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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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Saturday
Mar282015

The Faith of a Child

By Alicia Jones

A two part blog is to follow. Every Monday morning for three to five minutes during the radio’s “Things for the Journey” program we have the opportunity to share a brief message or song. The first part of this blog is an example of what was aired. Throughout the week we host a Bible Club entitled “Kit-Kat.” In the Hungarian language we made “Kit-Kat” an acronym that stands for “truths about God and Christ - basic Christian teachings.” We teach children from ages 3 to 16. Our prayer is for them to put their faith in Christ as children, building a foundation for life that is unshakable. The second part of this blog is my personal prayer for the children who attend “Kit-Kat.”

Part 1 On the school radio I shared the following:

While Jesus was on earth, He often turned the way people thought upside down. He urged his own friends to think differently. For example, one day his friends, the disciples, were arguing about who was the most important helper of Jesus in the kingdom work. They thought that the one that was most important among them was the one Jesus loved the most. Then Jesus sat down. Calling the disciples over, he said to them: “If someone wants to be first, let him be the last and the servant of all.” Jesus took a small child in his hands and placed him before the disciples and continued to explain. “If you all do not repent and become like this little child, then you will not be able to enter the kingdom of God. The one who humbles himself, like this little child is the greatest in God’s Kingdom. After that I don’t know if the disciples just forgot that quickly what Jesus taught, or what, but when the children wanted to come to Jesus the disciples wanted to send them away saying that Jesus was tired and busy! Jesus once again taught them saying, “Let the little children come to me, don’t send them away because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” After that he hugged the children and laying his hands on them blessed them and then he left.

When was the last time you looked into the starry eyes of a child? When was the last time you held a child’s hand to lead them on the road? The child trusted you and was not afraid because you were close. We need this kind of faith, like that of the little child. God wants to hold your hand and lead you on the road. Will you let Him?

Part 2 My prayer for this community:

Heavenly Father, thank you for building your kingdom here in my community in Eastern Hungary! As Jesus blessed the children who came to him, please bless the children who come to learn about the truths of God and Christ. Give these children the faith to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died on the cross for their sins. Grant them eternal life in Christ Jesus through faith by grace. Lord, I ask that you build your kingdom in this community through this generation. Raise up the children here to know and love you! Help them overcome their unbelief and grant even the teenagers child-like faith. Please use these children to lead their teachers, parents and grandparents to faith in Jesus. May Jesus be glorified in the work among the children in this community! In Jesus name I pray, amen! 

Wednesday
Feb112015

Ice Skating, much like the Christian Life

By: Alicia Jones

The great idea came from the assistant principal at the school. He gave us the address of the ice skating rink and told us we should go sometime. I love ice skating and I perked up at the idea. We wrote down the address, but as I imagined, we soon got too busy and forgot about going ice skating. Three weeks later our Roma friend from Romania was spending the week with us. On Saturday, my ministry partner suggested, “Let’s go ice skating tonight!” It would be a first for our Roma friend; giddy with excitement we waited for evening to arrive.

After a challenge finding the place, we put on our rented skates and stepped into the arena. Our Roma friend’s face was struck with fear as she looked at the crowd of young people going hard on the ice rink. She stepped out onto the ice but with both hands gripping tightly to the wall. In her eyes I saw she was certain she was not going to be able to ice skate, no matter how much helping I did. I assured her once again that I had taught quite a few friends how to ice skate.

First round, she just clung to the wall. Second time around, she allowed me to hold one of her hands, but she still used the wall to push off. Finally, I convinced her she wasn’t going to get anywhere if she didn’t let go of the wall. In a calm voice I explained how important it was for her to use her own foot to propel her body forward. I dragged her along for a round or two, but then she got it. Then she started falling. I was able to catch her when I was still doing most of the work for the two of us, but as she got the hang of it I began letting her go, but as a result I couldn’t stop the falls as easily. It was painful to watch her fall, but I knew this was the only way she would learn. Then she said, “I’m going to try it on my own now.” I was just there behind her as she went along. She fell, I helped her up. With those skates on ice, it was near impossible for her to stand herself up. Each fall made her braver. The last half hour she was confident. She went alone or with me, but she no longer needed support. I was so proud of her!

The next day we were together in the church. She stood up to share a testimony. At 17 years of age she gave her life to Christ and was baptized, now at eighteen she leads the church of 150/200 people in worship. I’m so proud of her. I’ve heard her pray aloud in church too, but this was the first time I heard her share a testimony. She started telling about how she went ice skating the day before for the very first time. I thought, “Where is she going with this?” Then she said, “The whole experience reminded me of the Christian life. We see others doing it so easy, but we think, ‘Me? How will I ever?’ Then there are people, like Alicia, who help us get the hang of it. But we fall. When I fell on the ice, I became braver. But there were times when I fell and I couldn’t get up. We need our Christian brothers to help us stand up. But it is important that we learn from our falls, and that we don’t give up.” “Wow,” I thought to myself. The whole experience really was like the Christian life. The miracle of her overcoming her fear, letting go of the wall, trusting me and then learning to ice skate on her own, is like the miracle of a person who lets go of their own desires, says yes to Jesus and is willing to allow Him to teach them to walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 reads, “I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” When we are learning to walk by the Spirit, there are those times when we allow the flesh’s desire to be fulfilled…we fall. But thanks to God for the Christian brothers and sisters who give us a hand and help us stand up. Our friend is determined to go back to the ice rink, and she wants to bring along a friend so he can try it too. If we’ve really experienced the joy of walking by the Spirit, then we are always hungry for more, and we bring along someone we care about! :) 

  

Saturday
Jan242015

NC Baptists English Bible Camps in Hungarian Public Schools

By: Meredith Brunson

Originally published on Baptists on Mission's website here

A classroom full of Hungarian middle schoolers leaned in to hear the story of Jesus’ birth as North Carolina volunteers explained it to them. For many of them, they were hearing the story for the very first time. They acted out the story with their classmates and memorized Bible verses in Hungarian and in English. All the while, the teachers in the back were meticulously taking notes; many of them were hearing the stories for the first time as well.

This scene took place in June when NC Baptist volunteers traveled to Hungary to launch one of the most exciting projects in Baptist history: An English Bible Camp held in public schools. Nowhere else in the world does an opportunity like this exist…and Baptists are making the most of it.

Reaching communities through public schools

At the heart of every community in Hungary is a public school. It is the central meeting place of people young and old. The most educated, respected members of society are employed there. The school holds each village together.

And now, thanks to a law passed by the Hungarian government in 2012, Baptists have an open door to share Christ in 49 communities through ministering to students and teachers in public schools.

The new law shifts the responsibility of each public school from the government to a non-profit organization. Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid), a partner of Baptists on Mission (NCBM), saw the opportunity and took on 49 of the poorest schools in Hungary (total of 17,000 children), known as “B49,” the “B” for Baptist. Many of the schools they operate have a high percentage of Roma children.

Sándor Szenczy, president of HBAid, is a firm believer that God can do the impossible.

“The students here do not know the Bible,” he said, “It is a great challenge and opportunity for us as Christians to reach them.”

HBAid helps the schools by providing food and materials for them, and also giving the children extra educational opportunities. Along with meeting the physical needs of the schools, HBAid, in partnership with Baptists on Mission, is providing each school with opportunities to learn about God as well.

Since HBAid’s involvement with the schools began in 2012, over 1000 people have made decisions to follow Christ.

Baptists on Mission join the effort

Teresa and Alicia Jones have been key figures in Baptists on Mission’s partnership with Hungary. Teresa serves as the Project Coordinator for the Roma Partnership, while her daughter, Alicia, is the On-site Coordinator and full-time missionary to the Roma people. Both Joneses were thrilled at the opportunities NC Baptists have to share Christ in communities through B49.

Alicia, whose passion for the Roma oozes out of her, said “I am excited to see how God will open doors into communities. This is a huge door to the villages right in front of us.”

Both Joneses knew that reaching children in a public school would look different than a typical VBS held in a church. So in order to meet the educational and spiritual needs of the children, they came up with the idea of holding English Bible camps in the schools throughout the summer.

Teresa, with the help of several team-members from Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, designed a five-day curriculum which takes students through five important truths of the Gospel, in conjunction with five American holidays. The curriculum is designed to be replicated by future NC teams in different schools throughout Hungary.

 

Bible theme

American Holiday

Day 1

Creation/God is Creator

Thanksgiving

Day 2

The Fall/God is Love

Valentine’s Day

Day 3

Jesus’ Birth/God is With Us

Christmas

Day 4

Jesus’ death and resurrection/God is Savior

Easter

Day 5

Repentance-Freedom in Christ/God is Life

4th of July

The week-long camp is an opportunity for students to learn about American culture, improve their English, and learn about God. The format is similar to a typical VBS with children rotating through different stations with their age group. (The stations are: English, American Culture, Music, Crafts, Games, and Bible story). The difference is that the setting is a classroom in a public school and the chaperones are teachers who also have little exposure to the Gospel.

Two NC teams traveled to Hungary in June and July to launch the first English Bible camps in two different schools. The first team was at a school in the most atheist region in Hungary. The region has 100,000 people, but few have ever stepped foot in the only evangelical church there. The NC team was the first evangelical presence the children in the school had ever been exposed to.

One hundred of the school’s brightest students were selected by the principal to participate in the camp. However, even the brightest students had little to no knowledge of basic stories from the Bible. Despite the lack of prior knowledge of the Bible, students and teachers were fully engaged throughout the week.

On the final day of camp, the children hosted a program for their parents in which they showed them the things they had learned throughout the week. Laughter echoed throughout the halls as children marched, proudly wearing the Uncle Sam hats they had made during craft time that day.
Each age group presented something they had learned. Some sang Christmas songs they had learned in English, others proudly recited the Bible verses they had memorized. At the end of the presentation, members of the NC team gave a Gospel presentation to the parents as well.

Cindy Simmons, a team-member from Fairview Baptist, said, “Relationships were formed. By the end of the week the children loved us, and we loved them. God did amazing things through this week!”

The second English Bible Camp was held in a village called Nagyhalász. While the first NC team planted many gospel seeds the week before, the second team watered gospel seeds that had recently been planted in the community through the work of HBAid.

According to Alicia, the 125 students in attendance were very ready to hear and believe. At the closing program in this village, Sándor Szenczy preached and gave an invitation.

“I watched in amazement as the principal and his wife, teachers of the school, workers from the cafeteria, and parents together with their children flooded to the front of the gymnasium in response,” she said, “More than 150 stood together, praying to receive Christ and afterwards began crying, dancing and celebrating their new found faith.”

With such a tremendous spiritual response from the schools, HBAid recognizes that follow-up will be essential in discipling new believers. Szenczy’s goal is to start “B49 school churches” in September. Church services will be held in the school’s gymnasium and students, teachers and their families will have a place to grow in their faith. Imagine the amazing things God can do by planting churches in public schools! Church planters are needed to help with this effort.

NC volunteers needed to continue effort in Roma communities

There are three steps in reaching Roma communities for Christ.
1. Get into the communities and ignite spiritual interest
2. Form deeper relationships in Roma and Hungarian communities
3. B49 church planting effort

NC teams can be involved in all three of these stages, but are especially key in the first step…getting into the communities. The English Bible Camps provide the perfect opportunity for establishing a presence and trust within the community. It creates an avenue for future relationships to be developed by local Christian workers and future mission teams.

Reflecting on the work God did this summer, Alicia said, “I think it’s amazing the new open doors we have this summer in these schools and I hope that this is not just a one summer thing.”

How to Get Involved with Roma Partnership

  • Pray for God’s work to be accomplished and for those on the field who are serving Him (specifically HBAid workers and Alicia Jones)
  • NC teams needed to lead English Bible Camps in multiple schools in summer 2015
  • Medical and VBS teams are still needed in parts of Romania and Hungary
  • HBAid needs teachers and church planters to work with them and be a Christian presence in the schools
  • Financial gifts can be given to: “Gypsy Kindergarten” at www.baptistsonmission.org
  • For more information contact Teresa Jones at tajones@ncbaptist.org
Wednesday
Jan072015

The Gift of a Bible

By: Alicia Jones

It was the Monday before Christmas break. The sixth grade Bible Club hour had arrived and there were 16 students there that day. We told the Christmas story and concluded with our prepared questions. After our last question, a hand went up. The young boy skeptically asked, “Is this story really true?” My ministry partner answered him, “I believe it is and that is part of why I am a Christian.” I marveled as a small rumble occurred in the room; about half the students responded under their breath or out-loud: “Yeah, me too!” “I believe it is!” etc.

A conversation broke out like never before with these kids. We explained that these stories we’ve been telling them in Bible Club are true and make up the message God wants to communicate to us. My ministry partner explained that being a Christian was about having a relationship with God. She said, “I talk to God every day; I pray. And get this…he talks back!” There was an eruption of questions from the students, “But how?” We explained that through His word God speaks to us today. Sometimes when we read we find the answer to a specific question we had, or sometimes a particular message or verse “coincidentally” reoccurs continually in our lives for a period of time as though God is almost yelling at us until we understand the message!

The students marveled that it could work this way. To me that afternoon, it was obvious these children are hungry for their own relationship with God so that they might experience this first-hand. And it was just at that moment I announced the Christmas gift we had brought to them, a Bible! The crowd erupted in cheers when I made the announcement. With pride and excitement each one held their new gift.

The following day I was in the hall when I saw a sixth grader who attends the Bible Club. I asked casually if she liked her Christmas gift from the previous day. She responded with a resounding yes and then turned her body just enough so I could see the Bible tucked under her arm. I was thrilled, but quickly became shocked as I saw how worn the edges were. I thought, “My goodness, if only all of us would use our Bibles to hear God speak as much as this young girl has in the last few hours.” These children were so proud of their new Bibles!

Wednesday
Jan072015

Every Passion for His Glory

By: Alicia Jones

I love to dance. I love to worship God through dance.  When I committed my life to full time ministry I honestly did not know what would become of my passion for dance. Throughout the last two years serving in Eastern Europe, I’ve looked for opportunities to dance with the children at summer camps, during afterschool programs and while visiting people in their homes. But I never had opportunity to dance as fully or as often as I truly desired, until this December.

In September, together with my ministry partner we started offering a Bible Club at the school. Each hour is for a certain grade and those who come, come voluntarily. We do lots of fun things together, but everything is based on the week’s Bible story. As I saw how much the students enjoyed when we danced, I decided maybe these kids could perform something for their peers. I figured the first chance would be around Christmas.

I chose a song for each grade and started choreographing the dances. The students who attend the Bible Club became increasingly excited from week to week as we prepared for the Christmas Program. Three dances were performed. The 6th graders performed a hip-hop dance to a VBS song entitled “God’s Great Love.” The 5th grade students sang and danced to the Hungarian version of “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt. The 3rd and 4th  grade students did a ribbon dance to the Hungarian version of “Through Heaven’s Eyes,” also from The Prince of the Egypt. All three groups did an outstanding job! Watch the video below of the performance. The dances begin at 23:30.

 

As December 19, the day of the Christmas Program approached, I watched as the children grew more and more excited. Each one was proud of what they could contribute to make the dance work and look beautiful; the children felt they were valuable, perhaps a first for some of these children. When the day finally arrived I marveled at the work that God had done in the lives of the 50 children who participated in the performance. To make the day complete, I even slipped on the old ballet slippers and put on my white angelic costume. When I stepped on stage to dance to “O Holy Night” sung in Hungarian by my ministry partner, the crowd of elementary school students gave a very audible gasp of surprise. My prayer is that my passion for dance would be used for His glory all throughout the coming year in a manner similar to that in December of this past year!