30 Days of Prayer for the Roma

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Hello everyone,

To kick off my new blog I will be posting once a day on Facebook and Instagram for the next 30 days. Each day I am asking readers to join us in prayer for a specific place, person, or ministry. All of them relate to our work with the Roma Bible Union. So I hope they will be not only a way for you to pray, but also a way for you to better get to know our work and teammates!

We covet your prayers!! It means so much to have people praying. Never underestimate the mountains God can move through the prayers of His people!

So please join with me in praying daily for these people and places I share! Let us storm the gates of Heaven with prayers for the Roma!

Follow this 30 day journey here:

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The History of the Roma

This is an abbreviated history of the Roma (Romani people) as told by myself. I am drawing  from research done online but also heavily from the fantastic book “Pariah Syndrome” written by Dr. Ian Hancock, who is considered the world expert on Roma History. I hope that this article is helpful for those who wish to learn more about the people we minister to. It is also intended to be something of a review for those who have heard my talk on Roma and the Roma Bible Union.

The Roma are a people group who migrated from Northern India sometime in the 12th century. For the next 200-300 years there were many more migrations across Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. However, to go into all of them would take another article entirely. In the 14th Century these same people had slowly made their way to Europe. Upon arriving, the foreign, tan-skinned travelers were completely unknown to the Europeans. Figuring they must be Egyptians, they became known as “Gypsies”.

Before long the Europeans enslaved the Roma. Laws were written which kept them virtually trapped in slavery. Even when they were free, they could often be rounded back up and forced in to slavery elsewhere. As is the dark reality of slavery, the Roma were dehumanized to justify the horrible treatment. Horrible punishments were dealt for mistakes. There are recorded instances of hands being cut off for broken plates. Roma who escaped slavery were considered animals who could be hunted, and would have their heads mounted on walls along with the other trophies of the hunter.

The final emancipation of the Roma was not until the mid-19th century. As is often seen in history, the emancipation of people who lived generations as slaves is not always a better life for them. Though they were freed, they were very restricted and considered undesirables. Most were not allowed to learn to read and write, and many were forced to give up their languages in slavery. The result was a migrating poverty-stricken people, unwanted at every turn and with poor prospects for work or a comfortable life. Some would even return to their masters begging for work.

One hundred years later, under the Nazi Third Reich, the Roma endured a horrific ethnic cleansing. Though it is well known, the Roma suffering in the Holocaust is rarely spoken or written about in history books. Many of the concentration camps across Europe were first filled with Roma before the Jewish. They became the subject of forced labor, horrific experimentation, and eventual mass execution. Tragically, the mass movement of the Roma from the towns and villages was often done with the silent consent of the local Europeans, who had no interest in the “undesirables”. It is hard to estimate exactly, but I have read various sources that put the death toll for the Roma people anywhere between 600,000 to 2,500,00. In a sense what happened first to the Roma set the ground work for the mass transportation and cleansing of the Jews.

Now, 70 years after those horrors the Roma are spread once more across Europe and the Americas. Some Roma, especially in the Balkans, still live in the same poverty they faced during slavery. While it is unfair to generalize as each Roma community is different, there are still many villages were most of the adults cannot read or write. Where virtually no one is legitimately employed. Where children are struggling to have hope for their futures and parents have given up all hope as their futures have become reality. They are still slaves, but not to the whims and desires of a harsh and human master. They are enslaved in hopelessness, enslaved in poverty, enslaved in the same hatred that has caused them to be rejected, hunted, spat on and killed many times before.

We desire more than anything to see the light and hope of the Gospel of Truth penetrate the villages. To see the trans-formative power of Christian love and peace change communities. To see our efforts in assisting children in school prosper. To give children a future and parents a hope. Our organization is committed to this task. We are committed to this task. We hope knowing what you know now, you will commit to praying and seeing how you can get involved! We all have a part to play in restoring hope to these people. A people loved by God.

All Hope Ends Here

For those who have read our emailed prayer letter over the last year, this will be a familiar story. I feel it’s worth sharing here because it so encapsulates a deep-rooted feeling found from one Roma village to another.

When I speak in front of churches about the Roma and the problems they face, it’s not gambling, crime, drunkenness or poverty that is at the core of their struggles.

These words are the words of a Roma man we met while out surveying where the local Roma population resides in Pécs. I rode along with my father and a teammate around the back-roads and old abandoned mining communities of Pécs. These muddy ghost-towns once hosting the prosperous enterprise of earth delving lie largely abandoned. Yet the ghosts have been pushed out, making way for the new residents: the Roma. Considered as undesirable as the rusty cranes and abandoned rails around them, they live on the fringes of the local community. An old bus rumbling down the rain-soaked forest road is their only link with civilization. As our teammate and translator explained who we were and why we had come- to spread the message and hope of Jesus Christ. The leader of the community, laughing and pointing a few meters away, said:

“Do you see where this road begins? If there is any hope in the world, it all ends there.”
This same sense of hopelessness was shared by a Roma woman we met an hour later who told us there was no church in the area of Pécs where she and thousands of other Roma lived. Even the Catholic humanitarian service rarely passed through.

No hope. We know these words are the words of the Enemy. But they are not the final word of the Lord who is King of His World. Satan may declare there is no hope over Pécs’ Roma much as a crow caws from a Cathedral’s top, but it is powerless to stop the One who will fill the Cathedral with hope and beauty. We declare the Roma belong to God, and God alone.

Please continue to pray with me for the Roma. Please continue to pray we would be able to finish our support raising and return soon!

 

36 Cents an Hour

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To start this journey off I wanted to share a story which I have shared several times now at various meetings and classes I have spoken at. It is the incredible story of the village of Gilanfa.

One morning in April of this year, I received a call from Gergely, one of our teammates within the RBU (Roma Bible Union) Hungary team. He asked me to join him for a day of visiting at a village near our city. Continue reading “36 Cents an Hour”