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Michael Kornya, An Apostolic Hero

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions & Witnessing' started by Son of Consolation, Nov 14, 2002.

  1. Son of Consolation

    Son of Consolation New Member

    Mar 26, 2002
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    Our Hungarian theologian, the late Dr. Béla Udvarnoki, published a 16-page booklet back in 1983 (written in English), titled “Michael Kornya, An Apostolic Hero.” These were his forewords:

    Dr. Udvarnoki’s work about Kornya was based on a former book (written in Hungarian) by Bertalan Kirner, a Hungarian Baptist historian. The 206-page book was first published around the 1950s, but because the author failed to secure printing permission from the Communist government, the books were confiscated. Only a few copies were saved. One such copy found its way into the hands of the late Rev. George B. Balla, pastor of the Hungarian Baptist Church of New York City. He re-printed the book in the mid 1960s.

    The life story, the conversion, and ministry outreach of Michael Kornya is a fascinating one indeed. I do not have the space or time here to record everything. However, I will try to introduce this man of faith to the readers of the Baptist Board so as to encourage every one to be like him in personal witness for Christ. It was many years ago that I have read the Kirner book, and it was even earlier that I have heard some of the stories centering of this farmer evangelist. But I will try to do my best in presenting his Christian character.

    Mihály (Michael) Kornya was born in February 22, 1844 in Nagyszalonta (presently occupied by Romania). His name can be found in the Reformed Church birth registry. Kornya’s father was a poor farm worker. Michael followed the footsteps of his father, and after a few years of grammar school he became a farm hand himself. Michael was only a teenager when his father died, and from that moment on he became the head of the household and the sole provider. At the age of 23 he married an 18-year-old girl of his choosing. Her name was Maria Pataki (I don’t know if there is any relations to the NY State governor, George Pataki, who has a Hungarian ancestry).

    In 1874 a Baptist man invited Michael to a Bible exposition, by the name of Mihály (Michael) Tóth. The expositor was none other than Antal Novák, a Bible colporteur. This was the first time Kornya heard the simple plan of salvation. The Word of God pierced his heart, and caused him to spend more time in reading the Bible. After a whole year of intense Bible study, Kornya began recognizing his own wretchedness and a need for a Saviour. His greatest struggle, however, was about baptism, since the “re-baptizers” (as the Baptists were known) were considered heretical by the Catholic as well as the Protestant leaders of the time. But after his careful Bible study, Michael Kornya at the age of 31 was ready to follow the Lord in water baptism on August 26, 1875. But I am getting ahead of myself, and do not introduce Michael as the scoundrel of his town.

    After the death of his father, young Michael became embittered with life. His daily routine began and ended with hard work. The only pleasure he had in life was his friends. They gathered together after work or on weekends at the local tavern and drank in excess. They were loud and boisterous, played cards, and cursed exceedingly by mentioning the name of God in vain. Through all this his boss recognized the leader in Michael and made him a foreman over his estate. But with the passing of time the job, the drinking, and his bad companions started to have an adverse effect on Michael’s character. He regularly beat his wife to submission, and was extremely difficult with fellow workers. Michael Kornya was looking for a way out, but found none. He was looking for a quick fix, an easy solution, but instead he found himself deeper and deeper entangled in the treachery of life. And when Michael found himself in the mire, out of the blue a Baptist man, Mihály (Michael) Tóth was inviting him for a Bible study.

    Michael reluctantly went to this meeting. He had no plans of participating, but for the first time of his life he just wanted to be polite. There was a small group of people gathering together in the house of János (John) Lajos. An odd looking fellow, by the name of Antal Novák was speaking. He had a Bible in his hands and occasionally he would read from it. Michael recognized that this colporteur was not an ordinary man. Although he spoke plainly, yet he spoke with power. Michael did not know it yet, but the Word of God started to have a positive effect on his heart. The Words seized his heart and would not let it go. His heart suddenly crushed under the mighty weight of his sins, and his soul cried out for help! Those men at the meeting prayed for his salvation, and they tried to answer all his questions. Michael was not a quitter. Once he started something, he had to finish it. It took Michael exactly one year of intense Bible study before he surrendered his heart in its entirety to Jesus, and decided to follow Him into the watery grave.

    On the very first day his heart was opened, Michael Kornya went to his boss and said to him: “Sir, I have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. From now on I will no longer steal from you. Will not beat my wife, treat the workers with disrespect, and I will never ever again curse.” Needless to say that his boss was speechless. But as time went on, Michael remained faithful to his promise. Everyone noticed the change in him. Mostly people were pleased, but a few objected. His former drinking buddies tried to discredit Michael with all kinds of schemes.

    It was said that shortly after his conversion, young Michael was taken by his former friends, stripped of his clothes and cast into a deep pit. This pit was used by the landlord to propagate his life stock. One of the sides of the pit had a trap door, which could be pulled up and lowered back down. Being in the middle of winter, there was snow on the bottom. Michael found himself in a desperate situation. He was vainly trying to plead with his former friends. They did not listen to him because they were intoxicated with wine. They were just standing alongside the pit and laughed at the naked man. A couple of them left the area and went to the barn. A few minutes later they returned with a bull on a leash. Two of them could hardly contain the large bull. A minute later Michael could hear the raising of the trapdoor. He was familiar with the sound, and thought that his friends had finally pitied upon him by letting him go. Instead he found himself face to face with one of the most powerful and vicious bulls of the estate.

    As Michael tried to exit through the opening, suddenly from the corner of his eyes he has seen the bull rushing toward him. All his experience and years of training failed him. In Hungary the bulls are twice as large as the ones used in the Spanish bullfighting rings. The bulls are basically white with dusting of black, as if they were coming out of the furnace. Their horns are straight and formidably large. They could easily kill a man by not even trying. Michael’s first instinct was to jump aside from the angry beast. But his feet were frozen unto the ground. But just the nick of time, as if by unseen hands, he was tossed aside into the corner. Barely had he time to stand up, and while he uttered a brief prayer, the bull was charging at him again. Then Michael suddenly felt a big thumb.

    The bull, with all its might, power, and strength nailed Michael Kornya to the wall of the pit. The two powerful horns sank deep into the frozen soil. The head of the beast touched Michael’s body, but stopped short of crushing him against the dirt. Michael could not escape or slip out, he was pushed against the walls, but he was strangely safe because the beast could not withdraw its horns. So all night long the bull was breathing hot air on Michael, which kept him warm. In the morning bewildered workers found Kornya and freed him. The Lord has dispatched His angels to keep safe Michael all night long.

    I heard this story from my Grandfather, who along with my Grandmother was one of the first converts of Michael Kornya. You see, because of Michael Kornya’s unparalleled faith, and through the Godly example of my Grandparents, I have learned to love the Lord. Indeed, after the Lord, I can be eternally grateful to this farmer evangelist, this colporteur, who determined to roam the countryside of Hungary and present the simple plan of salvation to everyone. When he met people, he would ask: “Now, how are you in the way of faith?” And when people would reply either way, he would break out his Bible and point their attention to Christ. My prayer is that may the same Spirit Who gave Michael Kornya courage and determination to spread the Word of God, enable us to bring the good news, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the people in our daily walk and sphere of influence! [​IMG]

    [ November 15, 2002, 01:16 PM: Message edited by: Barnabas ]
  2. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob Administrator

    Jun 30, 2000
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    Thank you for that wonderful story. Many such will never be known, but now, having heard this, I have deeper respect for such a man of God. :cool:
  3. Sherrie

    Sherrie New Member

    Jul 28, 2002
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    Wow! I am so happy you finally posted this. Thank you. very powerful.

    I have saved this.
  4. LadyEagle

    LadyEagle <b>Moderator</b> <img src =/israel.gif>

    Feb 7, 2002
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    Thank you for posting this. It is a truly beautiful, wonderful story. [​IMG] (of happiness)
  5. bb_baptist

    bb_baptist New Member

    Jun 22, 2000
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    Excellent post, Barnabas. Thanks [​IMG]