God’s Love for the Roma People Shines Even in the Midst of War
It’s been more than a year since February 24, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, escalating an ongoing conflict and bringing terror and destruction to eastern Europe. Since the invasion began, Ukraine has regained some of the territory lost in Russia’s initial offensive, but the toll—in lives, property damage, and emotional trauma—continues to rise.
Among those affected, the Roma people have suffered greatly. Thousands of Roma call Ukraine their home. As Europe’s largest ethnic minority, the Roma (who speak various Romani languages) face systemic discrimination because of harmful stereotypes that depict the Roma as liars and thieves.
This prejudice leads to unequal access to education, employment, housing, health care, and public services. The occupation of Ukraine by Russia and ongoing fighting have left many Roma in that region even more vulnerable to the persecution they have experienced for generations.
But God’s Word among them is helping many replace what they hear—the negative label of “gypsy”—with what they now know: they are valued children of God.
Video from 2017
Bible Translation in the Midst of Conflict
When the invasion began, many Roma fled to Slovakia where, thankfully, Slovakian Roma believers and Bible translators answered the call of the gospel to be salt and light, loving those who had nothing to offer in return.
However, the relative stalemate between Ukraine and Russia leaves many complications for the work of the Ukrainian Roma Cluster project. We ask you to pause and pray as you consider the following:
Printed Copies of Luke and Acts
These resources, written in the heart language of the Crimean Roma, were in storage in Kherson, a strategic site that both militaries seek to control. The copies were found safe in Kherson after it was liberated. They were moved farther west in the country while being distributed.
The First Children’s Bible
Volunteers seek to create the first children’s Bible in Crimean and Vlakh Romani languages. Ask God to give them wisdom to effectively convey the truth in ways that speak directly to the hearts of children in these people groups.
Some Roma translators are currently living in Germany after fleeing their homes. Others wound up in Bulgaria and Slovakia. Ask God to soften the culture shock and help them to thrive where they are as they continue their work.
A Flood of Refugees
Roma from all four language groups in this cluster—Crimean, Lovari, Servi, and Vlakh—live as refugees displaced by the war. Ask God to care for them tenderly, reveal himself to them, and draw them to himself so their joy might flourish despite hard circumstances.
Light Shining in the Darkness
As we continue to pray for peace and the cessation of aggression, we want to also praise God by highlighting some of the amazing ways he has been working.
Please take time to thank God for the following:
A Faithful Minister
A Vlakh Roma translator who has remained in Ukraine continues to minister to refugees. Praise God for his faithfulness as he helps believers remain steadfast.
A Sturdy Door
An angry mob, armed with clubs and knives and intent on harming believers inside a Vlakh speaker’s home, was held at bay. The attackers were unable to break through the door. Praise God for his love and protection of his people.
Despite the war, God has allowed Roma translators to move ever closer to their goals of producing complete Bibles in the different Roma dialects. Outreach and discipleship events have led to the planting of new churches, the baptism of new believers, and the renewed vigor of faithful saints.
How You Can Help
As John Bunyan wisely noted, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
After you pray for the Roma people, consider supporting translation work for people groups like them. Right now, you can bring hope to people around the world who long for God’s Word in their language.