Speed is of the essence

Training with REACH led to a flourishing ministry among Turkish Roma communities in Romania.

God's plans can sometimes take many years to come to fruition, while on other occasions, the results are almost instantaneous. Alex (Netherlands) and Anny (Moldova) have seen both examples in their own lives since signing up for REACH (formerly Missions Discipleship Training (MDT)).

As a young man, Alex searched for purpose and considered long-term missions a possibility. In 2017, his pastor encouraged him to attend a six-month missions training programme run by OM called REACH to see how God would lead him.

During the programme, held in Moldova and Romania, participants learnt more about missions through practical experience, mentoring and Bible studies within a multi-cultural team.

After completing REACH, God directed Alex to quit his job with the intent to move to Romania to continue to be involved with OM.  

Anny was also on the course, having been serving in her church but feeling there was something missing. “When I first started REACH, I thought that there were too many obstacles for me to take part in missions,” she said. “But as I worked through the training, I found a burning starting in my heart that grew and became so intense that I wanted to be involved in the work too.”

Following God's lead

After meeting at REACH, Alex and Anny married in 2019. Together with a third worker, they moved to a Romanian village to share Christ's love. They were there for a year when God told them to go to a least-reached area in Romania. A week before they were due to move, they found out that they couldn’t go to the city they planned to go to. Rather than give up, they decided to drive through Romania to see if God would direct them to a different location.

“On the Monday, we drove through Romania. On Tuesday, we visited a few villages and on Wednesday, we drove back to base,” Alex said. “On Thursday we spent the day in prayer and fasting, asking God for direction. On Friday, we met with the third member of our team, and we each reported that God had put one particular village on our hearts — it was the same exact village for each of us.”

With clear and quick direction from God, they got in touch with a pastor in the village and he told the group that if they were willing to move there, a house was immediately available for them. They decided this God's timing, drove to the village on the Saturday and moved into the house on the Sunday. Within one week they had decided on a new village, found a house and moved in.

The people God had led them to were the Turkish Roma population in Romania. People in this population often cannot read or write and usually do not speak Romanian. Islam is the faith they identify with. As a result of these factors, they are often not well received in Romania and, for the most part, are marginalised.   

As Alex went on prayer walks around the Turkish Roma communities, his willingness to be among those who were looked down on did not go unnoticed, and relationships started developing.

“We were helped by some introductions into the community by a Turkish Roma Christian family,” Alex said. “After a while I was able to visit some families and have coffee and eat with them. They shared about their lives and struggles. I offered to pray with them, and most were very open to being prayed for. I always ended my prayers ‘in the name of Jesus’, and some people were curious and asked why I would pray that way. It started many conversations.”

As relationships deepened over time, they started inviting those they met to various programmes the local church and team organised, designed to share who the real Jesus is and how to have a personal relationship with Him.

Changing perspectives

A real breakthrough came when the team decided to wash the feet of the men and women attending the programmes. To the Turkish Roma community, having their feet washed by someone else was both unexpected and uncomfortable.

“Afterwards, something seemed to change,” Alex said. “Before, when a programme ended, people would leave almost immediately, but now they lingered and even stayed to help clean up. Most importantly, they seemed more open to what we were sharing about Jesus.

“One family of a husband, wife and seven kids had been regularly attending the programmes. During one meeting, people were given an opportunity to declare an interest in following Jesus. The husband and wife proclaimed their desire to do so and continue to seek more about what it means to follow Christ.”

Join with us in prayer for the Turkish Roma population in Romania. Pray that people would come to know the true Jesus and find their identity in Him. Pray that Jesus followers will continue to be lights communities where He is not known. Pray for those struggling to find employment; husbands and fathers often leave the country to find work. Pray for opportunities for education and training in Roma communities.

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