The first time I was invited to play the piano at Calvary Chapel Redlands in California I was told that the youth pastor would pick me up at the Ontario airport. After arriving I waited for quite a while before a guy came up to me and asked: "Are you Mark Zeeman?" After telling him "Yes", he explained that he knew I was from South Africa and he had been waiting for a black musician with a flowing robe and a turban on his head! This was my introduction to Greg Opean, who later became the pastor of Calvary Chapel Budapest, Hungary.
Greg and I became good friends and when he moved to Hungary as a missionary, I visited he and his wife, Jennifer, a few times. After one of the visits Greg asked me to think about moving to Budapest to work with Calvary Chapel Budapest as a music missionary. I found the idea intriguing, but was not sure exactly what I would do. When I asked Greg what I would do he said "Let's see what God will do."
One plan was for me help out with the worship at the church, as well as do worship piano concerts around Hungary and possibly other countries as well. Then just before arriving in Hungary, Greg asked me what I thought about starting a gospel choir. I was a little surprised, but intrigued by the suggestion. So without knowing how it was going to work exactly, we announced a first rehearsal date - and about 55 people showed up! So I thought, 'okay, maybe this can work!'
I could never have imagined what an adventure was in store when we started the choir and that being a gospel choir director would be so fulfilling. The Golgota Gospel Kórus (Calvary Gospel Choir) has grown to about 140 people, and in addition to regular concerts in Budapest and towns across Hungary, we have had the opportunity to travel to Romania, Croatia, Italy, and in the summer of 2008 to Poland. For pictures, video clips and more about the choir you can go to their website. Or you can click here for a youtube video!
The choir has become my main work in Budapest, but I also help out with the worship as needed, and I teach in the church as well. In fact, I even took the challenge to teach through the book of Hebrews. The main reason for originally coming to Hungary - to do solo piano worship concerts - has not really happened yet, although I think that I will be focusing more on that aspect of my ministry in the next year or so. People are strongly urging me to do so!
If you would like to donate to my mission work you can do so here. Thanks!
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