Note: Mr. Norris wrote the following Hungary column just prior to hearing about President George H.W. Bush’s passing. He is already busy writing next week’s special tribute article to President Bush, with whom Mr. and Mrs. Norris were close friends. Mr. and Mrs. Norris issued this initial statement: “President George H. W. Bush was a man of courage, humor and faith. America and the entire world were blessed by his steadfast leadership, and Gena and I were honored to call him a friend. We join the Bush family and all Americans in thanking God for this man who devoted his life to the defense of freedom for all mankind.”)
You might have heard in the news that my wife, Gena, and I spent time this past week with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the country’s great capital city of Budapest.
The Washington Post reported, “Hungary’s strongman leader has a new American friend.”
Breitbart News reported, “Brussels Beware: ‘Street Fighter’ Orbán Teams Up with Action Man Chuck Norris in Hungary.”
Russia’s RT network reported, “Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was spotted hanging out with none other than Hollywood actor and walking epitome of badassery, Chuck Norris. They cruised around Budapest as Orbán showed off the nation’s anti-terrorism unit.”
Sputnik news reported, “‘Badass’ Chuck Norris Spotted Bromancing with Hungarian PM Orbán.”
CNN similarly reported, “Move over Vladimir Putin and Steven Seagal, there’s a new strongman bromance brewing.”
I don’t know about a bromance, but he is certainly our newfound friend. Or as Gena echoed when we said goodbye to the prime minister: “Friends forever“!
It was so great to spend the day with Orbán as he personally drove us around the capital city of Budapest. It was our first time in the country, and, boy, was it beautiful. And the people were remarkable! We saw many sites, including the bridge over the Danube that was almost named after me.
(As we traveled the city, I also recalled the fun tongue-n-cheek 2013 Christmas greeting video starring me that the Hungarian animation studio Delov Digital released that went ultra-viral. All good fun!)
Prime Minister Orbán is a staunch conservative all the way, from protecting his borders to espousing Christian values and even establishing a “Stop [George] Soros” law. He was just reelected for the third time in a landslide victory. He’s very popular among the common people, though progressives vehemently dislike him.
At one point PM Orbán said to me, “90 percent of the comments on me is negative … the liberals hate me.”
I replied, “You’re like [U.S. President Donald] Trump.”
He retorted, “A little bit more than that!”
He also explained to me that: “I am a street fighter basically, I’m not coming from the elite.” He’s also a brilliant street fighter, having been educated at Oxford University
As a martial arts expert, a particular highlight for me was watching a demonstration by the elite Hungarian anti-terrorist forces. They have some of the best training and techniques I’ve seen around the world!
The Prime Minister posted a video of different aspects of our day together on his Facebook page. You can watch it here.
As special as all that was, I was in Hungary to do more than just tour the country and meet prime minister Orbán.
Every year during the Christmas season, donors are encouraged to collect and give Christmas gifts in a shoebox to disadvantaged children primarily in Hungary, much like Franklin Graham’s Samaritan Purse does Operation Christmas Child around the world. Social institutions and schools alike participate in the Christmas Shoebox Project, Hungary’s largest Christmas charity initiative.
While Hungary was once a recipient of Samaritan’s Purse’s Operational Christmas Child boxes, Hungarian Baptist Aid decided to turn things around in 2004. Since then, Hungarians have put together 600,000 shoebox presents to the value of 6 millions U.S. dollars. In 2018, the 15th year of the project, they expect to receive and give away 60,000 gifts.
Hungarian Baptist Aid, one of the top five largest charities in the nation, described how it all got started: “Once upon a time there was an English grandmother, who saw the conditions after the World Wars and had pity on the children who could not do anything about the things happening. So she decided to pack her gifts in a shoebox and sent it to a poor child. She didn’t know that there would be millions of people following her noble act.”
As far as the charity organization itself, “Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid) was begun in 1996 as a one-man organization by Baptist pastor Rev. Sándor Szenczy. HBAid leads the fight against human trafficking, delivering aid and emergency relief around the globe to places like North Korea and South Sudan. HBAid looks after 10,000 people each day providing social services, and 16,000 students receive quality education – including Bible knowledge – through the organization. HBAid also employs school chaplains and brings regular gospel presentations to the 50 schools it administers.
At the Shoebox Acton event in Budapest, I also gave a speech there about my own faith as my 97-year old mom singlehandedly raised my two brothers and me in the Christian religion.
The greatest blessing about our Hungarian trip was that it also incorporated our anniversary on Nov. 28, so it was so very special to have Gena with me. In fact, there couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate our anniversary than by being in such a beautiful country and meeting so many beautiful people.
Of course, I’m married to the most beautiful and brilliant person of all! As I often say, my marital goal is to make it to our Golden (50th) Anniversary. I’ll only be 108 years old!
Happy Anniversary, my love and best friend! As great as it was to be in Hungary, my bromance with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán can’t hold a match to my romance with you!
(Speaking of great conservatives, I encourage Americans everywhere to rally your representatives to support Rep. Jim Jordan, from Ohio’s 4th Congressional District, as the new leader of the House GOP.)