Slovakia: Revival among the Roma
For 20 years, an unprecedented revival has been growing among Slovakia’s marginalised Roma (gypsie) population.
“These unprecedented occurrences have captured the attention of governments, law enforcement, social workers, and scholars studying the Roma culture.”
Since the formation of an embryonic Roma church fellowship in Sabinov, Slovakia, in 2000, the revival has gained momentum and spread to the unlikeliest of places. “We have never seen anything like it. No one can take credit for starting it,” say Jim and Sherry Sabella, AGWM area directors for Southeast Europe. “Christ the King has gone into the highways and byways, inviting whosoever will come to His table. The Roma are coming in droves.”
Roma church leaders Marian, Rinaldo, Marek, and Tibor rejoice in God’s miracles in their communities and lives.
In 2007, the construction of a building for Sabinov Gypsy Church began. Miraculously they were granted government permission to begin, but many hurdles were faced in the process, related to discrimination of the Roma in Slovakian society. Despite the opposition, the building was completed with no debt, and has continued to expand. Today Sabinov Gypsy Church stands as the physical birthplace of a revival among the Roma in the neighborhood, the country, and the continent.
‘Crime rates began to drastically fall’
The Roma community in Sabinov, like Roma communities across Europe, traditionally endured many problems. Unemployment, alcoholism, sexual abuse, violence, theft, and few education opportunities were rampant. Yet as the Lord began to pour out His presence through the church, crime rates began to drastically fall. Police and local authorities took notice, soon partnering gladly with the church. Over the years, the pattern has proven itself: Roma who come to Christ experience and consciously engage in dramatic life transformations.
Substance abuse and addictive, destructive patterns are defeated, Marian states. Homes, though humble and often in squalid settlements, are cleaned and kept immaculate. Hygiene improves. Begging and thievery stops. Jobs are sought. Money is handled with wisdom and foresight. Education becomes prized. Young families seek higher living standards. Communities once characterized by chaos become organized from the inside out.
Generosity is also born. Rinaldo shares that in one transformed community, impoverished believers learned of a blind man living in a shack. They pooled their money to build the man and his family a new home. Marian says that Roma believers also tithe faithfully. “I am deeply touched by this,” he says. “Even those who are unemployed are still willing to give to God.”