Reaching the Roma

By June 24, 2011

Macedonia (MNN) — The Roma people of Macedonia have struggled with discrimination, abuse, poor living conditions, education and health care needs, and poverty. In one of the latest prayer requests from Baptist Global Response, the Roma people are now facing unemployment rates as high as 80-90%. BGR is ministering to the Roma even as this people group faces such dire need with a history of struggle.

The Roma people started out as having relatively privileged lives in Macedonia. But after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, they became victims of discrimination and were pushed to the background of society.

Now, according to Public Service Europe, hundreds of thousands of Roma are living in informal settlements spread across the country. Many of these settlements don't have access to clean drinking water or enough food and are not connected to sewage systems. Roma children are disadvantaged when it comes to their education. Also, the unemployment rate of 80-90% for the Roma of Macedonia is two times the rest of the nation's average.

Further forms of discrimination, according to Minorities at Risk, include police abuses, denied asylum, and threatened visa restrictions. They are not a part of the military or police forces of Macedonia and hold no political seats in the government.

This is why BGR has such a heart for the Roma in Macedonia. BGR has specifically targeted the nutritional and medical needs of the Roma people as they suffer from malnutrition and disease. Their health care program seeks to meet the physical needs of the people while also providing spiritual encouragement for a hurting people group.

BGR says of their health care ministry, "We follow the example of Jesus who modeled healing ministry and commanded His followers to care for ‘the least of these.'"

BGR not only directly provides medical and nutritional services to the Roma people, but they also enable medical professionals to address needs beyond the physical. They see this as a ministry, and there can be no greater joy than sharing the love of Christ by being His healing hands.

Informing yourself about the plight of the Roma people of Macedonia is just the beginning. BGR also asks you to "pray for more opportunities to meet both physical and spiritual needs. Pray for open doors to offer hope to these needy people."

By becoming the healing hands and feet of Christ, BGR is able to show the Roma that they have worth and value, even in a society that may degrade and devalue them. Our God is an advocate for the downtrodden, and through BGR's ministry, lives are being saved–bot physically and spiritually.

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