Romania (MNN) — Wherever their travels take them, Roma Gypsies maintain their language and lifestyle characteristics while adopting local language and beliefs. Over ten million ostracized Roma Gypsies are spread throughout Europe, Africa, and South America.
The Southern Baptist International Mission Board is working to bring this people group to Christ by ministering along cultural and family lines, while training them to reach their own people.
One Roma had the chance to rise above his circumstances through professional sports, but he chose to leave that lifestyle and obey God instead.
"I was playing soccer, my personal idol," says Stoica. "I didn't think it was a sin to play soccer, but then I realized the price that came with that. So I left playing soccer and just followed Jesus Christ."
Stoica joined other young Romanian believers in the summer of 2006 to tell people in a foreign city and country about Jesus Christ. These disciples are the result of IMB 's most developed work among the Roma.
"We hope to have our own leaders, our own missionaries," says Jim Whitley, an IMB worker who recently transferred from Romania to South America to work among the Gypsies. "When the Roma begin to do their own evangelism, they begin to cross barriers so quickly."
The Roma people vary in dialect and location, and they cling to a religion of superstition and cultural traditions. IMB workers and national partners reach out to the Roma through literacy education, teaching job skills, and the use of Bible stories to evangelize and disciple new believers.
"It's a real indigenous church-planting movement," Whitley says. "For me, that's the ultimate goal."
If you'd like to learn more about IMB's work in Romania, click here.