The mission is building a bridge with the national presbytery

The life of the Hungarian Gypsy Missions International has reached another milestone with the establishment of the national presbytery. The inauguration of the seven members of the presbytery took place on August 14th at the mission’s headquarters. At the same ceremony, twenty-four mission workers received recognition for successfully completing their leadership training.

Continuous growth and change are characteristic of the mission’s entire activities, which also come with increased responsibility and tasks. With the inauguration of the presbyters, an old dream of the organization comes true. The selection of presbyters was primarily guided by biblical foundations, as well as the geographical location of the congregations and their social responsibilities, which helped the decision of the Council of Faith. All members of the national presbytery are active, tested pastors who primarily provide guidance and suggestions based on their own experiences to support the daily life of the congregations and the leadership of the mission.

Forming a bridge between the congregations and the mission leadership, the presbytery fulfills its biblical mandate through active spiritual and practical service. As mentioned, the chosen presbyters carry a significant responsibility and task to stand firm in the areas they have been assigned to. The inaugurated seven presbyters came from Békés, Borsod, Csongrád-Csanád, Heves, Hajdú-Bihar, and Szabolcs Counties.

The mission considers it particularly important that well-trained leaders and servants within the community carry out their work. The Roma people, after their conversion and personal encounter with Jesus Christ, undergo profound life changes and shifts in mindset, forming the basis for influencing their own communities.

In the building of God’s kingdom, it’s necessary to reach out to and engage every layer of society. The leadership of the Pentecostal Roma Mission believes that, alongside biblical knowledge, disciples need to be prepared on how to transform their communities through the power of the Gospel. In recent times, mission workers have acquired leadership skills, self-awareness, and developed the abilities necessary to make an impact on others, reshaping their communities. Alongside the newly inaugurated presbyters, 24 mission workers received certificates for successfully completing the Community Transformational Leadership Training. We believe that God will uplift the Roma people and make them pioneers, bringing blessings to Hungary and Europe. The newly inaugurated presbyters will be the engines and guardians of this change.

Roma Holocaust: Unforgettable Human Fates

Every year on August 2nd, we commemorate the victims of the Roma Holocaust and the heart-wrenching events that affected the European Roma community during World War II. This year as well, a memorial event was held at the Békés Center of the Hungarian Gypsy Missions International in honor of the Roma Holocaust Victims Memorial Day.

During World War II, the Nazis and their allies systematically carried out the genocide of the Roma, with thousands of individuals and families being sent to ghettos, concentration camps, and labor camps. Following the resolution of the Congress of the International Romani Union in Paris in 1972, August 2nd has been observed worldwide as a day to remember the Roma victims of the Holocaust. The Gypsy Mission also joins in this Memorial Day each year. This year, in collaboration with the Békés City Municipality and the Roma Methodological and Research Center, they organized a commemorative event.

“In the same way as those with a homeland, the Roma people became victims of the Nazi ideological genocide. However, God bends down to the Roma people in a powerful way, transforming them by entering their lives, making them into different people,” emphasized Albert Durko, president of the HGMI, in his welcome address.

“This present anniversary is painful, as due to a murderous ideology, the most inhumane dictatorship of the blood-drenched century, many of our fellow Hungarian citizens of Roma nationality were also taken from Békés. Their memory is a marrow-shaking scream even from the distance of time, compelling us to ensure that such horrors can never happen again,” added Dr. Beáta Bódi, the director of the Békés County Government Office. Following her, Julianna Deákné Domonkos, cultural councilor of Békés city, delivered her greeting.

“A thousand times we ask the question, how did we reach the point where hundreds of thousands of our compatriots were stripped of their dignity and sent to the abyss of destruction? Their martyrdom urges every decent person to prevent such disgrace from ever occurring again,” she expressed.

This year’s memorial event was attended by Attila Sztojka, the government commissioner responsible for Roma affairs, who also emphasized in his speech that we must always remember the event that stands as a black mark on the history of the 20th century.

“We must carry this grief throughout our lives, for it resides in our hearts, yet it must always remind us of our duty. We must draw strength to avoid tragedies, for which it is necessary to have faith in God, in ourselves, and in our fellow human beings. We must mutually respect each other, both Roma and non-Roma alike,” echoed the government commissioner in his commemoration.

As part of the program, participants also had the opportunity to attend scholarly presentations on the topic. Dr. Klára Gulyás, associate professor at the Sárospatak Reformed Theological Academy, delivered a lecture titled “The Memory of the Roma Holocaust in Hungary,” while Dr. József Kotics, associate professor at the University of Miskolc, presented on “Memory-Identity-Community.”

Following a high-quality musical program, the commemoration concluded with a wreath-laying and candle-lighting ceremony at the Békés World War II Memorial Site, in accordance with tradition. Before the wreath-laying, Zoltán Karácsony, representative of the Békés County Roma Nationality Municipality, and Julianna Deákné Domonkos, cultural councilor, remembered the events. The lesson of this Memorial Day should be a reminder that we bear a significant responsibility to preserve the memory of the victims while also urging us to stand for the values of acceptance and cooperation and actively participate in the fight against intolerance and prejudice.

Remembering the Roma Holocaust: Honoring the Forgotten Tragedy

The Roma Holocaust, also known as the Porajmos, is a term used to refer to the genocide and persecution of the Roma people during World War II. The word “Porajmos” comes from the Romani language and translates to “the Devouring” or “the Destruction.” On this solemn occasion, we gather to remember and commemorate the Roma Holocaust, a dark chapter in human history often overshadowed by the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust during World War II. The Roma, also known as Romani people, endured unimaginable suffering and persecution, but their stories and struggles remain largely unknown to many. It is essential to shed light on this tragic event and honor the memory of those who perished.

The Remembrance Day for the Roma Holocaust was established during the 1972 congress of the International Romani Union in Paris. Its purpose is to pay tribute to the victims and raise awareness about the horrors they endured. By preserving this Remembrance Day, we educate future generations about history and strive to prevent such atrocities from repeating in the world.

During the Nazi regime, the Roma, along with Jews and other minority groups, were targets of the genocidal policies aimed at establishing an ethnically pure society. They viewed the Roma as racially inferior, and as a result, they faced horrific discrimination, persecution, and extermination.

The number of Roma victims varies due to limited documentation, but estimates suggest that between 200,000 and 2,000,000 Roma were killed during the Holocaust. Many Roma were forced into labor camps, subjected to medical experiments, and brutally murdered in extermination camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The persecution of the Roma did not begin with the Nazi regime. For centuries, the Roma people faced discrimination, marginalization, and stereotyping in Europe. Long before the Holocaust, they experienced forced assimilation, expulsion, and enslavement. Unfortunately, these prejudices and biases persist even today, highlighting the importance of raising awareness about their history and culture.

Despite the devastating impact of the Holocaust, the Roma people have displayed remarkable resilience and maintained their unique cultural identity. Throughout history, they have been known for their rich traditions, language, music, and craftsmanship, which continue to be celebrated and passed down through generations.

Just as the Roma people have displayed remarkable resilience in preserving their cultural identity, the message of Christ’s good news emphasizes the power of redemption and renewal. Through faith and forgiveness, we can find healing and reconciliation, transforming the scars of the past into a commitment to build a more compassionate and just world.

On this day of remembrance, it is vital to pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the Roma Holocaust. We must strive to ensure that this dark chapter of history is never forgotten, and its lessons are learned. Education plays a crucial role in combating ignorance and prejudice. By teaching about the Roma Holocaust in schools and public forums, we can promote empathy, understanding, and tolerance for all communities.

Even today, the Roma community faces discrimination and marginalization in various parts of the world. They encounter challenges in accessing education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. As we remember the atrocities of the past, we must also stand in solidarity with the Roma community and advocate for their rights and equality.

The Roma Holocaust, a tragic chapter in human history, serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of hatred, prejudice, and indifference. By commemorating the past, we ensure that the voices of the victims are never silenced, and we work towards creating a brighter, more compassionate future for all. Let us unite in remembrance and solidarity, vowing never to forget the atrocities of the Roma Holocaust, as we take steps to prevent such horrors from ever happening again.

Kingdom-centered Thinking in Churches

The speaker of the two-day seminar that delved primarily into building kingdom-centered churches was from Croatia. The seminar was attended by the workers of the Hungarian Gypsy Missions International, giving them insights into the construction of kingdom-centered congregations.

Prepare International, an international Christian organization, initiated a training series this year for mission workers with the specific goal of contributing to the growth of churches.

On July 10th and 11th, during the fourth session of the five-part Antioch course, the students gathered to hear Pastor Oliver Buljat, a PI trainer, deliver the lectures. Albert Durkó, the mission leader, welcomed him at the beginning of the program.

If a congregation lacks a kingdom-centered mindset, it will live for itself. Though they will work for salvation, it won’t be to impact the created world with God’s kingdom. It’s essential for the churches to see beyond themselves in their functioning. Kingdom-centered congregations are characterized by every member taking an active role in the ministries,” emphasized Oliver Buljat in response to our inquiry. Prepare International and the mission will jointly organize additional seminars until February 2025. The leadership of HGMI pays significant attention to continuous training, preparing the workers for challenging situations, deepening their faith, and providing them with well-founded knowledge of Christian teachings.

The Operation of the Hungarian Gypsy Missions International Reaches a Turning Point

Significant changes have occurred in the organizational structure of the HGMI starting from July. A transformation process has been initiated, aiming to introduce a pilot mode of micro-matrix management method to enhance the organization’s flexible adaptability and efficiency while providing differentiated growth opportunities for the mission.

The Hungarian Gypsy Missions International has reached a turning point with organizational and operational transformations. According to mission leader Albert Durkó, the need for change primarily arose due to the organization’s growth.

“I believe and have witnessed that God has guided us through numerous miracles from the very beginning. Our service is built upon helping and supporting all people in need, enabling them to build upon us and on God, who has sent us,” highlighted the mission leader during a work conference discussing the details of the changes.

The leadership of HGMI has spent over a year preparing for the transformation, and the plan went through many professional filters.

“The transformation was necessary because, by God’s grace, we are a continuously growing organization, currently working with around 1,300 employees. We believe that the newly introduced matrix system will be more suitable for better exploiting the possibilities. The goal is to provide directors with significantly greater decision-making authority, while in many cases, different organizations will collaborate on individual projects,” was conveyed during the briefing.

As emphasized by Albert Durkó, the mission leader will continue to hold the top position within the organization, and the directorates will operate under the supervision of the spiritual and mission councils. Additionally, new departments and groups will be formed to enhance the effectiveness of the HGMI’s work. The leadership appointments were announced during the meeting as well. László Surman was appointed as the spiritual-missionary chief executive, Teó Rossu as the deputy economic mission leader, Orsolya Gálné Erdész as the deputy coordination mission leader, Hajnalka Fazekas as the social director, Szilvia Kiss as the institutional director, Dr. Ildikó Szilágyiné Morár as the director of network and communications, and Vivien Filó will continue her work as the director of international relations in the future.

Education is crucial for integration

The Roma community has been present in Hungary for centuries and is an important part of society. However, education is essential for social integration and individual development, so improving and supporting learning opportunities for Roma youth is an outstanding task.

Education promotes the long-term integration of Roma youth into society. The knowledge and skills acquired through school studies improve employment prospects and increase their chances of a better quality of life.

Roma youth often face various obstacles in accessing educational opportunities. Some children have difficulties with attending the appropriate schools, while others struggle with financial difficulties, prejudices, and discrimination, which present additional problems for them. In recent years, there has been increasing attention towards promoting educational opportunities for the Roma community. HGMI plays a prominent role not only in the mission field but also in Roma education. It operates kindergartens, primary schools, and regularly organizes high-quality training for members and leaders of the community.

“We are preparing for a breakthrough, the basis of which is the promise through the word received from God that 325,000 Gypsies are expected to convert and integrate into churches.  This will have numerous consequences. Society will transform, the social integration of Roma people will accelerate, and when they start working, the majority will also see the changes. Obviously, the number of dependents, welfare recipients, and unemployed individuals will decrease with employment. It will bring about changes in the Roma’s immediate environment, family, and residential areas, as well as have an impact on the economy. The resources are already provided for all of this, and the economic potential exists in the Roma settlements, where the changes will be most strongly felt. And once this starts, it will take the wind out of the sails of extremists,” emphasized Albert Durkó, the mission leader, in a previously given interview.

Government and civil initiatives, programs, and support also contribute to promoting equal opportunities for Roma youth to access education. Promoting educational opportunities is not only important for individual development and well-being but also for the overall economic and cultural development of society.

The World Day Against Child Labour

The World Day Against Child Labour is held annually on June 12. It is an international day to raise awareness and prompt action to stop child labor in all of its forms.

About 160 million children around the world are engaged in child labor, working in jobs that deprive them of their childhood, interfere with schooling, or harm their mental, physical, or social development. Nearly half of them – 79 million children – work under hazardous conditions. By definition, child labor is a violation of both child protection and rights.

The subsistence economy, unemployment and discrimination have excluded many Roma families. Child labour has been a survival strategy for many of them, an alternative to school failure for others, and deliberate choice when a “promise of success through education” went astray.

Roma working children experience many forms of discrimination and vulnerability inside and outside their communities. Roma working children have a marginal position due to a combination of factors, including ethnicity, age, gender, poverty and at times disability. 

Even if education is free, Roma children and parents speak about the cost of clothes, food and transportation costs that they cannot afford. School dropout makes an appearance, causing low educational  achievement due to work undertaken and other situations (poverty, family crises, no school nearby, etc.).

Many Roma and majority-population families share the belief that early work shapes character and makes children better prepared for life. What is problematic, though, is that the boundaries between assuming small responsibilities (which is helpful to development) and child labour (which is detrimental) is often vague and not well understood.

Children generally leave with their seasonal worker parents as there is no one left at home to provide care for them. When parents leave for agricultural work, or picking berries and mushrooms, or even planting trees, they bring along their children. This allows for greater family control of the children, but also maximizes their economic gain.

Roma  children  working  in agriculture tend to work for other landowners than their immediate family, just because they don’t have lands. Whereas the majority of population children are more likely to work their own land together with the family, Roma households are poorer so children will need to seek work further. Given this fact the risks of exploitation and abuse are implicitly higher.

Besides seasonal work in agriculture, Roma children (especially boys) work in construction, as daily workers. National legislation forbids work in construction below the age of 16 and this adds to the already existing risks. Working at heights, exposed to agriculture, children can obtain the same amount of money as their parents and during the agricultural season they need to make use of this opportunity. According to Roma children and their families, the main reason why they work is to contribute to family income.

The fact that boys  are marrying at an early age (15-17 years) and the family have children at a very early age, they must earn for their new family. Girls are especially vulnerable in these situations. Children’s work goes along with early marriage. Roma girls are „marrying” at the age of 13 to 16 and they are under strong pressure to perform domestic chores for the groom’s family. This is associated with restrictive mobility and controlled social relations, school dropout and functional illiteracy.

The practice of leaving school for different labour tasks is very often found among Roma from rural areas. Roma children may find themselves almost illiterate at the end of four primary years, which increases the likelihood that they will eventually drop out of school. Without an education, they cannot get a job and the vicious cycle of poverty, discrimination and ethnic discrimination continues.

As we mark this World Day Against Child Labour, let’s recommit to creating a world where every child can fulfill their potential.

The main topic was the hope of the refugees

An interactive workshop titled “Life-Hope Transmission Among Refugees” was held for professionals and educators working with refugees at the HGMI headquarters.

Organized by Productivus Training Ltd., the program was made possible through the refugee project support of Samaritan’s Purse, and this occasion marked the second session of the professional training series titled “The Holistic Practice of Crisis Management and Life Arrangament.” The lecture was delivered by Szabolcs Kerekes, a trainer and member of the Barnabas Group Mission, as well as a pastor at the Rákospalota Corrective Educational Institute, who dedicated significant attention to the topic of hope. Participants sought answers to questions such as why hope is particularly important in the lives of refugees, how to ignite and sustain it in families facing difficult circumstances. The mission has been supporting individuals arriving from Ukraine to Hungary since the outbreak of the war, and it places importance on their spiritual and intellectual development, as well as the education of children.

“According to the Bible, what we carry with us into eternity from life is faith, hope, and love, and these shape us in both the joys and challenges of life. Unfortunately, the media often portrays a distorted image of these values, but we must still adhere to them,” was expressed during the workshop.

Without Borders in Mátészalka

The 1st Carpathian Basin Roma Missionary Conference was held in Mátészalka with over five hundred participants. From the beginning, HGMI considers the support of the Hungarian population and Hungarian-speaking Roma communities living in the Carpathian Basin to be of utmost importance.

“We firmly believe that there are no boundaries in proclaiming the Gospel. We witness how the power of the Gospel transforms the lives of individuals and communities, shapes their thinking, develops their personality, and even improves their social situation. We also understand that the unity of Hungarian-speaking Roma communities living in the Carpathian Basin is a force that promotes national cohesion. We also see that in many cases, Hungarian-speaking Roma communities and congregations beyond the borders do not receive sufficient attention, care, and support, and the Hungarian Gypsy Missions International is determined to change that,” stated the organizers at the conference held on May 27.

Péter Makkai, State Secretary of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection in Romania and a Reformed pastor, felt it was important to personally attend the event.

“There is no separate fate for Transylvanian Hungarians and Roma. We see how doors open before us and how people reach out to each other, joining their hands in prayer. I believe that this is the work of the Holy Spirit,” he expressed.

Katalin Victor Langerné, Presidential Advisor, although unable to be present, assured the organizers of her support. The guests were greeted by Sándor Kovács, Member of Parliament and Vice Chairman of the Welfare Committee, Dr. Péter Hanusi, Mayor of Mátészalka, and Oszkár Seszták, President of the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Assembly, all expressing their joy in providing a venue for the conference.

“I wish that today will be a truly historic event, and that people will unite through the power of the Holy Spirit,” emphasized Attila Sztojka, Government Commissioner for Roma Affairs, during his speech.

“For a long time, there was a great deal of shame within the Roma community, but today we have reached a point where an increasing number of disadvantaged individuals are lifting their heads, and more and more are looking upward instead of to the left or right. When we begin to seek the truth, the first step is always to open our Bible. In times of deception, the most important thing is to turn to God for guidance,” highlighted Attila Sztojka.

The celebratory sermon was delivered by Albert Durkó, President of the Hungarian Gypsy Missions International, who also announced the establishment of the Carpathian Basin Roma Missionary Forum during the event. The organization aims to work interdenominationally for unity in the future.

“Jesus Christ came to uplift the Roma, so that they may live abundantly and in community with their Savior,” resonated in the sermon.

In the final part of the conference, representatives from participating countries spoke about their lives, service, and the beauties and challenges they experience in their work. Guests from Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Ukraine, and the United States also attended the program.

The international event became a lasting memory for the participants through the involvement of the Voices of Hope Worship Band, the strengthening of fraternal relationships, and above all, the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Minimal exam anxiety in exchange for a wealth of knowledge

The church members and servants who participated in the Community Transformational Leadership Training Programme  provided an account of their acquired knowledge both in writing and verbally at the HGMI headquarters in Békés.

Hungarian Gypsy Missions International pays significant attention to education and discipleship. Through the current training, the participants have become enriched with extensive knowledge.

“Our main goal is to train workers and servants who can reach out to their broader environment, adapting to the mindset of God’s Kingdom. We believe that this development will have an impact on the churches, families, and the community where our brothers and sisters live and serve,” emphasized András Berki, Vice President, in response to our inquiry.

The unanimous opinion of the exam candidates was that it was worth embarking on the two-year training. As they expressed, they have gained knowledge that will be influential in their future ministry.

“For me, each session meant a great deal; I received numerous new revelations about God’s Kingdom. At the same time, we also acquired practical knowledge that is essential for successful ministry,” shared Dávid Pál Péter, who came from Zákányszék to take the exam held in Békés.

Tivadar Tóth also felt it was important to acquire new knowledge, so he listened attentively with an open heart during the lectures and continually serves his congregation with the teachings he has received.

“While I had some exam-related stress, I believe that for those who followed the teachings and made an effort to prepare, the assessment was not difficult. I am grateful for the knowledge I have gained, and I have been striving to pass on this knowledge to the members of the church, bringing genuine growth into their lives from the very beginning,” he expressed.