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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Reflections from Summer 2014, Part 1

By Alicia Jones

Five great teams from North Carolina came to Eastern Europe this summer to serve through the partnership between Baptists on Mission and Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid). The teams served Hungarians and Roma in Ukraine, Romania and Hungary through holding clinics, VBS, outreach events, and English Bible Camps. Over the next few posts we’d like to share the stories of what we saw God doing this summer.

Romania, August 2014Three team members with village children

The week was packed, but the team just never seemed to run out of energy! That describes the short-term mission team to Romania. They did VBS in two villages and at the main church. They hosted a concert, a Jesus film showing, men and women’s events, and a community bonfire. They shared the gospel through music, testimony, and preaching in seven villages and at the main church.

The highlight for me was the showing of the Jesus film on Saturday night. We started at 9 pm to make sure the sanctuary was dark enough to see the film. I really didn’t know what to expect. This was an idea the team brought; we had never shown the Jesus film.

It was nine o’clock and I was still struggling to get the projector set up. I was full of anxiety. Storm clouds were gathering, only a few people had taken their seats. The night before the power mysteriously went out in the church building, would it tonight? The cord I thought would power the projector was the wrong one. I started to pray silently.

I soon discovered that my laptop power cord fit the projector; I let out a sigh of relief. The sound was not clear, but we jiggled the cord a few times and it became audible. We were set. People kept trickling in. The storm was fast approaching. We opened the film viewing with prayer and started the movie. It took a few starts, but we finally got it going.

About ten or fifteen minutes into the film I took note of the room. It was packed! I don’t even know when and how so many children and adults slipped in. People in all the chairs, two or three children to a chair, people sitting in the window seals, and people on the floor. It was like the crowds surrounding Jesus in the film.

Dusk was gone and the storm clouds had made it pitch black. But the story of Jesus shone all the brighter on the sheet taped to the wall. It was dead quiet in the room. I never imagined the Jesus film would capture the attention of the people so intensely! They watched until nearly 11 pm without a word. The sound went out once, but no one moved a muscle. I jumped up and started trying things. I lifted silent prayers again. God answered, the sound just started up again. The message of Jesus was heard loudly and clearly by the Roma people that night in Romania!


The beginning of the Roma Bible Institute (RBI)

The testimony of one Hungarian as she watched the RBI become a reality. RBI will hold their sixth week of intensives in September of 2014.

By: Kató Fellegi

We started our long journey. I drove. I have driven the road between Budapest and Munkacs so many times. There is a highway to Nyíregyháza and after the highway ends the road becomes a bit more interesting. It takes at least five to six hours to get to Munkacs, but the time does not always pass by the same way. Last spring, thanks to God, it passed by very well. I traveled with eight Americans. Eight pastors. Pastors of souls. They came up with a plan and we helped them make it happen.

Students at RBI during the fifth intensive, March 2014.For a long time I did not really believe that the Roma Bible Institute (RBI) could turn into a reality. It was hard to imagine that there would be enough willing students, that they would have passports, that they really would want to join the RBI, that we would have enough teachers, or even that everything would come together. It is not my mission I thought, so it is not me who has to believe in it. And in the original plan we would run the RBI in Munkacs, but God formed something else, something more. It became international so now three countries would participate, three times 10 pastors. The vision of Craig Hamlin, how I called it, became a reality last Monday. Craig is a Baptist pastor from North Carolina, who got this vision in his heart. He dreamed about it and made it happen. Thanks to God.

So that is how it happened that I spent a wonderful week amoung Ukrainian, Romanian and Eastern-Hungarian Roma pastors and deacons. On Monday, 27 Roma arrived to Seregelyes, where four American Baptist pastors and three interpreters were waiting for them. They walked through the Old Testament in the morning and after a little nap they were taught about how a pastor should behave, how his character should be, how he should divide his time between the church, his family, and God, how he ought to prepare for a sunday service, and how he builds up the church. There were many many useful materials and advice for their everyday life.Kató Fellegi translating Pastor Joel Stevens at the fifth intensive, March 2014.

Students were so enthusiastic. They had many questions, they shared many stories, they opened themselves up, they worshiped together, and also they were touched and even cried sometimes.

We went deep and up to the heights that week. God took this handful of people into his palm and moved them through valleys, flower-filled meadows, running rivers and snowcovered, cold, peaky pikes. Finally we all arrived to a place in our soul, where it was simply good to be, on a peaceful island, where the Hungarian-speaking Roma pastors from three countries were not looking at each other any more, but were shoulder to shoulder looking ahead, looking into the same direction, at the same aim, at the same one and only God.

I beleive what God started he will also finish. I believe that happenings like this encourages us to dare to dream something big, to dare to lean on God and make the very first step like the Israelites did into to the Jordan, because we know the river will split. To participate and to be a colleague of the Creator God in doing miracles is one of the biggest blessing in the world.  

This school semester at the Institue was a week long and we will have another two like it left this year. At the end of the third years students will get a diploma.

We said goodbye to the students with Jesus words: „Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19).


January 2013


Open Doors in Hungarian Schools

By: Alicia Jones

In 2012 the country of Hungary passed a new law requiring all schools to choose a non-profit organization to manage their school. Prior to this law, local governments ran the schools, but ineffectively. Since the enactment of that law, 72 schools and institutes have chosen Love۰Help۰Teach’s Hungarian partner, Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid) as their managing organization. This new relationship for the 22 kindergartens, 25 primary schools, 14 specialized schools, 9 secondary schools, 1 art institute and 1 institute of education is making a significant impact on the schools as well as entire communities.

HBAid is given financial support for their “adopted” schools by the government, but they are given the freedom to delegate these funds. HBAid is also responsible for the religious curriculum of the schools. The leader of the effort within HBAid, Szabó Csaba, with his team has developed a Bible curriculum that is available as one of the religious class options and has been a huge success in the past year. All students in Hungary are required to enroll in religious education, but generally this is denominational catechisms and has lacked true depth and life. Baptists in Hungary are hoping to change this by making learning about God and His Word exciting and meaningful to the students’ lives.

HBAid has invited Love۰Help۰Teach and Baptists on Mission to join them in this effort. The schools in Eastern Hungary are opening the door to North Carolina Baptist teams to provide one-week  English/Bible Summer Camps for their students. This summer three teams from North Carolina will be hosting English/Bible Camps in two primary schools and one kindergarten.  As kindergartens are open to regular visits year-round for Bible lessons, Love۰Help۰Teach is excited about being involved in more kindergartens. As God opens these doors pray for God to work in these communities to communicate His love and message to the people of Hungary. 


An Inexhaustible Treasure in Heaven

By: Alicia Jones

About 15 years ago in one large Roma community in Romania, through outdoor evangelism meetings and initial church planting efforts, a body of believers began to form. Over the years this body of believers was blessed in many ways and they grew.  With support from foreigners, the garbage dump at the end of their town became the site of their beautiful two-story church building/community center with its own large soccer field. The story of this congregation is full of twists, turns, heartache and victories, but the fruit of mature faith is beginning to ripen. This year they began gathering their resources to care for the poor in their community.

I have only known this community for about a year, but I have watched with delight as I see God working to focus them on things of eternal value and form them into the people He wants them to be. From what I’ve learned about the history of the church, various outsiders and their gifts have come and gone. The seed of the gospel was planted by some, watered by others, but God is giving the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-7)!

On January 4th, 2014 the church, using mostly their own resources held its first Saturday lunch for the poor in their community. They invited church members to serve in the kitchen or just come and enjoy the meal making everyone feel welcome. The first week more than a 100 came, the second week 150 and now regularly they have 200 or more. The praise team from the church provides music while everyone waits patiently for their lunch and the people in the kitchen hurry to get the food served up.  By the fourth or fifth week of the Saturday lunch those in the greatest need started showing up with empty containers so they could take home leftovers.

The local leaders’ faith is being challenged and grown through their new effort to serve God and care for their community. One leader says, if someone asked me what’s for lunch on Saturday during the week, I always tell them, call me Friday night if you want to know. We know how much money we start with for the next Saturday lunch after the Sunday service each week and it never seems like enough, but I’m always amazed that by the time Saturday morning rolls around I have in my hand just enough for the meal. There has been more than enough food at every meal they’ve served.

Just last fall this group of leaders together with the praise team decided to reinitiate making regular visits to three surrounding villages to hold church services. In the past they had been more faithful about caring for the smaller villages that are under the distribution of their town, but hardship and lack of funds keep them from going. Would you join us in praying for this Roma congregation in Romania? Pray that God would sustain their efforts to care for the poor in their community and serve the surrounding villages. Pray that He will increase the faith of the Roma leaders and provide the resources and strength for them to serve Him faithfully.

The following teaching of Jesus is difficult for any believer, but especially for Roma believer who may not have anything to eat today:  “Don’t keep striving for what you should eat and what you should drink, and don’t be anxious. For the Gentile world eagerly seeks all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:29-34, words of Jesus while teaching his disciples).

What a day it will when these Roma who faithfully served God and cared for the poor in their community are richly rewarded in heaven! The struggle to believe and obey is just as difficult for you and me as it is for our Roma brother or sister. Join in the struggle by praying, giving or visiting!


The Joy of Giving at Christmas

By: Alicia Jones

God gave his one and only son, wise men from the east gave the Christ child gifts of value, we give gifts to our children and loved ones. Giving has always been a great joy for me at Christmas time. This was a unique Christmas of giving among the Roma people. With the gifts of many North Carolina Baptists and personal friends and family, in the name of the local Roma Baptist church, we gave food bags to 170 Roma families. Preparing and delivering the bags in one day, December 23 was a huge task, but we managed with God's help!

Each bag was filled with flour, sugar, rice, pasta, oil, margarine, cocoa, frozen chicken meat, and Christmas candy. These are the ingredients for a fine traditional Christmas dinner. Many will make the Hungarian roll cakes, kalács (pronounced kalach), as this village grandmother is making. Some fill it with walnuts, found in abundance in this part of the world. Others may use poppy seeds, candied fruit pieces or make a chocolate filling from cocoa. Soup is often made from chicken broth remaining from boiling the chicken. The pasta is added to the chicken broth for a fine starter to the meal. Whatever foods were made by the families, we pray that the gifts were a blessing.

The first bags were delivered purposely to some of the poorest in the Roma communities. The first home was a very poor Hungarian family living in the Roma neighborhood. With four small children, the family was piled on a bed that took up the entire small one-room house. There was only another few feet for standing by the bed. They had a small candle lit on a side table. They offered us a seat on the bed and wanted us to stay for a visit, but we had too many bags to deliver. Another home we entered was lit by a small lamp created out of a recycled bottle, some wax and a spoon. A widow and her mentally handicapped daughter were snuggled in the bed to stay warm. One year ago I went in this home and there were only three walls and no source of heat. Now, praise the Lord, there is a small wood heater and four walls with a door. Over the course of the evening we visited many families, with various standards of living. Nevertheless, all were grateful that they were recipients a food package.

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