FREE METHODIST CHURCH
THE ROMANI PEOPLE
The Romani people, also referred to as Roma, or Gypsy, are an ethnic group who live primarily in Europe. The Roma are unique because they have never identified themselves with a specific land region or territory. They have no traditional homeland or have no claim to a national sovereignty. There are even theories to their origin as being a lost tribe of Israel.
The Roma people have experienced hundreds of years of living in persecution. Some of the persecution stems from their traditions and beliefs steeped in superstition and fortunetelling, but a lot of the persecution is racially motivated. From persecution in historical records dating back to as early as the early 1300’s, to the Nazi’s trying to exterminate their race along with the Jewish people, and even now, to this day, they are treated as outcasts among all of the European countries.
Timeline of Romani Persecution In History
The Roma, being known as mystics and thieves, are not welcome in regular society and therefore, live in very poor conditions in villages (called Mahalas) outside of cities and towns. There are integration issues to which has led to a current severe 70% unemployment rate among their people. This leads to most of them begging or resorting to other shady ways of earning money.
We came to Bulgaria six years ago and spent one day in a village outside of Samokov, Bulgaria. That one day changed our lives forever. God developed in us a love for the Roma people. We saw how loving and giving they truly are. We knew our life’s mission would be to love and encourage them, to teach, train and disciple them, but most importantly to proclaim God’s love and His purpose for them.