A Strange Company

“I was a robber, a thief, and lying so much that I even succeeded in convincing myself about my own life.” It was P.’s turn to share about himself and his ministry, and like the others, he began with his story.

“Did you notice changes in your community after the church began to grow?” I asked.

He grinned at me conspiratorially.  “Before, someone would enter the community fully dressed, but when he left, he would be without clothes.”

We were a strange mix of cultures around a table in Bucharest, Romania, talking about Roma communities, ministry, and what God might be doing—Roma, Romanians, myself, a Chinese-American, and a Chinese woman from Hong Kong all sat for hours as each took his turn to tell his story and describe his vision for his people.Bucharest I have learned that when you begin to listen to stories  among the Roma, such things cannot be rushed. The stories were varied: one pastor had been in prison as a young man, another was a long-term heroin addict who had been given two weeks to live after his weight went down to 50 kg , and one had lost his best friend in a terrible accident.  All identified distinct and dramatic experiential moments with God related to their conversion and calling to ministry.

But how did we come to be sitting around this table? The Chinese women wanted to mobilize Chinese churches to serve in Roma communities, working alongside the Roma leaders.  They were gathering information, wanting to learn as much as they could, and convinced there were some cultural similarities between Chinese immigrants and the Roma.

As a final questions, I asked the group how they understood the idea of mission, and what they hoped would happen in their communities.

There was a moment of silence, and then one, who had previously admitted he loved to talk, began to cast his vision for his people.  Twenty minutes went by, and I realized that it was getting late and some had driven quite a distance.  My friend tried to close the meeting, but one after the other insisted on sharing his own vision for his people.

“It’s not surprising when someone in the right context grows up to be a doctor; but I believe it is God’s plan to change our people as a witness to the world.”

“Many people are not married legally—I want to help my people with this.”

“God chose the Jewish people, Gypsies are the least of people, but the first will be last. When all the Gypsies are converted, God will come back.”

“How to stir up the desire for education and changing culture? We need to have practical tools to equip the people.”

“The Bible is the only book that can help the Gypsies. God changes prisoners and makes missionaries.”

Truly, a strange but delightful meeting of hearing stories, listening to different perspectives, sharing culture, and making new friends.  Who could have imagined?

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4 responses to “A Strange Company

  1. Thanks Melody for this story. It was indeed ‘such a strange mix of cultures’ and the way each one came forward and shared on how to help the Roma people sounds interesting. What a great time to make friends and be blessed as well!
    I am now on a short break til May 1st when the next term begins. Studies have been challenging but interesting at the same time. I have enjoyed learning new things and making friends too. At one time I thought about you when I was doing an assignment on worldviews, multiculturalism, diversity, etc. knowing that this is what you experience almost on a daily basis.
    Thanks again & blessings,
    Julie

  2. I found this post very interesting and will enjoy following your blog. My daughter is Roma Gypsy and we did a DNA test on her because she wanted to know more of her background and to help with some of her identity issues at that time since she is adopted. The interesting part is that there was a large percentage of her DNA in the Mongolia area of Western China and so it fascinated me that in this post, the Chinese woman felt connected to the Roma. My good friend and wife live in Oradea, Romania and house young adult orphans and teach them life skills, job skills, English, and of course, the Christian life. They have been very successful and have had several go off to college, own their own apartments, travel and be mentors to the new young adult that come into the home. They are called Romanian Orphan Ministries. The girls are housed under Beauty From Ashes and they are now running their own business which is another life skill they are learning. They specifically help orphaned young adults who have been left on the streets or come out of a sex trade situation. They have a full staff and I have seen great results from their hard work and love towards the hurt and forsaken. I am enjoying your articles and plan to follow you. Thanks again!

  3. Hi amazing to sit with people from all over who love God and desire other to know Him. Who are you? 🙂

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