Thursday, December 13, 2012

DVD in Time for Christmas?

Step 1: Kalderash Romany from Romania immigrate to the Luton, England, area.
Step 2: Martin Burrell heads an outreach to them.
Step 3: Pastor Martin Burrell in Luton creates Bible stories in English; then translates them into Romanian Kalderash.
Step 4: Keith records the stories along with background music by Martin's friend David Williams.
Step 5: Keith matches illustrations from the Read 'n Grow series to the stories, making both Kalderash and English narration the same length.
Step 6: Background music is included.
Step 7: Martin views and listens, suggests changes, then approves the final videos.
Step 8: Finding someone to author the DVD (i.e. make a master). This proves to be a difficult step which required significant prayer support.

Step 9: Next week, someone connected with Wycliffe Bible translators/SIL will author the DVD. He also offered to make copies and deliver them to Luton.
Step 10: Hopefully, delivering the finished DVDs to Kalderash-speaking Romany in the Luton area in time for Christmas.

However, the Bible stories can be seen right now on Youtube at:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sing With Great Joy

Silvia, a Romany believer, began working with the children in her village. Because Silvia is also a singer, she organized the children into a choir. Part of the pastor's strategy for Romany work is to focus on children, "the future." After the children's choir had practiced enough, he arranged for them to sing at a near-by non-Gypsy church. The idea was to build the children's confidence, to maintain their interest in the choir, and to break down walls of prejudice by having gadje (non-Gypsies) see Romany playing a positive role. It proved to be an all-round success. A few weeks later, the choir director at the gadje church was urging those children to sing like the Romany, "with a big heart and great joy."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Olympics, Assertive Discipline, Blinged-Out Earrings - What Do They Have in Common?

Olympics, assertive discipline, and blinged-out earrings...  What do they have in common?  All were used this past week to show the love of Christ to the students, staff, and women of Project Ruth.  The missions team from Emerywood Baptist Church, High Point, NC, led by former CBF field personnel and Gypsy Team members, Clista and Glen Atkins, planned a very ambitious week of activities while in Bucharest.  Two team members concentrated on teacher training with assertive discipline and classroom management.  They also provided little surprises each day for the staff to show appreciation for their dedication to the Ruth School.  Three other team members provided Olympic games each day for the children and sports clinics in the afternoon.  Another member with support from the rest of the team did crafts with the Naomi women and all the students.  The women and older girls were thrilled to learn the basics of jewelry making and proudly wore their blinged-out earrings for all to see.  If all this wasn't enough the team led in chapel, visited a Roma church, sang at the Romanian Baptist church, helped begin a teacher mentoring program, made lots of cookies and brownies, and provided socks for the entire school.  Wow!

Thank you Emerywood Baptist for sending your representatives and blessing Project Ruth.  The hugs, high fives, pats on the back, and smiles all conveyed the love of God this week.

How about you?  Come and be a part of what God is doing among the Roma of Europe.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Money Problems--God Answers

A young Romany man, let’s just call him Ivan, had served as treasurer of his church somewhere in Eastern Europe. He succumbed to temptation and used some of the church funds for his own purposes. The pastor told Ivan he needed to return the money or he “will have problems with God.” Ivan did end up with problems, really big problems. He borrowed several thousands of Euros from some not very nice people who wanted their money back. Their communiques on this matter included death threats. Ivan asked the church to pray for him. The pastor told Ivan he needed to get right with God first and return the money he’d taken from the church. Ivan did so. The church prayed for him. Within a week (!), Ivan was able to resolve all his financial problems. As a result, not only did the death threats cease but, more importantly, Ivan decided that from now on, he would give 10% of his earnings to the church. “This is a fresh experience for our church,” the pastor said. Tithing is a foreign concept for most Christians, Romany or otherwise, in the former Soviet Bloc. Everyone has been very encouraged to see God at work through Ivan’s repentance, this miraculous answer to prayer, and the positive example Ivan now gives to all who hear of it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Painted Hallways

Last week we made a visit to the Roma school where we will work as English tutors here in Kosice.  About a month before, we had spent a week at this same school with a mission team from Missouri, cleaning and painting some classrooms in preparation for the new school year.  One of our goals during the visit was to get some pictures of those classrooms now being used.

As we walked down the hallway, I remarked to myself that things seemed a bit brighter and cleaner than before - I assumed they had done basic cleaning before the school year started.  But once we reached the classrooms and spoke with the school's headmistress and custodian, we realized that after the Missouri team left the school staff and some students worked to repaint all of the hallways and a few more classrooms!

During the week of work with the Missouri team I kept thinking of all the work still to be done - it would take years of teams like this to do the whole school, and by then the first rooms would need repainting again!

And here, unexpectedly, a lot of that work had already been done.

Then I remembered something that headmistress Anna Koptova said.  As she thanked the team profusely for the work that had been done, she said that the team's work had given them a catalyst - she said the staff would finish using the paint that had been bought, and continue the work that had been started.

"You started something here that would not have been started otherwise," she said through a translator.

Reflecting on this with others, I realized this is a perfect statement of the kind of missions we are called to do.  If we just came and did all the work, we would certainly feel better about ourselves... but we'd still leave these people powerless.

Rather, our hope and goal is to do work - no matter how insignificant it might seem - that empowers others to continue it.  This is, after all, what Jesus did - he came and showed us how to do the job, then left it to us... and in the process, he gave us hope, along with authority and power to be his own presence in this world.

What are you doing today that can spread after you're gone?  How are we empowering others with our words and actions?  May God give us the grace to see beyond our own need to feel important, so we can give others value and hope!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

2nd of August 2012– Commemoration of the Roma Genocide

On the 2nd of August 1944, 2897 elderly people, women and children, the remaining Sinti and Roma of the so-called "gypsy camp" (“Zigeunerlager”) at Auschwitz-Birkenau, were murdered in the gas chambers. Knowledge and official recognition of the extermination of Roma during the Second World War is still very limited. Tens of thousands of Roma were murdered in the occupied Eastern territories and thousands of them killed in extermination camps. Like every year about around 60 young Roma and non-Roma will gather in Auschwitz on the 2nd of August to remember the fate of thousands of Roma during Second World War and raise awareness of danger of extremism and present issues of antigypsyism and discrimination. Taken from a press release by ternYpe - International Roma Youth

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Baptism at Devleskero Kher

   Any day when there is a baptism at church, it’s a day to celebrate.  1 July in Kosice, Devleskero Kher (DK) or God’s House in English, a majority Roma congregation held baptism services.  Representing different communities where DK house churches meet, the people who came forward for baptism were each prepared to share their testimony and publicly profess Jesus as Lord. 
   I (Shane) was honored to be asked to preach at this service and to share in the celebration of Baptism and observance of the Lord’s Supper.  Since this was the final sermon I will preach before heading back to the United States for furlough, it was very meaningful. 
   As I said, a baptism is something to celebrate.  On 1 July, we really celebrated when fourteen people were baptized (Stefan and Miro are also in the photo – they are church leaders)!  Praise the Lord that the miracle of salvation and new life in Christ is still possible because of God’s grace. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Waiting to Hear

Over a year after beginning to record, the recording of the Sinti New Testament has been completed. Keith Holmes has folded up the portable recording studio (pvc pipe, duct tape, sleeping bags and comforters). In addition to the two Wycliffe Bible translators, a team of four Sinti Christian leaders have listened to every second of the recordings. Corrections have been recorded and approved. The files have been sent off to Faith Comes by Hearing. They will add the sound effects and make the finished recording available. Then Sinti around the world will be able to hear the Word of God via CD, MP3 player, downloads from the Internet, or even a smartphone app. Do you want to hear the Word of God in your language? Go to Free versions of the New Testament in two other Romani languages are already available.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Keep doing what you’re doing

   In May we visited with Mary, director of the community center where the Detva fellowship meets for worship and Bible study.  Mary is Roma. She’s been active in her community for years.  Her bubbly personality and joyous smile are contagious.  The purpose of the meeting was to see how we could work together to benefit the Detva community.  Mary was honest with her skepticism about having a group of Baptists, which she called "some sort of sect," meeting in her building.  
  She talked about her hesitation of allowing religious groups to use her facilities because over the years she’s seen more than one group come and go, creating chaos in their wake.  She continued, "but what changed my mind about allowing you to be here is Lenka.  I have worked with her for years.  She has changed so much since you have started your work.  She used to be so angry - abnormal - screaming at her children all the time.  … She was always upset.  But now, I can see a difference in her life, so keep doing what you are doing."  
  •    Praise God for the love of Christ, which is able to redeem and transform persons.  
  •    Praise God for the testimony of authentic, effective ministry which can even transform communities.  
  •    Pray for the believers in Detva as they continue to grow.  
  •    A woman from the group will give birth in July and is worried about the pregnancy – pray that God will give her peace and for a healthy baby.  
  •    Praise God for the gift to purchase Bibles for the Detva fellowship!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Roma of Central Europe “feel fear”

Can Roma (“gypsies”) from “liberal, democratic, EU countries” really be refugees, fleeing persecution? If I were a Roma person living in Central Europe I know I would not feel safe. Last year, while we were filming the documentary Never Come Back, Malcolm Hamilton and I visited Roma enclaves in the Czech Republic and Hungary. A first glance, it seemed to us that those communities were not that different from poor and underserviced First Nations communities in Canada. But make no mistake about it: The challenge the Central European Roma face is not merely one of poverty, fuelled by well-documented discrimination in housing to employment and education. The far bigger challenge is the constant threat of intimidation and violence from a growing crew of aggressive neo-Nazi and skinheads.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

One Girl With a Big Heart + Silly Bandz = Lots of Smiles

Sarah Ramsey had an idea. Silly Bandz (little rubber band size bracelets in many shapes) were fading as a fad. She and her friends had lots and lots because they were fun to trade. What to do when a fashion statement no longer speaks? Sarah decided to collect as many as she could and send them to other children who could appreciate the silly fun of the bands. She was very successful in soliciting her school and church friends. Now, what to do with the several thousand she collected?

Sarah's church, College Park Baptist in Greensboro, NC, is our sending church. And more importantly they have been long time supporters of the Ruth School where we now minister. An email arrived from Sarah's mom, "Would the students at the Ruth School like some Silly Bandz?" With a little help from couriers coming our way from CBF MO we soon had more Silly Bandz than we could count. And Sarah, being so thoughtful, had categorized the Bandz according to their shapes, making it easier to figure out what they were. (I confess I am not very knowledgeable about Silly Bandz.) Now how could we best distribute them?

This past week we had a team from Bonsack Baptist Church in Roanoke, VA doing Club for our students. One day the story was about Joseph and his coat of many colors. Suddenly it all made sense! We couldn't give each child a coat but we could give them multiple bright colored bracelets to wear as a reminder to ask God for help during those difficult times. Each child got 10 and soon they were trading back and forth, grinning from ear to ear. They loved their bracelets!

This is a great example of people working together and God using several groups to bring about a wonderful thing. One girl had the idea to collect bracelets and carried through with it, many contributed to the stock, three men from Missouri carried them across the ocean, and a team of youth distributed them reminding the Ruth Students of God's love for them. Thank you Sarah Ramsey for being the caring young lady you are. Thank you God for working in our lives to bring about such a happy moment.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 7: My Disciples Have Love for One Another

Join us in praising God for the following ways He is at work with the Romany

A young man who graduated from the Ruth School four years earlier returned to school, successfully completed high school, and received a scholarship to Polytechnic Engineering University in October 2011.

A small group of believers in Detva, Slovakia, were touched by the ministry of Romany believers from Cinobana. The group in Detva asked to have regular meetings, modeled after the one in Cinobana. The first meeting took place this past January 25. Praise the Lord for this next phase of the partnership where a successful model of ministry is going to be reproduced in another community.

Women in the Romany village of Vulcanesti, Moldova, have begun making and selling handicrafts.

The Ruth School in Bucharest, Romania, has a new principal, Mrs. Holban. Weekly chapel services started this year for children and staff.

The last two sessions of the Gypsy Smith pastors’ training school have been filled to capacity. More Romany church leaders want to attend the sessions than can be accommodated.

Jon and Tanya Parks have been commissioned to join CBF’s Romany Team. They will be teaching English at a Romany elementary school in Slovakia.

Even though Sinti Romany traditionally oppose having their language written down, Sinti leaders in Germany are not only becoming convinced of the need for God's word in their own language, they are also spreading the printed New Testament as language-learning material among their own people.

An outreach to Romanian Romany immigrants in England is growing. The local pastor is partnering to produce appropriate media materials in this language.

Yet another Student.Go team touched the lives of many Romany children during their ministry this summer.

Various team members faced health issues this past year . . . and can rejoice in on-going healing.

A Romany leader in the Czech Republic shows Christ’s love to others by running a Roma Education Center. A side benefit: increased understanding between Romany and Czech in his home community.

A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples,if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 6: Poverty/Transformational Ministries

The first time Keith Holmes visited Romany Christians in Moldova, they asked him if he could help them support their families in a way that honored Christ. After several false starts, three believers received micro-economic development loans. Three years later, none of those businesses still existed.

Believers still dreamed of being positive examples to their non-Christian neighbors. Keith’s wife Mary arranged for micro-economic development loans for two other believers to expand businesses they were already involved with. Due to the economic crisis, one had to leave the country to repay this loan. The other earned enough to support his family, but not enough to buy their own home. He chose to earn more money faster in a way that resulted in his leaving the church. Another training session was organized. Everyone interested in the training had left the country to work abroad.

Over a decade after that first visit, even with no visable success, loving our Romany brothers and sisters means continuing to hope with them and work with them.
Together, we have faith that more is being transformed than meets the eye.

Prayer requests:
-At least three Romany will actually attend the next training session;
-Long-term help to develop employment opportunities in Moldova;
-That each Christian, wherever we live, will use our daily economic choices to show our love for one another—shopping, working, employing, planning, giving.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 5: Education/Training Ministries

The Roma people across Europe face many challenges today–they are pushed to the edges of towns, treated unequally, and many people simply do not understand them. But not all the problems come from other Europeans. The fact is that some of the Roma have lived up to all those negative stereotypes they are known for today. They are mistreated, so they mistreat others … and the cycle continues.

This kind of cycle can be disrupted through education–among Roma and any other marginalized people. Many Roma children never make it to school, or stay for just a few years. The literacy rate among Roma is far below the average for most other European peoples. As a result, few have learned to improve themselves, to resist the mistreatment cycle, or to use their resources wisely. Imagine what could happen when even a small generation of Roma children can break this cycle, setting a powerful example for their people! Make no mistake–education itself is not the answer. But God’s love, along with the patience and compassion of others, can make a huge difference.

Prayer requests:
-For schools that teach and train Roma students – for persistence and for necessary resources
-For parents to have open hearts to allow their children to stay in school.
-For educated Roma leaders to set examples for their people, living lives that will soften the hearts of those who hate and fear them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 4: Justice and Peace Making

Discrimination against the Roma has taken many forms throughout history. One of the most shocking is the forced sterilization of women. In 2004, the European Roma Rights Centre expressed suspicion that Romany women underwent forced sterilization in Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic between the years of 1971 and 1991.

It is estimated that as many as 1000 women were forced or coerced into signing documents which authorized medical workers to terminate their fertility. Under a decree valid until 1991, 10,000 crowns could be paid out if a woman underwent such an operation.

In 2009 the Czech government apologized for the sterilizations and recently the government’s Council for Human Rights has recommended compensation be paid to these women. Although these steps toward justice are welcome, there are many more that need to be taken.

Prayer requests:
-Pray for the Roma women who are seeking compensation. May they find not only justice, but also peace in the process.
-Pray for those who seek justice for the Roma.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 3: Healthcare Ministries

In May 2011, Dorothy Cluff, short term volunteer from Orange Baptist Church, Orange, VA, shared with Roma women girls how unique and special they are. Using her experience as a nursing educator, Dorothy presented programs on women’s health and pregnancy to over 300 women in north central Slovakia. Taking the time to answer individual questions, hold a hand or say a prayer allowed her to show God’s love to this despised people. After the success of this first program, we were asked what else we could share and when we could come again.
The week of 30 April – 4 May 2012 will be the next session focusing on chronic health issues like hypertension and diabetes. Dianne McNary, CBF field personnel, who is also a nurse will be the presenter.

Prayer requests:
-Preparations for upcoming session 30 April- 4 May in 8 villages in north-central Slovakia.
-Volunteers to share their love and expertise.
-Opportunities to share God’s love with individuals during this time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 2: Church Starts and Faith Sharing

Sergio, an 18-year-old Roma, lay in the hospital ward thinking of death. He was admitted with severe burns following an accident at home. As a week passed two of his ward-mates succumbed to death with burn injuries. Sergio was sure he would follow the same path. Yet he had been to church a couple of times and knew about God’s love for him. In complete humility he asked God to forgive him in his final days. God forgave him and healed him!
Sergio shared this testimony with a hushed audience of middle-school Roma at the Ruth School in Bucharest. Upon his release from the hospital Sergio joined the local church and professed his faith and invited his father to join him. Nowadays Sergio leads the youth group at church and is attending the Gypsy Smith School for ministry training. Sergio serves by sharing the love of God he has felt and received in his heart.

Prayer requests:
--Pray for Sergio as his calling to church leadership develops
-Pray for students at the Ruth School to accept Christ as their Savior from hearing testimonies of other Roma testifying to the love of God
-Pray that graduates of the Ruth School who re-enter Romanian public education will experience success and have enough self-esteem to overcome discrimination from fellow students.
-Pray that teachers at the Ruth School will instill in their Roma students a strong sense of God’s love for them and exhibit good cross-cultural skills in teaching them.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Disciples Have Love for One Another

A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35

A lot of people don’t love Gypsies. Even in the supposedly tolerant Netherlands a prominent politician is attacking “Romanian & Bulgarian immigrants,” i.e. Romany. But Christians aren’t supposed to be like “a lot of people.” We’re supposed to be like Christ and love each other without first weighing costs vs. potential benefits.

But face it, there aren’t a lot of obvious benefits to loving one another when the other is Gypsy. As economic conditions worsen, so does the position of minorities like the Romany. Do you and I dare love people targeted by legally elected Neo-Nazis? If we do, what does that love look like? Firstly, that love looks communal. We love one another. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Romany Team work within communities of missional practice to share Christ’s love with Romany. This week of prayer will highlight some of those missional communities to explore ways we can “have love for one another.”

Prayer requests:
--Teach us to receive as well as give love, Romany as well as non-Romany;
--Show us how to we need to love in the face of rising hate, and give us the courage to act out that love;
--Thank You for giving us the living example and the on-going power to love.

Note: Romany, Romani, and Roma are all common terms for the same group.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ministry of Education

During a recent visit to the Roma school in Kosice, Director Anna Koptova gifted us with the first copy of the new Slovak-Romani Dictionary which she co-authored.  This dialect of Romani is spoken in north-central Slovakia and was codified by the Slovak government in 2008.  What an honor it is to support the important work of educating young minds.  Impacting the next generation by being the presence of Christian is the responsibility and honor for those called to serve in educational ministries.

If you are interested in educating young minds, there are opportunities for you to serve alongside of CBF Global Field Personnel around the world.  To find your place of service, check out the opportunities for short-term ministry in Education on the CBF website by following this link:  Education

- Pray for Anna Koptova as she leads the Roma Gymnazium in Kosice.
- Pray for the Ziga family - two children are to graduate this year from the Gymnazium but they are having problems getting citizenship papers from Slovakia (they have joint citizenship in the Czech Republic) and this can keep them from graduating.
- Pray for Tanya and Jon Parks as they prepare to relocate to Kosice this summer to begin their ministry.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

International Roma Day

Posted on the Roma Virtual Network by Romano Liloro:

8th of April: A Call for Unity!   

Roma around the world celebrate this day in tribute of the first World Roma Congress held in Orphington, near London in 1971.      

Since 1971, decisions of the World Roma Congress largely shaped our struggle for dignity. Ever since, a moral high ground enshrined in those decisions elevates our determination to the cause. They present a transnational political code for future generations of the Roma people.

Since 1971, we are resolved to be called Roma. We stand up beneath the green and blue flag embellished with the red, sixteen-spoked chakra wheel. We sing a common anthem that echoes our history of determination to peace and unity. We speak Romanes, the language whose endurance is a living source of connection with our brothers and sisters all around the world. We are citizens. We are proud to be a Roma Nation. We commit to live together with other people and Nations in peace and mutual respect.

With these words in our hearts and minds, Roma world-wide could celebrate International Roma Day together in unity under the motto: United in Peace, Prosperity and Solidarity!

On 8th of April 2012, at 12:00 noon all the Roma around the world can unite through the flow of the rivers, seas and oceans. Let us gather at noon to cast flowers into our nearest river, sea, ocean. Let the spirit of the International Roma Day unite us!

A large group of Roma activists in Budapest will gather and cast flowers into the Danube. We call on all Roma to organize celebrations, cast flowers and share this information with others in order to initiate the unity of Roma in the world.

Organizing Committee, Budapest 8th of April

Friday, March 23, 2012

Our three graduates

The Roma church leaders gathered in Bucharest at the Ruth School this week for their quarterly classes. They readily admitted it was hard to concentrate on Philippians and Missions & The New Testament with the beautiful spring weather.

Our March class

The leaders shared openly during their worship service on Wednesday night and again on Thursday night for our graduation celebration. For three men this marked their eighth course so they were given certificates and Bibles.

We have a break in classes during the late spring, summer, and early fall months because so many of our leaders are able to get seasonal work. We will meet again in October.

Thank you to all who have supported the Gypsy Smith School through prayer and support. It is making a difference in the lives of the Roma leaders and their congregations.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


This season of Lent I have been on the lookout for the Kingdom of God. Jesus' main message was that this kingdom, this reign of the Most High, was "at hand." He showed us what that kindgom would look like. This new order of things has started to break in here on earth. We catch glimpses of it, like the one in this photo. Two women share smiles on a summer day. They happen to be in a Romany village in Moldova. One is the oldest sister in the local Baptist church. Her house, her road, her education, her income would be considered substandard by many. The other woman, a professional with several degrees, lives in a propserous town in the Netherlands, but she grew up as a refugee in post-W.W. II Germany, first under communism, then as an escapee from Eastern Germany. What brings these two very different women together? What does either of them have to smile about? They are both sisters in the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Young Romany Man's Response to "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding"

Dear Supporters, 
While in the USA last year and channel surfing I happened upon a TLC show called "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding".  It is an import from Great Britain.  I was appalled at what I saw and knew this was not a representation of the Romany I know.  As Ralph and I met with friends and partners we were asked again and again about the show.  Each time I would explain the Romany we call friends are in no way like any part of the show.  I asked people to please NOT view it and to write to TLC asking them to take it off. 

I am sharing with you a letter written by a young Romany man who openly disputes the depiction of Romany on the show.  Please join me in boycotting the show and writing TLC requesting it be taken off the air.   Let's take a stand for the Romany!

Thank you,
Tammy Stocks
CBF Field Personnel
Ministry among the Romany
Romania and Hungary

"Dear Channel 4, I am writing to you with the hope that you will stop ruining my life. While your obsession with my ethnicity is flattering, it has become somewhat apparent to me that you might have gotten the wrong end of the stick. This is sort of awkward for me, because I don’t want to be the one to break it to you, but your documentary, ’Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’, is unfortunately a work of fiction. There is no need to be embarrassed, it can happen to the best of us, and thus I hope my letter will help you establish the facts, after all I’m sure you are passionate about fighting discrimination against ethnic minorities. Don’t be modest now, we know you are…right?

It surprised me to discover that 99% of Britain’s Gypsy and Traveller population are Irish. Correct me if I’m wrong, as I am sure you have done lots and lots of research on this topic, but just 10% of the Gypsy and Traveller population are actually Irish Travellers. The majority, like myself, are in fact Romany, yet your ‘documentary’ seems to ignore our existence ..."- Romany person in the Open Letter of protest to Channel 4.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prayer, Planning, and Play in Portugal

After what many have claimed to be the worst winter in eastern Europe in 30 years, the Romany team members gladly traveled from their respective locations to warm, sunny Lisbon, Portugal.  One of the advantages of living in Europe is the ability to utilize low-cost, budget airlines and to travel during the off-season making such a trip economical and renewing all at the same time.

We spent three days planning strategy, sharing ideas, fellowshipping, and praying for one another.  Any time this team is together there is lots of laughter and a few tears. We were joined by Becky and Jim Smith, our supervisors, from Atlanta.  We were also pleased that our newest team members, Jon and Tanya Parks, who remain in the USA raising support for their transition to Slovakia, were also able to join us for an afternoon session through the miracle of technology.

We were grateful for the time to renew physically, emotionally, and spiritually surrounded by the trust and friendship of team members and the beauty of Portugal.  Thank you Lord for this blessing!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Long Wait in Detva, Slovakia

Tomas Kohut, Lucenec Pastor
    At last summer’s Roma Family camp were several families from the south-central town of Detva.  Situated about thirty-minutes west of Lucenec, the small group of believers in Detva has been touched by the ministry of the believers from Cinobana.
   The group in Detva asked to have regular meetings, modeled after the one in Cinobana.  As you know, since 2005 we have partnered with the Lucenec Baptist Church and INNetwork in Cinobana.  Praise the Lord for this next phase of the partnership where a successful model of ministry is going to be reproduced in another community.  The first meeting of the Detva fellowship group took place on 25 January.  I (Shane) was honored to be asked to come and share with the group during their first meeting.  
   One sister from Detva shared about what this fellowship group meant for her faith.  “When we were at the Family Camp last summer, we talked about doing this.  You all (Cinobana and Lucenec believers) promised six months ago that you would come.  I don’t know if my faith could hold on another six months.  This is an answer to prayer.” 
   It’s exciting to see God’s hand moving among the Roma in south-central Slovakia.  Pray for this partnership, for the Detva believers and their witness.  Pray that we will have wisdom in knowing how to handle the unique situation in Detva as we follow the model established with our partners in Cinobana. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Fruits in Translation

Keith is off to Germany again to work on recording the last bits of the New Testament in the Sinti Romani language. Ah, but there is no single standard for the Sinti Romani. Imagine there were no standard English of any sort. You had a text which had been translated into English in rural Texas. However, most of the people who were willing to help you record it came from Australia. A few others were Boston aristocrats, with one or two stray Canadians thrown in. If all these people were in a room together, they could carry on a perfectly lovely conversation. But they are not. They are in separate locations, trying to read English written down as it is spoken in rural Texas.
This leads to a lot of interruptions in the recording process.
"You could say it that way," the reader will say, "but really it should be . . .." Or, "I've never even heard that word before." Or, "I'm not saying that! That's incredibly rude (in my dialect)--what's it doing in a Bible text!?!"
The Spirit must be very active in every translation and recording project or they will never bear any fruit. Without love, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control, they could not even be completed.
(Oh, yeah, sometimes the heat goes out, too.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gypsy Smith School - January 2012

What a way to start the new year! 25 Roma leaders from across Romania came to Bucharest for a week of training. Since the Ruth School students were still on winter break, it was a quiet week for studying, contemplation, and accordion playing!

Our professors for the week were Dr Bruce Gentry and Dr Josh Stowe from Missouri. They were accompanied by Harold Phillips, Coordinator for CBF MO.

The highlight of the week was the Tuesday night worship service led by the GSS students and the Thursday night graduation recognition.

These men are learning what it is to be a leader and then taking that information back to their ministry setting to put it to practical use. Please pray for God's blessing on their lives.

And... Thank you CBF MO!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day  
   11 January was National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States.  The global statistics are staggering with Sex or Labor Trafficking impacting the lives of 600,000 to 800,000 children, women and men who were taken across international borders into forced servitude.
   I met Julius on 11 January.  He is the face of one of those who were trafficked for labor.  Desperately needing a job to provide for his wife and four children, he accepted work which required him to travel from Slovakia to England. 
   “They were nice at first,” he stated before sharing how his passport and identification papers were taken.  The pay they promised, a generous $50 a day, stopped after the second week.  After three months abroad, doing work for which he was never paid, he was able to get back home.  He never sent any money home and returned without any money in his pocket. 
   We were put in contact with Julius because of a house fire which destroyed all their belongings.  Dianne was able to collect a load of used clothes in just a matter of hours after making contact with parents from the school where she volunteers.  We are thankful that we were able to assist this family and share with them the message that God loves them. Julius’s story of being trafficked is a reminder that not every tragedy is accidental – like the fire.  Human Trafficking is a man-made evil which destroys lives.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

A new year is here!  First, we look back on 2011 and see so many wonderful things that God did among the Roma.  Just take a look through last year's blog entries.  Thank you to all who partnered with us by praying, serving, and giving. 

Then we look forward to 2012.  Join us in praying for wisdom as this new year unfolds.

Happy New Year!