When I visited Slovakia in 1999, it had been ten years since the Communist rule had ended. Under the Communist regime, work was compulsory. But the collapse of Communism brought financial hardship for everyone, especially the Roma. Open discrimination meant that the gypsies were, for the most part, unable to find jobs. Many lived in small, rundown settlements on the outskirts of towns and cities. Racism was rampant and extreme.
This was the political and social climate that we would be entering.
July 17, 1999
En route to Slovakia
I sat on the train and watched as the dull colours of the city were replaced with bright yellow fields of sunflowers. The fields grew into hills and the hills grew into mountains. We were in Slovakia.
I turned my attention to a package of materials that the long-term missionaries had given us.
Some amazing things happen as a result of our faithfulness to our Lord. A regular kids’ club has continued in the village where the OM team and ‘Nádej Det’om’ had their five-day club last year.
A Gypsy, called Peter, went to this village to steal potatoes from a field. He found there were no potatoes, but he did find OM and the Nather family (who run ‘Nádej Det’om’) singing and praising God with the children.
Two months later, after a spiritual tug of war in his soul, he went to the ‘Nádej Det’om’ center and asked a previously converted Gypsy, Ivan, about the Bible club. Ivan shared the Gospel with him. Two weeks later, Peter gave his life to the Lord.
These were the people we would be serving with this summer. I would be working with older children in the small Roma town of Kostiviarski, and I couldn’t wait.
Click here to read Part 5 – “Once Upon a Summer: Gypsy Children”