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Story by Ken Storey. Photos by Elizabeth Lipford and Ken Storey.

Love and Presence with Roma ChildrenHow do you work with Roma (also known as Gypsy) children? Vacation Bible School and Facebook are two ways, but love and presence are the foundations of this work. Golgotha Baptist Church in Bistrita, Romania, with its love and presence, developed an outreach program to the Roma people in and around their city. First Baptist Church’s love and presence traveled to Bistrita in the form of a team of adults and youth.

Love and Presence with Roma Children Love and Presence with Roma Children

The team had spent months planning their trip to Bistrita, an “old world” town where a typical worker makes the equivalent of $75 U.S. per week. As one translator told us, “We are the China of Europe; low wages, hard working.” This economy makes the area perfect for the Roma people, who are shunned in much of the rest of Europe.

Love and Presence with Roma Children Love and Presence with Roma Children

Love and Presence with Roma ChildrenBecause modern Romanian children are required to learn English by high school, Golgotha Baptist’s high school and college students translated for us. Perhaps more importantly, they served as Romanian Christian models to the children we worked with.

With five days, three locations, and 60-120 children in each location, we needed all the supplies we took with us and all our afternoons and evenings to prepare the crafts, stories, songs and games for the next day. Each day had a different focus: Jesus calming the storm, Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, Naomi and Ruth, and Jesus’ resurrection.

Love and Presence with Roma Children Love and Presence with Roma Children We also used the afternoons to help Golgotha Baptist with maintenance of Camp Hope, where we stayed. Our jobs were cleaning and painting its building and grounds. Each evening Bart, Craig and the adult leaders led devotionals and analysis of the day: what worked, what didn’t, and what we could do better the next day.

During our 10 days in Romania, relationships formed through Vacation Bible School and now these relationships continue via Facebook. But those are just tools we use to make tangible what God’s message really is—love and presence.

Author’s note: Team leaders: Bart Dalton, FBC Minister to Students, and Craig Waddell, with Baptist General Association of Virginia Partnerships. Adult leaders: Tia Cochran, Elizabeth Lipford, Ken Storey; Youth Ministry Intern, Allie Osborne; youths: Ann Allred, Adam Brown, Madison Brown, Emily Hubbard, Sarah Jaramillo, Claire Johnson, Tara McKee, Christina Ramsey, Lydia and Will Storey.

Love and Presence with Roma Children

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