Each month, we introduce you to a Christian who is on the generosity path, and we ask them what God’s taught them about giving.
This month, meet Imre Somody from Hungary.
1. Atheists Can Be Big Givers
“I became successful quickly,” says Imre. “I was an atheist then and I started a business in 1988 and I sold it in 1996 for millions of dollars. Most of the business leaders are happy when they have millions. That’s usually the end of the story.” Imre wondered what to do with his newfound wealth. “I was keen to make an effort to change society,” he says, “I believed that Hungary could be a successful European country, so I gave toward that. I was not a responsible manager of wealth; I gave it to many others and nonprofits.
“I wanted to be a very good man,” says Imre. “I wanted to show people that Imre is different and that money is not everything.”
2. The Gospel Brings Freedom from Fear
“But I lost most of my wealth, millions and millions of dollars,” he says. “You’re starting to struggle and thinking that the pharma business was a one-time success but in reality I’m not able to make successful businesses. Or that I’ve lost direction. It brings fear.”
Then Jesus arrived. “I went to a retreat in 2014 and I became a believer,” says Imre. “I got freedom from the fear of what happens if I lose more and more money. The fear that we would be poor or have to sell the house. I got this freedom from the Lord that he cares about me and will care for me. Those fears just disappeared.” But Imre was nervous about how his wife would feel about his conversion.
“All the way home, I wondered,” Imre says, “and then I got home and said to her, ‘I will do everything so that you can make that journey as well.’ She went to the same retreat where I [become a believer] and she came to the Change.”
3. Christians Must Run Businesses with Love and Truth
At the Lord’s leading, Imre has trimmed his business interests to an historic café in Budapest. “As a Christian, we have to show that we are managing in a different way,” says Imre. “We behave ourselves in a different way; we help people have a different meaning for life. It’s difficult because atheists think that ‘because he’s a believer, he should give me the money and not blame about my quality, and not ask me to be better.’ That’s the view of the people sometimes.”
“I had a very learningful conversion with someone who worked as a waiter for almost two years or so,” said Imre. He around 45 and a difficult person; he has small kids and struggled a lot in life. He would be unable to control himself and got in trouble with the guests and would just go home.” Imre told him, “When you go home and the whole café is full, it’s not the way to behave.” Then, Imre says, “We called him and told him to come back; even when you quit, you still have to work for one month.”
The waiter came back three weeks later and said, “Mr Somody, I’m coming for my money.” Imre explained, “I’m giving you some money, but not the whole amount that you would get; I had to use that money to pay others to cover when you walked out.” “He was completely upset,” says Imre, “and he said, ‘I have a small child and you say that you are a Christian.’ I tried to explain in love that his behavior lost us all money, but that we are not asking him to pay back what we lost because he was missing.” “Christianity doesn’t mean that you are giving to anyone who’s loud and aggressive and trying to push your Christian heart,” says Imre. “The most important is to be honest with the people while you love them.”
If you’re in Budapest, be sure to visit Imre at the Central Café!
Imre loves to give to Sonship Academy.
Imre sensed a need for a place that lay people can get a rich, practical theological education. So, he founded – and enrolled in! – Sonship Academy.
Sonship is an independent Christian school, allowing it to reach across denominational lines. The Academy offers a high-quality one-year training in the Bible, with ten monthly sessions of eight hours each. The program emphasizes learning from book and requires that students receive personal discipleship from the faculty.
“It’s interesting,” says Imre, “at Sonship Academy, I am one of the establishers and I am one of the students. This year, we will finish the three-year course. It is a great experience to both run it and experience it as a student. We can improve it when I tell my partners, ‘Here’s my experience as a student.’”
After a foundational year, students can continue. “The second and third year in the school is teaching special knowledge,” says Imre, “topics like apologetics, hermeneutics, missionary history and so on and church planting. And we continue to emphasize mentoring. You have to share your life with others and know His personality by knowing His people.”