Gypsy People

This Fall is Filled with Thanksgiving Reports about Our CHE EuroNet Teams

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Locate Hungary, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and North Macedonia (FYROM) on the map!

October-November is proving to be a season of outpouring of great blessings for our Community Health Evangelism (CHE) teams that makeup the CHE EuroNet in Central Europe and the Balkans.  Here are some of the happenings for which we are very grateful this Thanksgiving.

HUNGARY — On November 11 the first Sunday morning worship service was held in Boldog in the new Roma community center!  Fifteen precious people were in attendance as Feri Olah preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God and Laci Daroczi-Csuhai spoke. 

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Feri Olah leads the people of Boldog in their first worship service, November 11

The plan is to continue regular meetings on Sunday mornings.  The community center is also being used for Women’s Group meetings, English lessons, men’s gatherings and other village events.

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The newly painted Boldog Roma Community Center as it appeared at the Dedication Service, October 28, 2018

The people of Boldog held a used clothing sale to buy the heating units as well as the paint for the Community Center.  Then they painted it outside and inside.  It’s beautiful!

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Women from Boldog paint the inside of their new community Center

SERBIA— ZZ Serbia hosted a TOT1 training conference at the Belgrade Bible School.  Five enthused trainees came from The Galilee Foundation of Macedonia and four from Sasha Cipra’s EZZ Bosnia team in Tuzla, Bosnia.  They were being equipped to launch new CHE programs in their countries.

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Marijana speaks at the 22cd Annual Women’s Conference in Belgrade

Meanwhile development work progresses in the Roma villages of Bačko Gradište and Donji Petrovci, Serbia.  ZZ’s big challenge will be to find places to hold meetings in the communities this winter.

Marijana Cizmanski, Director of ZZ Serbia and an NAB National Worker, was the main speaker at the 22cd Annual Women’s conference in Belgrade in October.  She presented two well-received messages on “Fruits of the Healthy Relationship with God.”

REZ Serbia is doing new preliminary survey work in the community of Nadalj, Serbia as well as engaging in a partnership with a Baptist church in north Serbia to help them start a CHE program in their neighboring village.

NORTH MACEDONIA — Agron Aga, Director of CHE Albania and Patriot Hoxhaj, Director of the Albania MAI Team made a CHE mentoring visit to Rev. Jimmy Simon and leaders of the emerging CHE Macedonia Team near Veles, Macedonia two weeks ago.  

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Agron Aga, Director of CHE Albania teaches in Stip, Macedonia

Together they visited and selected four potential villages for surveying in the coming months.  Two will be chosen by the Macedonia team for their first CHE development programs.  Leaders from World Poverty Solutions and ReachGlobal will be visiting the team for further training and counseling after New Years.  The Macedonians, who serve with The Galilee Foundation, continue to be highly motivated to begin CHE in communities where they have already planted churches.

BULGARIA — A new connection was made in October with a mission leader in eastern Bulgaria who has a vision to use Community Health Evangelism to evangelize and disciple Roma that his teams are contacting there.  Plans are being formed to do a CHE training in this region in the spring, 2019.

KOSOVO — CHE Albania has recently completed introductory training in one church in Kosovo.  In February they are scheduled to do the same in 2 more Kosovo churches.  We currently do not have a CHE team or program in operation in this needy nation.

ALBANIA — You have seen CHE Albania’s name and Agron Aga’s name throughout this report.  Beside all the work they are doing in Kosovo and Macedonia, they are preparing for a CHE TOT1 worker’s training conference in Tirana, Albania in March.  God is really using this team.

SUMMARY — We are excited and encouraged to see Community Health Evangelism spreading to new churches, new communities, new teams and new countries.  We are blessed to see Roma becoming believers and being discipled.  We are motivated by seeing our CHE Team Members throughout Central Europe and the Balkans so motivated!  We are overjoyed to see the beginning of a church plant in Hungary.  Please pray with us for lasting fruit!  Thank you, Lord,

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Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Camp Mrčajevci Hosts Greatly Blessed CHE EuroNet Summit and Gathering

The CHE EuroNet annual Gathering of CHE leaders from Central Europe and the Balkans took place September 13 to 16 at beautiful Camp Mrčajevci in central Serbia.  Thirty-five workers, staff and board members from Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Albania attended.  

Each year the CHE EuroNet network gets together for a time of encouragement, renewal, refreshment, training and sharing of best practices and fellowship.  The CHE EuroNet Board also meets to plan out the coming year of cooperative activities.  In 2019 we will start nation-wide CHE Vision Seminars and hold a training conference on Disciple Making Ministry (DMM) methods.   

Members of the Galilee Foundation of Macedonia listen to Tony Freitas’ Workshop

One highlight of this year’s Gathering was the presence of Pastor Jimmy Simon and 6 members of the Galilee Foundation of Macedonia who are taking steps to implement Community Health Evangelism in their ministry of evangelism and church planting in poor communities of their country.  In the last decade the Galilee Foundation has planted 27 churches.

 

 

 

THE SUMMIT

The Gathering was preceded this year by a very significant two-day Summit of international mission agency leaders and their national workers who are now engaged in CHE work among the poor of Central Europe and the Balkans.  

The CHE EuroNet has the vision of having CHE Teams and Programs up and running in all countries of Central Europe and the Balkans by the end of 2020.  Up until 2012, Medical Ambassadors International and Fida International operated three teams in the Balkans.  Ron and Jeannie Seck brought the North American Baptists into Hungary and Serbia to do CHE in that year.  Since then, the Cooperative Baptists, ReachGlobal (of the Evangelical Free Church), World Poverty Solutions (WPS) and Global Hope Network International (GHNI) have also entered.

ZZ and REZ Serbia try to solve a team building problem

We are very excited and praising God for all these new CHE agencies who are arriving in our region and for the potential for growth and for learning new models and skills that they are bringing.   The Summit was a time to become familiar with each Agency’s personnel, CHE model, strategy and vision.  We also acquainted newcomers with the unique cultural features of the Balkans and other former Soviet Satellite Countries as well as the resources CHE EuroNet can make available to them as they begin their work.  

We are experiencing great interest in new countries (like Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Romania) to begin CHE Programs.  At the Summit we examined many of these opportunities and discussed which agencies are best suited to help them get up and running.

Finally, we discussed how each of our agencies can continue the collaboration, cooperation and communication that has characterized the CHE EuroNet network and helped us expand as we have thus far.

As CHE Central Europe Coordinator, Ron organized and led the Summit attended by Tony Freitas (Reach Global), Andreas Steffensen, Prakash Lal and Ann Kozlyuk (WPS), Daniel Emig (via video, GHNI), Patriot Hoxhaj (MAI), Jon and Tanya Payne (CBF), Ron and Jeannie Seck (NAB).  These leaders stayed on for the Gathering and met with individual CHE teams to discuss potential future partnerships.  The times of relationship-building were priceless.  All of us powerfully felt the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training, Travel

A Recipe for Making a Mobile CHE Community Center Building

  • Two Used 40 foot steel shipping containers

    Take 2 forty-foot long steel shipping containers (used)

 

  • Add 8 well-seasoned North Dakota short-term team builders

 

  • Mix in several Hungarian and Roma skilled workers

 

  • Cutting out the walls

    Flavor with wonderful Roma meals

 

  • Pour in a generous financial gift from Hillside Baptist Church in Dickinson, ND

 

  • Cook vigorously for 5 days

 

  • Simmer for one more week.

 

  • Studs, drywall and insulation

    What do you get?  A Mobile Community Center for the Roma of Boldog, Hungary that’ll be used for CHE training meetings, community events, a youth center, a medical clinic, church services, social events, tutoring and much more.

Erv and Marty VanVeldhuizen’s four man crew from Hillside Baptist arrived in Hungary and quickly tore in to the two shipping containers which had been delivered to the building site in Boldog.  With the skilled help of Laci Daroczi and Feri Olah, MEK staff members, they cut out walls, windows and doors; joined the 2 containers together and sealed them from rain.  

Inserting windows

Rev. Paul Herr and a team of 3 from Century Baptist then joined in.  Together they put up the studs, welded door and window sills and support columns, inserted the doors and windows, insulated, ran tubing for electrical wiring, and dry-walled.  

Each noon, the women of the community cooked them a delicious Roma meal you could never find in any restaurant.  In just five days they had the heavy labor done!  The majority of the hard-working crew then had to return home.

The rest stayed on the second week to help Laci and Feri run the electric wire and mud the drywall.  The next steps

Drywall, windows, doors, electrical installed

will be to paint the interior and exterior; install plumbing and eventually construct an awning over the front of the building to shelter outside activities.

Our grateful thanks to Erv, Marty, Mike, Aaron, Troy, Paul, Barry and Mark and the people of Hillside Baptist Church for making this vision a reality.

Please pray that this new building will now be used to bring the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Roma community in Boldog.

 

One CHE Mobile Community Center for Boldog (we still need to paint!)

Laci and Jeannie stand with the hard-working crew from Hillside Baptist Church: Aaron, Troy, Mike and Erv.

The ladies who make things happen: Marika, Marty, Laura, Andi, Jeannie and Helen.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Uncategorized

Highlights of The CHE/Mercy Street Outreach in Hungary and Serbia.

Mercy Street in Concert in Gyöngyös, Hungary, August 16

The Mission:  to share the good news of Jesus Christ and to raise awareness of the opportunity for wholistic community development in Roma villages through our CHE teams in Hungary and Serbia.

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:

Music lessons in Zsambok

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.

Music School Students enjoy doing a mini-concert in a parking lot in Zsambok

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.

People Gather for the Mercy Street Concert in Zsambok


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.

Mercy Street backs up local Roma musicians

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.  

Making Gypsy fried bread at Donji Petrovac Festival

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.

Happy faces at the Concert in Backo Gardista

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. 

Mercy Street Concert at the Synagogue in Novi Sad

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos

Stip, Macedonia and Jánoshalma, Hungary Taking Huge Next CHE Steps

Stip,  Macedonia and Jánoshalma, Hungary were the sites of very positive CHE follow up meetings recently for Ron and Jeannie and other Community Health Evangelism team members.  

In Stip we met with Pastor Jimmy Simon and leaders from the Galilee foundation who we trained in May.  God is doing great things in Macedonia through this amazing team of committed Kingdom

Members of the Galilee Foundation in Macedonia work hard on their Case for Support as Pastor Jimmy looks on.

servants.  In the past 10 years they have planted 27 churches in the eastern, southern and western parts of their country. All of this was accomplished by volunteers without consistent outside support or partners.  Their goal is to reach every unreached Macedonian village with the good news of Jesus Christ.

After taking CHE training they believe this wholistic mission strategy will be key to achieving their vision.  Even before our recent arrival their leaders were already dreaming of many different CHE projects.  Some of them are quite creative and most of them are faith-challenging.  

Our purpose was to spend two working days helping the Galilee Foundation get a good start on an important document called a Case for Support.  This document will tell the history and accomplishments of the Galilee Foundation as well as their visions for the futures potential partners.  It will define the location, need, purpose, model and resources needed for each of their CHE projects.  

In order to accomplish the Foundation’s ambitious vision, it will need committed and sustainable CHE partnerships.  Their Case for Support will help introduce them and their plans to interested, potential CHE-oriented mission agencies who are working in or entering the Balkans.  They will then have opportunity to meet with some of these agencies at the CHE EuroNet Summit and Gathering Meetings, September 12 and 13 near Nis, Serbia.

György Bayer and team members from Jánoshalma take their first CHE training module.

Jánoshalma team members will take advanced training this fall.


On a smaller but equally diligent scale, György Bayer and his Roma team have planted 10 small house churches
in Roma neighborhoods in the city of Janoshalma in south Hungary.  After their CHE TOT1 training in April, György’s team wants to attempt some family-based CHE projects in neighborhoods where they have house churches.  Their vision is to engage the poor people there in a more wholistic, Christlike manner.  We spent several days after Macedonia with these willing servants doing preliminary neighborhood surveys and casting vision.  In the fall we will return to train workers to be family-based community developers.  

Please pray for these pioneering projects in Macedonia and Janoshalma, Hungary.  They are only a few of the new Roma and poor communities our CHE teams are now entering.  More to come in future reports. 

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training

NAB Gateway Team Has “Great Expectations” as It Serves in Hungary

Annemarie, Trish, Jeannie, Jocifína, Tracy, Cathy and Laci after the morning camp in Boldog

Jesus took his twelve disciples on a missions trip.  One night he told them to get in their boat and take him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  A huge storm on the lake almost swamps their craft.  Jesus calms the waves and wind and the team lands on the far shore.  Two demoniacs meet them.  The 12 weary disciples watch Jesus heal the 2 ferocious men, see $300,000 worth of pigs rush down a hill and drown themselves and witness the irate villagers ask Jesus to leave.  Then they cross back over to the other side of the Lake — the same night.

This account taught our NAB Gateway Mission Team what to expect when you take a mission trip with Jesus!  Expect to stretch your faith!  Expect the unexpected.  Expect to be flexible.  Expect people to be people.  Expect to do whatever it takes.  Expect Jesus to do great things.  

Introducing a song in English at Zsambok English Camp

With these expectations our NAB Gateway team of Cathy Jensen, Trish Terrett and Annemarie Doell from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and Tracy Haskin from Idaho, USA joined with our MEK Hungary Team and translators.  The mission: to do children and adult outreach in the Roma communities of Zsambok and Boldog, Hungary.

Forty to 50 children gathered each morning for the 3-day camp in Zsambok that focused on the theme that we can be overcomers through the power of Jesus Christ living in us.  The camp featured songs, drama, games, snacks and Bible teaching.  Tracy and Cathy worked with Ron teaching the English class while Annmarie and Trish assisted Jeannie with the craft sessions.  Feri Oláh taught the Bible applications.

Starting a home visit in Boldog

In the evenings the team visited the homes of some of the children, giving out chocolate chip cookies, something uncommon in Hungary, and other small gifts from Canada and Idaho.  Each member had opportunity to share her personal testimony of having Jesus Christ in her life and her certain hope of eternal life.  

On the final night in Zsambok, the team held a Canada evening picnic complete with home- made Canadian chili, the singing of O, Canada, and videos of the country of the Maple Leaf. 

The next three days the team followed the same pattern in the village of Boldog as we battled cold, windy and rainy weather.  The home visits and testimony sharing were a highlight and a number of children prayed with Feri Olah during the Bible classes to receive Jesus Christ.

Before the NAB Gateway Team headed home they had opportunity to visit the medieval city and fortress of Eger, enjoy the thermal baths and see the sights of Budapest.

Cathy Jensen leads the team in making “Canadian Chili.”

Thank you, Annemarie, Tracy, Trish and Cathy for coming to Hungary and serving the Roma people with us.

Children pray with Feri Oláh as parents look on, asking God for a heart of good soil so their lives will bear fruit for Jesus Christ.

Please pray, everyone, as we seek to build on the week of outreach in these two Roma communities.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos

Health Care Professionals Are Needed for Community Development Work among the Unhealthiest People in Europe

Approximately 13,000,000 Roma/Gypsies live in Central and Western Europe.  By comparison, Hungarians number only 9 million, Serbians about 7 million and Portuguese 10 million.

However, the average Roma/Gypsy lives 10 years less than other Europeans.  This is due to a hard, harsh, often third-world lifestyle; poor diet; detrimental habits and deficient health care.  Although Central Europe has national health-care, for the Roma it is curative and not preventative; discriminatory and prejudicial and usually used only as a last resort.  Most Roma are concerned about their health and that of their children, though generally ill-informed about how to be healthy.

This is a huge window of opportunity for us who want to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God in deed as well as word to the Roma nation.  Our Community Health Evangelism (CHE) teams enter Roma communities offering them the hope of holistically healthier lives, families and communities through following King Jesus.  One area of focus is physical health through community training in preventative health care.

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Health Care Workers do community baseline health screenings, train Roma in preventative health care and develop programs that produce healthier children and adults while showing the loving care of Jesus Christ.

For us to do this effectively, however, we need trained health care professionals serving on our CHE Teams in Hungarian and in Serbian-speaking regions of Europe.  As Jeannie and I look to semi-retirement in 2020, we are praying for two NAB couples to come to Central Europe to replace us full-time.  But God is encouraging us to pray that one person in each couple is a health care professional who will be a medical presence in our Roma communities, to…

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A dental hygienist performing a oral check up during a community health screening.

  • help set up health-care screenings in Roma communities.
  • train Roma in preventative health-care,
  • develop programs that produce healthier children and adults,
  • help Roma become better advocates for themselves in the public health system,
  • train Roma to be preventive health-care volunteers in their communities.
  • bring the health-giving love and Good News of Jesus to these lost people.

If you believe God may be speaking to you about this wonderful opportunity to use your health-care skills and gifts, please contact Ron Seck via email at ronseck@me.com.  We will be happy to tell you more.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Uncategorized

CHE Teams Facilitate Trainings in Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Hungary

February and March were busy months for Marijana Cizmanski, NAB International Worker and ZZ Serbia Director. In addition to starting entry work in two Roma villages outside Novi Sad, she also first traveled to Veres, Macedonia to help conduct a Community Development Vision Seminar for almost 50 church workers.  She then flew to Podgorica, Montenegro 10 days later to co-facilitate our first Vision Seminar on Christian Community Development in that nation.  In March she joined members of REZ Serbia to train Child Evangelism Fellowship workers from throughout Serbia on how to integrate children’s community health evangelism curriculum into their ministry.  The week-long course is called Children’s CHE TOT.

Marijana Čizmanski leads a discussion at Children’s CHE Training for Child Evangelism workers in Serbia

Graduates from Serbia Children’s CHE Training Week with REZ Serbia trainers Emil and Klara Kisgeci (U.R.)

In mid-April the MEK Hungary team, including Laci and Eszter, Ron and Jeannie, led a week of training for church workers from Zsambok and Janoshalma, Hungary who wish to implement CHE into their Roma communities.  Soon the MEK team will travel to Janoshalma to visit the 10 Roma house churches in the vicinity to consult on the best ways to begin their outreach and development projects in their neighborhoods.

Sabrina Oláh practice teaches a lesson on “The Common Cold.”

Enjoying a laugh during a small-group discussion at the Hungarian TOT1 in April

Graduates from the Hungarian TOT1 include 8 Roma, who are now equipped to begin doing community outreach and development with their fellow country people.

Please pray with us…

  • that this training on our part will turn into community development action steps on the part of Child Evangelism workers in Serbia and Roma workers in Zsambok and Janoshalma.
  • that poverty-stricken children and adults in these countries will become disciples of our Savior and Lord, experiencing more abundant life here on earth and eternal life hereafter.
Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training, Uncategorized

Introducing Our Newest MEK Full-Time Team Members, Feri and Judit Oláh

Judit and Feri Oláh

It is with great joy that we announce to you the hiring in January of our newest full-time MEK Hungary team member, thanks to the generous pledges of 7 of our North American Baptist churches.  His name is Feri Oláh and he recently wrote down his testimony, “A Roma Journey,” for us to share with you.  I can’t think of a better way of introducing him to you than in his own words:

My name is Ferenc Oláh and I am 44 years old.  I live in Zsámbok, Hungary with my wife, Judit, and our three children.   I have served as a pastor in the local Evangelical Church for 18 years and also work as a mason.

I was born into a large family with 8 children. The Catholic religion was important to my parents and because of this I had to be attend Catholic religion classes.  I really liked the Bible stories but they did not touch me deeply. My mother talked to us all the time about God, but I did not know the Lord in a personal way.

My mother got cancer when she was 37 years old. I think that was the first time that I remembered to pray to God.  After one year of struggle my mother died and left me and two of my younger brothers alone with our dad.  I was 14 years old at that time.  After I lost my mom I tried to find my peace and comfort in religion, but I did not find it.

Later I went to Budapest, to a high school where I lived.  There I got to know sin deeply.  I also joined a Boxing club, where I could fight with my anger, sadness and spiritual and physical pain.  Not too much later my nose was broken and I had to finish my boxing career.  After this I didn’t have any chance to drive down my anger, so I tried to find relief in night life.   But I got to the point, when that was no longer enough.

At this time I met my wife and one year later our first daughter, Szabrina, was born.  They gave me a reason to live.  But three years later we found out that Szabrina was sick.  This broke my heart and I felt again the old pain about my mother’s death.

Not much later, like 3 months, we met with a young man, who spoke to me about the love of God. He asked me if I knew and believed how much God loved me.  After this question I felt angry and I answered, „If God loved me that much He would not have taken away my mother and He would not have let my daughter be sick.”

He answered me with the story of Job, how much he needed to suffer, but still he was faithful to God. The man’s eyes were glowing differently than ours.  He asked if we wanted him to talk more about God at another time.  We told him to come any time to our house.  After this, we met weekly.  We came to know God and His plan for our lives more and more.

I understood in 1998 at Easter, how much God loved me and how He sent His Son, Jesus, to wash away my sins and how Jesus paid with His blood on the cross.  I gave my life to Christ.   A new life began in me.  At that time many Roma gave their lives to Jesus and our church was formed.

Feri teaches at an Easter meeting last year in Boldog

God placed me in His service: in the beginning in worship and children’s ministry.  Then, after two years, I became one of the leaders in our church.  After our church founder was led to another ministry, my brother and I took over that role with all the joy, trouble and responsibility.   God led me through many struggles and falls in those 19 years, but I also experienced God’s overflowing grace in my life, which cleansed me, raised me and strengthened me.

I wanted to know God better and His plan deeper and His will for my life more fully, so I did a two-year Bible school.   I believe that God has called me to my nation, to minister to Roma people.  In the last few years, I was invited to start many Roma churches or encourage them, even beyond our Hungarian borders.

Eighteen months ago I was invited to lead singing and worship at an evangelistic outreach in Boldog with the MEK team.  God showed us then that our vision and goals are the same as MEK’s.  I believe that in the current situation among the Roma that  their communities and society can only change if they place their faith in Christ alone.  I think it is very important to instruct  them with the Word of God so they can rise up out of their poor conditions.

I have experienced that many mission agencies want to help the Roma in their struggles by giving them aid.  But this doesn’t cause a change in their thinking, but only helps them keep doing and living the same way they used to.  The vision of MEK is totally different, and I agree totally with it. The Roma don’t need financial or humanitarian aid and help all of the time, but rather change in their roots.

I believe that God will bless my work and ministry with MEK.

Feri joins fellow Roma CHE workers, Mirko Kis (Serbia) and Kalmán Hamza (Hungary).

Note:  The hiring of Roma workers is of prime importance to MEK. Too often non-Roma Christians sit in committee meetings to decide what is best for their ministry to do for the Roma people, without having any Roma present!  This leads to waste of time, money and other precious resources.  It also demeans the Roma themselves and hinders their growth.

It is MEK’s conviction that the Roma nation will not be won by Hungarians or Americans, but by mature Roma believers, like Feri and his wife, Judit, and children, who know the culture, world-view, mind-set, habits, fears, hopes and beliefs of their people first-hand.

Feri Oláh is a seasoned Roma worker who has prepared himself for full-time Christian work.  He understands the principles of wholistic community outreach and development.  He will be a vital member of MEK Hungary.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings

“Wow! The last four months have been filled with exciting, challenging, faith-growing and Kingdom-building events!”

Jeannie and I haven’t even had time to report to you about all the things that have been going on!  So, let’s give you some brief highlights in word and picture as the year 2017 comes to an end:  (Remember, CHE stands for Community Health Evangelism, a strategy for doing wholistic outreach and development among the poorest of the poor.)

DECEMBER —  Jeannie and I have been enjoying being in our Phoenix home, playing with our growing grandchildren and celebrating the holidays.  We have also been taking care of ministry items that are difficult to handle while in Central Europe.  We will be visiting churches in January and February.

Behold! The Festival of Hats- 2017! Meet “Taco” Moxie.

Introducing “Burger-Meister Calvin”

It’s Santa Milo!

NOVEMBER 3-4  — We flew home to Phoenix from Budapest on October 30.  We dropped our bags and headed to the Ignite Christian Training Center near Show Low, Arizona.  There we presented a CHE Vision Seminar to 36 Native Americans and those who work with them.  A week-long CHE TOT1 training course is now on the drawing board for the end of February.  If you would like to attend, please contact us at ronseck@gmail.com.

Entering Ignite Christian Training Center near Show Low, Arizona

OCTOBER 19-25— We drove from Batonyterenye, Hungary south to Skopje, Macedonia (about 550 miles) to pick up Finnish CHE workers, Dr. Ture and Ingvar Huhtamaki.  From there we turned east to the city of Stip.  We have been praying for three years for an open door to establish CHE Teams in Macedonia.  Now Dr. Huhtamaki, a retired Pediatrician and Fida worker, is providing the contacts to do so.  We spent the weekend with Jimmy P.G. Simon, a remarkable, energetic and committed Nigerian, who has planted 19 churches in eastern Macedonia.  We visited and spoke in ten of those congregations and identified several communities that would be ready for a CHE project.  We are now going to hold a CHE Vision Seminar for Macedonian church leaders on Saturday, February 10th.  Marijana Čizmanski, ZZ Serbia Director, will be the lead facilitator.

 

Before Sunday morning service in one of Pastor Jimmy Simon’s 19 churches in eastern Macedonia

Dr. Ture Huhtamaki and his wife Ingvar are helping CHE get established in Macedonia.

An example of why CHE is needed among the Roma of Macedonia. Four families live in this condemned house. The latrine is to the right of Dr. Huhtamaki


On our way back home we spent two days near Novi Sad, Serbia with Marijana, surveying Roma communities and meeting potential partners.  Our hearts were thrilled as we witnessed two communities opening wide to her and ZZ Serbia.  Pray especially for the destitute Roma village of Bangladesh, for its leader Faday, and for a potential Christian partner and community worker we met who longs to work there and see development take place.

Marijana Čizmanski is looking at this building as a potential Community Center for a CHE project in a Roma village outside Novi Sad. The building has already been donated for community work.

OCTOBER 15 — Laci and Eszter, Ron and Jeannie made CHE presentations to leaders of the Soltvadkert Baptist Church and other Christian agencies working with Roma communities in south-central Hungary.  They are now expressing interest in our next CHE training conference in Hungary next April 15 to 20 at Balatonfoldvar.  If you would like information about this training conference contact Ron at ronseck@gmail.com.

OCTOBER 10-14 — Jeannie and I flew to Tirana, Albania to spend four days hanging out with the CHE Albania Team.  It was a time of celebration!  Two years ago, CHE Albania, our flagship Team in Central Europe, lost their sole financial supporter.  Ron and several fellow NAB’ers have been working with them since then to find new sustainable partnerships.  This year God brought them together with a new major partner, World Poverty Solutions, as well as several others.  Praise God, they are again on solid footing support-wise.

Jeannie hangs outs with members of the CHE Albania Team on the way to the seaside city of Sarande

The gorgeous coast of Albania at sunset

Jeannie and Ron beside the “Blue Eye” in Albania.

OCTOBER 6 TO 8 — All of our MEK Hungary Teams met for their annual planning retreat at Lake Balaton.  The highlight of this weekend was having Randy Schmor, Director of NAB’s Gateway Teams and Steve Liberti, NAB Missionary with Proclaim Ministries join us.  Randy helped us plan a host of short-term Gateway team projects for 2018.  Read the article about these projects to see the one you might want to join in 2018.

Steve led us in planning a two-week Proclaim music camp and concert outreach campaign for Zsambok and Boldog, Hungary and Novi Sad, Serbia for August, 2018.

SEPTEMBER 22-24The CHE EuroNet Network held its second retreat for CHE Team and Board members at Boračko Jezero, Bosnai.  Ron currently serves on the Global CHE Networks Representative Council and as CHE’s Central Europe Coordinator.  In this position he is responsible for overseeing the expansion of CHE into new nations and regions of Central Europe and the Balkans.

He was also tasked with forming the CHE EuroNet Network of all CHE Teams operating in these countries and bringing them together annually for a time of refreshment, inspiration, sharing best practices, team building and training.

This year 27 of us gathered from 6 nations at a rustic retreat facility near a beautiful mountain lake in southwestern Bosnia.  These folks are all pioneering new wholistic development ministries with the Roma/Gypsy and greatly appreciated the opportunity to draw encouragement from one another and from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Twenty-seven CHE workers from Albania, Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary and Slovakia participated in this year’s CHE EuroNet Gathering in Bosnia.

 

 

 

Laura supervising the making of palacsinta pancakes for Palacsinta Night in Boldog.

 

 

SEPTEMBER 8 TO 10 — Our MEK (CHE) Central Hungary Team and the leaders from the Roma community in Boldog presented their second annual outreach festival.  Two nights featured Christian films and one night Ron preached a Gospel message.  Music and favorite foods also highlighted each evening.  Twenty-five Roma signed up for follow-up visits or courses.  Laci and Eszter Daroczi and Feri Olah, MEK Central Team members, are currently holding weekly Alpha Course classes with those who are interested.

Jeannie tells a story to onlookers in Boldog. Eszter is translating.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training, Travel | Leave a comment

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