Global Missiology English, Vol 4, No 15 (2018)

Font Size:  Small  Medium  Large
Cover Image

Narrative and Mission Praxis: The Roma in Europe - by Melody J. Wachsmuth

Melody J. Wachsmuth - researcher/writer in Croatia from 2011; PhD stud't Oxford Ctr for Miss Studies


In 2017, I visited a settlement in Serbia of about 5,000 Roma. Like many other Roma communities in Eastern Europe, this settlement is immediately adjacent to the main town, which consists of primarily Serbian residents. Within the Roma community, there is a small Pentecostal church begun twelve years ago by a Roma man and his wife. On this occasion, the pastor invited me for coffee, wanting to discuss an issue with me. He told me his frustrations with various organizations coming in and handing out food or money. In his perspective, these organizations were trying to “prove” that God takes care of the poor, but actually they were siju prosjake, or “sowing beggars.” Likely these organizations or churches had been motivated to action by the story of the poor and marginalized Roma in Europe; however, he saw how this kind of mission work, without the context of proper relationship or knowledge, was creating divisions and jealousies among churches and individuals. He and his wife had a small business, buying and selling produce in the town’s open market, and in his view, a mature faith involved trusting God for provision rather than becoming dependent on others. Perhaps this was also motivated by his own disappointment – promises of financial help from one Western organization which had never completely materialized.