This Is The Day! events have become milestones in a two-decade journey. Even though each event has its own unique flavor, the principles never change. Founder and director, Viktor László reminisces.
After the regime change, in the mid-to-late-90’s, Christian worship music in Hungary entered a previously unthinkable era. Preaching the Good News was not forbidden anymore, testifying of Jesus Christ in word or through music was now permitted, even at secular locations – in the open street and the public square, in community centers and halls. Many believers took advantage of the newfound freedom, and we – László Csiszér, Laci Prazsák and myself decided to take on the entire country, not ashamed of the Gospel, but preaching it boldly wherever we went, singing praises all the way. Around this time, I received a copy of a recording of a 1997 concert in Wembley Stadium. I could not believe my eyes! This legendary stadium had only hosted grand football games, and had organized concerts for world famous musicians like Queen, U2, or Rolling Stones… and here I was watching no-name Christian bands performing in a variety of genres, playing cool, enjoyable, upbeat music throughout an entire day. I sat there watching band after band, and found myself thinking, “O.K.! We’ve had our own idea about how to put on a great Christian concert, but I am looking at something I’ve never ever even begun to imagine.’ There and then, a deep desire was born in me to see our little communism-torn country experience something similar. I was deeply moved by the humble and meek attitude Noel Richards, –author of influential worship songs– like “Champion of the World’ – expressed in his worship and while speaking about God’s Kingdom to nearly 50,000 people.
I was so inspired by all this that I began to seek the way God might be planning to use this experience in and through me. I had to meet Noel. I knew I had to see him and speak to him, even if only over a cup coffee somewhere in London or elsewhere, so he could share with me the vision behind the Event, and how it had all come together. Of course, it was very unlikely for me to actually pull this off. I’d no connections in the UK, I knew no one who could help me meet him. Plus, even if I did have some contacts, “Why would Noel Richards sit down with a few zealous Eastern European young men?’, I thought. Nevertheless, we kept asking God that if He did have a plan, He’d open some doors for us.
A few weeks later Noel showed up in Hungary, looking for young men who’d be interested to hear about the vision he carried in his heart – that is, organizing worship events, now not only in the UK but in Hungary as well. He had already envisioned these events gathering a large enough crowd to fill the stadium. It all sounded like a dream! What’s more interesting is that it turned out that Noel watched the Wembley recording at about the same time I did. He noticed, that while he was singing the “Champion of the World’, there was a man in the crowd raising a Hungarian flag. There were no other flags raised. He sensed the Lord speaking to him through this, so he made the trip to Hungary. All of this was incredible – we got to see how wonderfully God works: He inspires us, we begin to dream and He sends Noel to help us.
Noel came to us as a simple man with a humble heart. He was successful enough to be named among the biggest British bands, yet he was like a brother, giving us a helping hand so that worship events might begin to be held in Hungary. He sealed our vision.
We spent two years figuring out how to launch our first event. Noel suggested starting with smaller events to slowly reach our goal: filling the stadium with people to worship Jesus. Our first worship event was organized with the help of a good friend and colleague of mine, Laci Prazsák. The two of us continue to pray for this vision to come to pass. We named our first event “We Come Before You with Praises’ (‘Dicsérettel jövünk eléd’) in 1998. We had organized some marches beforehand, where people from different denominations joined us, and we usually were able to set up a stage with a few worship bands, but our 1998 event was the first one especially put together for believers to join together in a time of worship and praise, Sunday afternoon between 5-10PM. We hoped we’d have about 500 to 600 people show up, and we ended up having around 2000 participants. We hardly fit in the room. We still haven’t figured out where all the people came from. We had no Facebook, no newsletter, nothing. I had a friend who later told me that as he was walking into the city from the Buda side (on Rózsadomb in district 2), a mile away he could sense the Holy Spirit filling him, and he knew something special was happening. This event served as kind of a spring-board, and we felt as if we had struck a string in God’s heart, our efforts playing a chord, our prayers receiving an answer. We knew we had to continue, so we started making plans right away.
Two years later, in 2000, we reached an important milestone. We hosted a New Year’s Party, with about 60 ministers, pastors, and church leaders present, and we felt the need to symbolically express our unity. So, we built a wall out of boxes that had negative, dividing and destructive words written on them: words like gossiping, belittling, strife – all kinds of evil. At midnight we toppled this symbolic wall, and as we were jumping all over these boxes of negativity, in our hearts we knew it was possible to overcome evil with good, and Christians would be able to respect and appreciate one another. That night a new dream was born: on June 10th, 2000, there would be a This Is The Day! March followed by a big worship event in Tabán (a park in district 1). At our New Year’s gathering, we sensed God revealing His will, giving us not only His approval but His confirmation to our desires and plans. The summer event further confirmed God’s involvement. While we expected 1,500 to 2,000 people, we ended up with 25,000 participants. Following this event, the group of 50 to 60 church leaders and pastors started gathering monthly for a time of prayer, asking God to visit Budapest in a supernatural way – this was our vision.
This Is The Day! events rest on 3 pillars: A time of worship & praise offered to God; Prayer for our nation – couldn’t do without it; Preaching of the Gospel, so people would come to faith, and Christians who are a bit weary or have become lukewarm, would receive encouragement to continue with zeal. After our event in 2000, we decided to take small steps each year toward our goal of filling up the Stadium with worshippers of the Lord Jesus. The restored Stadium has recently reopened as Puskás Aréna. This journey has lasted for a little over 20 years and has been full of wonderful experiences and memories.