When leading members move in search of better jobs, it can be devastating for a local church. It can also be discouraging to disciple members for positions of leadership only to have to start over again when they move away. Stereotypically, Roma are always on the move. Practically and missiologically, Roma expat communities from Central and Eastern Europe are having an incredible impact on the church wherever they go.
A pastor friend lamented the fact that so many of their leaders were leaving, there were more members living outside of Slovakia than they had still in the country! Similarly, a Czech pastor struggled in his attempt to recruit potential leaders for their church, only wanting to invest in the lives of those who made a promise not to move abroad in search of a better life. A Slovak Roma pastor told of how they chose a family from the church to send to England as missionaries so they could plant a church for Roma living there.
One pastor tells how a new church plant began when a group of Slovak and Polish Roma found the church’s services online. The expat Roma who lived in Ireland reached out to the Slovak Roma church to see if there was any way they could help lead them in planting a new church. Utilizing technology, the Slovak church leaders and the leaders of the church in Ireland teleconferenced regularly for prayer, instruction, and encouragement. Once established, the Roma church in Ireland continues their relationship with their mother congregation in Slovakia even though they were never part of the local congregation.
What we call The Great Commission emphasizes the truth that “as (we) are going,” we are to make disciples. For many Roma on the move in search of better opportunities, the truth of the Commission is experienced again and again as they plant new churches across Western Europe.
In your prayers:
- Pray for churches in Slovakia and the Czech Republic as they reimagine themselves as missionary-training centers for all their members.
- Pray for new Roma church plants in countries across Western Europe – that they would also reach out to non-Roma in their new homes and not only to other Roma.
- Pray for all migrants, whether in search of jobs or fleeing wars, that God will continue to speak and guide them as they are on the move.