Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Word Crosses Borders

Using the printed Word to record the Word
Last year Keith helped record the New Testament in Eastern Slovak Romani. This year we learned of the following story:

I'm in Ukraine and I found some Carpathian Gypsies who are church planters and pastors. They were wanting Scripture in their language but they had none. We were thinking about it when I found your East Slovak Romani text and audio on They loved it. They listened late into the night. They had never heard the word in their language before. They got excited about all the ways they would use the audio. . . .  I wish you could have seen it.

Note that Ukraine uses Cyrillic script; Slovakia uses the alphabet you are currently reading. Audi recordings crosses those writing and spelling borders.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Day 7 - "Giving Thanks"

Join us in giving God thanks for these answers to prayer from last year's prayer guide!

We prayed for Danka and her family that they will be encouraged to continue their work in the Roma community (McNary):
  • Danka and family have had a busy year.  A granddaughter was born in the fall, and Danka has completed training to work as a health assistant in the Roma community. 

We prayed for the prison chaplains in the Czech Republic; this is a new concept here and the funding and other support they receive is minimal (Brunclikova):
  • Give thanks that the chaplains in the Czech prison system continue to receive funding and support for their work.  Praise God for the impact they have on the lives of Roma living in the Czech prisons.  

We prayed for Jekh Drom (One Way) as they explore options for a community center near a Roma settlement in Slovakia (McNary):
  • Jekh Drom, after several disappointments, is still looking for the right building to purchase. 

We prayed for Romany Christians to mature in faith and, like Anna, disciple other Romany (Mary van Rheenen):
  • Praise God for Anna and for the Godly influence she and other mature believers have on their family, friends, and neighbors.

We prayed for Peter and the impulse toward hope he represents (McNary):
  • Peter was involved in a very serious car accident in the fall.  Praise the Lord that he was able to completely recover from the concussion he received in the accident.  

We prayed for teams from the US who would be serving in Vazec, Slovakia in the spring and summer (McNary):
  • Praise for a good year of teams in 2014 and a busy team schedule in Vazec in 2015.

We prayed for wisdom and insight for all Romany (and personnel like Wycliffe) involved in Scripture translation (Holmes):
  • Praise God for the publication of the New Testament in Eastern Slovak Romani and the distribution of an audio version of this NT. Praise God for beginning a translation project into the Romany language most widely used in Poland. Thank God for the recent publication of the entire Bible in Baltic Romani.

We prayed for the people in Lomnicka, Slovakia, and for the servants of the church who serve, often at great personal sacrifice, in order to show God's love (McNary):
  • The needs in Lomnicka continue and those who serve there continue to need our prayers.

We prayed for more openness and dialogue between different religious groups who may serve side-by-side in a community yet rarely seek ways of serving together (McNary):
  • Pray that more concrete ways of ecumenical cooperation can give testimony to the One Hope, Jesus Christ, we hold in common.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Day 6 - "Forming a New Kind of Future" (Daniel)

Mihaela Cornilescu is raising her 8 children in a tiny apartment in the poorest area of Bucharest, Romania. At night, their sleeping bodies cover nearly every square foot of the home's floor.  The building is a concrete shell, sporadically laced with drugs, alcohol, crime, and despair.  In this small cell of a room in the belly of a grafittied and littered ghetto, she struggles to raise the children and make ends meet while her husband works all day, 6 days a week.

She and her husband are working to form a better future for these eight children. They could have sent their children to the local public school. Instead, they chose to send them to the Ruth School, a free Christian school in their own neighborhood. They made this choice because people at the school care for their children almost as much as they do. In addition to receiving school supplies and a hot lunch, the school also provides medical care, clothing, counseling, tutoring . . . even chapel each Wednesday morning.

Mihaela and her husband are pleased that the children are getting more than just a formal education. The children are also excited by this learning environment. Last year, her eldest daughter did not miss a single day of school.

Mihaela cannot read or write. Her husband works at a dead-end, low-paying job. They want their children’s minds transformed and empowered to understand their world more broadly, to journey out into it more bravely, to take care of it more shrewdly, and to love it and the God who made it more excellently.  In this way, the redemption that Ruth School brings to these Roma children is a redemption offered to us all.

Prayer Requests:
  • For the Cornilescu family, that each of their children will reach their fullest potential in life, and come to know Christ as Lord and Savior.
  • For Ruth School to successfully begin a Special Education program, in order to maximize the potential for many of their struggling students, including some of the Cornilescu children.
  • For Project Ruth, that it will thrive in its ministry of educating and empowering the Romany people for the glory of God.
 Skyler and Ronella Daniel, Romania

Friday, April 10, 2015

Day 5 - "Overcoming Challenges" (Parks)

Each morning Daniel rises early so he can make the 7-kilometer trip into town.  He attends classes at a high school for Roma students in Kezmarok, Slovakia – one of only two such schools in the country.  If he has money for a ticket he rides the bus. Other times he catches a ride with a teacher or friend.  He often has to walk part or all of the way . . . but still he comes.

When you come into the classroom full of students, you’ll most likely notice Daniel because he’s one of the few who sit still and quiet.  Hunger and poor living conditions among the Roma make many of these teenagers restless and rowdy at school.  By contrast, Daniel’s shy smile and respectful nature put you at ease.  He doesn’t have the best grades, and he speaks quietly and hesitantly.  But he works hard, and his calmness and determination sometimes inspire his classmates to work harder, too.  He attends church in the settlement, and his faith is helping to shape his life.

Believe it or not, transportation is among the least of the challenges Daniel faces as he learns.  His family’s apartment is tiny, and he often doesn’t get the sleep and food that a growing teenage boy needs.  He has no real place to study, and when he struggles in school he gets little support from his community.  In Slovakia, only a handful of Roma make it past primary school.

For decades the Roma in Slovakia had only a bleak future, with most of them trapped in cycles of poverty. But slowly they are forming a new future, and students like Daniel have a big part to play in that future.  Pray for this generation of young Roma men and women like Daniel, who are poised to make a lasting difference for the Roma of Slovakia!

Thanksgiving and Prayer Requests:
  • Join us in thanking God for young students like Daniel, and for the teachers who are willing to invest time and energy into their future!
  • Join us in praying for Daniel and his classmates.  Pray also for the teachers and administrators of this and other Roma schools in Slovakia, that face constant pressure from local and national governments that seek to hinder or shut down these schools.
Jon & Tanya Parks, Slovakia

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Day 4 - "Together, We Will Try" (McNary)

T, a sixteen year old Roma boy from Slovakia, spent most of his life in a state-run orphanage.  Despite his pleas and the recommendations from counselors and teachers, T was returned to the custody of his parents.  Though he had to leave the relative comfort of the orphanage to live in the one-room, dirt-floor shanty with his family, T continues to stand out among the other Roma in his village.  He tries to dress, speak, and act differently than his peers.  T’s quiet presence and ability to connect with others makes him a favorite with the members of the short-term ministry teams who have come and served in his village.

T shared that he wanted to go to vocational school because he liked to study and wanted to get a job. The realization that he would not be able to do so because of lack of funding threatened to steal the hope from his simple plans.  That is when I knew that forming a coalition of support to ensure T’s future opportunities was required.  I went to his school so his teacher and principal knew that the promise of help was real.  They are going to do their part.  “But his parents must support this as well,” they said.  So I visited his parents at their home. 

“T’s teacher will do her part.  I will do my part.  There is an organization who will handle the finances for him.  T will have to try and be responsible to study.  And I am here to ask you to do your part and allow him to go to school.”  So many parts.  So many pieces depending upon the other in order for this plan to work.  So many people forming a coalition to lay claim to T’s hope for a brighter future through education.  Together, we will try.

Prayer Requests and Thanksgiving:
  • Pray for T as he completes his studies this spring and transfers to vocational school in the fall.
  • Give thanks for the many participants in this coalition who are forming together a solid team of support – teachers, parents, friends, and donors - for T’s education.
Shane & Dianne McNary, Slovakia and Czech Republic

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Day 3 - "Empowered to Learn the Word" (Holmes/van Rheenen)

Romany parents teach their children many things:  how to talk (frequently in their own version of Romani); how to socialize in their interwoven networks of family and friends.; how to survive in a frequently hostile social (and physical) environment; how to remember and pass on information--orally. Romany have a listening-and-talking culture rather than a writing-and-reading one.

Romany girl shows little brother how to write
Marleen Schönthaler, a talented preschool educator here in the Netherlands, realized that many Romany struggled with literacy because no one had taught them the skills needed in order to learn to read. She began to think up fun activities which anyone could do with children--or adults. Davar:  Bridging to Literacy, was begun. The name comes from the Hebrew for "word." The activities use readily-found items. They only take 10-20 minutes. They can be linked to Bible lessons or done independently. Leaders do not need special training to do the activities.

At the request of a Christian worker in Romania, Marleen has also begun to develop Bible lessons with similar activities for Romany mothers and children to do together. Romany mothers will learn how to teach their own children, in their own language. It is our dream that more and more Romany children will not only be ready to able to learn to read and write, but that learning this key skill can be done in their mother tongue, with the help and encouragement of their own parents. 

Prayer requests:
  • For more Romany to hear and embrace the Word of God;
  • For the translation and use of Davar  in Romany communities(click here to link to Davar website).
Keith Holmes & Mary van Rheenen, Resource Coordinators



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Day 2 - "Forming a Different Future" (Brunclikova)

Radek is one of the Roma boys I tutor at the Roma Education Center in Lysa nad Labem, Czech Republic. He is a good, hard-working student, a talented musician, and a member of the Roma dance group MIRIKLE.  Radek was recently accepted to the Prague Conservatoire. This is an honor for any young musician, but for Radek, a Roma, it is even more of a distinction. My prayer is that Radek will be transformed by his studies at the Conservatoire; that he will realize the potential that he has and use his gifts and successes as a testament to other Roma and non-Roma as well.
Tutoring at the Roma Center gives me both joy and heartache.  I love the smiles and laughs of the students as we help them with their studies in English, math, and the Czech Language. Most of them are eager to learn.  But I also see how many of them struggle in school, for different reasons. They come (or their parents send them) for tutoring in hopes that they will have better grades and, eventually, a better life.  In talking to the parents, I see that they understand that the key for their children to have a better life is education. However, many of them lack the skills to help their children because they themselves had difficulty in school. Hopefully, the tutoring we provide will help at least some of the children to reach their goals in life.

Prayer requests:

  • Pray for Radek as he begins his studies at the Conservatoire next year.
  • Pray for the Roma students coming each week to the Roma Education Center for tutoring. May we give them not only the knowledge they need to do better in school, but may they also see God’s love through us as we work to help them.
Rachel Brunclikova, Czech Republic

Monday, April 6, 2015

Day 1 - "It's Never Too Late..." (Stocks)

"Pastor, can you help me? I want to learn to read."  The Roma man who stood in the doorway of the church with his black hat in one hand and his Bible in the other was a regular attendee of the services.  He told his all too familiar story about having to drop out of school early to work to help support his family. His story is common among the Roma living in the Ferentari neighborhood of Bucharest.  From this encounter and additional stories of other adults who are now seeing the value of an education, the Boaz 2nd Chance program was born.  This addition to the ministries of Project Ruth has the goal of helping those adults who want to complete a grade, earn a certificate, or improve their reading skills. With a specially trained teacher these classes meet in the evenings and are filling a great need in the neighborhood.  Among the first to attend was this young Roma man eager to learn to read. 

Thanksgiving & Prayer Requests:
  • Praise God for this opportunity of education. 
  • Pray for word to spread in the neighborhood so others can learn. 
  • Ask God to continue to provide opportunities for adults to learn.

Ralph & Tammy Stocks, Romania

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2015 Prayer Guide and Week of Prayer

Each year in conjunction with International Romani* Day (April 8), the CBF Romany Team publishes a prayer guide featuring stories from our ministries, ways we see God at work, and ways you can pray with us for the work among Romany people across Europe.  Once again, we invite you to a week of prayer for the Romany people (April 6-12).

Education and learning are great challenges - and powerful agents of change - for almost all the world's people.  For the Romany people this has proven particularly true.  That's why the theme of this year's prayer guide is Forming a New Future: Romany in Education.

Romany have their own language groups and rich cultural traditions.  They are Europe's largest minority, and yet they are still marginalized and face discrimination in most European countries.  Field Personnel from Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's Romany Team work among the Romany, mobilizing resources to evangelize and disciple unreached Romany people worldwide to bring about indigenous, self-producing communities of believers.                                              

We invite you to join us in a week of prayer for the Romany people, using these reflections as a guide. These stories, supplied by CBF Field Personnel across Europe, tell of ways we've seen God changing the lives of Roma people and communities through education.  Each day provides a new story and prayer requests from a member of CBF's Romany Team.  The seventh day provides you with an opportunity to look back at the requests from last year's guide.  Our hope is that these stories will inspire and challenge you as well, and show how you can join in this important transformation through prayer and action.

Each day during the week of prayer, we'll publish the reflections here on our blog.  But you can also download a PDF version of the guide to print and use.  This guide can be used many ways.  You can use it in your devotion time alone, with your family or small group, or it could be distributed and used by an entire church family.  These are just a few of the possibilities.  We'd love to hear how you use it!  Please contact us if you have any questions or ideas about using the guide.
*Romani, Romany, and Roma are all names used to refer to this people group.

Download the PDF version of the prayer guide here.