Interview with Ferenc Balogh

Life Prevails!

’While I was giving birth to Viktor, in the last moment I suddenly felt the presence of Jesus, standing before my bed, holding my hand,’ Krisztina, his wife, said. ’Peace, security and joy overwhelmed me and this atmosphere started to fill the hospital room. In a few seconds it touched the doctor, who started to sob, tears were just gushing from his eyes. The midwife didn’t understand what was going on, but she felt it. Immediately all pain was gone. I started smiling, rejoicing and laughing and in the next moment I heard my son, Viktor, cry. He was sound, healthy and delivered marvelously.’

- How did your life, your career start?

- I wanted to become a truth-loving and faithful man. I was brought up to strive for correctness and sincerity, and to value the fact that we managed to make something of ourselves. I graduated from high school as an engine-builder technologist in Vác, where we lived. I never learned to sing, neither back then nor later, but as a child I already sang in all kinds of country bands after doing really well in a talent competition. Half a year later I took the place of Demjen as a soloist in Bergendy Band.

I remember my first music recording in Studio No. 6 in the Radio, it ended in laughter because I sang the lyrics in Palots dialect. Suddenly events sped up. I had regular western tours with the band, and the most significant singers and actors from Péter Máté to Péter Haumann honoured me with their friendship and invitations. I started to sing songs from English musicals, one after the other, with Hungarian scripts: Fiddler on the Roof, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar. Then I starred in Cats in Madách Theatre. Performances, Fészek Club, whiskey.

- Was Kriszta already your wife then?

- Kriszta was the dresser on one of our summer tours organized by Péter Máté - this was how we met. We fell deeply in love. The artists and the musicians I appeared with on the stage were amazed at us whenever they saw us. They said if they were young once more, they would like to be in love only the way we were.

- It sounds like the American dream.

- It was already the second chapter of my life. The first one started this way: after taking the final exam in Vác, I got married and I had two sons from this marriage.

- Was it also love?

- No, it wasn’t. That lady didn’t have parents. We had known each other since we were teenagers. I felt sorry for her so I married her. But from the first hour of our marriage it was obvious it wouldn’t work.

- When you met Kriszta, you were still...

- I was still my wife’s husband. As a matter of fact, my move to Budapest, my career in Budapest, all I have just told you about began with adultery and led to crisis and later to divorce. I left my wife and my two beautiful children. I lived together with a smashing sense of guilt and so did Kriszta. We tried to compensate this sense of guilt in every possible way as if we could make amends for the irredeemable.

Then we got married and our new life began with my children’s regular visits and a depressing experience. Kriszta miscarried our baby in the fifth month of pregnancy. She gave birth to a little stillborn baby. Then our second child, a girl, was born. We were very happy. We called her Kriszta. But when our baby was nine months old it turned out that she wouldn’t be able to grow up, she wouldn’t stay alive, because the muscles in her body couldn’t develop.

- What did the doctors say? What happened?

- After the first serious series of examinations the doctors passed a death sentence on her. We had to live knowing that we would lose her one day, we didn’t know when, after a month, a year, two years... A year later when our little daughter, Krisztike, was still alive, our third child, Benjamin, was born. We were happy and we put our trust in some invisible help, and hoped that he would be healthy.

But it didn’t happen so. His muscles didn’t develop either. We went from one doctor to another when we finally met Dr. Czeizel. He directly told us that at the present state of medicine and genetics my wife and I can never have a healthy baby. We were diagnosed with chromosome incompatibility.

- How did you take it? Did you blame anybody or anything for it? How did you think your life would go on? How did you view your future? How did you live knowing this?

- Resistance was born in me.

- Resistance against yourself, life, destiny or your wife?

- No. Against the situation the doctors proposed us as a possibility. I just wasn’t willing to accept it. I think this was the time when I grew angry with God although I didn’t know Him. ”Why have You done this with me? Why?” A fearful chaos started in me.

At the same time I worked more and more. I became very popular: movies, records, radio, and theatre. I even starred in Operetta Theatre. As a result of my profession, I was under pressure to beam joy and happiness. The lyrics I sang were of the same kind.

In the meantime, I was hiding my two disabled children from the public. I kept them in secret. I started to drink heavily. It was only the whiskey that could dissolve this stress in me. I was able to spend less and less time being sober; in fact that little time meant those few hours after I woke up. Both Krisztike and Benjamin were still alive at this time.

- What year are we in at that time?

- In spring, 1989. We were beseeching this invisible, inconceivable, unknown God for something to happen. After 3 months a beautician called Emmi Tési testified to Krisztina about a living and healing God. While she was massaging my wife’s face, Kriszti was crying her heart out to her. The beautician said that there was a solution and hope because God loves us, too. She said the words the doctors did not.

Kriszta came home and told me she had met a sectarian beautician, who told her such good things and it was so good to listen to her. I told my wife “Well, go and listen to her then!” Talking to Emmi was as much of a relief to her as singing and drinking was to me.

In autumn 1989, on 24th September to be precise, Benjamin lapsed into a coma at home. We had to rush to the hospital with him. In the previous months we could see that he had developed some mental deficiency. I rushed to the hospital with the little boy, while Krisztina rushed to the beautician’s. She fell on Emmi’s neck and sobbed her heart out. The beautician consoled her with the Word and prayed. She behaved as a real believer who knows who her God is.

My wife calmed down. The child was put on a respirator. A few days later he was taken off, and after a week we were able to bring him home. He didn’t die. Not yet. We believed that everything was all right and the next weekend Krisztina went to the service with Emmi and she asked Jesus Christ to come into her heart. I think God had really taken hold of her by that time but we couldn’t put it into words like that.

- And what about you?

- I was a well-known man, I felt ashamed of going there. It was God Himself who came to me together with the church, the pastor and everything.

- What do you mean?

- It literally happened like that. We used to have our rehearsals with Bergendy Band in Ganz Culture Centre in Golgota Street. All at once Faith Church appeared in the banquet hall and for a long time after that they held their services there. ”Men, be men; women, be women; renounce occultism and love the Lord” - we would hear from the stage. We used to rehearse in a small room behind the stage and, of course, we could hear every single word, like it was meant to be. And down in the basement the Black Hole was bubbling. What a unique triumvirate that was!

- When you too stood before God, what did that prayer you said there mean to you? What was going on inside of you? Did you think or feel anything? Was that the solution or did it hold out the hope of solution?

- I didn’t have any special experience. Heaven didn’t open above my head; I was simply escaping from the state I was in. I have seen the movie Titanic recently. The reason why I could identify with the two young lovers’ situation was that we had been in a very similar one, too. Our love, our relationship broke, we had to escape from it. If we stayed on the ship, it is sure that we would die but if we dove over the handrail into the sea, into the uncertain, perhaps we could be saved.

The doctors - willy-nilly - suggested that it was our fault, that the defect was in us, so there were a lot of things we thought and felt about each other - whether or not we actually said them. I didn’t have any idea where or what I had dived into by my conversion, all I knew was that if I didn’t dive, I would die. My body couldn’t really cope with alcohol any more, probably I would also have left Kriszta after a while.

On the outside, of course, nothing but a smile could be seen from this broken life. When you sit in a theatre, you can see beautiful castles, mountains and furniture on the stage; then you take a closer look and you see that it is nothing else but painted papier-mâché. All our life was like painted papier-mâché.

- When did things start to change for the better?

- After our conversion God forgave us, He redeemed us and the ”rehabilitation” began in some ways but in the physical realm years of struggle and hardship were still coming. Against all the medical opinion, we started our Christian life with huge faith. Now I admit we weren’t sensible enough. Based on our new faith we had more children. Two more of our children were born disabled, exposed and ill. So five young children passed away from this life to the Lord. What is more, these tragedies humiliated us cruelly.

- What do you mean?

- Krisztike was over a year and a half when the taxi-blockade broke out. That morning the little girl didn’t show any sign of life. We were frightened and we rushed to the car as we were – I was in my pyjamas. Krisztina, my wife, was holding the child in her arms and I was stepping on the gas and honking the horn. When the taxi-drivers realized that we were taking a dying child to the hospital they gave us way to Buda, right up to the hospital. In the meantime, we were praying, struggling and fighting.

However, in the hospital it turned out that our little Krisztike had been dead for hours. We said goodbye to her and left. It was the moment when we were not able to go back by car, because of the blockade, we could only walk and go by underground. It was a cold winter. In the street, on the escalator of the subway I only had my shabby pyjamas and slippers on, I was holding my Krisztina’s hand, there was nothing we could say, we were just walking slowly with a stone-glare.
People were laughing at us, many of them pointed to us, but who cared about them in those moments?

- Where did you get your strength from? Where did you get such faith that this series of tragedies didn’t break you and you didn’t start to question God, the world or life?
What do you think were the causes of these events?

- By that time I already knew that God doesn’t do anything bad. He doesn’t kill children. We thought that a kind of a sentence was executed on us, which must have been the consequence of our old life. Whether we wanted it or not, we had to undergo and survive it. We didn’t know exactly what it was and why it happened, whether it was due to a curse or sin, or what, and we didn’t even search after it any more. We will only get to know it in Heaven.

Kriszta also paid a high price, but it is sure that it will be a great blessing for her that she was so dedicated to nurse and love my disabled children. The Word says: “Those who pass through the valley of Baca make it a well of blessing.“ Sometimes there were situations when we didn’t even know what we were doing but God kept watch over us as His pearls, not letting us harm ourselves. I was longing for life; I loved life even in this deformed form.

- What happened in you or to you, because all of a sudden your sixth child, Viktor, was born in good health, safe and well.

- As time went by, our unquestioning faith, by which we began, developed into a real, mature faith. We kept praying and fasting the same way in spite of what had happened, and we kept confessing and believing Isaiah’s words even after our children had passed away: ”They shall not labour in vain nor bring forth children for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.” Then my wife became pregnant again.

But at that time we felt as if this devilish case had ended. In the 7th and 8th month we also changed visibly, we felt refreshed and renewed. We felt that something came to an end and something new was about to come. The pastor of the church and others prayed for us many times. The pastor’s wife prayed for the child laying her hand on Krisztina’s belly. Again, nothing special happened, Heaven didn’t open above me, but I knew that this child would live.

Krisztina, the wife recalls:
I was in labour with Victor when, in the moment he was actually born, I suddenly felt that the Lord Jesus was standing by me at the bed in maternity ward and he was holding my hand. Calmness, security and joy overflowed me with such power that it filled the whole delivery room. In a few seconds it touched the doctor, too, who burst out crying. Tears were welling from his eyes. The midwife didn’t know what was happening but she did feel it. All of my labour pains disappeared immediately, I started to smile, rejoice and laugh and in the next moment Viktor cried out. He was born safe and well. It was beautiful. And now, after eight years, he is still absolutely healthy.

The husband:
First we didn’t even realize that Victor started to walk. I told Kriszta: ”Hey! Wasn’t it Viktor who has run across the room?” We clapped our hands in astonishment, we were grateful to God and each other, we were rejoicing. Our conviction, that something had come to an abrupt end and something new began started to manifest before our very eyes. God’s fantastic blessing, joy and grace has been flowing to us through our son ever since.

We have learned and understood a very simple truth from his life, namely, that God is good. In many cases He teaches, leads and forms us through Viktor, in very special ways. Behold, now at the age of 44, I know more exactly who I am and where I am going, what my task is in the world and in the church and why I was born. I see it more correctly and more clearly now than at the age of either 20, 30 or 35.

- What do you mean by saying that God forms and leads you through your son?

- For example, two years ago we took a vacation and spent some days in Tusnád, Transylvania during the summer. After we came home Viktor was longing to return there. One day he said: ”I want to be a soldier in the country, not in the city, in the country.” First we didn’t understand what he was saying, but then he explained that he still wanted to be the soldier of God, but not in the city, rather in the country, in a little village like the one he came to like in Transylvania. In a place where there are hills, woods, fields and there aren’t many houses and where a red tractor works on the slop

As a matter of fact, in Tusnád he came to like a red tractor very much that was ploughing on the hill. I sat down and told him man to man that even if we sold everything we had, we wouldn’t have enough money to buy a nice house in a village nearby. But Viktor kept broaching it every day.

I told him: “Alright, write down exactly what kind of a house you want.” He wrote it down. I told him to draw it and colour it. He did it. He drew the rolling hills, the woods, the distant mountains and of course he drew the ploughing red tractor, too. By that time both Kriszti and I were very much longing to live in a village like that, and a house like that. We talked more and more about it while Viktor built it out of LEGOs. He did the hills, the green woods and the red tractor.

Then God arranged our things, financial conditions and everything in a way that 10 months later, in May the following year, we could move into a nice house in a village not far from Budapest. The first morning after our move, I went to the balcony, opened the door and what I saw was not houses, but hills melting into each other, beautiful woods to the side, and the silhouette of mountains in the distance. I was just standing there watching the scenery when suddenly a tractor came puffing out from behind the woods to the field. A red tractor.

- What did that red tractor mean for you that morning?

- It meant that life overcomes.

Forrás: Új Exodus

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