Our Ultimate Goal
To have a functioning group of Christian believers within walking distance of at least 90% of the Roma people in Serbia.
Our main work emphasis is based on what we believe to be the greatest need (outside of everyone knowing Jesus as Savior) in the Roma community in Serbia, which is raising Godly, dedicated, forward thinking, fully committed leaders, both young and old. Whether you go with us, contribute to Linking Partners in support of our ministry, or hold us up in prayer, you are making this happen!
Breaking the cycle of poverty
“My parents, grandparents, etc. were in this shape, so I am destined to also be this way.” One of the greatest helps for the Roma in Serbia will be to aid in eliminating this thinking process. There are many real humanitarian needs in nearly every Roma community, we must meet those needs with the resources you make available to us.
In light of the need and the limitations of our resources, one small thing that we are experimenting with this year is for every four dollars we spend in our core work of raising up leaders we are planning to spend one dollar on humanitarian aid, in areas where we are working to raise leaders. This is not a lot of money and will not go very far to meet the needs of hunger, clothing, etc. but hopefully it will do some good and convey to the Roma that we are concerned with the whole of their lives.
Some on our team recently read a book titled When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert with a forward by David Platt. We learned a lot from the book and many of our projects toward breaking the cycle of poverty follow principles outlined in this book.
“Yes we Can” Attitude
“I would like to grow blueberries.” “I have a plan to cut and split wood and deliver it to people in Prokuplje for heating in winter.” The significance of these statements may be lost on many, but in the Roma community, it is a miracle to see the light of hope come into men’s eyes as they realize someone is supporting their dream. You can contribute to these dreams by supporting Teach A Man to Fish.
“Yes we Can” is a slogan that has been used by political and secular groups around the world to convey the attitude that nothing is impossible. We will be encouraging this attitude in everything we do in Serbia, but at the start we will be exposed to a very small population. This is something that the secular Roma community can promote by keeping it before their people. It could be different words but the underlying principle is for us not to sit and wait for someone else to meet our needs but to start, even in a small way, to meet them ourselves. This is one of our goals in our Teach a Man to Fish program.
Christian believers meet in homes
It’s like a soccer game. The 22 players on the field are doing all the participation. The hundreds and thousands in the stands are passively sitting and being entertained. The vast majority in the stands would not even think of going down to the field and actually playing the game. We need active participants!
Meeting in homes keeps the groups small. The dynamics of a small group (20 or less) as opposed to larger groups leads to the creation a different type of Christians for each method. The larger groups, as a norm, produce spectators. The smaller groups produce participants.
Scripture clearly shows the home as the meeting place for first century Christians. In fact we believe that history has recorded the first public meeting place in a structure outside the home to have not occurred until the third century. This tells us that for the first 200 years the home was the meeting place. We do not have the funds to build public structures in every village in Serbia and so far we have not seen the capacity for the local Roma people to build these structures using their own funds.
For around $900 a month, an individual, group, church, or business can support a pastor who will devote his time to developing leaders to start and lead home churches in the hundreds of Roma villages in Serbia where the gospel has not yet gone.
Roma leaders learning some basic English
It is a fact that for each bible based book available in the Serbian language, there are at least 19 others in English. We want to zero in on the more promising leaders and help them to learn English for the above reason. Additional benefits will be the improved ability to communicate with Christians from the west and England and more secular job opportunities as the world becomes more global. $50 a month will underwrite English lessons for a Roma leader.
Short cycle of training for leaders
Niki is a high school student. He is also the leader of a home church in the town of Prokuplje and one in an outlying village. Niki is following the plan we see in Acts.
Based on what scripture tells us about the Apostle Paul, he averaged less than 3 months in each city/village he went to with the exception of Corinth and Ephesus.
• Paul’s First Three Missionary Journeys AD 46-58: Approximately 12 years & 33 cities.
• Subtracting the one and a half years in Corinth and the two years in Ephesus leaves nine and a half years for the other 31 cities.
• This gives us a three month average for his time in each city/village.
This would not have been time to supply very much formal training. Most of these new leaders would have had to learn by doing — on the job training. The point is not that formal education is bad, only that it is not essential in getting a God movement going in an area. We cannot use the excuse of having to have well trained leaders before moving out in new areas. Formal education has had it’s place in evangelical work in Serbia and it will play a part in the future but we hope that it will not be a negative factor in impeding the new work that needs to be started in the very near future.
Leaders mentor “understudies”
Dragan works with Nesa and Danijel, who each lead a home group. Nesa and Danijel are working with upcoming leaders in their home groups. A disciple is a disciple-maker, and a leader is a leader-maker. By multiplying exponentially, we will reach the Roma in Serbia. Consider joining with others in supporting these disciple-making disciples.
None of us have a guarantee of any future here on earth, so why take a chance that what we know and are doing will go to the grave with us? We all need to start now transferring this knowledge to our replacement. After a certain period of time our trainees can lead out in a brand new place that needs leaders while we find another understudy. It is entirely possible that a leader could train and spin off a new leader every year. Think of what a contribution this would make to the Kingdom work. Forward thinking and planning will be of great benefit in helping to change the mindset of many Roma.
Many of these lessons have been learned through seeing the Western church honestly and earnestly and ever so gradually turn their focus inward, creating a church filled with spectators or “cultural Christians” instead of vibrant, self-replicating believers. It is our prayer that the Roma church in Serbia continue to look to the early church as a model, and not the mega-churches of America. We feel privileged to work alongside our Roma brothers and sisters in a church where God is moving in a mighty way.