Thursday, April 27, 2017

Searching for More than a Pink Ribbon

How many people do you know who've had breast cancer? In recent years three close friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Scary. They went through various treatments and surgeries. Thanks to modern medicine and lots of prayer, they have all been declared cancer free.

Maricica's sister with child
Maricica had breast cancer, too. Unlike my cancer-surviving friends, Maricica happened to have been born into a Romany family in Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe. Her family did not have enough money to pay for the necessary operations. In the words of her pastor, "after some great pain she died." This 35-year-old mother left four children. Her mother now looks after them as best she can.
We're praying for someone who can do community/economic development among Romany in countries like Moldova. So that families like Maricica's can pay for necessary operations, and children like Maricica's can have a cancer survivor as a mother instead of being victims of cancer themselves.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday

Prayer:  Roma and Dom in the "holy lands."

Jerusalem--the scene of the drama of Good Friday, the triumph of Easter Sunday, the birth of the Church on Pentecost, and the first persecution of believers. Christians still live in Jerusalem. Jewish Christians, Palestinian Christians, traditional Christians, new converts, Dom Christians. Thousands, perhaps millions, of Dom and their distant Roma "cousins" live through out the Middle East. Want to learn more? Or become involved? Contact the Dom Research Center.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Living Stones . . . to build up the Kingdom

Prayer:  Romany Christians leaders.

Sergio, right, building church building
Radj, right, inspecting church building
These Romany believers are building the church in their village. The photos date from a couple of years ago when the church building was being completed. Two of these believers recently returned home to their Romany village in Moldova. They had been working abroad for several months as many Romany and as many Moldovans do and came back filled with enthusiasm. They wanted to start prayer meetings and Bible studies. Almost daily. Their pastor encourages them. This church building has been finished (see below), but the church is always under construction.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hearing (and seeing) the Word

Prayer:  That many Romani will hear the Good News of Easter in their own language.

Romany village, Moldova
The story of Jesus' death and resurrection is available on Internet in many different Romani languages. Here are a few examples.

Faith Comes By Hearing, audio New Testament,
   4 different Romani languages, including one from Chile* 

Romanian Calderash Animated retelling

Condensed version of Luke, distributed by Campus Crusade for Christ, 5 Romani languages.**
For an example on YouTube: Jesus video

God's Story, animated, Shutkah Romani (Macedonia) God's Story

Good News, illustrated, Ursari/Balkan Romani Good News

Are there more? Let us know.

*Keith Holmes recorded two of these.
**He recorded two of these, too. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Why Didn't You Tell Me Sooner?

Prayer request:  Bearing witness to Jesus Christ with Romany neighbors.

From the McNary Ministry Blog:

"Every time we bridge racial, ethnic, gender and socioeconomic divides, we become prophetic witnesses to the reality of the kingdom of God" writes Brenda Salter McNeil in Roadmap to Reconciliation.  When sharing at a church where a friend is pastor here in Slovakia, I recognized that I was in the presence of a fellowship trying to navigate their way forward as prophetic witnesses.

The church in Nesvady celebrated the baptism and union of a Roma woman into the church and were curious about what steps to take together next.  How do we integrate this woman and her family into their congregation?  What is the best way to reach out to them?  I have heard that some of them refuse to say "Amen," why is that?  These and similar questions followed the presentation on Roma history and what Scripture says about the ministry they were beginning.
It was after the presentation that I had a chance to talk with the catalyst at the root of these recent events.  He is a stern looking older gentleman who carried a cane that looked more like a weapon than an aid.  He was unsure how well I was following his Slovak even though I assured him that I was understanding everything.

He told me that after his wife passed away he began bearing witness to Jesus Christ as best he could with the Roma family next door.  Using every tool he could - from Christian videos to Scriptures and personal conversation - he began to share Christ.  Along the way, the two households began a transformative relationship.  People who lived next door to each other for decades slowly became neighbors.  And that is when, and how, his attempts at bearing witness bore fruit.

Like adding pieces to a puzzle,
when all are represented, we get the fuller picture.
If someone wrote a one-size-fits-all How To book about bearing witness to Jesus Christ with the Romani peoples, it would be an unfortunate waste of paper.  The Romani community is very diverse - even from village to village. The key to sharing Jesus with them is, in the words of a Roma pastor friend, "You must live with them."  The essence of bearing witness to Jesus Christ across any divide is when we move from seeing the other as a target of evangelistic efforts to seeing them as a friend ... someone we know by name.

Concluding his story of how wonderful it was to see his neighbor become part of the church, he held back tears.  "After she was baptized," he looked across the congregation at his neighbor and called her by name, "she asked me 'Why didn't you tell me sooner?'"  He shrugged a little and smiled.  Being a prophetic witness is hard work.  These two neighbors know it is worth it.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Community Champion--England

Keith Holmes partnered with this organization to create this Bible Stories Series in English and Romanian Calderash, a Romani language.

The organization continues to develop.

Prayer Request:  Senior Roma Community Champion for Luton Roma community, England.

As our work with the Luton Roma community continues to develop, we are pleased to invite applications for the new post of Senior Roma Community Champion. 

The successful applicant will play a leading role in carrying forward the work of Luton Roma Trust to the next phase.  This person will live and work in Luton, be fluent in English - and either Romani or Romanian, or both - and will have a big heart for all the Roma people.   

The closing date for applications will be Monday 15 May.  Interviews will be held in late May or June in Luton.  To receive full details of this new post please email me (  

Please forward this email to your networks and to anyone who might be interested in applying.  

Best wishes,

Martin  Burrell  (Team Leader and Chaplain)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Living in the Kingdom

Prayer Request:  Romany--and the rest of us--will honor our King by taking care of the creation He has placed us in.

Jon & Tanya Parks, Slovakia, write:

Recently at the Roma church we had a discussion group with some church members about what it means to live in God’s kingdom.  The lesson and the above illustration came from a lesson in CHE (Community Health Evangelism, see these posts for more information) and encourages participants to think about the parts of any kingdom – the King (top), the citizens (bottom left) and the territory (bottom right).  In the case of God’s kingdom, the King is of course God, the citizens are God’s people, and the territory is all of creation.
We learn that life in God’s kingdom is not just about worshiping God – it’s also about our care for one another and for God’s creation, and about making God’s reign a reality through living according to his desires.
We weren’t sure which direction the Spirit might lead the discussion, so we opened the floor for thoughts and questions.  It turns out that, for those present, the most challenging part of this teaching was our responsibility to care for creation.
“How many times have I walked by a messy place and just thrown my trash down with all the rest?” one person wondered aloud.  “I’ve never thought about the fact that as a Christian, it’s my job to help take care of the world around me.  I can’t control how much pollution the big factories put into the air… but I can take care of my own areas the best I can!”
What about you – have you ever thought of earth-care as a spiritual issue?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Offering more than just a cup of cold water

Prayer Request: Equal rights for Romany
Public well, Roma village, Moldova
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) released a report - Thirsting for Justice: Europe’s Roma Denied Access to Clean Water & Sanitation, highlighting the shocking disparities between Roma and non-Roma in their access to water. The report summarises research carried out by the ERRC, between 2014 – 2016, covering 93 Romani neighbourhoods and settlements in Albania, France, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Slovakia. In more than half of the places we visited (52.69%), the nearest water source was more than 150 m away. We found only 12% of Roma that had a functioning mechanical toilet, with over 75% using outdoor pit latrines. Frequently the only water source or dry toilet is shared with tens of other people at best.
In the absence of a public water supply, Roma often have no other choice but to rely on untreated and unprotected water sources like self-made wells, natural springs, and rivers.  In some cases even when public water is accessible to Roma, it is still unaffordable for many.

“In many of these countries, there are often Roma living in the exactly the same legal conditions as non Roma, yet they still do not have access to clean water. This is nothing less than direct discrimination against my people. There can be no dispute that many European states are badly failing to meet their long-established international commitments to ‘ensure freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment, and to guarantee equality and non-discrimination.’
To be forced to live without running water and toilet today in Europe is inhumane and degrading. States must adopt laws that explicitly recognise the human right to water and sanitation, and ensure that everyone enjoys equal access to water.” said Đorđe Jovanović, ERRC president. 
The full report, including our recommendations for State authorities and the European Commission is available here.

(ERRC press release condensed.)