The Method: a 17-day campaign of music camps, festivals, mini and major concerts performed in 5 Roma communities and 2 cities in cooperation with the Mercy Street Team headquartered in Germany, August 10 to 27.
The Man and Woman Power: The 17 faithful, dedicated members of the Mercy Street Team; the hard-working members of the MEK Central Hungary Team and the ZZ and REZ Serbia Teams; plus about 350 diligent prayer warriors from the US and Canada.
The Mission Highlights:
The Music Camp in Zsambok, Hungary — This week-long camp was open to Roma youth in the villages of Zsambok and Boldog who were serious about learning how to sing or play a musical instrument. Fifteen to twenty students gathered each morning from 9 to 12:30 to watch the Mercy Street Band perform, learn about the instruments from professional musicians, hear their Christian testimonies and Biblical life-lessons, take small group music lessons and do arts and crafts projects. One special moment was when the young would-be musicians enthusiastically hit the streets of Zsambok on Friday to do their own mini-concerts using drums, kazoos and voice. It was tremendous to give these young people visions and Christian role models for a possible future in music.
Concerts in Zsambok, Gyöngyös and Boldog, Hungary — The MEK Central Hungary Team, let by Laci Daroczi-Csuhai and Feri Olah, is just beginning to introduce CHE in the villages of Zsambok and Gyöngyös. A full-scale Mercy Street Concert of blues, rhythm and blues, Negro spirituals and Gospel music plus personal testimonies was a perfect way to raise awareness for MEK Hungary as a Christian community development program entering their villages. In Boldog, the evening concert brought out many adults we had not seen at our previous MEK outreach events thanks to the advertising efforts of our Roma champions in the village. Mission accomplished.
MEK Benefit Concert — As MEK Hungary’s ministry expands into new impoverished communities, so does its need for volunteers and partners. About 100 people attended a MEK benefit concert at the Concert Hall in Hatvan to hear Mercy Street and see several video presentations about MEK Hungary. After the concert they were given opportunity to fill out MEK partnership cards.
After 10 days in Hungary, the campaign moved on to the Novi Sad, Serbia area to work with Marijana Čizmanski’s ZZ Serbia Team in two villages, Donji Petrovac and Backo Gardista.
Donji Petrovac, Serbia — Many Roma in this small village stood at a distance and watched curiously as the Mercy Street band did an American music mini-concert on a Wednesday night. As they ended, several Roma musicians from the village came up with with keyboard and accordion in hand and asked if they could play some Gypsy songs with the band! The band plugged them in and off they went! A large crowd gathered to watch “white, western” musicians get an introduction to Gypsy music! Those moments broke the ice as the Mercy Street members affirmed the music and the skills of the Roma performers in front of their fellow-villagers.
The children’s program, festival and large concert the next night drew most of the village for a lively evening of music, testimonies and Gospel sharing. Our goals of sharing the love of Christ and introducing CHE and the ZZ Team more fully in Donji Petrovac were certainly met.
Backo Gardista, Serbia — In this larger Roma community, Marijana Čizmanski and her ZZ Serbia team are just forming relationships and gaining the trust of the cautious Roma population. One reason Roma keep themselves segregated from “white” people is their memories of bad experiences with them in the past. Now we were invading their home space with about 25 “white” people!
Starting in the morning with a children’s music and craft time and an active afternoon festival, trust began to grow as more parents allowed their children to attend.
Adults were bashful at first to come for the goulash dinner that was
prepared for them, but the food was just too delicious to resist. The concert site was at the center point where five streets meet. Villagers from all five streets gathered at the head of their street to enjoy the Mercy Street concert and hear testimonies and the Gospel. Marijana and ZZ workers were able to meet many villagers for the first time and introduce themselves and CHE wholistic community development to them. It was a huge step forward for them and the village.
Novi Sad, Serbia and the Synagogue Concert — The large Synagogue, now used as a culture-center in Novi Sad, was the scene of a benefit concert on Friday night to raise up visibility and partners for our two CHE teams in Serbia, REZ and ZZ. Over 200 people enjoyed Mercy Street’s music and heard about the vision and ministry of REZ and ZZ. Few response cards were turned in after the concert, however. Please pray for more volunteers to help with this needy ministry.
The mission for our 17-day campaign was accomplished. We all agreed that, in the process, we learned and grew a great deal ourselves, especially in regard to spiritual warfare and working with the poor and marginalized, but very friendly, Roma people.
Please pray now for the follow-up by our CHE Teams (MEK Hungary, ZZ and REZ Serbia) in each of these villages and with those who filled out response cards at the benefit concerts.