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Posts Tagged ‘Romania’

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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Story and photos by Skyler Cumbia.

Romania sunrise
Yogurt played a substantial role in my life in Romania. I ate it for breakfast quite often, usually while I read from the Bible each morning …ok, MOST mornings. I’m not that perfect!

calloutFor me, yogurt is similar to the word of God. You’re saying, “Did she really just compare the Bible to yogurt?” Yes, I did. It’s rich and sweet and it fills you up. I don’t know about you, but I love yogurt. I like rolling it around on my tongue and slowly munching on bits of fruit. And when I get close to the end, I scrape as much as possible off the sides, around the rim and at the bottom. Shouldn’t it be the same when we read the Bible? We should try to scrape out of a passage every scrap of knowledge we possibly can!

One of my favorite kinds of yogurt is the Greek yogurt that often has the “fruit on the bottom” so you have to dig around to find it and mix it all in. Similarly, you will never get any flavor out of a Bible passage until you’ve dug a little and stirred it around in your mind.

Now, I’m fairly positive that Satan designed the Yoplait yogurt containers. There is this horrible lip at the top that keeps you from getting that last bit of deliciousness. Satan loves to do the same when we read the Bible. He puts this barrier in your mind preventing you from grasping that last, and often times most important, bit of information.

libraryOn several occasions God would show Himself to me through the children I worked with or the women I taught English to. For a while I was struggling with the feeling that I wasn’t making much of a difference. One afternoon a boy in the afterschool program said to me, “I want to be like you!” At first I thought, “How sweet,” but then it hit me: This was God telling me that I was making a difference. Whether or not this boy was referring to my semi-awesome super hero sketching skills, I’ll never know, but God made His point clear.

childrenSome days I taught English at a women’s center. I didn’t have a large group every day; sometimes I would just work one-on-one. This is actually how I prefer to teach, but also these times reminded me of church. We come together as believers to learn from the Bible and from each other, but so often underestimate the importance of one-on-one time with God. We still learn a lot from being in groups, but there are some things that are harder to teach (and learn) in large groups.

My months in Romania filled me up (in more ways than yogurt). They quenched my soul in areas that had been parched for some time. Many people have asked me if I liked Ghana or Romania more. But I can’t compare them, they are so different. I learned many life and spiritual lessons in both places so I guess, in the end, that’s all that matters.

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