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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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Sunday
Feb242019

It Was Such a Joy

By: Alicia Jones

After four years of heavy investment, teaching in the school at Nagyhalász, last September we decided we must muster the effort to reach out to one family each week with a home visit. I never imagined what joy this would bring!

The ways we can love become clear when we take time to listen to the needs. A few weeks ago, the family we visited was a familiar one because many of the summer teams have gone to this home. The family has a strong faith but lacks daily necessities. The woman expressed how she missed her glasses. She told her story. After saving up to buy the cheapest frame available some years ago, the glasses had broken. They remained at the repair shop where the $35 repair fee was beyond her reach month after month. She had given up hope. But together with the other requests we lifted up their needs in prayer before we left the home that evening.

The following week, we decided to take her to reclaim the glasses. We showed up unexpectedly at the home and when I told her we were going to get her glasses, she just sadly said, but they will expect money. I said, “I know, I’ll take care of that part, you just come with me.” At the woman’s response, one would have thought I had given her a million dollars. “Are you serious?!!?” She exclaimed with a squeal. Then she glanced down at her house slippers and scurried off. We didn’t know, but the shop was only open Mondays and Wednesdays until 2 pm. It was 1:45pm on Wednesday afternoon when we walked in; God’s miracle. The woman working there searched and searched. I knew the glasses would be there somewhere. Sure enough the last pair on the shelf. While she searched, we conversed, and she just couldn’t believe that two young women would come for another person’s glasses and pay the cost. She asked us more questions and before we left, we had opportunity to share the difference between a living faith and the religiosity of many. Once back in the car on the way home, the woman proudly cleaned her glasses and ranted and raved at how wonderful it is to see again after more than two years without her glasses. What a miracle to share God’s love tangibly. It was such a joy!

Saturday
Feb092019

The Faith Without End

By: Tóth Tünde

The faith that has no end cannot put hope in a box nor give it specific borders. Allow faith to grow freely, like the wind and let it fly!

One January cold morning in Romania as the white sheet covered the view, we walked hurriedly between the poor little huts. “I love the snow!” I exclaimed. The local quietly responded, “But this is the difficult season for the poor here.” True. But I also know that not only the snow and the cold create difficulty in the lives of those he referenced. Our church during the coldest months do what they can. They put together food packages and deliver them every Saturday.

It deeply saddened me when we stepped in these homes or tent like structures where 5, 8, even 10 people lived, mostly children. The wind was blowing in because instead of a door there was just a ragged blanket hung in its place. There was little room in the home even for the few possessions of the family. The dirtiness is not just because they have little access to water, but also due to their lack of motivation for living.

I ask myself, “What am I doing?” “Why am I even here?” Tightly gripping the heavy plastic bag filled with food, I keep thinking, “This is not going to change their situation! This won’t stop the oppression, nor keep them from spending the little they have on cigarettes or alcohol.  It’s not going to help them manage their money, nor protect the one who is abused.”

So why even bother? This is our part. God is the one who changes lives, but in my hand by His Spirit can exist a faith without end or borders, believing that nothing is impossible. This is why we love, this is why we pray; to continually lift up before God cries for help and every need, waiting expectantly for change to fly in.

Wednesday
May102017

In Romania among the Roma

By: A guest writer

My name is Heather - I’m from the UK and have been working in the same school as Alicia in Hungary since September, also teaching English with HBAID.  There was a room on the outreach to Romania over Easter, so I was very glad to have been able to join Alicia and the group from North Carolina.  But it was much more than just something to do in the school holidays.  For me it was a time when the Lord rekindled in me, His heart for people who live in both poverty and exclusion.  And at the same time, He showed me how to rely on Him to be free of the fear of standing in front of a crowd of people, and trust in Him for the words.  I have never done anything like bible teaching or preaching, but on day one I realized that I could bring some stories to life from my own experiences, to convey messages from the gospel in simple, visual ways. 

Over several days we were able to go into the five or six villages that are connected to the mission, and hold a dozen services outside, or in houses or basic church buildings; building up believers and giving evangelistic messages to onlookers.  This was clearly a great help to the church leaders who struggle in their communities day after day.  Many people came to see what was going on as the musicians began to play and sing, enticing the children to join in (they love to get involved in singing!).   We prayed with some individuals.  Having done a number of outreaches over the years, it struck me how readily people of all ages gathered to see the visitors in their village, and how many people, particularly the young men, actually did listen and get involved even in prayer. 

We also visited and were so kindly received in many homes over the week, and it was clear that Alicia and Tunde have been building strong relationships and a presence in the communities throughout the years, in between team times.  And it seemed very important to me, in mission terms, that the teams that come from abroad are helping the local Roma church leaders build their own church from inside the community, and aren’t trying just to provide programs run by outsiders.  It’s a wonderful experience to worship with Roma believers and feel the strength of their music, and their desire to testify about God’s power at work in their lives week by week.  What I encountered this past week was a great opportunity for genuinely sustainable mission work, as well as truly loving and gracious people.  

Friday
Nov042016

Youth Camp August 2016

It took three or four visits to their homes to get the 25 young people’s parents to say, “Yes, my child can go to youth camp.” But the week we had together was worth the many visits we made. Most of these children ages 12 to 16 had never been away from home overnight and certainly never to a camp. But mid-week they were begging us to make the camp longer!

We had incredible games and group-building activities throughout the week. Perhaps my favorite was the soccer tournament we had one afternoon. It seems soccer runs in the blood of these youth. The Photo Scavenger Hunt was exciting as each team ran to take the best pictures and we had a good laugh that night when we watched the slideshow of the photos. The first afternoon of the camp we had an hour-long relay and the final afternoon of the week we had a water relay. One evening we imitated a Hungarian Game Show, The One-Minute Challenge. The room was silent with anticipation as each student came forward to take on their one-minute challenge pulled from the orange hat.

The final night of camp, I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the students’ performances during our talent show. Each group presented one of the day’s themes – relationship with God (faith), relationships with family (conduct), relationships with friends (speech), relationship with one’s self (love) and relationships with a boyfriend or girlfriend (purity). There were funny skits, serious skits, pantomime, and dance! All the group games and activities helped each team earn points and at the end of the week the teams received prizes based on their team’s ranking.

The evening worship services were a new concept for most of the students as these kids are not regular churchgoers. During the first worship service, I introduced our theme from 1 Timothy 4:16 of being an example in our everyday relationships. I challenged the students to live a life that is an example to others and to be open minded; listening to each guest speaker throughout the week with a desire to learn from him/her. I was proud of the youth as they gave their attention to the speakers who shared about God’s view on our relationships. We gave the students the opportunity to discuss these topics in a more personal way in small groups each morning.

The highlight of the week was the Friday evening campfire. There we heard that God loves us and extends a call to each of us, to be His child and follow His plan for our life. The students responded with openness and with many tears were shed in response to the gospel message. Approximately twenty youth stood up, deciding to start a relationship with God. Our speaker that night, along with his wife, prayed with each student as he/she came forward. The big prayer now, is for these kids to grow in their relationship with God!

Tuesday
May172016

The question of a 3rd grader

By Alicia Jones

Is there a God? He asked.

Doesn’t every human on the face of the earth ask this question at some point in their life, if not multiple times? But he is only nine years old and in the 3rd grade! If that question didn’t shock me during our Bible club this afternoon, then the answers from the other students really shook me.

We were having a lesson on humility. We had taught that God will lift up those who humble themselves before Him. I was a bit concerned that the lesson was going over the heads of these 3rd graders as we talked about our future big feast in Heaven. But when this particular feisty little boy blurted out his question, I immediately remembered my unspoken prayer on our way into the school building, “Lord, work today in the hearts of these children!”

He was doing His work!

Following the question, two hands on the front row flew up, while a third child grumbled, “there is no God.” The little girl shared that yes, there is a God because she and her family go to a church gathering every Sunday. When her mother had a brain aneurism and became deathly ill, her father prayed that God would call her home. The next day she passed away into peace. That was her testimony that there is a God. She has seen His grace.

The little boy next to her explained his conviction that there is a God and those who serve Him earn a place in Heaven and those who serve the devil a place in Hell. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. But to these testimonies, the child who asked, “Is there a God?” responded verbally, “There is no God!”

Two professed their faith in God and two professed their disbelief. Even 3rd graders are being transformed by God’s spirit and are busy making life-impacting decisions about spiritual things.

The 3rd graders with their crowns, representing the crowns God's people will receive in Heaven one day.