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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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Thursday
Jan072016

You Know

November 10, 2015

By Alicia Jones

You knew what kind of life I would live.

You knew where You were leading me.

You knew who I would meet and how our relationships would pan out.

You knew where I would stay and where I would just pass through.

 

You knew it would be difficult.

You knew I would struggle.

You knew I would enjoy a variety of things along the way.

You knew who needed a friendship with me and whose friendship I would need.

 

You knew which doors would open.

You knew which ones would close.

You knew when I would be lazy and when I would be inspired.

You knew every twist, turn and backing up.

 

The best news is, You know.

Tuesday
Sep082015

Students as Lights in their Community

By: Alicia Jones

Before the summer began, the leadership of the church came to me with two dreams for the summer. One of their visions was to hold summer school at the church in order to help the children of the church who failed in one or more subjects during the 2014-2015 school year. They would take care of finding two suitable teachers, one for grades 1-4 and one for grades 5-7. Their goal: To prepare the children for retesting in September. The students could change their status from failed to pass if they performed well enough on the retests.

The leadership explained their dream and hope with such passion. They recognize that the Roma children of this community in general are not succeeding in school and are dropping out at incredibly high rates (dropout rate before 8th grade is 75%, dropout rate before 12th grade 99%). They want the children of their church to be setting an example for the community; showing the difference it makes when a family follows Jesus. They want their children to succeed in school and complete not only the 8th grade, but even the 12th grade. The problem they saw is that there were 15 students within the church family who would be retesting in September. These kids needed to prepare if they were going to pass and go on to the next grade. The dream of a summer schools seemed like the right avenue! All that was missing was the funding. Recognizing that this dream falls in line with the goals of Love Help Teach, we supported the vision.

The program was for four weeks in July. The children studied everyday for 3-4 hours under the guidance of two compassionate teachers from the school, one being Roma himself. The teachers worked hard, the children worked hard. When Love Help Teach arrived July 31 with a team from Temple Baptist Church, all the children and parents were eager to explain the success of the summer school. Everyone in the church said that the children learned more in one month at the church than the entire school year at the school. The two teachers were extremely proud of their students, but the true results would come one month later when the children take their retests.

The first week of September the students took the retests. There were Hungarian children, Roma children, and Romanian children taking retests. The tests were difficult. There were many children who failed the retests, but every single one of the 15 children who came to the summer program at the church passed all their retests! This result was far more than the leadership of the church even dreamed of. With the help of Temple Baptist Church and the growing vision of the local leadership, the extra help for these Roma students does not end with the retests! Throughout the school year, the two teachers have offered to teach Saturday school to the children at the church. They will meet for 4-5 hours each Saturday to practice their lessons and fix mistakes far before they are close to failing a class. This is an exciting time in the life of the Roma Baptist Church in Romania. Praise be to God for the exciting results of the summer school and the opportunity for Saturday school.

Friday
May152015

Seeing God Work Through Short-term Teams

By Alicia Jones

Can short term mission teams really make any difference? There is much discussion over this question. From my perspective as a coordinator of teams from North Carolina to Eastern Europe I would have to say, "Yes!"The following four stories show how I've seen teams make a difference in individual lives; some visits have a momentary, yet significant impact, other visits have eternal impact. Our responsibility is to be obedient to Christ who taught us to love. We go, we give, we pray and we serve because we are compelled by love. "For Christ's love compels us...therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ's behalf, 'Be reconciled to God.'" (2 Cor. 5:14a, 20)

  1. In summer of 2013, a young girl who had been diagnosed with brain cancer had a delightful time at the VBS offered by the team from NC (see picture). She learned to sing the Christian songs and heard how she could follow Jesus even as a young child, a teaching not too common in her community. Her name is Vivien and the team in April of 2015 went to her house to visit nearly two years later. She was suffering greatly on her deathbed, but she took hope in God. They prayed for her and her family. May 4, 2015 God decided to take her home. The community grieved deeply the loss of this 11 year old girl, but they talk about her incredible child-like faith. God is using her life and her death to bring the people of of this area to Himself.
  2. Maria with the team leader 2014In March of 2014, we thought Maria was a little boy because the community called her by a boy’s name. Her mother moved to a foreign country earlier in 2014, leaving her and her four siblings under the care of their alcoholic father. The team from South Elm Street Baptist church has visited this community every spring since 2013. They love the children there. But last year this little girl got attached to the hip of the team leader. The community explained that she is the youngest in the family and is cared for the least. Her story of suffering brought our local friend to tears along with the team leader. But this year in April when we drove away, Maria crying and my eyes began to tear up because she has become so dear to my heart. Maria loves our local friend and the local leaders who come week by week to hold church services in her community, but she especially loves the visitors from America who love on her. My favorite memory is when I was holding Maria one Sunday during the house church service. She didn’t sing the words to the song, but every time the name Jesus was part of the song she would whisper that name…Jesus. May this child, no matter what life brings, call on that name and be saved!Maria with Alicia Jones
  3. In the summer of 2014, the team saw that the man and his mentally impaired daughter lived in a hole in the ground, covered by a lean-to. Over lunch one day they insisted that they wanted to build this family a house. They got the project started before they finished their week in Romania, and two weeks after they returned to America, the local brothers had finished the house. The mentally impaired daughter, Maria, started attending the church regularly the following winter. She now faithfully and proudly takes the front row seat and shakes hands with everyone during the first ten minutes of every service. Teams visit them when they come and the man tells his story being saved. He claims his clothes are too shabby to go to church, but we continue to pray he will join his daughter on the front row.Mentally impaired Maria with her Father in front of their front porch
  4. In January this year, the teams went to pray for the sick in their homes. After praying for a sick woman named Ilona, the pastor from the U.S.A. turned to the sullen-eyed husband, Joseph, and asked, “Can we pray for you?” The local pastor with us informed the visitors that this man is not a believer. Nevertheless, he drew closer to the American pastor for prayer. With the new information, the American pastor sat and directed the husband to sit across from him. The pastor asked and it was translated: “Where do you stand with Jesus?” Regretfully, he answered, “Far, very far.” As the truth and good news of the gospel was explained to him simply and straightforward, his whole demeanor lightened visibly. There in our presence, this aged, angry man became a new creation in Christ, as he chose to believe that Jesus died for his sins too. His wife has been a believer for more than 10 years. He announced proudly, “I’m going to get baptized this summer!” Joseph put his faith in Jesus that day in January. The first time I’ve seen Ilona out of the house since that January visit, was at the recent Roma conference held by a team in April. I greeted her excitedly and asked about Joseph. The following Tuesday the team held a men’s program and when I saw Joseph walk through the door I jumped up to help him. Joseph is mostly blind and walks with a cane. Wednesday evening we played the film “Son of God;” again Joseph came. Sunday he was at church once again. 
Saturday
Mar282015

The Faith of a Child

By Alicia Jones

A two part blog is to follow. Every Monday morning for three to five minutes during the radio’s “Things for the Journey” program we have the opportunity to share a brief message or song. The first part of this blog is an example of what was aired. Throughout the week we host a Bible Club entitled “Kit-Kat.” In the Hungarian language we made “Kit-Kat” an acronym that stands for “truths about God and Christ - basic Christian teachings.” We teach children from ages 3 to 16. Our prayer is for them to put their faith in Christ as children, building a foundation for life that is unshakable. The second part of this blog is my personal prayer for the children who attend “Kit-Kat.”

Part 1 On the school radio I shared the following:

While Jesus was on earth, He often turned the way people thought upside down. He urged his own friends to think differently. For example, one day his friends, the disciples, were arguing about who was the most important helper of Jesus in the kingdom work. They thought that the one that was most important among them was the one Jesus loved the most. Then Jesus sat down. Calling the disciples over, he said to them: “If someone wants to be first, let him be the last and the servant of all.” Jesus took a small child in his hands and placed him before the disciples and continued to explain. “If you all do not repent and become like this little child, then you will not be able to enter the kingdom of God. The one who humbles himself, like this little child is the greatest in God’s Kingdom. After that I don’t know if the disciples just forgot that quickly what Jesus taught, or what, but when the children wanted to come to Jesus the disciples wanted to send them away saying that Jesus was tired and busy! Jesus once again taught them saying, “Let the little children come to me, don’t send them away because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” After that he hugged the children and laying his hands on them blessed them and then he left.

When was the last time you looked into the starry eyes of a child? When was the last time you held a child’s hand to lead them on the road? The child trusted you and was not afraid because you were close. We need this kind of faith, like that of the little child. God wants to hold your hand and lead you on the road. Will you let Him?

Part 2 My prayer for this community:

Heavenly Father, thank you for building your kingdom here in my community in Eastern Hungary! As Jesus blessed the children who came to him, please bless the children who come to learn about the truths of God and Christ. Give these children the faith to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died on the cross for their sins. Grant them eternal life in Christ Jesus through faith by grace. Lord, I ask that you build your kingdom in this community through this generation. Raise up the children here to know and love you! Help them overcome their unbelief and grant even the teenagers child-like faith. Please use these children to lead their teachers, parents and grandparents to faith in Jesus. May Jesus be glorified in the work among the children in this community! In Jesus name I pray, amen! 

Wednesday
Feb112015

Ice Skating, much like the Christian Life

By: Alicia Jones

The great idea came from the assistant principal at the school. He gave us the address of the ice skating rink and told us we should go sometime. I love ice skating and I perked up at the idea. We wrote down the address, but as I imagined, we soon got too busy and forgot about going ice skating. Three weeks later our Roma friend from Romania was spending the week with us. On Saturday, my ministry partner suggested, “Let’s go ice skating tonight!” It would be a first for our Roma friend; giddy with excitement we waited for evening to arrive.

After a challenge finding the place, we put on our rented skates and stepped into the arena. Our Roma friend’s face was struck with fear as she looked at the crowd of young people going hard on the ice rink. She stepped out onto the ice but with both hands gripping tightly to the wall. In her eyes I saw she was certain she was not going to be able to ice skate, no matter how much helping I did. I assured her once again that I had taught quite a few friends how to ice skate.

First round, she just clung to the wall. Second time around, she allowed me to hold one of her hands, but she still used the wall to push off. Finally, I convinced her she wasn’t going to get anywhere if she didn’t let go of the wall. In a calm voice I explained how important it was for her to use her own foot to propel her body forward. I dragged her along for a round or two, but then she got it. Then she started falling. I was able to catch her when I was still doing most of the work for the two of us, but as she got the hang of it I began letting her go, but as a result I couldn’t stop the falls as easily. It was painful to watch her fall, but I knew this was the only way she would learn. Then she said, “I’m going to try it on my own now.” I was just there behind her as she went along. She fell, I helped her up. With those skates on ice, it was near impossible for her to stand herself up. Each fall made her braver. The last half hour she was confident. She went alone or with me, but she no longer needed support. I was so proud of her!

The next day we were together in the church. She stood up to share a testimony. At 17 years of age she gave her life to Christ and was baptized, now at eighteen she leads the church of 150/200 people in worship. I’m so proud of her. I’ve heard her pray aloud in church too, but this was the first time I heard her share a testimony. She started telling about how she went ice skating the day before for the very first time. I thought, “Where is she going with this?” Then she said, “The whole experience reminded me of the Christian life. We see others doing it so easy, but we think, ‘Me? How will I ever?’ Then there are people, like Alicia, who help us get the hang of it. But we fall. When I fell on the ice, I became braver. But there were times when I fell and I couldn’t get up. We need our Christian brothers to help us stand up. But it is important that we learn from our falls, and that we don’t give up.” “Wow,” I thought to myself. The whole experience really was like the Christian life. The miracle of her overcoming her fear, letting go of the wall, trusting me and then learning to ice skate on her own, is like the miracle of a person who lets go of their own desires, says yes to Jesus and is willing to allow Him to teach them to walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 reads, “I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” When we are learning to walk by the Spirit, there are those times when we allow the flesh’s desire to be fulfilled…we fall. But thanks to God for the Christian brothers and sisters who give us a hand and help us stand up. Our friend is determined to go back to the ice rink, and she wants to bring along a friend so he can try it too. If we’ve really experienced the joy of walking by the Spirit, then we are always hungry for more, and we bring along someone we care about! :)