at all. On the
contrary, he demonstrated a very healthy will to live and desire to become well. As a
matter of fact, his will to live was almost contagious. What I am saying instead is that he
was very patient.
His suffering lasted for five years. During those years his elderly, weak but faithful wife
took care of him, bathed him, fed him, walked him, and took him to church. Many people
recommended that she should put him into a nursing home, else one day she may collapse.
But she didn't listen to them. Instead she asked God to grant her the strength to take care
of her beloved till the end. And God granted her request.
Of course his daughter and son-in-law were helping Vilma as much as possible. In
addition, when Arpad's situation became real bad, they talked her into hiring a lady to help
her out each day and his doctor sent a nurse out to bathe him and change his linen. Such
help made her life much easier. Still, the responsibility of caring for Arpad rested mainly
on her shoulders.
As the days and moths passed by, Arpad became weaker and weaker. Then by December,
1986 he was not able to eat or drink at all any more and ended up in the hospital. There
they pumped him up some intravenously. However, they also told the family that, his
esophagus seemed to be closed down completely and unless they put a tube into his
stomach surgically in order to feed him artificially; he may die of hunger.
Now, Arpad made a Living Will in his healthy days. Still, the family had a hard time to
decide what to do. Consequently, they asked their Christian family doctor's advice. He
recommended that they should not put Arpad through the pain of such surgery because his
kidneys and lungs were gone already and the surgery would only cause him additional
suffering. Instead, they should take him home and make his last days as comfortable as
possible because without food and water, he will probably go home to be with the Lord
within a month.
Thus, they took their beloved husband and father home and rearranging some of the
furniture, made him as comfortable as possible. They seemed to succeed for, he was at
peace. Hunger and thirst didn't seem to bother him at all.
Then, on Sunday, February 15th. 1987, exactly one month after his hospitalization, Arpad
developed a fever. Vilma immediately called the doctor and Irma. The doctor told her that
most likely, Arpad was approaching his last hours. While Irma and Mike ran over.
In the morning he still seemed to be conscious. Even though he couldn't talk, he squeezed
Irma's hand when asked, and smiled. Then, when they went home to eat lunch and rest
(since Irma was on crutches due to a car accident), he even waved good bye. Yet, in
couple of hours, when they came back he could not communicate any more. Instead, he
was just laying there breathing heavily and biting on a wet sponge eagerly. His actions still
indicated to them though that he was conscious; knew what was happening to him; and had
perfect faith and peace in God who was with him even "in the valley of death."
Irma and Mike stayed over for the night. Vilma was with him constantly and the young
folks peeked in on him occasionally. Every time, Arpad seemed to be at peace but was
breathing more and more rapidly. Then, around 5:00 A.M., in the presence of Vilma
alone, after 4-5 extremely deep breaths, he went home in his sleep.
Vilma didn't call Irma and her husband right away. She needed to say good-bye to him
alone first. But in a few minutes she called them and together they ran to his bed. There
he laid peacefully like someone who is in the presence of the Lord already.
At that time, Arpad's actions and attitude during those long days of illness seemed to
communicate to them the following threefold, final message:
"My Dear Ones!
1. Don't ever loose your will to live for God has a purpose with everything.
2. Don't ever give up hope, for God will always be very near.
3. At the same time, be willing to
accept His will because His decisions are wiser than you think."
When Arpad's family or friends looked at him during his long illness, none of them could
surmise that life is worthless and purposeless for the ill because he remained just as useful
in the hands of the Lord then, as in his healthy days. He only served Him in different ways.
When Arpad was born his mother almost lost her life. At that time the parents promised
God to raise him to become a Rabbi if he saves her life. God granted their request. He
healed the mother and turned Arpad into, although not a Jewish rabbi, but a teacher of
the Scriptures who was willing to be faithful during the hard days of several persecutions,
the escape from Hungary, and this serious illness as well. He stayed useful to the end!
Remembering his life we may feel encouraged that - by the grace of God - we too may
remain useful to the end. Therefore, let us heed the words of Romans 12:1
"I beseech you
therefore, brethren... that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto
God, which is your reasonable service"
and he will use us now and always.