The Roma (Gypsy) people are the largest stateless and most persecuted people group in all of Europe.
It is believed that the Roma originally came from northwest India. Wherever they have traveled, they have faced persecution from the local residents; therefore the Roma people have often lived a nomadic lifestyle.
During Communist times, Roma were forced to settle and register and go to school and learn new trades, but assimilation into the host culture was never been totally successful. In 1974 the last “Gypsy” band was settled in Poland. Since the 1990’s and the fall of communism, persecution of the Roma arose once more in Eastern Europe, and by the 21st century most Roma faced increased discrimination and live in extreme poverty. The Roma have never assimilated completely into the European culture, due to the Roma’s refusal and racism by the European community.
Our family has served in Poland since 2003. Our focus group so far has been the Bergitka & Polska Roma, also known as “Carpathian Roma”.
The Bergitka are the poorest group of Roma and are held in contempt by other Roma groups. The Polska Roma are one level up from the bottom of their caste system.
Formerly a nomadic people, consisting of craftsman, musicians and skilled tradesman, within the past 70 years, the Carpathian Roma have become unskilled and unemployed people and must rely of social welfare.
The Carpathian Roma people are now basically uneducated and unskilled. Under the rule of Communism, the Roma people had employment by the government. With the fall of Communism, they are now unemployed and the social welfare dependency has become a way of life for these Roma. Although the welfare income is not sufficient to live on, this is their main source of income.
With racisms against the employment of Roma, the lack of education among the Roma people and high unemployment in Poland, Slovakia and other Eastern European countries, these combined factors have shaped and molded the current life style of the Roma in Eastern Europe today.
The Greatest needs for the Roma people today, is a life changing relationship with Jesus. Jesus can break their bondage of sin, and free them from the slavery of repeated hopelessness. And Jesus can remove the blinders of ignorance from their hearts and eyes. They then can truly begin to experience life with a purpose and they can have hope for their children’s future also. The generational curse can be broken in this generation by the power of Jesus.
With Jesus as their Lord they will have motivation to excel and achieve more than their predecessors had. They can become God dependent and self-sufficient and not have to rely on a meager governmental hand out, which is no more than a form of compensated slavery. With Jesus making them a new creation they can have life abundantly with joy knowing that God made them special, God made them Roma.
(“Rom” literally means “MAN”)