The rising “Gypsy problem” and what we need to do about it.
“Seven billion people on a spinnin’ ball
And they all mean the world to you.
It’s times like these that I feel so small.
There must be something I can do.”
“Fishers of Men”
(Newsboys, Restart, 2013)
Sometimes the very magnitude of the need around me is crushing. At times it seems that the task is impossible and the very size of the mission is a source of discouragement. I mentioned recently that we had meetings in Romania with other Bible translation workers and there we presented a mammoth challenge.
The Gypsy situation in Europe is not getting better. Gypsies (more accurately called Roma) live in more than 25 countries here and number 12 million. For the most part, they are hated and despised. News articles recently have reported on Roma camps being closed down and the people expelled in France, Italy and here in Hungary. “France has sent tens of thousands of Roma back to Bulgaria. Sweden, Italy, Denmark and Germany had similar policies. The EU’s Justice Commissioner said it reminded her of World War II.”
The despised Roma are on a collision course with Europe. Either they will be hunted and expelled, or else they will learn to integrate in Europe and become good citizens. There really is no middle ground.
We firmly believe that transformation for the Roma has really only one source: spiritual transformation which will take place only through having the Bible in their language, being taught to read the Bible in their own language, and being taught how to apply and obey the Bible in their daily lives. The challenge is that there are 60 Roma dialects spoken, and probably 50 of them still do not have the Bible in their language. A Bible translation usually takes 15-20 years. Training illiterates to read takes years as well. Planting churches where the people can be taught to apply the Scriptures often take years as well.
So the challenge before us is to work together with other organizations so that we can provide the best training, tools and resources to empower an army of workers—both national and foreign—to reach three important goals in the next 10 years, Lord willing: for all 50 of these dialects, to see the 50 main chapters of the Bible translated, to begin children’s Bible clubs which teach literacy and basic Bible stories, and to gather new believers in these 50 languages to meet for Bible study in their mother tongue.
This is what is called in leadership studies a BHAG—a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Would you pray with us that the Sovereign God of this spinnin’ ball would do this among the Roma, whom he greatly loves?