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Reforming Our Roma Mission

A letter from Nadia Ayoub serving in Ukraine

June 2017

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Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Dear Friends and Families,

Peace and grace to you. I give thanks to the Lord God our Father for the great love with which he has loved us and made us friends with himself and with one another. Thank you for your friendship, prayers, encouragement and support. Your financial gifts are very much appreciated—because of them I can be in Ukraine and witness what the Lord is doing among the people here.

Thank God that winter has finished and we have had good, warm weather for the past week. The children are enjoying playing outside and riding bikes. Last weekend, there was a celebration for the city of Beregszasz in the city center with lots of activities, games and food. The beginning of the new season also brings with it many work opportunities for the Roma people: planting and picking fruits, helping in selling in the markets and taking some of the products across the Ukraine-Hungary border.

The school year is coming to its end; the older children are busy with finals and getting ready to graduate. The preschool program will go on vacation, too. Helpers from the Reformed Church, other local non-Roma and I are preparing for Vacation Bible School and summer camp for Roma children. In addition, we are organizing all-family activities such as a cookout complete with bogracs, a Hungarian national dish consisting of meat, potatoes and spices. Because bogracs are cooked for four or five hours over a fire, there will be much time for socializing. We are also planning an evangelization service for which we will invite a visiting preacher from the Ukraine, Hungary or Romania. Such services include much singing and sharing of testimonies.

To discuss our efforts to reform the Roma Mission Organization, we had two meetings with the Reformed Church bishop during which we studied reports about our Roma project sites, which usually include a place of worship and preschool and afterschool programs. We gave thanks to God our Father and rejoiced that these projects are taking place in many cities in Carpath-Ukraine. Some of them have existed for 15-17 years! The report revealed positive results—more children have been continuing high school education, and a few have even been advancing to higher studies. But we lamented that there seem to be little to no spiritual fruits, despite many years’ work. Roma are difficult to reach.

Unfortunately, there were two racial ethnic complaints about the project in the Peterfolvo area that, by God’s grace, the PC(USA) has helped me initiate and supervise. The first regards the location of the Roma Mission Center on the city’s main street. Other Roma projects are located in the middle of the Roma settlements. I hoped for and persisted in finding and buying a building that is centrally located because it would be seen, would encourage acknowledgement of the presence of the Roma people in the community and would facilitate peace between the Roma and the non-Roma. Such a central location also makes possible meetings and fellowship between those of different Roma settlements. Not long ago, Anita, a Roma mother of three children who is expecting a fourth child, explained to me that it is very good for her to bring her children to the weekday preschool program and to the Sunday church service, for she does not live in a Roma settlement and fears she might not be welcome in one in which she does not live. Roma from different settlements often have conflicts with each other.

The second complaint regarded Roma families receiving humanitarian aid more often than others. A Roma family typically has a minimum of four children, and it is not uncommon for them to have seven or more. In contrast, the majority of non-Roma families have only one to three children. Roma people have big families because parents receive government money for children between the ages of one and three, and families can live on this money. Since the jobs they get are usually seasonal work like agriculture, weaving baskets, and transporting goods over the Hungarian border, they cannot get by without government help. Even if a big family receives government aid, it is still not enough to sustain all their needs. I pray that God will fill the hearts of community members with compassion and inspire them to look after the needy among them.

Many organizations have helped us reach out to the Roma living in Carpath-Ukraine, including the PC(USA), which sent some helpers. Many pastors who have had nothing to do with the Roma Mission before now wish to join the work to help to make our ministries more organized and effective. With the changes in Roma Mission leadership, there are some interruptions in activities like the Roma Christian summer camp. However, the new leaders are trying to keep the ministry continuing. To help ensure consistency in the ministry, I see the need to stay in Ukraine this summer rather than go to the U.S. for my interpretation assignment. I pray God will lead us in all this and will allow the ministry to advance in helping many non-Roma and Roma people receive God’s love through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ our Savior and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I am thankful for all who work with me in this ministry. Pastor Seres Janos and his older son, Janos Jr., started the Roma mission work with me in the Peterfolvo area in 2011. Please pray for the family of Pastor Seres Janos. In April, Janos Jr. went to be with the Lord as the result of a motorcycle accident. Janos was 29 years old and was the father of two-year-old Adam.

Thank you so much for all you do for God’s ministry. I pray God will encourage you all with a fresh pouring of the Holy Spirit to fill you with joy to continue to be an instrument in God’s hand for his glory.

With you serving Christ the Lord,

Nadia Ayoub


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