Europe (IMB/MNN) — Unwanted and marginalized,
the Roma people have become the target of governments across Europe.
In 2010, France launched a
campaign against them, expelling 13,000 — many of them landing in Romania. The
problem is that life is worse in Romania and other eastern countries where Roma
tend to concentrate. Unemployment in Roma towns has soared. Opportunities are so scarce that a
once-itinerant people are on the move, suspicion following them wherever they
The Southern Baptist
International Mission Board says the derogatory term "Gypsy" is commonly used
for the Roma people. Blamed for poverty,
crime and other social ills, they have isolated themselves, sticking with their
own cultural practices and beliefs.
Cornel Tuns, an IMB missionary,
is a Romanian-American, familiar with the challenges faced by the Roma. He says
their hardships have led to ministry opportunities.
Tuns serves in Romania as an
apprentice missionary with his wife, Erica. He recently joined several Roma believers at the Bucharest airport to
meet the throng of expelled Gypsies, offering rides and helping them connect
with family members. While some of the
Roma were thankful for the help, others were suspicious of ulterior motives.
IMB missionaries have started two
significant ministries with the Roma. "From Everywhere To Everywhere" (FETE)
trains Roma believers to go across Europe and share the Gospel with other Roma.
"Far Away Romany Missions" (FARM) is a summer program dedicated to providing
biblical and evangelism training to the Roma.
Despite the Roma people's
wariness, Tuns and other IMB missionaries across Europe are seeing a response
to the Gospel. "Burning Bush" is a
rapidly growing Roma church with 3,000 members — located in a Romanian town
with a population of 7,000.
You can be involved through
praying for the Roma and finding other ways to help. Click here.