The Apostle Paul charged Timothy saying, "Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others." (II Timothy 2:2) We have accepted Paul's charge and today are teaching Roma pastors and laypeople so they can pass the Gospel on to others.
We are conducting Blble training classes in Roma villages of Cuimeghiu, Shugatag, Sinnicolau and Oshan. These are spread out geographically along the western boarder or Romania so the students can get there by train, bicycle, bus or on foot. We are using the textbook “Conversion and Calling" which is published by World Outreach (TUMI). This program is called Capstone and has been translated into Romanian. This training has an ripple effect through the Roma churches and communities.
The schools are uniquely designed to allow students to be in close proximity to their families and jobs because family is very important in the Gypsy culture. The cost of the classes is minimal, however there are requirements that must be met by the students, including a recommendation from a pastor regarding the student's spiritual life and suitability for the program. They must also do a practicum in hospitals, nursing homes or villages.
On an evening in 2018 there was a barbecue at the Ciumeghiu Roma church to celebrate the TUMI students completing the first course. There were 12 men enrolled and participating, and nine of them completed the course. What a great delight to see the brotherhood among the men of the Baptist and Pentecostal churches.
In many Gypsy communities there is no church, but if there is a church there are normally two, a Baptist and a Pentecostal, and they are often fighting with each other. The non-Christians Gypsies can’t understand how they can both be Christians and not get along. It is a poor witness for Christ, and the partnership that these TUMI students had formed in their studies and practical application projects had produced a wonderful bond.
They were universally excited about what they had learned from the first course on “Conversion and Calling.” They have used their training in their home churches. They will be starting the second course this week. Mark installed heating and AC units in the churches at Ciumeghiu and Oshan. He plans to return to Romania to install more units in Gypsy churches next year. These units help us to be able to hold the TUMI schools and programs for Gypsy children in the cold of winter and heat of summer.
We are immeasurably encouraged by the witness of the Gypsy churches, the growth in the lives of TUMI students, and the open doors that the Lord has created for us. We are humbled to have been used by the Lord and touched by our Gypsy brothers and sisters in the Lord.