Posts

National Gypsy Mission Conference in Nagykallo

Almost 1,000 people gathered together in the local sport hall in Nagykallo (Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg county, Hungary) for the National Pentecostal Gypsy Mission Conference on 16th November. The hall was an excellent scene for the several hundreds of interested Gypsy brothers and sisters, who had great anticipation in their hearts while they were taking their seats.

In the morning session we could listen to the sermon of our guest speaker, our Swedish brother, Pelle Hörnmark, who is the Chairman of the Pentecostal European Fellowship. After him the leader of our Mission, Albert Durko addressed the congregation. Following his sermon about repentance many people stood up to indicate their (re-)dedication to God and together we prayed for them.

After the lunch break there were lots of different programs, with a surprise. Ferenc Molnar “Caramel” who is a well known singer, shared his testimony about his faith in Jesus. Afterwards he confessed his faith in a song. His appearance on the stage was the surprise for the audience. Many of the young participants took some photos together with the popular performer.

This was followed by the encouraging speeches of three tested Gypsy leaders, pastors: Miklos Rezmuves (Nyirvasvari), Jeno Lakatos (Hajduhadhaz), Pal Peter (Zakanyszek). They are the pledge of our future, we believe and declare that many other similar Gypsy leaders will step up and step into the ministry, so the revival among Gypsy people can come to pass.

As a closure we could listen to the biblical thoughts of HGMI Mission Elder Mihaly Rezmuves, in Gypsy language, of course with the assistance of an interpreter.

Let us take time here to thank the praise and worship ministry of the two teams: the music team from the Christian Life Center church in Verpelet, and the new Budapest formation called EXODUS.

“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth.”
(Psalms 47:1-2, NIV)

Thanksgiving in Alsozsolca

It was already the fourth occasion for a Protestant Gypsy Mission Conference being help by the Protestant Gypsy Mission Forum on 9th February, this time it was in Alsozsolca, in the local Methodist church.

The new building complex provided a worthy home for the not very old initiation, when our Roma brethren, who came to Christ through the mission activities of the protestant churches, give thanks together for the saving grace of God. In this way they somehow also participate spiritually in building the Kingdom of God and in demolishing the barrier walls between each other and between the majority society and the Gypsies.

Mrs. Langer, Katalin Viktor who is the Deputy State Secretary responsible for social inclusion in the Ministry of Human Resources gave a speech at the event, beside other things mentioning “This unity cannot be experienced anywhere else!”

The service of preaching was done by pastor Robert Balogh from the Reformed Church based on the fourth verse in Psalm 100. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving…” what our brethren practiced in small groups. Here we would like to thank the music team of the local Methodist church for their ministry, so by their singing and instrumental music they provided an appropriate musical background for thanksgiving.

The local Lutheran churches in Görögszallas and Nyirteleki, the Baptist church in Tatarszentgyörgy, the Pentecostal church in Nyirvasvari, the Reformed church in Konyar and–being the host–the local Methodist church were given time to introduce themselves. As it had became a good practice before, there were testimonies shared from different denominations in the afternoon, proclaiming the life-transforming power of God. In his closing prayer Zoltan Kurdi gave thanks for us being the Body of Christ together and that truly the small and big, the Hungarian and the Gypsy, the male and female, the noble and ignoble, all of us belong to this spiritual community. Thank God for this!

Ian Green visited HGMI in Békés

Hungarian Gypsy Missions International had the privilege to welcome Ian Green from Proton Foundation for a weekend at the beginning of July.

He had visited Hungary several times between 1991 and 1999 in order to help planting new churches and to train leaders for churches in the counrty what came out of the communist regime only few years before. It was that time he met Albert Durkó, the president of HGMI and they kept the good connection over the decades.

The directors of the different departments in HGMI ant the team of executive elders had the opportunity to listen to his thought-provoking speeches. In those he was urging the audience to change strategicly, to develop their character and to change their mindsets. We hope it was not a sole event, but his visit to HGMI can become regular and can have a beneficial effect on our organization.

Our guest speaker was preaching in the Élet Fája (Tree of Life) Pentecostal church on Sunday, where his message was: “Bringing Heaven to Earth.” He was challenging the people by asking them how much they do for their non-believer acquaintances, friends and neighbours living around them. “You should have non-Christian friends, otherwise your life will become a useless, selfish religious act only.” – said the preacher.

We are thankful for his visit and for his ministry.

Roma church meeting

God’s Mission Among the Roma

Written by Melody J. Wachsmuth who is based in Croatia and has been researching and collecting oral history from Roma communities in Eastern Europe since 2011.

Listening to Gods Story

In the 1960’s, a Romanian glass seller set off from Timişoara to a village of 10,000 Roma 500 km away. He was not going just to sell windows—he felt that God sent him to share the gospel. Little did he know that his act of obedience would have a ripple effect completely transforming the village for decades to come. By the late 1980’s almost the entire village had converted, many changing their business practices to honor God. Over the next couple decades, families moved out of the village for economic reasons and went to Bucharest, Germany, France, Spain and England, forming churches in each of these places.1

In the 1980’s, a 7-year-old Roma girl in Bulgaria desired to know God. She eventually began attending a Bible study—made up mostly of children—in her mahalle. The children all prayed in tongues and had dreams and visions—she had a continual vision of her mother and father being in a church, despite their unhappy home life. Eventually, her mother turned to Jesus and then finally in 1995, her father converted. Around 2006, they began to build a church, with the help of the very poor around them. God had told them that their church would be for the rejects of society, “the Roma that even the other Roma rejected.” Now this church is one of around 800 churches in Bulgaria.2

Chances are, you have never heard of these stories, and they are just two stories among hundreds. In fact, perhaps the stories you do hear about the 10-12 million Roma in Europe only confirm negative stereotypes, portraying them as either poor victims or perpetrators of crime.

These types of images and stories come to us through the media, government agencies, and through societal stereotypes—and often these images are divorced from any personal relationship between Roma and non-Roma.

But these stereotypes are not the story that God is writing in Roma communities all throughout Europe. In fact, God has been quite active in Roma communities for decades, and his spirit continues to move, speaking to people in dreams and visions, manifesting in miraculous healings, and calling Roma leaders to serve their people.

After God directed an Albanian couple to evangelize a small Roma village of 150 families in rural Albania, one young Roma man had a vision. As a pastor prayed for him, he saw himself wandering in the darkness and then being led into the light. He soon gained a burden to serve his people. He was sent to Bible school in Tirana in 2013—but the first year was very difficult since he had never finished high school. Many times he wanted to quit and go back to the village, but people continued to encourage him and he felt Jesus was with him. He finally graduated and his desire to serve his people is stronger than ever.3

Movements of Mission

Roma churches have been growing and multiplying for decades. In the 1950’s, a ‘Gypsy Awakening’ began in France. Under the initial leadership of Clément Le Cossec, Roma leaders were trained and missionaries were sent out so that the movement spread to fifty countries in fifty years.4 In Eastern Europe, a Roma Baptist church began in the 1930’s in Bulgaria, and during the 1940’s and 1950’s, Pentecostalism began spreading among the Roma.5 In Romania, after the fall of Communism in 1989, Protestant Christianity spread rapidly among Roma communities—now there are hundreds of churches.6 A revival began in Leskovac, Serbia in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s, which led to a church planting movement throughout Serbia.

In the 1950’s, a Roma man in the Ukraine came to an Adventist Church to beg for food. He eventually became a believer and started going every Sunday. Eventually, many in the Roma village converted, but struggled with the rule against eating pork meat. The man continued to eat pork in secret, and once someone saw him buying a pig. Because of that, that church forbade the Roma from coming so they started a home group. Some Pentecostals came and connected with the group in the late 1970’s and began preaching in the villages. Eventually a ‘great awakening’ began throughout the Trans-Carpathian region and many converted to Christianity. Now there are numerous Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Baptist churches in the region.7

This is not a uniform movement, but rather movements, and the fastest growing are in Pentecostal and charismatic forms. In places like France and Spain, Roma Christians number over a hundred thousand. In places like Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia, Christians number in the thousands and tens of thousands. Most countries in Southeastern Europe, however, have newer movements and small churches. Because of the work-migration flow from Eastern Europe to Western Europe, churches in Central and Eastern Europe (such as Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia) have started newer churches in Western Europe in places like Italy, England, Germany, and France.

The Challenge of Holistic Transformation

Part of this story involves the immense challenges that Roma leaders and communities face: persistent poverty, need for holistic ministry, lack of education, equipping new leaders, Islam in Roma communities, the negative relationship between the majority culture and Roma communities, and lack of unity between different churches or movements.

Even with these challenges, however, there are organizations and churches that are addressing them. For example, Community Health Evangelism (CHE), which addresses transformation from a holistic community perspective, has recently begun spreading in Eastern Europe. International movements like the Gypsies and Travelers International Evangelical Fellowship (G.A.T.I.E.F.) continue to train Roma leaders and missionaries. Ministries such as Project Ruth in Bucharest provide education for children and job training for adults.

Most recently, a new grass roots movement began to address the issue of ministry isolation and lack of information. In 2014, the Great Commission Center International, a Chinese Mission organization, hosted a European Roma conference in Budapest, Hungary. At the conference, many Roma leaders realized the value of connecting and encouraging one another. Out of that, Roma Networks began, having the vision to network, connect, and research for the sake of sharing the gospel and seeing transformation in Roma communities throughout Europe. Currently, Roma Networks is researching, building bridges to promote unity, and planning the next European conference that will be on September 21-24, 2016 in Békés, Hungary, entitled, “Building God’s Kingdom together”.

From the Roma to all peoples

The spread of Christianity among the Roma is not just for the Roma. Rather, God may use the Roma to help revitalize Christianity in Europe. Many Roma leaders have this vision: “I want this to be a church for all peoples, not just the Roma,” said Đena Nikolić, from his small church in Darda, Croatia. Roma Christians are an important part of the global church and as God continues to write this unique story, we can all be encouraged and challenged in our knowledge of God’s mission to the world.

To find out more about Roma Networks, or to help the grass-roots movement by donating towards Roma leaders attending the conference, go to the website: romanetworks.com


  1. Story told by Pastor Puiu Onriu in Bucharest Romania, as it had been passed on to him (2015).
  2. Story told by Danijela Mincheva in Kyustendil, Bulgaria (2015).
  3. Story told by Andreas Avdiu in Morove, Albania (2015).
  4. Laurent, Régis. 2014. “On the Genesis of Gypsy Pentecostalism in Brittany.” In Thurfjell, David and Adrian Marsh Eds. Romani Pentecostalism: Gypsies and Charismatic Christianity. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
  5. Slavkova, Magdalena. 2014. “Prestige and Identity Construction Amongst Pentecostal Gypsies in Bulgaria.” In Thurfjell, David and Adrian Marsh Eds. Romani Pentecostalism: Gypsies and Charismatic Christianity. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
  6. Gog, Sorin. 2009. “Post-Socialist Religious Pluralism: How do Religious Conversions of Roma Fit into the Wider Landscape? From Global to Local Perspectives.” in A. Boscoboinik, F. Ruegg Eds. Transitions: Nouvelles identites rom en Europe centrale & orientale Universite libre de Bruxelles.
  7. Story told by Sergej Latkso’s father who claims to be one of first Pentecostal believers in the region in Ukraine (2015). Sergej is now trying to unite the different denominations of Roma churches.