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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)

3rd European Roma Mission Conference

Roma Networks is a European, yet more and more international cooperation of organisations ministering among Roma people. It was already our third conference on 9-12 October, and this time we gathered together in Sarajevo in order to strengthen our relationships with each other and to share the unfolding of God’s vision.

The main theme of the conference was partnership. We have to admit that if we work by intentional, planned and consistent cooperation we can achieve much better results in both improving the life standard of Roma people and in sharing the gospel. Besides “digesting” the lectures we had plenty opportunities to get to know each other’s works and to build new partnering relationships. There were regional/ country group meetings as well, where we could evaluate what we heard from the lecturers and we made plans how to make our cooperation work in our smaller areas more fruitful.

We had the special privilege of being able to travel from Hungary together with brothers and sisters who minister as members of the Protestant Gypsy Mission Forum. Within the realms of the Forum there are Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed and Pentecostal ministers working in cooperation.

The conference program was full of inspiring messages from the stories of Elijah and Elisha, from the story of the great catch of fishes and from personal life stories of our brethren. When we came home, we felt that we had received something significant what was worth going to the conference for, what was more than human efforts and what shows us that because of Christ our Christian brotherhood is much more significant than our different opinions what can sometimes separate us from each other. Maybe we were able to understand this even more while walking among the mosques of the town…

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!

Mission Frontiers: The Roma

“Mission Frontiers is a bi-monthly magazine of Frontier Ventures. Mission Frontiers has been in circulation since 1979, providing our subscribers with innovative insights on a wide range of topics from the most creative minds and well-known thought leaders in missiology. Mission Frontiers is dedicated to fostering and supporting a global movement to establish indigenous and self-reproducing Church-Planting Movements among the 7000 unreached peoples (ethnic groups) of the world—and we believe it is possible with your help.”

The July-August 2017 issue of the magazine has the title: “The Roma – A Storied People Writes a New Chapter in Mission”. Some of the articles were written by Roma people and some others were written by people living or/and working with Roma people.

You can read the articles on the Mission Frontiers website.

Country representatives meeting in Belgrade

Hungarian Gypsy Missions International and Roma Networks have organized the 2. European Roma Mission Conference in Békés (Hungary) in last September, where Roma mission workers from 27 countries had participated. At that conference the participants from each country have elected 1-2 persons who will represent the Roma mission work of their countries at Roma Networks meetings in the future.

These country representatives had a meeting in the Hriscansko Udruzenje Beograd (Christian Trust Belgrade) Bible School building on 29-31 March to introduce their work, to get to know each other and the vision of Roma Networks, to discuss what to do next.

At the opening meeting Miki Kamberovic, the Serbian member of the Roma Networks Steering Committee introduced the vision and mission of Roma Networks through a presentation: network, connect, and research for the sake of sharing the gospel and seeing transformation in Roma communities throughout Europe. It was followed by a praise and worship time and prayers.

At the following sessions the representatives introduced the results and the needs of Roma mission activities in their Countries. There was a time for questions and answers also.

The countries who had already had good connections with each other were put together into regions and these regions had a separate discussion meeting to plan the future activities, see the opportunities and duties. Most of these regions had decided to have regional meetings in the future. After this the groups were united again for a time of giving report about the regional discussions and plans.

There was a final meeting on the last day where the country representatives got a blessing, they were sent out and they also had Holy Communion. Albert Durko, the president of Hungarian Gypsy Missions International shared the Word of God and challenged the workers who had got weary and frustrated to pray honestly and ask God to refresh their hearts. The Holy Communion after that message was the expression of unity and it had touched the hearts of many.

Afterwards many of the participants expressed their appreciation for the meeting in Belgrade and they were glad to find new relationships with brothers and sisters.

We hope our God Almighty will continue the god work He has started in us and through us, so more and more people will get to know God and Jesus Christ, whom He had sent.

It is all about Jesus now…

The days around 24th December always bring something special to all of us every year: presents, shopping, Christmas tree, sweets, special food, cinnamon-scented candles, Mass celebration, large family gatherings or the opposite: loneliness, longing, drinking much alcohol… How do Roma Christian families live this out? I was talking to a young couple about the importance of Christmas.

Miklós Rézműves and his wife Klaudia live in Nyírvasvári, in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County of Hungary together with their five years old son, Ruben. They as newborn Christian Roma people got to know each other when attending a home cell group. Klaudia was singing, Miklós was preaching the Word. Miklós has been serving as a church planter at Hungarian Gipsy Missions International ever since.

Here is the script of our conversation about the power of traditions and faith…

? Klaudia, Miklós, could you recall, please how you celebrated Christmas at home with your families many years ago? ? sounds the first question in the light of the Advent candles.

? I was brought up here in Nyírvasvári. As far as I can recall, my mother gave us everything she could afford. Yet, she did not care about Christmas seasons. Maybe she was bitter because of many things ? Miklós starts the remembering. I was 6 months old when my father died. We, Olah Roma people had a feast of eating and drinking somewhere every day of the season starting with Christmas Eve until the second day of Christmas. The women and my mother also started to cook every traditional Roma food: cabbage leaves staffed with pork and rice, coated and fried pork (schnitzel) and chicken, fried ribs… They made a lot of food. My mother loaded our table with whatever she managed to make, even though is was only two of us there. But who knows when will somebody come to visit us, so she wanted to be sure they might see we have enough food and we don’t start the New Year with an empty table. We believed: if the table is full at this season, it will be full all year long. Everybody was preparing for this. If somebody did not visit his/her relatives that person got into trouble. Many of them were even ready to borrow money in order they would not be ashamed of their empty table.

? The people paid special attention to dress up nicely. Women put on nice headbands and skirts. They covered their heads during cooking to avoid any hair get into the foods ? Klaudia added.

The husband leads the conversation and the wife watches respectfully and appreciatively and sometimes says something ? as it is typical to Olah Roma families. Miklós continues.

? It was important for men to wear long-toed shoes, suits, white shirts to show it is festive season. They came and welcomed the festive season by saying good wishes to the family in Roma language: “Merry Christmas!” “Be strong and healthy!” The host answered to the good wishes saying “Let it be so.” We invited the relatives to sit down. The women had only one task: to offer food and drink to them. The guests stayed there for a while, they ate and drank and afterwards we joined them to visit an other relative. We got drunk very soon.

? The festive season was similar at our family: the relatives gathered together to drink and feast ? Klaudia remembers also. We raised a Christmas tree, but we had no presents. We only heard at school and from TV that other children got presents.

? Your traditions also created a strong bondage to your relatives. Have those relationships changed at all? Have the priorities changed after your conversion?

? Yes, indeed. Yet, if I want to be totally honest I miss those years of togetherness… Love grew very much colder even among Roma by now. Walls were raised up. Roma people don’t have a vision for the future and this makes them sad. Usury, misery and despair rules their lives in many places… There is only one solution for everyone: they need to follow Jesus Christ! ? Miklós declares categorically.  Many things have changed since I converted to Christ. My mother raised me up alone. Before I became a Christian I used to vagabond a lot, I drank a lot of alcohol, I was addicted to slot machines. After my mother came to Christ we had meetings in our house. Since there was no other man in the house I had to stay with her out of respect. From the beginning I was standing at the door waiting desperately for the end of the meeting, so I could leave. But the Word of God touched me more and more and soon I came to Christ. As I started to read the Bible afterwards, I began to form my life to it. For us it is all about Jesus now. We teach Ruben according to it also. We decorate the Christmas tree and we give presents to Ruben, but the main point is not how expensive the present is, but he is happy to receive anything. We visit our relatives and we are ready to welcome them, but we don’t drink alcohol and we spend most of the time in the church. At our church we run the “Joseph program” what means we collect non-perishable food throughout the summer season and at Christmas Eve we take it to people in need. In summer time all church members bring some flour, sugar, spices, vegetable oil, pasta.  Before Christmas we make a list of the items we have in store and make a plan how to sort them into packets. When we have the packets we take them to the 20-25 most poor families in each of the settlements related to our work and give it to them. Sometimes we created some special packets for the children also. Many kids started to cry, because it was the first present they have ever got in their lives. It was an unbelievable experience. I was deeply touched by it… It is not important for us to get something always, but we need to learn how to give also.

? This year we would like to visit them again where we usually minister: in Pilicse, Pilis, Káta, Nyírvasvári, Nyírmihálydi. The media usually declares that the baby Jesus was born at Christmas. I say Jesus is not that little baby. He is at the right hand of the Father and He rules even today. He is the Lord of the World Miklós shares his thoughts and finishes with conviction. Jesus was born to the Earth  to save mankind. He had a single purpose: to complete the work what he came for. And He had completed it. He was born to save mankind…

Rita Patkás 

2nd European Roma Missions Conference

People from 27 countries were gathered to the 2nd European Roma Missions Conference what was held in Békés, Hungary on 21-24 September. Hungarian Gypsy Missions International (based in Békés) and Roma Networks (an international Roma missions network) made it their common purpose to connect the different Roma missions working throughout Europe so with cooperation they could reach as many people as possible and bring radical positive change in lives, find solutions for the problems of society.

At the conference the 210 participants ? who were either well respected and well experienced or greatly motivated people in Roma missions ? had the chance to attend 6 main lectures and 11 workshops. They also had opportunities to get together at the country meetings and share their experiences, initiate cooperation and lay down the foundations for an international network of Roma missions.

At this international event there were some prominent persons greeting the conference like Gábor Izsó the Mayor of Békés, Béla Dankó a representative at the Hungarian Parliament and Katalin Langerné Victor Deputy Secretary of Ministry of Human Resources Responsible for Social Inclusion. The Deputy Secretary emphasized that the Roma issue is not only an issue in Hungary but also an issue for the whole Europe.

The conference did not conclude without continuation again: the Committee of 6 leaders was supplemented by other 44 people who were elected by the country representatives. This group of 50 people will keep in touch ? they will create the platform and database for the purpose of helping and informing each other. These representatives will create the framework for the long term future cooperation and they will meet to share personal reports on the development of the Roma missions works of their countries in next March.

“After the exciting work of preparation it was pleasant to see the fruits of realization. We could see right at the beginning this was to be a unique event, since probably there were no such events before where Roma people and people serving Roma came together from so many countries and denominations whose hearts are burning for the Kingdom of God.” ? so the organizing team of HGMI evaluated the conference.

“This conference was not unique, because we could hear such experts speaking or see the representatives of large organizations or communities, yet we could create a unity of people from different cultural and denominational backgrounds. This unity comes from the common purpose we are here for and it is the Kingdom of God and we all are His workers for the sake of the Roma. We do not declare our own greatness, but the healing and restoring work of Christ what he has been doing among one of the most lost nations: the Roma people.”

Those days we spent here were only the beginning of the future work, where we will start to use these newly built bridges. I think we have not only finished a conference, but we have proclaimed a vision what will inspire people for further building.

The “Building God’s Kingdom Together” conference was a unique event, since probably there was never an event before where servants of a common purpose gathered together from so many countries and denominations.

(Photos by Illés Molnár)

2nd European Roma Missions ConferenceAlbert DurkoKatalin Langerné Victor

Conference meeting

Workshop

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.