Highland News Leader
Members of First Baptist Church of Highland are heading overseas this summer.
And the church’s pastor, Rob Kirbach, couldn’t be more excited. Kirbach and nine church members will visit Hungary from Aug. 30-Sept. 10 to volunteer in local schools, providing general professional support to classroom teachers and English language workshops to elementary school students in the city of Debrecen, according to a church press release.
Needless to say, Kirbach and his crew are eager to help.
“This is very important for their students,” said Kirbach, who has been the pastor at First Baptist Church since October 2017. “The teachers are going teach English as a foreign language. This is an opportunity for the students to practice their conversational skills with a native English speaker.”
Furthermore, the group’s primary goal is to help students practice and sharpen their English conversation, Kirbach noted. The attendees will include retired educators, who will teach in a classroom setting and work alongside teachers and pastors in Debrecen, located 140 miles east of the Hungarian capital of Budapest.
“The Hungarian language is only spoken in Hungary,” said Kirbach, 36. “For the Hungarian students to have success academically if go to a university anywhere in Europe, they have to speak English.”
Additionally, the group will participate in worship services in the Hungarian Baptist Church.
“I’m looking forward to visiting the mission church,” said Kirbach. “We send money to support these mission churches … as a pastor, to visit colleagues in another country, just the experience in and of itself will be a learning opportunity.”
According to Kirbach, First Baptist Church financially supports six missionary couples in three countries: Hungary, Thailand and Haiti.
However, this represents FBC’s first-ever mission trip. The church was founded in 1948.
“In our denomination in American Baptist Churches, the way we do mission work is we establish rapport with local churches and discern what their needs are. Our churches here in the states work to fulfill those needs,” said Kirbach. “I think it’ll give us a deeper appreciation that the world is much bigger than what we see outside our windows.”
Hungary became the destination due a previous relationship Kirbach had with Jon Good. Kirbach grew up in Alton, and Good was his pastor. Now, Good and his wife, Amanda, are a missionary couple who live in Hungary.
“About two years ago, Jon accepted this call to serve the mission church in Hungary,” Kirbach said. “He and I have maintained communication and contact and shortly after I came to Highland he said our biggest need in Hungary is helping students practice their English conversation.”
Highland FBC group to visit World War II historic sites
Besides their everyday duties, the group also will visit historic sites in Budapest, including the Castle District, World War II museums, and Shoes on the Danube, a World War II memorial honoring Jewish people killed by Arrow Cross militiamen.
Kirbach said the group is excited about and ready for the journey.
“For the group I hope we develop appreciation of diversity of global church and all come back with deeper sense of cultural awareness and how diverse peoples and cultures can unite for a common cause,” Kirbach said. “Some of their excitement revolves around just being able to help. There is a sense of providing some good, to help children in another country. We financially support these mission churches, but most folks here have never visited one.
“There is excitement of experiencing and learning a new culture. More than half have never traveled outside the United States, so this will be very exciting.”
People can find more information about the mission at the church’s website, fbchighland.org. The church also is seeking donations to help fund the trip; people can send their tax deductible donations to: First Baptist Church of Highland; P.O. Box 421; Highland, IL 62249.