The pavement of the streets came to an abrupt end and the dusty dirt paths began as our NC Baptist on Mission medical team of 12 (led by Melissa Landers) entered into the Roma (Gypsy) villages. I could not believe the circumstances that these people endured every day – their homes built with limited materials, some with holes in roofs, some without floors, others without windows or doors or simply covered with fabric. The lack of running water in their homes as evidenced by the outhouses in each yard. Some homes were not equipped with electricity and those that were had primitive wiring of questionable safety. With below-freezing temperatures in the mornings, it was commonplace to see children in the villages barefoot. The men working in the villages used old wooden wagons pulled by a single horse. The large array of government fields surrounding the villages were gleaned daily by the Roma children in an effort to find food.
As our vehicles pulled to a stop at each site where we set up our medical clinics, the curiosity of the Roma people was evidenced by their watchful eyes as they gathered in the street. When we met these beautiful people for the first time, the look of hopelessness in their eyes let us know that we were in a place where sharing the love of Christ was needed. They were hungry for God’s word and desperate for His love. It was evident that while there were medical needs, their spiritual needs were of utmost importance. As nurses, doing the initial assessments, we asked if we could pray with them for anything. This was eagerly accepted and many tears, hugs, and prayers were shared. The minister on our team was able to share the gospel many times throughout the week with many decisions made for Christ.
In four villages – Kobolkut, Kiskayga, Olaszi, and Szent Miklos - families opened their homes for the clinic. The other two clinics were held in the churches within the villages – Szekelyhid and Csokaly, a church that was built by Fairview Baptist Church in Apex. Our clinic day began around 9:00 am and we saw patients until 6:00 pm. During our 4 ½ days of clinics, our team was able to see 436 medical patients, 93 dental patients, and 48 patients receiving dental hygiene care.
We learned that the Roma people have been discriminated against and ostracized for generations and have had to resort to basic self-preservation. The extreme poverty results in very poor living conditions, relational problems, medical issues, and lack of hope. While our medical/dental clinics were intended to help at least short-term with their medical needs, our more important goal was to give the Roma people a hope that can only be found in knowing Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that God will continue to move in these villages and that these precious people will come to experience the love of Christ in their lives and their villages.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
I feel so blessed to have been a part of this team of people serving in Romania. Although I only knew Melissa and Franklin Landers, former members of Aversboro, prior to this trip, our team of 12 functioned as though we had known each other for years. In sharing devotions each morning before we began our day, it was evident that God had placed us together for His purpose and that our common goal for the week was to share God’s love and word with everyone we encountered.
One of my favorite quotes is "You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
With nothing at all to physically give, the Roma people certainly fit these criteria, but I found that they did more than repay me….they blessed me richly with their humble spirits, their smiles, and their warm genuine love!
Contributor: Trish Jarrell
Trish is a long-time member of Aversboro, serves as a deacon, and in our Student ministry. She enjoys the opportunity to serve through missions stateside and abroad.