Starpoint Festival Hungary: Gigha Lennox

Myself and fellow Scot, Rebecca Fanning, had the opportunity to represent the Church of Scotland at this year’s Starpoint (Csillagpont) Reformed Youth Festival in Hungary. We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for when we sent our applications away, however I am so glad we did as it was a life-changing experience that will stay with me forever.

We were told we had been chosen in March, so by the time July came around we couldn’t wait to get going and see what this experience had in store for us. We arrived in Budapest on a very hot Sunday afternoon and were greeted by the leadership team and throughout the day met all the other International delegates as they arrived. In all there were 25 of us, from all corners of the world and all with the same feelings of not knowing what to expect at the upcoming Festival. We began our time in Budapest with what was called a walk, but ended up being a hike up a never ending hill. However, this was a great time to bond with the other delegates and at the top the view over the city was breath taking and well worth tackling my aversion to doing any form of exercise.

The following day we were taken into the city for a guided tour, which was beyond my expectations, and while there we had lunch at St Columba’s Scottish Church, which made Rebecca and I very excited to be experiencing a Church of Scotland church so far away from home, followed by the contrast of having dinner across the river and experiencing a Hungarian Reformed Church at the Szilagyi Dezso.

We had now started to come together as a group and form bonds, despite the cultural differences and language barriers. So, after our taste of Budapest, the following day we boarded a bus headed about an hour away to Tata, to the site of the Festival and our home for the next three days, which were to be days filled with fellowship and discovery.

Each day began with morning worship followed by a keynote address. The keynotes were focused each day on the festival’s theme of trust. The theme of trust is universal, as it is part of our every-day life, so it was a subject that created insightful and self-discovering discussions. We had the opportunity to have discussions in small groups that had been pre-arranged for us and this was a mix of international and Hungarian delegates and, throughout our time, we touched on the importance of trust in family, friends, ourselves and God.

Throughout the Festival there were many workshops we could go to, cultural as well as spiritual, and concerts in the evening. The bands where incredible, and attracted huge crowds; and although I probably couldn't communicate with most of the people around me within that setting, through the power of the musicians, their music and our fellowship it was an incredible experience.

There were so many highlights for me, however one of the most special moments that I will treasure was on the last day following the final keynote, when all the delegates came together in the largest act of communion that I have ever been a part of. The sight of two to three thousand people joining to worship our Lord for the sacrifice he made for us, really brought home to me the true purpose of our time together and I believe instilled in everyone a feeling of fellowship with each other and in Christ.

Overall, the week was filled with international fellowship, overwhelming emotions and also a feeling of being truly blessed to have been a part of such an incredible week within the Reformed Church of Hungary. I would of course love to return in two years’ time, but I might be outside the age bracket, but I would recommend this incredible adventure to any and all young people within the church. Sharing an experience like this with fellow Christians, no matter what denomination or cultural background, sends me forward in my journey in faith with hope and the knowledge that the future of the world church is bright as we continue to trust in God’s plan for us.