Friday, August 30, 2013

An Example of Forgiveness

It was a unique service at Devleskero Kher (our Roma/Slovak church) that morning. There were 50 people visiting from Norway, at least 30 from Germany, a team of five from the USA, and many Roma and Slovaks present. The two large visiting European teams had been working tirelessly in the villages in the area. The American team had just arrived the night before, and they were still fighting jet-lag from a long trip across the ocean. And the church members were exhausted from a long week of hosting such a large group. Despite the tiredness in those present, there was a lively service of worship and praise. Songs and testimonies in Slovak, Romani, English, and Norwegian added to the spirit of unity and global celebration.
The spirit of the Lord was certainly in that place. As the service progressed, each of the leaders of the churches (German and Norwegian) had been asked to say a bit. The leader of the German group got up to speak. He thanked the church for their hospitality, talked of how much he and their team had grown from their experiences in the villages, and told a few stories of their time together. He then proceeded to tell about his Grandfather, who had been one of the leaders in the Nazi party. (For those who are not aware, the Nazis killed an estimated half million Gypsies during the Holocaust.) 
With tears in his eyes this man confessed that he did not know what his grandfather had done to the Roma, but because of his grandfather’s position in the movement, he was sure that atrocities had been committed to Roma because of his grandfather. He apologized to the Roma present, on behalf of his family, and on behalf of his people, for the horrors that had been done to them. There was not a dry eye in the room as the pastor of Devleskero Kher invited some of the older Roma men and women to come to the front and officially accept this heartfelt request for forgiveness. In response, one of the Roma leaders admitted that they had demonized the German people as well, and asked for forgiveness as well. 
We were witness to a prayer of forgiveness and reconciliation between these two different groups of people. The walls of hatred which had been present for many years was beginning to diminish, if even in this one place. And all I kept thinking was, ‘if reconciliation cannot happen within the body of Christ, where will it begin?’ 
As Americans, we cannot fully understand the long-standing hatred between these two groups. We cannot fully grasp what this kind of forgiveness takes. More than likely over a half-million Gypsies were killed, most of them not documented because the Nazis didn’t think the Gypsies were even worth writing down. The hatred is strong, and the bitterness has been around for years. But, we got to witness a small portion of the wall crumbling as one man was bold enough to seek forgiveness. 
Where have you allowed bitterness and hatred to keep you from full fellowship with Christ? How can you be an ambassador of forgiveness and humility in love in the body of Christ? This kind of healing doesn’t come from the world. This is the kind of healing that can only start with God’s people. What kind of healing can only start with you?

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Article: When "special" means segregation

This editorial recently appeared in the Slovak Spectator, Slovakia's English-language newspaper.  Written by staff writer Beata Balogov√°, it addresses one way that some countries' school systems intentionally segregate the Roma... with results that can have a generational impact.

26 Aug 2013 | Beata Balogov√° | Opinion

Photo by Sandy Carter, (c) 2013 Sandy Carter Photography.
DISTRESSING stories related to Roma communities with unemployment rates in excess of 90 percent begin well before encounters at labour offices where many Roma are told that there are no jobs for unqualified applicants, or for those with qualifications, that a non-Roma candidate would be preferred anyway. These stories often start on the day children from these marginalised communities are sent to special schools where they do not actually belong, while their parents are told by those who ‘classify’ them that these classes ‘for children with special needs’ are actually much better because they will be with other kids like them.

Many of these marginalised children will never be able to get out of this trap and will continue living in settlements or ghettoes, while the non-Roma population continues to build walls to protect themselves from those they call ‘nonadjustable citizens’.

(click here to read the rest of the article...)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Words from the World - Ronella & Skyler Daniel

Ronella and Skyler Daniel, serving through Student.GO have joined our team.  They will arrive in Bucharest on September 6.  Please pray for them as they say good-bye and transition to a new place.  The Romany Team is excited for the possibilities of God's direction in the ministry of the Daniels.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Romania's Self-Styled King of the Roma Dies

An interesting article about the man declared to be the King of the Gypsies (his word) in Romania.  He stirred up controversy by marrying his 12 year old daughter to a 15 year old Roma boy but then vowed to stop this tradition of early marriage.  He also supported education as a way to fight poverty among the Roma.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Working With Romany in Moldova

For the third year in a row, a team of women from our home church in the Netherlands went to Moldova to work with local Romany Christians.

Together, they organized a day camp for girls, a women's program, and a week of informal visits marked by prayer and mutual sharing.

The Romany church spontaneously organized a Sunday afternoon cookout with fun activities for the children.

The Dutch team were able to stay in the Romany village itself which fostered fellowship, trust, and deeper, informal connections.


Answered prayer provided the highlights for their time in Moldova.