Who are the Roma people?

The Roma are a people group with no home country. They are scattered primarily throughout Europe, but also the world. Typically living in tight-knit exclusive communities, the Roma maintain a unique culture and close family ties.

To learn more about the Roma visit the Britannica Page or the Wikipedia Page.

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Alicia's Story

My name is Alicia Jones and I am a part of God's work through Love۰Help۰Teach in Eastern Europe. I moved to Ukraine in the summer of 2012 and helped start a kindergarten among the Roma of Western Ukraine. Since February of 2013 I have been living in Hungary and I currently serve in Roma communities both in Romania and Hungary. Here's a little snippet of my story.

My father is an international salesman. As a child, I could hardly keep track of where my father was because one week he would be in Mexico and the next in Argentina. The world seemed like a pretty small place. For my father the world had never felt very big, either. He grew up in Ecuador as a missionary’s kid. My mother married him, looking forward to a Christian home filled with God’s peace. As I grew up in such a home, I learned about and experienced God’s love. At a young age, I began believing in God and loving Him. The following verse soon became dear to me: “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).

How could I express to God my love for Him? The answer was simple: serve and love people. In my early teen years I committed myself to doing this. I treasured my delightful childhood, but being tenderhearted I always cried over and prayed for children I knew were suffering worldwide. I dreamed of growing up and working in an orphanage, caring for those who felt unloved. I knew God loved them and they needed to know it.

After high school, I went to Campbell University to study Birth to Kindergarten Education. A new degree at the time, I enrolled in it because I had come to believe the first five years were foundational for a child, shaping the rest of life. The last summer of college I went to Asia visiting new friends and cultures, but my parents went to Ukraine to work with the Roma.

Upon our returns to the States, I listened to the stories my parents told of how God was at work among a beautiful people called the Roma. After looking at the photos, I went to my room to pray for these dear brothers and sisters in Christ. My parents explained the cycle of poverty connected to a lack of education and a language barrier. The Roma speak Hungarian in communities where the majority speaks another language. As I prayed I asked the Lord to establish a kindergarten for the children to learn basic school skills and the local language. I sensed that one day an orphanage may also be necessary. Miraculously, the next summer I went to Ukraine with my parents, my grandfather and a team from my church.

The work is a partnership between Baptists on Mission, Hungarian Baptist Aid and Roma churches. The trip was incredible; I could sense God at work as everyone worked together. My final night  on that first trip, the pastor of the Roma church explained the need for a kindergarten and his anticipation of an orphanage, too. I listened and marveled at the vision we unknowingly shared. I kept my thoughts to myself that night, but sensed that I should return and help start a kindergarten. For six months I prayed, then, the door was opened for me to go serve in Ukraine. As I received support and encouragement, I began to draft a plan of action. I started language learning and curriculum planning.

In the summer of 2011, I went to Ukraine and Hungary in preparation for returning the following year. I learned of Hungarians and other foreigners working toward these similar goals. We cooperate and work together. In July of 2012, I moved to Ukraine and helped start a kindergarten in a local Roma church. In February of 2013, God provided me a new ministry partner, Tóth Tünde, and moved us to a new area in Romania and opened the doors to build relationships with various Roma communities in Hungary. Since then, Love۰Help۰Teach supports a kindergarten in Romania. In September 2014, once again God entrusted a new community to us in Hungary. Most of our time is spent teaching kindergarteners and school children about the God who created them and stories from the Bible. I also serve as on-site-coordinator for Baptists on Mission as they send short-term teams to hold Bible camps or medical clinics throughout Romania, Hungary and Ukraine. This is glimpse at God’s great work in Eastern Europe and I am thankful to be a part of it.