by Alison Goldhor
COTC has been supporting YWAM missionaries Ron and Bonny Thiesen through our missions budget but as they only get to visit every few years, most of us don’t know them very well. Newer church members may not know them at all. As I was traveling through Europe in January, and as I’m on the COTC Mission Team, I stopped off to visit them and get to know them better.
AG: Ron and Bonny, what are you doing in Budapest and how did you come to be there?
R and B: Until summer 2012 we were serving at a YWAM base in India. We were already sensing that it was time to turn that work over to local leadership when we heard about a need in a completely different type of work – for a science teacher at International Christian School of Budapest in Hungary.
We had to leave India for two months to renew our visas, which is how we came to be in Budapest, a city where we had many friends as we’d lived there several years previously. We never imagined that we’d end up returning there – but Ron’s teaching skills were exactly what they needed. He had taught school for eleven years before joining YWAM as a missionary and he’s always been enthusiastic about science.
As we mulled it over we realized that this would be a wonderful opportunity for our children to get a top quality Christian education. So we made the move at the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year.
AG: How has the move worked out for your family?
Bonny: It’s not easy leaving all your friends behind and starting over in a completely new place. At first the children really missed India but now they love their new life here in Budapest. They’re all really brave — they jumped into all kinds of activities at school right from the start.
AG: Thiesen children, would you please introduce each other to the COTC family?
Kids: Charissa’s the youngest. She’s 9. She’s energetic, spunky, fun, creative, athletic. (Bonny: Charissa is the most extrovert of the four. She’s learning gymnastics and Hungarian at the same time, as she takes a gym class twice a week. And she has a lovely singing voice.)
Josh is 12. He’s generous – he always wants to share any treats that he gets. He likes to play sports, especially baseball and kickball. He plays the baritone in the school band. He enjoys computer games, legos and reading.
Jessica and Nicole (identical twins aged 14) are both very creative and artistic. They’ve won awards for their art. They love writing. (Bonny: they’ve each already written a couple of novels!) They do lots of sports – baseball, basketball and soccer, kickball and track.
AG: Tell me more about the school. Are all the students Christians?
Bonny: The majority are, because that’s how the school got started. When the Iron Curtain came down and Eastern Europe opened up to Christian ministries, Budapest became a hub. Many mission agencies have their headquarters here, and the workers needed a good school for their children.
The school also attracts local Hungarian families because of its emphasis on character training as well as academics. A Hungarian boy in Josh’s class just opened his heart to the Lord. A group of us moms meet every week to pray for the school and we’ve especially been focusing on the Hungarian students so we’re thrilled. We’re praying that whole families will come to faith in Jesus.
We also have many students from China whose parents are in Hungary on business or serving as diplomats. One of Ron’s Chinese students came to know the Lord recently. Each day begins with a short Bible lesson so teachers have the opportunity to share their faith.
Ron coaches basketball as well as teaching science. As he gets to spend time with the team members he can encourage them in their spiritual life.
I lead a Bible study for the eighth grade girls each week.
Ron and I have always had a passion for teaching and encouraging, so even though we’re in a very different kind of work now, the school is a great fit for us.
AG: As I talked with staff and teachers at the school I could tell that Bonny and Ron and their children are much-loved and appreciated there. I came away very glad that COTC can play a part in enabling them to serve in Budapest.