Thursday, July 28, 2011

Down to the River to Pray

Our daily commute to the language school is a 15-min walk that includes a walk over the Petofi Sandor Bridge, linking Petofi Sandor Island, where our hostel is located, to the mainland. A statue of Petofi stands in front of the hostel, across the street. Petofi is a big deal in Hungary, a skinny poet, a revolutionary hero. Post to follow.

The bridge is modern and clean, at least up top, with beautiful pots of flowers lining it. It spans this branch of the Danube called the Sugovich, and beaches, restaurants and a marina line either side. Hungarians are planted along either side of the river with fishing poles; the Baja Fish Boil is an annual event in the main plaza that we just missed by a day or two.

Nature trails run under the bridge and around the length of the island, and are filled with cyclists, walkers and joggers. A boatyard sits at the first bend, filled with the most interesting skiffs and wooden boats. We pass camping areas and a woodland chapel during one evening walk.

But by night, the bridge is a different story. Drug addicts, alcoholics, street children and homeless gather. Pornography is sprayed on the walls under the bridge. The cops don’t go near it. It’s hard to imagine, as we look at it during the day, but Arnold assures us that it is the worst part of town. He would not go near it at night, and Arnold has the builder of a bouncer. I’m grateful we are a band of six, with two men, as we pass over it each evening.

Something draws us back to the bridge. We begin to pray, and as usually happens on these outreaches, God begins to speak to us in dreams, visions, strong impressions, and words from Scripture. As we put the pieces of the spiritual puzzle together, we sensed a plan, and formulating: a seven-day ‘march’—pouring out the water as a symbol of cleansing, then pouring out oil as a symbol of anointing. We want to cleanse this place spiritually and invite the Holy Spirit to come in and do his work of replacing darkness with light. Redeeming space. Reclaiming spiritual territory. We purchase 6 packs of water and a can of oil. We do this sometimes at night, but no one bothers us. Anyone spotting us flees, confirming the reputation this bridge has earned as the worst section of town.

We plan to do this for 7 days, and see what God does. Within 4 days, we already feel a subtle shift in the atmosphere. Arnold comments on it. He notices that more and more people are walking under the bridge. A sense of ease and peace comes into the place. The artists are inspired and producing rapidly. Three days to go.

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