Monday, August 31, 2009

School Begins

"School Days, School Days, Good Old Golden..." so the song goes. Today and the remainder of the week schools will begin throughout central and eastern Europe. Please join us in praying for the Roma children in this region as they make their ways to the various buildings for elementary and high school. Pray that hearts would soften in the discrimination against them and this would be the year they feel welcomed. Pray for safety in light of the violence against Roma recently in Hungary and Slovakia. Pray the students would realize the advantage an education can mean in their lives and would study seriously. Pray for their parents as many struggle to provide basic school supplies, pay fees, and clothe their children. Pray for the Gandhi Roma High School in Pecs, Hungary as their begin the year with new leadership. Pray the needs and education of the students would be the top priority. Thank you for partnering with us through prayer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hope comes in the morning

We have recently returned to Slovakia after spending the summer in the United States. It was a joy to visit with many friends and supporters as we shared about what God is doing among the Roma in central Europe. What was especially fun was hearing at the General Assembly in Houston, "Hello! You are my friend on Facebook and now I get to finally meet you!" What a small world we live in.

Of great concern for us was hearing about the increase in anti-Roma sentiment in the area. Though the deadly violence which is becoming more common in other areas has not yet reached Slovakia, recently there have been protests by radical right-wing extremist groups against the Roma living in Slovakia. The rise of these groups poses a real threat.

The English-language newspaper in Slovakia, the Slovak Spectator, recently featured a hopeful interview focusing on the situation of the Roma in Europe. The article, entitled An apology would change everything, provides a glimpse into the history and hopefully future of the Roma in Europe.

Pray for us and all our colleagues as we minister among these hated minorities. Pray that justice will be found for the Roma and that as a people, they continue to grow into valued members of the countries which they call home.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Farewell Andy & Claudia Brockbank

It's a wonderful story and really not ours to tell... Andy Brockbank met Oti Bunaciu, Project Ruth founder, at Oxford. Later Andy would show up on Oti's doorstep, during the early days of Project Ruth, volunteering to help out for 18 months. Now, over 10 years later, with a wife and two sons, Andy is moving on. (Ask Andy or Oti to share the story - it's a great one to hear) Andy has taken a job in London, land of his birth, so he and Claudia, along with Edwin and Phillip have relocated there.

While not an official member, though we always thought of him as one, the Gypsy Team will miss Andy. During his term of service Project Ruth grew offering education to the 8th grade; moved into a new building; began skill training; opened a medical clinic; hosted many, many volunteers; and so much more. The Gypsy Smith School for Leadership Training was expanded and Andy assisted with this as well. He gave of himself tirelessly keeping the Ruth office running, the finances straight, managing the public relations, and the list goes on.

Thank you Andy for your years of service and for being the presence of Christ among the Roma of Romania. Andy and Claudia, God's blessing on you as you begin your new life. Until we meet again...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Prayer Request - Gandhi Tour

Prayer Supporters - Please be in prayer for the Stocks and the Adkins as we tour with the Gandhi Choir over an extended weekend. Here are the requests in Clista's words:

"The Gandhi choir trip begins tomorrow (Friday, August 7th) . We are going to Slovakia and NE Hungary where there are a few small Roma house churches, many Roma, and lots of anti-Roma racism. We are thankful that Ralph and Tammy Stocks are back in Hungary and will accompany us! Please pray for this trip as the choir sings in these Roma villages. Please pray for the student who will share her Christian testimony (very brave in front of her non-believing peers). Please pray for the students as they hear testimonies from Roma in the Roma churches. Please pray for Glen as he leads this trip and for me as I try to help him. We want to be the loving witnesses of what it means to be followers of Jesus in everything that we do and say."

Also pray for safe travels, good health, and that the Roma gathered in the mission churches will have their hearts touched. Pray for the logistics of the trip to work smoothly. Pray that a good time will be experienced by all and above all else God will be glorified.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Emerywood Youth in Ujleta & Pocsaj, Hungary

The Roma kids of Pocsaj and Ujleta will have many happy memories from the summer of 2009 thanks to the youth team from Emerywood Baptist Church in High Point, NC. The temperatures were sweltering but the energy levels were high. Love was shown through interactive Bible stories, lots of singing, jumping rope, football (soccer) playing, yummy snacks, colorful crafts, and in many, many more ways. The Youth incorporated the Roma kids into the Bible stories. One day the "sick man" being carried to Jesus by his friends was giggling so hard they nearly dropped him! The lepers being healed by Jesus were gasping, limping, and having a grand ole time pretending to be sick. It was fun to watch. Craft time was a hit too as the children intently made their bracelets or puppets and they eagerly showed them off. One afternoon a group of American girls set up a coloring station under the shade trees for the little ones and soon found themselves painting the fingernails of the Roma moms! During the recreation time football (soccer) was a big hit. The Roma teens were eager to challenge the American teens. Luckily Emerywood sent some of their best athletes so the games were evenly matched. It was hard at the end of the week to say good-bye. There were lots of hugs, smiles, and a few tears.

Besides the Backyard Bible Clubs they did, the Emerywood gang tasted lots of yummy (well, opinions were mixed) Hungarian food, rode public transportation like pros, sat in the town square in the evenings like Hungarians, toured Budapest, and experienced a lot of new things - so different from the US culture.

We are grateful to the youth for giving of themselves to the little ones of Ujleta and Pocsaj - for being the presence of Christ in both villages. We are grateful to their parents and Emerywood Baptist Church for sending them. Thank you. To God Be the Glory.