Thursday, November 27, 2014

Roma Christians on BBC--Reality TV Worth Watching

The BBC has produced a short film featuring Luton Roma Church for the weekly Songs of Praise program.  It is being transmitted on Sunday 30 November at 4.15 pm (5:15 PM).   

The Roma believers in Luton, England, are immigrants from Romania. Keith has worked with the pastor there to record an overview of the Biblical story in English (English Bible Stories) and in Kalderash Romani (Kalderash Bible Stories).
This episode of Songs of Praise can be viewed after it has been aired via the BBC website (Songs of Praise).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Contagious Coffeehouse Creativity

Even clothes in Pozan are creative!
Do you think creativity can be contagious? All the creative people we met in Poland seemed to stimulate my own creative juices. Some of them displayed, worked, or performed in Sweet Surrender, a Christian coffee house in Poznan. At the time, the directors of Sweet Surrender were having trouble getting weekly events scheduled. A long (long) time ago, I served as program director for a regional arts center in Illinois which included a weekly coffee house.
I never had a chance to share these ideas with Sweet Surrender, but here they are, free of charge. Who knows--maybe someone else can use them.
  1. Have set items for, say, each week/weekend of the month. The public will learn what to expect, and you will not have to rethink the schedule. You will simply have to fill in the slots.
  2. First slot on the schedule: open mike. This is a no-brainer. It doesn't cost anything and generates interest. Put this on the last weekend of the month, or every 5th Friday, or something like that. 
  3. Meet the Artist--another possible slot, maybe first weekend of every even month. This could be the opening of an exhibit + workshop by a local artist or reception for the artist. It could also be, maybe every quarter, as simple as covering a wall with blank newsprint, putting out jars of crayons or colored pencils, and inviting patrons to be the artists (could also work with paper tableclothes.
  4. Meet the Writer/Writers' night--another possible slot, maybe first weekend of every odd month. Book signing. Local writer reads + talks about the book. Book sold in shop for the rest of the month. Patrons as writers--workshop in writing haiku's, journaling, family memories, etc.; poetry reading by the public (version of open mike).
  5. Readers' theater/storytime--in this slot (perhaps once a month on an afternoon or early evening if storytime is chosen or perhaps alternating--one month Writers; one month story tellers) small drama productions; puppet theater; or story teller. 
  6. Exploring the sacred--invite representatives from different faith traditions to share an aspect of their spiritual tradition. Include every reasonable group in your area. Discussion afterwards. Increases dialogue. Can be jumping-off point for spiritual discussions. Once a quarter? Once a month?
  7. Language night--a lot of coffeehouses offer English lessons or a time for conversational English. But other language nights are also possible.  Polish, in Poland, for people who are trying to learn the local language. German or Russian or Spanish or Korean . . . for people who want to practice as well as for people who just want a chance to speak their own language.
  8. Any art or craft club--a set time where people who like to knit (or carve or crochet or scrapbook or cross-stitch . . .) can just get together, do their thing, learn from each other, etc. Maybe weekly. A church in Raleigh, N.C., has a weekly Arty Party with an artist/teacher available for advice and encouragement. Great fun!
  9. The Sounds of Poznan (or Slovakia or Missouri or . . .)--local musical talent like singer/songwriters.
Would love to hear of your own experiences--and also whether or not you think creativity is contagious.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Polish Art

We met a lot of artists in Poznan, Poland, and we brought some of that art home with us. Kasia Daszynska gave us one of her special paintings on glass. Kuba gave us a fascinating discovery book of art in Poznan (here you see Keith and his brother Ted using the book on a walking tour of the city). And one of the first people we recorded, a professional theater photographer, gave us a book of his photography. I'm afraid my own photograph of Jacka Kulma (recording the parts of in the New Testament which quote prophets from the Old Testament) does not do justice to this talented gentleman.
In the course of this recording project, we came to know other painters, actors, musicians, and artisans with many different talents. Some were "voices," some were "proof-listeners," some provided studio space for the recording. We pray they continue to enrich other's lives as much as they have already enriched ours.
Photo by Jacka Kulma--not by me!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Celebration in Sabinov

Some photos from the celebration yesterday, where people from around the world gathered to dedicate and bless the translation and publication of the New Testament into Eastern Slovak Romani.

At least 300 people were present at the celebration last night, which was held at the Apostolic Church in Sabinov, Slovakia.  There were songs of praise, prayers of dedication, sermons and many readings from the new translation.  During a time of fellowship, people from around the world hugged and shook hands, celebrating the work of many people - and a mighty God - in the creation of this translation that will serve so many Roma in this part of the world.

One Roma pastor from a nearby village summed up the feelings of those present.  With great emotion but a strong voice he said: We Roma are only a small nation.  We're not much, really just a spot on the map.  But small as we are, now we have God's Word in our own language!  I'm so thankful!

The first hard copies of the New Testament (see photo at right) were sold during the event for a small price, and these printed copies are already spreading across Eastern Slovakia.  A website URL kept popping up on slideshows, handouts and bumper stickers - links to the recorded copy, which may be even more significant than the printed copies, since many Roma in the area can't read it for themselves.

Great things are happening among the Roma in Slovakia - thanks be to God!
A group of pastors and translators join all those present in praying God's blessing on this new translation.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


To the left, you see what the New Testament in Eastern Slovak Romani looked like this past spring--separate books of the Bible from a computer print-out in school binders. If you were in Sabinov, Slovakia, today (November 8), you could celebrate the dedication of the published version in a Roma-speaking church. There are an estimated 500,000 speakers of this Romani language in Slovakia, Ukraine, and nearby areas. 
It is a celebration, too, of cooperation within the world-wide body of Christ. Every Tribe, Every Nation provided funding for the printing of 15,000 copies. Word for the World Slovakia coordinated the translation. The Slovak Bible Society has added the Romani translation to their web page at and hope to publish a bilingual Romani–Slovak New Testament in 2015. And own Keith Holmes, of the CBF Romany Team did an audio recording of this New Testament via Faith Comes by Hearing (available on their web page at, Slovak-Romani, Carpathian, in both audio and print forms).

In their recent newsletter, Word for the World Bible translators Pierre and Lisa Van Vurren write: 
At the Hlinné church we have begun listening to three chapters a week in Romani and having small group discussions. It is transforming for those Roma who cannot read. Those who can read have better comprehension and deeper understanding. Some are recognizing that their language has value. 
An audio recording serves as an additional check for a written translation. Corrections are always found in the course of an audio recording. We are grateful for this opportunity to contribute to making the New Testament available to speakers (and listeners) of Eastern Slovak Romani.

Truly, there is much to celebrate!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New Respect for CBF Colleagues

Ted, Bev, & Keith
Last year this time Keith and I spent a couple of months in Poznan, Poland. He and our daughter Ellen were working on a recording project with Faith Comes by Hearing. With great difficulty, I learned the Polish word for thank you (dziękuję). I did not learn much more Polish than that, though I would sometimes amuse myself by collecting unpronounceable-looking Polish words like wszystkich, przy, and gdyż. You would have to ask Keith's brother Ted or his sister-in-law Bev what these words mean. (They work as church planters in Warsaw.)
Poznan (Ellen, too)
I came away from this experience with a new respect for our colleagues who have learned Slavic languages. Rachel Brunclikova is fluent in both Czech and Slovak. Diane and Shane McNary work in Slovak. Jon and Tanya Parks can make their way in Slovak and are daily learning more. Former CBF Romany Team members Frank and Cindy Dawson still speak Russian.
Kudos to you all--and to all of our readers who have taken the plunge to learn another language!