April 8, 2022
Some words can’t be adequately translated — the foreign-language version just doesn’t do justice to the original. One such word is tabor, a Romani word signifying a group of Roma people, typically related by blood and/or marriage, who live and travel together. The old photograph shows the tabor of pastor Andrey Beskorovainiy, complete with tent. Before the Roma of the Soviet Union were forced to settle in one place in the 1950s, many Roma tabors would travel around the country in search of temporary or seasonal work, usually in agriculture. In most cases, the Roma, physically and culturally distinct from their Slavic neighbors, were not allowed to stay in any one place once their services were no longer required. In a very real sense, the tabor was home. Even today, when most Roma in Russia and Ukraine are geographically stable, the tabor remains an important part of Roma life. The dominant Slavic culture is still hostile to the Roma, and the tabor helps to preserve the Romani language and culture.
Contemporary Roma Christians long to be accepted in the larger church community, but not to be assimilated into that community. They want to pray and to sing in their own language, and to worship in a way that resonates with their own culture. For Pastor Andrey’s congregation, their church has become the tabor, a safe and familiar gathering. Even with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the church has continued to gather as much as possible, maintaining the all-important fellowship of believers, and Pastor Andrey has continued to visit other Roma groups to spread the good news of the gospel.
Alan Smith, former mission co‐worker in Russia, World Mission, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Alan Smith ended his service in September 2020, but his wife, Ellen Smith, took over his responsibilities working alongside the Roma people. To view her profile, please go to pcusa.org/ellen-smith.
Today’s Focus: International Roma Day
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Almighty God, you call all people to yourself. Guide and protect our Roma brothers and sisters as they seek to follow your will for their lives. Amen.