What a blessing to be involved with what God is doing in the lives of Roma in Detva, Slovakia!
When we arrived in Detva for the weekly Bible study, we were greeting by Mary who is the director of the community center where we meet. Mary is Roma and has been active in community outreach for years. Her bubbly personality and joyous smile are contagious. The purpose of the meeting was to see how we could work together to benefit the Roma community in Detva. Mary was honest with her skepticism about having a group of Baptists, "some sort of sect," to meet in her building. Though still skeptical, she went on, "but what changed my mind about allowing you to be here is Lenka. I have worked with her for years, but she has changed so much since you have started your work. She used to be so angry - abnormal - screaming at her children all the time. Everyone else in her home were normal. She was always upset. But now, I can see a difference in her life, so keep doing what you are doing."
Working with Roma is often like Paul's words found in 1 Corinthians 13.12 "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!" (The Message) We invest in relationships with people, ministering in deed and words, believing that the Gospel is able to transform. And then, by God's grace, we occasionally are allowed to get a glimpse of what God is doing in the life of people like Lenka.
For days like today, I am thankful for the call to ministry with the Roma. For the testimony from Mary-the-skeptic, I offer praise to God.