Lately I’ve been thinking about what we are up against. There are 12 million Roma, living in over 25 countries in Europe and western Eurasia. They speak 85 dialects, and only about a dozen of these have the Bible translated. Many Roma live with horrible poverty, and suffer from oppression and prejudice, living with illiteracy and unemployment, in fear of the mafia, surrounded by adultery, incest, and even witchcraft. How will we ever see the Bible in all the needed dialects, and see the lives of the Roma transformed? Humanly speaking, the task is not doable.
Can we ourselves change this? No, we are completely unable to overcome these obstacles. We are wholly dependent on God to move in ways which only He can. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). This is not something we have the ability to win on our own. I am convinced that for new spiritual life to take place among the Roma we are wholly dependent on God’s Spirit.
Just as we were, Roma without Christ are “dead in … transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1). We are not dealing here with something in the natural realm which we can affect or bring about. Man without God is not just bad off; he is not just needy; he is not just sick. He is dead. He is dead in transgressions and sins. And he is in need of something that you and I cannot give him. He requires something that we cannot provide. Only God can provide it. “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (Eph. 2:4-5)
Do you see it? We were completely dead. A dead man cannot help himself, nor can he be helped by any other man. He can only be helped by God. “But … God … made us alive.” Do you see, then, how vital it is that we cry out to Him for His intervention? This is where we see the importance of prayer in missions. Yes, we must work, we must plan, we must give and we must go. But without the Spirit of God working and making God’s glory known and felt, it will all be impotent. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “You must become aware of your need, of your impotence, of your helplessness. You must realise that you are confronted by something that is too deep for your methods to get rid of, or to deal with, and you need something that can go down beneath that evil power, and shatter it, and there is only one thing that can do that, and that is the power of God” (Revival, 19).
This is the true posture we need in missions today, the realization that we are completely impotent to bring about redemption. But for God, it is effortless and easy. When He appears, His enemies are scattered and the chains of darkness that have held a people in bondage for so long are shattered. Thus the urgent need to go to Him in prayer and ask Him to intervene. So my challenge to you is very direct and very simple. Make it your aim and your ambition to pray, and by that I mean, to ask that the Lord will move and intervene. Ask the Lord to show His glory in Europe among the Roma.
Go to Him with an attitude of humility, acknowledging that if He does not do these things, they simply will not get done. Unless God brings redemption, renewal, revival, reformation and resurrection life, nothing of good will happen. So this is the end for which we pray.
Let me leave you with two very specific prayer requests, two biblical ways to pray for missions in general and for the Roma in particular.
2 Thess. 3:1: “… pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” Please pray this Scripture for the Roma, that God’s word would “spread rapidly” and “be honored” among them.
Col. 4:2-4: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” Please pray for God to open a door for His Word among the Roma. Pray that His Word will be proclaimed clearly. Please, brothers and sisters, “Devote yourselves to prayer.”