Sitting in the church pew waiting to speak to a group of Chinese Americans in the San Francisco bay area, I once again reflected on the almost accidental and somewhat surreal events that led to this moment. Who would have guessed that EFCA ReachGlobal would help mobilize the Chinese church to come alongside Roma living in Europe? Who would even believe that the Chinese, of all people, would be called to serve alongside the Roma in Europe? Was it really only 5 months ago that we met with Chinese, Romanian, and American believers on a dark and foggy night in a Roma village in the mountains of Transylvania and began to see how we could work together for God’s glory among a forgotten people group? It was like I could clearly see individual pieces of the puzzle but they didn’t seem to fit together in any logical way. But it is evident that there is a growing clarity to the picture on the puzzle.
Less than two years ago the staff of the Great Commission Center International (GCCI) read a few articles that Melody Wachsmuth wrote about the Roma in Europe. They came to the conclusion that there was an unreached people group of 10-12 million people spread across Europe. Since that time they have organized a vision trip, a conference representing Roma in 16 countries, 3 mission/vision trips, and an outreach English camp in Hungary led by Chinese believers.
During this same time EFCA ReachGlobal Europe created the SERVEurope Catalyst Team led by Jim Baker and staffed by yours truly. Besides recruiting and growing our team, we were given the task of finding opportunities where God was working in Europe and reporting where ReachGlobal could uniquely join in. These opportunities were to fit into our mission’s overall goals. As a mission ReachGlobal Europe is asking God for:
• 100,000 disciple makers
• 10,000 transformational churches
• 15 locations with Acts 19 results, including 5 Complex Urban Center (CUC) sites
One of the areas of opportunity quickly identified itself as a “hidden revival” among the Roma. With a growing sense of excitement about tracing the story of this revival throughout Europe, the Catalyst Team traveled to Spain, Bulgaria, and Slovakia. And the ReachGlobal city team in Bucharest, Romania asked for our help to create a ministry description for Roma ministry workers. So we decided to travel to Bucharest from a conference in Budapest, Hungary. The historic Roma for the Nations Conference is where our paths converged with Chinese believers and GCCI. Right after the conference, we ended up on "The Long Road To Bucharest" traveling with Romanian and Chinese missionaries for 4 days over 800 miles stopping at 12 villages/cities to see how God was working among the Roma. After our trip SERVEurope Catalyst Team sat down with the members of the Great Commission Center International and shared impressions of the conference and the trip and to decide on follow up steps. One of the follow up steps was this church meeting. After meeting with GCCI representatives in the day the English speaking Chinese churches in the San Francisco bay area were invited to hear about God’s work among the Roma in Europe.
This is a unique time in the history of the global Church and the movement of God among Europe’s 10-12 million Roma. It seems that God has uniquely equipped the Chinese churches to reach the Roma in Europe. They do not have the negative constructed images that European nationals often have that lead to mistrust from both sides. Furthermore the Chinese are able to enter a relationship with the Roma without the real or perceived sense of the westerner’s power and wealth. And as Dr. Thomas Wang pointed out that evening the early history of Chinese Americans was one of migrating to the USA, working hard for very little money, being stigmatized and seen as an undesirable by the majority population.
The further I reflect on the movement of God among the Roma the more I come to see that God is putting seemingly random puzzle pieces that don’t seem to fit. But the more they come together the more I see a beautiful, multi-cultural, multi-generational picture that is not bound by geography, culture, or man’s lack of imagination. It is a beautiful picture and I feel privileged to be a witness to its’ creation. EFCA ReachGlobal is helping GCCI to mobilize the Chinese church to work among the Roma in Europe. But just as the Chinese have been uniquely equipped to work with the Roma in Europe, other churches around the world have also been uniquely equipped. For now I will leave you with 3 recent quotes about God’s work among the Roma in Europe and the video of the Roma for the Nations conference. Or we can continue the dialogue. And if you are interested in finding out more, check out ReachGlobal Mission Needs or write EuropeCatalyst@efca.org
“All of this conference, this convention, was started by Chinese because they felt a burden for the Roma people. So that’s kind of the “foolishness of God” because in the world it doesn’t go together. You know, the Chinese and Roma people. You know, how is that possible? But God is just, in his wisdom God is just pouring out His love into Chinese hearts.” Misha Bakic (Serbia)
“I am amazed at Chinese people having burdens for the Gypsies. It’s wonderful! It’s a miracle!” Rene Zanellato (France)
“We pray that all Roma will turn to Christ and become soldiers of the cross. Hallelujah! May God’s will be done!” Dr. Thomas Wang-Great Commission Center International