There are up to 15 million Roma people living in Europe today, but very few Evangelical missionaries among them. Some believe that they originated in India and over a thousand years ago migrated to Europe in numerous waves, not necessarily because they were settlers, but because they were persecuted and searching for freedom. The ordeal of the Roma over the last thousand years – enslavement, persecution and banishment – are essential parts of their day-to-day life since their arrival to Europe. They have been excluded from ordinary society throughout Europe up until the present day. Even today they are largely marginalized economically, educationally, ethnically, medically, even in their citizen’s rights to vote and run for political office. It is a life of “accumulated misery.” Most of the Roma do not even have personal identity cards or birth certificates and, hence, they are not citizens of any country. A rather small percentage of the Roma have received proper education and jobs, and they are considered to be the elite. What is normal, everyday life for the non-Roma is considered elitist when it comes to this people group.
Ministry among Roma peoples is a vital part of the ministries of TWR National Partners in the region: Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, Hungary, and also in Romania for the last several years. In some cases, our programs for Roma have helped in the founding of new local churches (Bulgaria), and in others, programs are aired freely on local FM stations (southern Serbia).
We are trying to develop various Roma ministries not only because we have a biblical mandate to spread the Good news, but also because it is a genuinely felt need by our Partner organizations that are producing these programs, and often it is connected to the needs of the local churches. Interestingly, all of the projects in various dialects and in different countries that have developed over the years have done so independently of each other. Perhaps now the time has come for a more unified approach, especially because of the EU focus on the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015.
Let us pray to the Lord of the Harvest for this beautiful and joyful nation with no passports, state, written history, unified language or world renowned culture that constantly endures all the hardships of life as today’s Samaritans. And then, one day, at the Great Banquet, where there is still plenty of room and the Master is calling also for ‘the poor and crippled and blind and lame’ (Luke 14:21), we all will be joining in the song of the Lamb.