BMI Mission to Serbia
Most of us are unfamiliar with the name 'Roma' also known as Gypsies. The response is often then, 'Oh, these people!' However, the gipsies themselves are the people who have given themselves this name. 'Roma' is the meaning of 'people' in their language. They were originally the lowest 'Pariah' in Northern India, which has been moving west for more than 1,000 years, Diaspora in different areas, and today around 1,2000 million have settled in Europe. There are novels or movies which often described them as a group of dancers, shows a portrayal of their lives across Europe. Though the people of Europe are impressed by the Roma, they will definitely say not to get close to them, beware of them stealing, abduction, etc. The impression of Roma to the world is generally negative because most of them are not integrated into the local areas, suffer discrimination and exclusion, live hard lives, low education, high unemployment, and generations are at the bottom of society.
There was an article in the Christianity today news column, an article written by a Melody Wachsmuth in Croatia, The Title is "God among the Roma" (God is among the Roma). This was an eye-opener for many. Up until the invitation to travel to Serbia last year, I was totally ignorant of the term Roma, although the name, 'Gypsies' is known to most of us. Recently, Mission Frontiers and International Journal of mission research also published two other articles of the Melody sisters describing 'Roma'. In the past 20 and 30 years, there has been attention on this community as previously there so little attention to this ethnic group. The question was asked, 'why suddenly three major magazines covering the lives and conditions of the Roma?'
So, on 9 - 12 April 2019, Steve & Velveta will be travelling out with our BMI Mission team to minister at a Bible College established in Serbia. In the evenings we will be doing a few Evangelistic concerts in cafes, etc.
Pastor Wang Wing, founder of the Grand Mission Center, through the introduction of the Melody sisters and Serbian Pastor Viktor Sabo, has visited 8 countries in Eastern Europe and also contacted the Roma Christian leaders of more than 15 European countries. Thank God they have been accepted by the Roma leader who were all too also happy to share with them, the situation and needs of the Roma Church. Together, everyone thinks that only the gospel can change the poor self-image and self-loathing of the Roma. They expect that we can encourage the church of Europe to help and train Roma preachers who do not have formal theology training. (At some stage, I will likewise introduce them to the London School of Theology where I lecture).
In the last five years, not only has the European Roma Contact network been established, the internet has also been set up and several regional symposiums have been held. A Full-time Europe Gospel Seminary has also been established. There is no doubt that God is in the middle of the Roma. You can also play a role at the beginning of what is called the Roma movement. It is truly the grace of God.
PRAYERS FOR MISSION TO SERBIA
Even though the Roma lives are still suffering and being bullied by society, there is peace and joy in their hearts. BMI count it an incredible opportunity to support the needs of the Roma community and would appreciate your help. First by praying. Here are a few prayer points from one of the leaders:
Please, God - help us to further know the Roma people, with the God's help - calling for the nation to return to God:
1. Roma is also created by God and are the objects of the Lord Jesus redemption. The Roma are with you and I - also created in the image of God. Many are born into the Roma community, not by their choice, but of God's sovereignty, because there is no one who can choose the nation they belong to, as you and I are born as British, American,
2. Roma is a kind nation, they.. The Roma are from Northern India, who have been wandering around the world for more than a thousand years. In fact, after the second world war, the European State Map was re-organised, and they could have asked for statehood, but chose not to. On the other hand, the Roma have also been slaughtered by Germany in the second world war, but today we only honour the massacre of Jews and little mention of the massacre of 500 million Roma.
3. Roma is an optimistic nation, despite being bullied by many. Many countries in Europe are eager to drive the Roma out of their countries, in fact, most of them are born in these very nations, and by law, they are nationals of the country, but they are not able to enjoy the welfare and treatment as nationals; however, they rarely fight, just.. They steal because there are no jobs for them.
4. Roma music talent is the grace that God has given them, and with this, they can entertain people. A few Roma get together, with their simple instruments and form bands, choirs. With minimal practice and little rehearsals, there is still a high level of performance, and it is a real envy of others! During a particular 'Roma Dawa seminar' there are many people who walked on stage, worked with the band and lead the congregation to sing 'poetry' and songs without any preparation. There is a real passion as they create their music.
5. Some Roma youth are also smart, but no one is willing to care about them and cultivate them. Most of the Roma are only in the fourth grade of elementary school. Because some public school teachers are not willing to have Roma in their classes, so this hurts their self-esteem and self-confidence and hesitation as in trying to enrol their children, as they do not want to go to school. Even on possibly graduating from secondary school, it is difficult to find a job because few companies are willing to hire them, leading to their inability to flow to the upper level of society.
The Roma needs the gospel, but also need us to help with developing their skills, improve life and providing food for their families. We are looking for to this particular mission, where we will be able to encourage the Roma Church, to launch long-lasting relationships with the brothers and sisters, even reaching out to other Roma communities in different countries of Eastern Europe. Please help us pray!
Due to the lack of financial resources, BMI is sponsoring this trip and need your financial support of any amount you can afford.