Gypsy People

Team Builds a Container Community Center in Serbia without Containers!

So, what do you do when you have an international team coming to build a shipping container building to help your Roma community in its development efforts and you can’t find shipping containers? 

This challenge faced Marijana Čizmanski, Director of ZZ Serbia, who had planned for over a year to turn two twenty-foot shipping containers into a much-needed 20 foot by 16 foot community center in the Roma section of Donji Petrovci, Serbia in September.  But, as a team of 18 men and women from Serbia, Macedonia, Hungary and the US were preparing to descend on the site to do the work, one thing was still missing — the shipping containers.  None that size were available anywhere in Central Europe!

Two steel frames were fabricated and shipped to the work site.

Marijana began to pray and then went to the shipyard nearby.  The Lord led her to a man whose shop built frameworks for shipping-container-styled buildings!  Just days before the building team arrived, two large custom-built steel container-frames were delivered to the job-site in Donji Petrovci.  If you go through the toll booths near the city of Ruma, you will see the damage that the oversized-load did to one of the booths!  But that’s another story.

Using a truck with a crane designed to pick up illegally parked cars, the two frames were wrestled into place side-by-side so that construction could be begun on the building.

The work crew first joined the steel frames and built the wood floor

It is worth mentioning the names of the hard working crew that participated in turning the framework into a functioning building in less than two weeks between August 30th and September 13th.  Wes, Rob, Joel, Troy, Aaron, Julia, David and Jo came from the US under the leadership of Erv and Marty VanVeldhuizen.  Ron, Jeannie and Laci traveled from Hungary.  Tevche, Dimce and Zlatko also came from Macedonia to help.  Marijana, her sister Tamara and the folks from Donji Petrovci represented Serbia.  We totally thank all of these dear people for their hard, dusty, muscle-aching and sweaty work

While the majority of this team was engaged in the building project, a smaller team spent each day on an equally

Tevche tells a Bible story to the children. Both tents were often full of parents and kids.

important venture: doing Christ-centered learning and play activities with the children of the village as well as visiting with parents.

The new building has now been dedicated to the Lord for use as a place where the children and adults of the community can meet for church, CHE training, Children’s CHE Club, women and men’s meetings and community social events.  Marijana is truly excited about the great possibilities.  

 

 

That’s enough reporting.  Let’s let some pictures tell their “thousand words” stories.

Steel siding for ceiling and walls are installed, insulation and studs added.

Aaron Barger makes a list of hardware for Marijana to go and try to find.

Rob Grunden screws down the roof.

The trim is made for us on the spot! Praise the Lord!

Dimce (R) translates as Troy gives dimensions for trim strips to a master craftsman.

 

A new Community Center for Donji Petrovci in two weeks! Thank you, Lord!

Every CHE Development project needs a “champion” or “Person of Peace.” In Donji Petrovci, that’s Vukitca, our cook.

Celebrating with chicken wings and Romani Lecho soup. Joel Gensler chows down.

Dedicating the building to the Lord’s use. From left, Erv, Marty, Vukitca, Joel, Marijana, Vukitca’s daughter and grandchildren, Ron, Vukitca’s husband, Dusa.

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

Report on Fruitful Summer Camps in Serbia and Hungary

Hot summer days in Central Europe means day camps in our Roma/Gypsy villages for our CHE community development teams (Zdrava Zajednice (ZZ) Serbia and Misszió az Egészséges Közösségekért (MEK) Hungary).

On the way to day camp in Donji Petrovci

DONJI PETROVCI, SERBIA

Sometimes spiritual breakthroughs happen in the midst of trials.  Marijana Čizmanski and her ZZ Serbia team recently held a four-day camp in their village of Donji Petrovci.  The children here are very poor, often abused and most do not go to school.  There is much anger, fighting abuse and neglect.  

On the first day of camp one of the children stole a valuable smart-phone out of the purse of a ZZ Serbia team member.  He ended up senselessly destroying the phone and all the important saved data on it!  Because of this incident, no one in the village expected the team to

What a great day! Hot dogs and clowns!

come back the next day, but they did.  When the villagers asked why they returned, the team said that it was because of the love of Jesus.  The ZZ worker who had lost her phone and data also returned.  The mother of the boy who had destroyed it came up to her and pled with her, “Please remove the curse that you placed on my son.”

“What curse?” the worker replied.

“The one you put on him for destroying your phone,” the mom answered.

 

“Hello!” from the campers at Donji Petrovci.

“I didn’t put a curse on him,” the worker said.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Because I love your son,” the worker said.

“Why?” she asked

“Because Jesus does,” was the worker’s answer.

Marijana reported the the spirit in the camp and with the children changed dramatically after that. 

Pray for the “gates of Hell” to be broken down in Donji Petrovci.

A busy day in Apc, Hungary

APC, HUNGARY

Laci and Eszter and their MEK Hungary Team ran three camps this summer in the villages around Hatvan.  Several weeks ago they went into the new community of Apc, near Hatvan, by invitation of the village’s social worker.  The 3-day Bible camp was well-received and the village has asked the MEK Hungary team to return and begin on-going ministry ther

Pray for more open doors!

 

 

“Bring them in!” Volunteers bring kids to camp in Boldog

BOLDOG, HUNGARY

Around 25 children attended the camp in Boldog, which featured both morning meetings as well as evening programs for the children’s parents.  The evening activities included arm-wrestling, folk dancing, games, karaoke, testimonies and food.  We were all very pleased with the growing number of volunteers, both from the community and the nearby-churches, who helped run the camp.  Many of the children now say they “have Jesus in their heart.” 

Pray for genuine conversion!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laci does a CHE Lesson on the dangers of smoking in Zsámbok. Roma children often start this habit as early as 12 years old.

ZSÁMBOK, HUNGARY

The Zsámbok camp was held in partnership with the Zsámbok Evangelical Church where Feri Olah of our MEK Staff is the pastor.  Over 40 campers were present for the first day’s theme which was ‘follow Jesus and be healthy (spiritually and physically).”  The second day students learned about “Satan’s illusions that trick us and make us sick.”  The third day focused on “walking with Jesus.” 

Please intercede on behalf of these children who grow up daily where Satan dwells and for our Teams who are constantly engaged in spiritual warfare on behalf of these village people.

Campers in Apc want the MEK Team to return

“If I don’t smoke, I can save the money and put it in this bank I am making.”

Ivan “puffs” on a cigarette and shows how just one smoke can turn the cotton brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campers at Zsámbok wish Ron and Jeannie a “Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary!”

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

A Report on New Community Outreach Projects in Romania, Serbia and Macedonia

A very invigorating part of Ron’s ministry as CHE Central Europe Coordinator is mentoring new teams and strategizing and launching new development and outreach projects in poor Roma communities.  In April Ron and Jeannie went on a 18 day, eye-opening trip to explore 8 new projects, one in Romania, two in Serbia and 5 in Macedonia.

Pastor Zsolt and a member of the Roma Church in Parhida, Romania

We started in Romania where Pastor Zsolt Albert has planted a Roma church in the community of Parhida from which he would like to begin a community development project.  As Ron was presenting to the church group that Sunday, a family burst into the room announcing that their daughter had just given birth to a still-born baby.  (The infant mortality rate among Roma is twice as high as among Romanians.)  It was encouraging to see the close-knit body of believers share in the family’s shock and grief.  This is a solid core for a CHE project.  Pastor Zsolt needs a church partner to launch his dream program here.

In Serbia, we surveyed the site in the small Roma community of Donji Petrovac, where Marijana Čizmanski and her ZZ Serbia team are now working, where a community center will be built out of shipping containers this September.  A short-term

Marijana Čizmanski surveys the site for the future community center in Donji Petrovi.

team from North and South Dakota will be assisting Marijana and the villagers in this effort.  The community center will be used for CHE trainings, community events, children’s meeting and church meetings.

Klara and Emil Kisgeci-Dudas from the REZ Serbia team took us to the agricultural village of Nadalj, north of Novi Sad, where they have been doing community visits since last fall.  We discussed strategy for a community-wide survey of the mixed Serbian and Roma population as the first phase of their outreach program this summer.

Our main objective was to spend 10 days gaining a vision of the new CHE projects being started by members of the Galilee Foundation in Macedonia.  Since their first CHE training last year, team members have begun door-to-door visitation and surveying in five very challenging communities both urban and rural.  

Adams and Marija Polikarp have moved into Bregovi to begin a community program through the Roma church plant there.  Their presence has gained the attention of local muslim leaders who have sent an Imam to Bregovi to “reconvert” the muslims who have become Christians.  Muslims in the Balkans have been largely nominal in the past, but are now being challenged and coerced to become more fundamentalist and radical by leaders sent from the Middle-East.  

Adams and Marija (left) are starting two CHE programs near Negotino, Macedonia

Delchevo is a small, economically depressed city in northeast Macedonia.  Stojan and Zorica Manovska, who oversee a small church here, are now doing home visits among the destitute Roma population.  Men make $2 per day recycling plastic bottles to supplement $25 per month government

Stojan and Zorica Manovska

checks.  Eight people or more often live in small one room room apartments without utilities or water.  Taking a bath or washing clothes involves using a baby bassinet in an outdoor privy.  The majority are generally unhealthy and without hope.  Stojan would like to quit his $200 a month job to devote himself to full-time evangelism and community development among this group.  Zorica is finishing Bible School to join him in this.

Two Roma squatter-neighborhoods totaling 1000 people sprawls up the side of a mountain on the outskirts of Prilep, Macedonia.  The people call their community Mexico because of the high crime and drug problems they face.  Mexico has no running water or sewage system.  The water supply is contaminated and the children are often sick because of it.  No children go to school here. The community is illiterate.  The only work

Alit Halidoski and a community leader from “Mexico”

involves illegally collecting wood from a distant forest and selling it in the city for a couple of dollars a day.  Alit Halidoski, from the Galilee Foundation, has been visiting homes in this community.  The leaders I met with are ready for CHE to come with the gospel and with training and sustainable solutions.   But we have a closing window of opportunity.  Radical Islam, with its tactics of intimidation, is encroaching rapidly in the region of Prilep.  Alit has already had a gun held to his head and a knife to his chest for leaving Islam and becoming a Christian leader.

The fields are white and ready for harvest.  Our job now is to pray for laborers and resources and to help find sustainable individual, church and mission agency partners to stand with these faithful, hard working nationals during the process of personal and community transformation.

Sewage runs through the community of “Mexico, ” while villagers draw contaminated water from this only water source.

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

Workers Needed for Building Project in Serbia, September 2019

How about joining a short-term work team that will be helping to transform two shipping containers into a CHE Community Center this September in Donji Petrovac, Serbia?

$_20

Help us put two of these…

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…here…in Donji Petrovac, Serbia…

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…to build something like this, a CHE Community Center for community development.

In February, 2018, Marijana Čizmanski and her ZZ Serbia team began an outreach and community development program in this extremely poor and marginalized Roma village between Novi Sad and Belgrade.  Now a secure meeting place is necessary for the children and adult work to continue and grow.

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Erv, far right, will be back with some of his 2018 crew.

The building team will again be headed by Erv and Marty VanVeldhuiezen from Hillside Baptist Church in Dickinson, North Dakota.  Erv, a retired industrial arts instructor, led the men last year that built two 40 foot shipping containers into a community center/church building in Boldog Hungary.  Erv and Marty will also be joined by several members from the 2018 team and workers from Donji Petrovac and ZZ Serbia.

We are still looking for a few more NAB workers who are skilled in using tools like welding machines, grinders, hammers, saws to do steel-cutting, welding, stud-frame construction, insulation and drywall.  This team will be made up of men and women from a number of NAB churches.  So ask the Lord if He wants you to be a member.

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Women from Donji Petrovac make fried bread for a CHE community event.

If you would like more information about this trip, contact Erv at emvanveld@icloud.com or by phone at 701-225-6252 or 701-260-5799.  As team leaders, Erv and Marty will be handling questions state-side, arranging airline tickets, travel, training and other preparations.  

How much will it cost?  Erv will also be able to give you a close estimate of the cost for one week (August 30 to September 8) or two weeks (August 30 to September 15) in Serbia as well as guidance on how to raise your support.   Be sure to give Erv a call.  He’s a great guy and team leader.

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

The CHE Gathering Wave Is Spreading from Sea to Sea!

The Coast of Albania and the Adriatic Sea

From the Adriatic Sea to the Black Sea in two weeks!   What a trip!  

Ron and Jeannie recently had two great opportunities to equip future Christian workers, pastors and church planters to use Community Health Evangelism strategies and materials to sharpen their ministries.  The first week was in Albania on the Adriatic Sea and the second in Bulgaria near the Black Sea.

In Tirana, Albania they joined CHE Albania Director Agron Aga to teach a week-long course at the International School

Counseling students at the International School of Theology and Leadership, Tirana, Albania

of Theology and Leadership, the largest Bible college in that country.  They were able to show the versatility of the Community Health Evangelism’s library of Christ-centered resource materials by demonstrating lessons that could be used in churches, schools and communities on basic community mental health issues.  Their 19 students were mainly those in the school’s counseling track.  Mental health issues are very common in poor communities and preventative health-care is urgently needed.  

Hervin Fushekati

The training team was pleased by the intensity with which the students participated in the class-room presentations, role plays and practice sessions.  President of the school, Hervin Fushekati, is looking for our team to return next fall to do a complete CHE introductory course for pastors and church planters.

Jeannie and Marijana on the Bulgarian Coast of the Black Sea

Ron and Jeannie and Marijana Čizmanski got their first peak at the Black Sea on a raw and blustery March day, before settling in at the Global Nomads training center near Burgas, Bulgaria.  Their mission was to give E.D. and his team a vision of how Community Health Evangelism could better help them plant churches in Bulgaria and along the Silk Road to China.  On Friday, E.D. took them to survey Roma urban ghettoes of about 15,000 people each in the cities of Yambol and Sliven as well as one village near their training center where they had already begun outreach.  

Since it was Friday the narrow, muddy ghetto streets were

The Roma Ghetto in Sliven, Bulgaria

packed with milling people trying to move in multiple directions.  Wedding celebrations and parades with loud Roma/Turkish music blared away.  Merry children tried to slap dirty hands with passers-by.  The smell of barbecue and burning wood and plastic filled the air.  On a side street, what appeared to be a bride-sale was taking place as older men drinking wine watched young girls dance mirthlessly to a beat.  In one setting, garbage was strewn as far as the eye could see.

In both urban settings we interviewed local Roma about conditions in their neighborhoods.  We also met with two local pastors and visited their humble church buildings, a quiet oasis from the steady din in the streets and a hope for lost people.

Ron tells a story during CHE Vision Seminar in Bulgaria

The next two days we shared how Global Nomads might make inroads into these seemingly hopeless environments by combining their Disciple Making Movement strategies with wholistic community development methods.  Christian Roma from the nearby village attended many of the meetings.

An unexpected blessing for our CHE Team was to get to know E. D. and his amazing work more fully.  We are currently researching how to incorporate Disciple Making Movement strategies into our own community work.  It turned out that E.D. is an expert in DMM, having trained over 200 active church planters.  It looks like we may be training each other’s teams in the near future.  More about that later.

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

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,

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

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