Review: Called to Serve

Passionate, stirring and faith-inspiring, this autobiography captures and transports the reader’s mind and heart to a village in Transylvania beginning in the early 20th century. As the story unfolds, the struggles of a son born into a large family, the dividing effects of World War II, and the oppression of Christian believers in Communist-dominated countries of Eastern Europe become influential in the author’s search for a meaningingful realtionship with Christ. Childhood disappointments, narrow escapes from WWII bombing raids and immigrant hardships become the backdrop in which Gulyás cements his Christian faith and life commitment.

The author embarks on a course of ministry characterized by risk-taking faith, unstoppable Christian zeal and a love for his homeland. In his life story you will discover how hearing God’s call and a heart of compassion result in changing people’s lives for eternity.

First of all, let me say that I might be completely biased here because the author of this book is my great-uncle Steve Gulyas. Well, okay, I am biased, but that doesn’t change the fact that this man had an incredible journey in his life before becoming a missionary and after he did. Reading this book a second time made me wish I’d asked him more about his missionary years when he was still alive.

In this book, he gives a bit of background prior to his becoming a missionary, which I think always helps when understanding how any missionary or preacher of the Word (or Christian in general) gets to where they are in the current time. Included in this part of the book is a bit of his parents’ history, as well as his and my grandfather’s experience in Germany during World War II. There were times when they were certain they were going to die, but my uncle narrates how God kept them safe from danger with impeccable timing. Even in later years, when my uncle returned as a missionary and was arrested and detained at times, he never showed fear due to knowing God was in control.

My uncle here is very factual, meaning he doesn’t really use a lot of descriptive narration unless necessary. In that sense, I can see how other readers might find this book boring. But also keep in mind that English is not my uncle’s first language – it’s Hungarian, then Romanian is his second. He didn’t learn English until he and my grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1950, and uncle Steve was still learning the language while in Bible school! 

To be honest, reading this book was a trip at times because it hit me that the chapters where my uncle talked about his parents’ lives along with his family and upbringing, that this is my family history. I mean, how cool is that?! There are even some pictures included of my uncle and grandfather’s hometown, along with their family, and subsequently my grandfather’s family after he married and had his nine children. 

So, while it’s a more personal read for myself, there is also a lot of learning about life as a missionary in Eastern Europe (particularly Romania) prior to the removal of Communism. It’s a great, short read that is not only loved by our big family, but even people in our community (as the book is available at our public library and in some local churches).

Rating: 5/5 stars

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