Monday, February 10, 2014

Romany at Work

While Keith is in Slovakia, recording the New Testament in Eastern Slovak Romani, he naturally wants to make the best use of his time. An audio recording like this takes 6-8 weeks, away from home, in facilities paid for by the day. I recently sent out a poorly worded prayer request about the daily recording schedule. One of our partners in Slovakia, ever sensitive to the many negative stereotypes about Romany, objected. "It makes us sound like lazy Gypsies," he said (he himself is not Romany.) He was not being fussily politically correct. Hate crimes and blatant discrimination against Romany spring from deep-seated prejudice. We need to counter rather than contribute to the mistaken notion that Romany are merely parasites of society.

"Mistaken notion" doesn't state this strongly enough. Most Romany I've met are neither lazy nor slaves to work. Ingenious and enterprising, yes. Rudi, a Sinti Romany from Germany, supports his ministry among Czech Romany just across the border with a couple of second-hand stores. Mikey is Kalderash, a Romany group who traditionally work with metal. His family still does, polishing and replating the silver first for hotels in the London area, then in Catholic churches throughout Ireland. Sergei and his wife sold shoes door-to-door in Moldovan villages that had no shops or weekly markets. They transferred those skills to selling in weekly markets in Russia, where the economy is better than in Moldova.

I appreciate our Slovakian colleague's sensitivity. Who have you recently heard "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves . . . . Speak up and judge fairly . . ."? (Proverbs 31:8-9, NIV. )

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