God has not forgotten the Roma

My arrival in Osijek, Croatia on Saturday coincided with a visiting music group from a Roma church located in Serbia.  The Roma people, otherwise known as Gypsies, have long been the despised people of Europe, characterized as thieves and beggars, uneducated and impoverished.  Indeed, you often see Roma begging outside of tourist destinations or trailing a small child as they make their way through a tram car, speaking softly and pleadingly with words I do not understand.

When I was here almost three years ago, I had heard the astonishing rumor that the largest evangelical church in Serbia was Roma.   Yesterday, I asked M., the pastor’s son, about the size of his church. After conferring with his father and the other musicians, they all agreed that it numbered about 500 hundred,  including children. In this area of the world, that is a mega church.

Another stereotype regarding the Roma is their musical ability, which in this case was accurate.  They led worship on Sunday morning at the small church located here at the seminary, and their music was both evocative and jubilant.  M. has a particular gifting on the violin, and his haunting melodies soared above the other music, beckoning tantalizingly toward  an unseen place.

“God is doing amazing things among the Roma people,” he told me after the service, his face bright and eyes gleaming.  “God is healing a lot of cancer and doing many miracles. I have seen it myself.”

Indeed, M. was not speaking abstractly.  His own family’s conversion twenty-five years ago was directly related to a miraculous healing. At the time, his father was professor of music  as a result of his father’s determination to educate his sons.  He was also a part of the Fellowship of Communism* and had a strong hatred toward Christians.  When M. was four,  his older brother, T., came down with throat cancer.  After numerous treatments, his health declined and nothing proved effective.  When the doctor informed them that T. had three weeks to live, his mother grew close to losing her mind and his father contemplated suicide.

One day, some Christians came to their door and asked to pray for their son.  Desperate and beaten down, they agreed.  Shortly after, M. and his mother began attending church, and the father soon joined them.  T. began to get better, and six months later when they visited a doctor in Belgrade, he was declared free from cancer.

The father, now the pastor at the church, dedicates himself to reaching out to not only his own Roma community, but also communities  in Croatia and Serbia.

“Roma are a despised  people, but God has not forgotten the Roma people,” the pastor shared as a group of people laid their hands on the music group and prayed for them.  “Now Jesus searches for the Roma.” His voice choked up and he could barely finish.  “Please keep praying for us.  Pray for the Roma people so that they would come to know God.”

Stay tuned for more of this story as I plan to visit this church and other Roma communities to see for myself what Jesus is doing among peoples that capture his heart, for he knows what it is to be despised and rejected.

*At that time, Serbia was part of Communist Yugoslavia.

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12 responses to “God has not forgotten the Roma

  1. Marina Heaton

    Mel,
    A great way to wake up this morning. Thank you for your first posting!
    looking forward to many more.
    The adventure is here.
    xox
    Ma

  2. Beautiful. Your story about the Roma people reminds me of the despised people of the American ghetto. It is wondrous to think about: God searching the globe for the dejected, reaching out to them in ways that will speak to their hearts, knowing it His love that will save them. We truly serve a powerful and loving God.

    Praying for you, Mel–

    Jamie

  3. I will pray for the Roma people. I love it Melody. I pray God strengthens your faith as you hear and experience these stories and become part of them. It has begun….
    Kelli Joy

  4. Thanks for update Mel!! Def be praying for you & your new connections/friends your meeting.

  5. Thanks for the story, Mel. Our God is powerful and he encounters people with healing. It is such transformational and beautiful thing we have to offer one another as his people.

  6. Carole M Wachsmuth

    It’s exciting to see you’ve begun, and how interesting that your first blog is about a people you are already concerned with.
    love you and praying for you,
    mom

  7. I love the beauty that came out in this post. I agree… only there a few days and you have already been touched by a special group of people. Just as it should be. Peace to you, Mel. Love you lots!
    robin

  8. HDear Melody,
    It was great to hear from you and to know that you arrived safely! It is my hope that you’ve settled in well and are familiarizing with the new environment and culture and we are praying for you.

    The testimony of this Roma family is a wonderful thing! When we lived in Europe, I used to see many of them especially in France & Italy indeed begging, despised and being shunned. Praise the Lord that He is opening doors for them to know Him, receive Him and live normal lives.

    Our relocating to Melbourne is in progress. We’ve been in touch with shippers who will come for our personal effects on 7/25. James and Daniel will leave for Australia soon after that though they haven’t booked yet. I have booked to travel to Europe (7/28) to visit my friends in Brussels and my sister in Switzerland and be back early September to continue to Australia. In the meantime, we are looking forward to Daniel’s graduation on June 11th.

    With prayers and blessings as serve Him,
    Julie

  9. What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing, Melody!

  10. Melody — loved reading your beautiful story especially remembering our team’s prayer for the Roma at the seminary. It was a privilege and a pleasure to meet you in Osijek. Will be praying for you. . . Jane

  11. What a powerful story Mel. I can’t wait to hear about your future interaction with Roma Christians.

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