This year I was privileged to go with our church mission team to minister to the ROMA people in Romania. For over six years, I have taught many of the leaders among the ROMA at the ROMA Bible Institute. So, it was quite rewarding to visit with these men in their villages. We picked up where we left off. We worshiped together, visited together and lead children in Bible School. We visited five different villages. Each village brought a new challenge as we shared the Gospel message with person after person. We ate together, prayed together and talked of our need for Jesus.
On the last morning before we left to return to Budapest for a day of rest, relaxation and seeing the sights of Budapest, we visited the poorest of villages. Animals were walking around unrestrained, children were not in school and people seemed a bit angry. They were not angry at us, but at life and the situation they found themselves in. As we drove through the village we passed home after home that was below a substandard of living. It was gloomy and the air was smoke filled. The adults were lifeless and they had blank stares on their faces when we first arrived. The children came running up to our van. They were so excited that we were there. As we got out of the van, I smelled a very familiar smell. I remembered the smell from my grandmother’s farm. The smell was so strong it almost burned our eyes and throats. To say these children were filthy was an understatement.
As I watched the joy and excitement of these children as we got out of the van, I was reminded of a statement that I have made since I started working with and teaching ROMA people. The ROMA are the shepherds. They are hated and not wanted. These are the people Jesus came to save just as much as He came to save me.
I was taken back to the Scripture. Isaiah said it best, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned…For unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
The Bible tells us that God said of Himself that He is Emmanuel, which means God is with us. For the ROMA who know the Lord, they also know how to worship. The worship we have with the ROMA believers is heart-touching and life-changing. They worship as if they are seeing Jesus in the manger for themselves.
All around us are people who just like many of the ROMA are blank, lifeless, angry, lost and in hopeless conditions. May we be reminded, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but would have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) This Christmas, remember, Jesus died for that smell of lostness. When a person accepts Jesus they are no longer lost or hopeless.
This Christmas, we have the privilege and opportunity to share the light of Jesus with a dark world. God had allowed me to be a part of sharing the message of Luke 2:1-20 with so many people that I have never met or will ever meet. Merry Christmas!
In Christ’s love,
Lawrence, Jenny, Laurel, Blaine, Ford, Olivia and Wil