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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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.  


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!


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.



A Testimony of Salvation

By László PetróLászló Petró and his son Gergi

My name is László Petró. My testimony is an interesting story.

I was not a believer. Although I had been baptized as an infant, I never practiced the faith because it wasn’t possible. My parents were teachers and at that time because of communism they were not allowed to attend the church.

In 2012, when the local government gave the operation of our school over to the Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid), I asked, who in the world are the Baptists? I looked for information and I looked for people who knew something, because the word in my town was that it is a sect and that we should not give our school to them for operation. Naturally, the staff, the parents, and the students were asking will this change be good?

Even without knowing, I then said, it will be good. Since then I have blessed the Lord because we received this opportunity.

And in December 2012, Sándor Szenczy (the president of HBAid) and his wife Kati came to a special event at our school. In their presence, I felt a strange unique feeling. It always comes to mind; the love was just dripping from them. I also experienced this with other Baptists I met later.  At that point I did not anticipate that there would be a change in my life. The love and the honest with which Sándor shared his life story just struck me.

In 2012, HBAid asked if we would like to have an American team host an English Bible Camp at our school. I thought, we need to introduce these new things slowly and with discretion. That’s why our first camp was in 2014, for which I can never thank the Lord enough! It was then that I experienced the honest, desiring to do good, love-giving true personality of Baptists from North Carolina.English Bible Camp

What they did in one week, even their preparations, they always did happily and joyfully. The week’s closing program ignited a fire in my heart! For me, it was when Jarrick hugged my wife and I and we cried together that I knew this was an experience touching eternity. I received my first Bible from Alicia’s father, and since then it the most important book in my life.

After that we attended church services in Verőce, three hours from our home. There the members’ love encouraged me to confess my faith publicly. I talked with Sándor many times about it. August 31, 2014, the day of my baptism because an important date in my life. I asked for a new heart, and as I came out of the water I received a new heart from the Lord.Baptism in the Danube River

I can proudly say that I multiplied the number of Baptists by three in our community. That kind of success few denominations can brag. Oh, you ask, how many Baptists are we now? Three.

Many attack me because I openly became a Christian, but I am not afraid because I know I am not alone. God watched over me and is watching over me!

Now I know that what I have been able to do in life thus far, I can thank the Lord for it all. In high school, against the wishes of my parents, I didn’t want to be a teacher, instead a radio service man. I wasn’t a very good student, and my teacher said I would never become anybody. That summer a magazine advertisement for math majors landed in my hand. As a joke, I applied. The end of the story is that I became a math teacher. So, I may have had a different plan, but this is what the Lord wanted. I am now trying to make up for the 61 years of lost time in my spiritual life.

I know I have an assignment and my wings have been untied as the Lord is freeing me. I am flying. True I’ll be flying as the principal of our school only through the end of this school year because I plan to retire.

At my school I am trying to make faith, hope and love realities. My staff and my family are big supporters. My wife reads her Bible every morning and is planning to get baptized soon.

We have 422 students. Each one is a gift, both to the parents and to the teachers, to be raised, taught and most of all loved. Since HBAid has taken over our operation big changes have happened in the school. The staff is more relaxed and they know the Lord is paying attention to their work. He is there to help. And, if a teacher smiles at a student, the student is going to smile back. In this way, we work together.

Every week our afternoon students have a B49 school-church evangelistic service led by a local Christian singer and songwriter, Béla Pintér. I thank the Lord for this opportunity.

Alicia’s presence means a lot in our school. Her American mentality is helping us realize that we can see the good in each student even if it is small. It is changing me and the entire community.

We count it of great importance to prepare well for our yearly summer English Bible Camp hosted by Baptists from North Carolina. We want everything to go well. And we are always waiting for them with great expectation and love. I am thankful for all those who in the past have blessed our school with their presence and service. Thanks to Baptists on Mission for this opportunity!

Many say when they come visit us that when they set foot in our school they feel something unique. They ask, what could it be? We look for the reason, but it always comes back to one thing, love.


An Unforgettable Christmas

By Alicia Jones

I anticipated Christmas this year with great joy knowing that I would be spending it in Hungary and Romania. Two years ago, I spent Christmas here, but I knew this year would be different because now local friends had become family.Attendees at the first concert

The festive season began with concerts in three schools and one kindergarten. This was a dream of my ministry partner, who is a wonderful singer. She translated several songs from English that boldly proclaim the message of Christmas. I prepared a PowerPoint with pictures and words pointing the audience to Christ. For two of the school performances I was able to prepare a dance with five students from the school here in Nagyhalász with satin cloth for special effect. Students, teachers and even parents attended the four concerts. It was a joy to share the true message of Christmas in picture and in song. At the end of most of these concerts each child received a shoebox gift and carried it home with joy anticipating Christmas Eve. Amidst the concerts, the most unforgettable moment was traveling in the car with the students who performed with us. As we went to share the dance with a school other than their own, they were so excited they could hardly stand it. In many ways, I think this special opportunity was their Christmas present.

Performers with the first grade class holding their shoeboxes!On Christmas Eve morning we woke up early so we could accomplish all we had planned. First we went to visit my ministry partner’s family and enjoy some fish for lunch! We helped put up the Christmas tree; traditionally in Hungary, Christmas trees go up on Christmas Eve. Then we continued on to Romania. There we quickly purchased goods for 170 food packages for the church and surrounding communities. Then we enjoyed watching the Christmas Eve service prepared by the children of the church. They did a fabulous job reenacting the first Christmas and celebrating it with song and poem! See pictures at the end of this post or in an album here. At the end of the service we had the joy of handing every child a shoebox and every family a food package. It went so well and every face smiled as they received their small Christmas present.

We continued our Christmas Eve celebration as we delivered small gifts we had prepared for families we visit regularly and a crowd of young boys we love. There was so much delight in watching them receive a Christmas gift, but at the same time it was humbling to know that there are so many like them, who don’t normally receive anything on Christmas.

The next day we went to four villages to hold services. With the things I had in my home donated from American teams, we put together little goodie bags for the kids. In the first three villages, we gave the small gifts to eager children. In the last village we watched as the very last food package went to the very last family present. The children here received shoeboxes with joy. We headed home late Christmas night, but our hearts were so blessed.

The most memorable moment from the day was when I saw a little girl playing on the street alone. She often plays alone because no one really can tolerate her incessant chatter. I stopped the car and gave her one of the goodie bags we had prepared wishing her a Merry Christmas. She looked up and her face said it all! She was overjoyed to receive a gift this Christmas day. She nearly jumped through the window to hug my neck and said a big thank you and wished us a Merry Christmas in return.