Thanksgiving Day is here and our colleague, Glen Adkins, is shown slicing the bird. Hungarians do not celebrate this holiday so we hunt madly through the stores and markets for supplies for the traditional foods and gather with American friends to celebrate. This year when we give thanks we will list in gratitude our prayer supporters who faithfully lift up the Roma and the ministries among them. We will remember all the volunteers who have given of their time, effort, and finances to serve along side us. We will give thanks for the financial gifts given to our projects and especially to the CBF Global Missions Offering. The offering enables to serve and live among the Roma and for that we are very grateful. Thank you!
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you', that would suffice."Meister Eckhart
The ending of this session of the Gypsy Smith Leadership Training was a celebration. Sorin, pictured here holding his diploma, had completed the required 12 weeks of training. We celebrated the moment with a recognition ceremony in the Thursday night prayer service at the Providence Church. Prayers were said for Sorin as he returns to his village to pastor his flock and preach the Good News to his fellow Romany. Please pray for Sorin and the Roma leaders.
"God Bless You"Clista and I tried to say this to as many of the Ruth Center staff and teachers that we could. We felt their employment at Project Ruth was sacrificial and such a blessing to the students and their families of the Ferentari neighborhood. Today the teachers received the booklets with pages the students had designed themselves with pictures, poems, and words of gratitude. Each staff person received a bundle of pens and pencils that said, "You are appreciated very much" And the truth is - they are!!
It's an American cultural thing to bring your teacher an apple - I have no idea how that got started - but I can say that it is not a Romanian tradition. However, Romanians, enjoy eating fruit. So today each staff person got an apple that said, "You're the Light of God's Eye" (apple of God's eye just didn't translate right). The apples were big, shiny, and juicy. They were thoroughly enjoyed.
The Gypsy Smith School (Christian Leadership Training for Adults) students were surprised at break time with a tea of their own, along with the Ruth School staff in the Ruth Center building. (Ruth School has its own building and the Center has one attached to the Providence Church with offices and rooms to stay). Mona, one of the staff, explained what dip was and how to dip vegetables/chips. She also explained the 'pigs in a blanket'. In the beginning they held back but once the first brave man stepped forward and tasted the strange looking things, they eagerly gathered around the bar, not stopping until everything was gone. (Made clean-up easier) Seeing them enjoy the special attention made all the hustle bustle of getting it ready on time and the numerous trips up and down the stairs (classroom on the 2nd floor, kitchen in the basement) worth it. Please say a prayer for these Roma men, studying this week so they can be better leaders of their congregations throughout Romania.
"You are special and so are your teachers. We want them to know how much we appreciate what they do." Now imagine the room of school children shouting and clapping their hands in agreement. That's what this morning was like as we presented each of the teachers with baskets of supplies. The students were happy to give their teachers encouragement. (The teachers don't know the students are secretly working on booklets to be presented to them at the end of the week. Some of the 8th grade artwork is awesome!) All staff received a candy bar that said, "We think you're sweet". Lots of hugs and smiles today...
"All of this for us?" That was the question we heard over and over as the teachers of the Ruth School laid eyes on the table filled with food for their Appreciation Tea. The director, Tita, gave them permission to stay longer so they could graze on the delicious treats prepared just for them. They laughed, talked, munched, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves through the break time. Clista and I were worn out from the early morning hectic running around to make sure everything was ready when the bell rang. It was worth it as Tita, through the English teacher, told us how special they all felt. So much had been done for the school as a whole and for the students but this was a first for the staff. The bell rang again and the teachers made their ways back to the classrooms with full bellies and smiling faces. Thank you for praying for this project. We have 3 more days to go!
The staff at Project Ruth were tickled, we actually heard a few giggles, when they saw the signs posted throughout their two buildings saying "our staff is the best", "you are a blessing", "thank you for teaching/working here" and other messages of encouragement. The sign in the picture says "Our Cooks are #1". We also handed out Smiley Face magnets with notes that said, "Smile, God Loves You!" The teachers wanted to know what we were doing for the students and smiled when we said, "Nothing, this week is just for you." The staff at Project Ruth works tirelessly, humbly, and often sacrificially to teach and serve the Roma of this run-down, poverty-stricken, trash-strewn neighborhood of Bucharest.
They deserve to hear, "We appreciate You" much more often than we say it. Tomorrow will be fun too, as we offer a special tea time with fancy food. Clista and I can't wait!
Prayer Supporters: Ralph and I leave tomorrow for Bucharest, Romania. Glen and Clista Adkins are joining us. Please pray for us this coming week. Glen and Ralph will be teaching at the Gypsy Smith Leadership Training session. Roma leaders from across Romania and Moldova will attend. Ralph will teach on the book of Mark while Glen concentrates on worship. Clista and I will be busy providing a Staff Appreciation Week for the Ruth School. We will be doing something for the staff each day to let them know they are loved and appreciated.
Pray for traveling safety for us and the Roma leaders. Pray for Glen and Ralph to teach with wisdom and for divine guidance in what they say. Pray for the Roma leaders to absorb what is offered and to have a great time of fellowship. Pray for the staff of the Ruth School to feel special and know they do important work. Pray for God's blessing on this week of activities. Thank Him for the opportunities to share His love. Thank you for being prayer warriors for this ministry.
Twenty years ago today one of the most significant acts in history took place. The Berlin wall came tumbling down. The Communist governments in the eastern European bloc countries were toppled and freedom reigned. Lately the news has been dominated with first hand accounts of how lives were changed, families reunited, and new governments formed. Even Angela Merkel, the current German chancellor, recounted how she grew up in East Germany and would not be where she is today if not for the wall coming down. CBF's Director of Field Ministries, Jim Smith, and his wife, Becky, were living in Berlin at the time. Jim tells the story of being in East Germany when this was actually happening and pulling up to the infamous "Checkpoint Charlie" that separated east from west. No intense scrutiny, no mirrors looking under the car, what was going on?? Ask Jim to tell the story. It was a day that changed history. Many, many lives were impacted.
Today we are able to freely move into most of these former communist countries and be the presence of Christ among many people who remember when there was no freedom of worship. We have personnel in Hungary, Slovakia, Macedonia, and Ukraine. We have partnerships in Moldova, Romania, Albania, and Bulgaria - just to name a few. Let's give God thanks for bringing this wall down. Rejoice that those oppressed are now free. However, many continue to live in darkness. Ask Him to provide the people and resources to help spread the Good News of freedom in His love.
The Berencs (BER-ench) Roma church meets in a room at the city hall building of the little village in northeast Hungary. The church purchased an old house to convert into a place of worship but it turned out to be too old and had to be torn down. Now they are trying to get permission to build a new church. The paperwork continues to be caught up in bureaucracy. So in the meantime they meet at the city hall. Not ideal, however, as we know God uses all circumstances.
Recently while in the city hall on other business, a woman heard singing, joyful, happy singing. She was curious and searched for the source of these praise songs. What she discovered was a church, in the city hall of all places! As she went and observed, the lady was welcomed among the Roma worshippers. It was a beginning... Today this same woman is a regular member, joining in with the very singing that brought her into God's family. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!"
Please pray for Imre and his family. His wife passed away this week. Ralph attended the funeral yesterday. Ilie was only 49 years old. This is not an uncommon occurence among the Roma of Hungary - the women dying young. We know several men who have lost their wives while they were in their 40's.
Why? Life is hard here for women. They marry early, have several children often close in age, struggle to feed their families with food that is often unhealthy because it is usually the cheapest, many smoke, health care is inadequate and difficult to come by, winters are harsh with lots of illnesses, and the list goes on.
Please pray for the Roma women of Hungary and eastern Europe. Pray strides can be made in educating them to break the cycles of proverty. Pray that health care will be made available and the women will learn ways to control the size of their families, cook healthily, and take care of themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. Pray that opportunities for employment for the Roma will be available so they can provide for their families. Pray for a mild winter. Praise God for answered prayer and His provisions already.
They came from all parts of Hungary by car, train, and bus to celebrate. It was a day of testimonies, preaching, singing, and sharing of memories. We had gathered to mark 10 years of formal ministry by the Hungarian Baptist Union among the Roma (Gypsies) of Hungary. The Union organized the first Roma conference in 1999 in the village of Csobanka where a local Baptist church had planted a Roma church. The pastor of the church was Jozsf Csuhai, who is now the Hungarian Baptist Roma Ministries coordinator. From those humble beginnings has grown a committee of Hungarians and Roma working together, 24 Roma churches and missions, training for leaders, accountability in church resources, and many other positive things. At the meeting many expressed gratitude and thankfulness to God for blessing the work. Looking to the future, the leaders hope to grow the ministry to Roma, their brothers, in the Ukraine and Romania. God is at work...
**Thank you CBF supporters. Your prayer support, as well as your financial gifts, have helped this ministry grow into the vibrant outreach it is today.