Jesus loves these Serbian Roma women
by Lynn Blase, Entrust, Serbia
God sends me to Kucura, a village 50 minutes from my home in Novi Sad, Serbia. I have been asked to meet with the women of the only evangelical church in Kucura, a group of Roma women (aka Gypsy, but this is a derogatory word).
The diversity challenges me. Well-educated teenage girls and a few of the older women understand the Bible verses and provide thoughtful answers to my questions. The others are illiterate and struggle with comprehension. But many of them experience the same commonalities: discrimination, abusive husbands, poverty. They often arrive discouraged, battered, hurting. Into this beautiful mix of women created in God’s image, I arrive Wednesday evenings, eager to share a Bible passage, verses meant to encourage and to remind of God’s everlasting love for them.
Tonight, we study the familiar Luke passage where Mary learns she has been chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, Jesus. We try to imagine Mary’s emotions as Gabriel delivers the news from God. The Roma see similarities between themselves and Mary: young, impoverished, illiterate, yet trusting. And, as always, I remind them that Jesus loves them.
After the study, the women fall on the hard floor, bending their knees to God Almighty, praying, not for themselves, but for each other. Prayers for strength to carry on another day, for health problems with no solutions, for unbelieving family.
I drive home as the sun sets, past beautiful green fields of strawberries, knowing that many of my Roma sisters will be working in those fields tomorrow before the sun rises. Will they remember that Jesus bends beside them as they pick the strawberries I will soon purchase in the market? Will they remember Jesus loves them?
I marvel. I marvel that God has ordained events in my life to bring me to this small group of Christians, in this village in Serbia at this time. Who am I to be asked to encourage women in difficult situations where I know so little, in a culture that is foreign to me, speaking a language that is still so difficult to understand? Who am I to be so blessed?