Roma communities in northern Serbia are being reached by a local pastor, through Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey – initiatives of CRE National 2019 exhibitor Samaritan’s Purse.
In 2018, Pastor Sasa and his team distributed shoebox gifts to one Roma community and soon after began running The Greatest Journey programme for children who want to discover more about Jesus. Some parents also joined the meetings.
‘The parents really liked how teachers spoke with the children and did activities with them,’ he explained. ‘They were also interested in the Bible stories, because they were easy to understand.’ In fact, the parents were so keen to learn more, that Sasa decided to invite them to a house group meeting and 12 are now attending the group regularly.
In 2019, Sasa once again had the opportunity, following Operation Christmas Child outreach events, to start a class for The Greatest Journey with children from two other villages. Building on what they had experienced the previous year, they invited the parents to come to the class with their children.
In one of the villages a group comprised 10 children and five mothers. Many of the mothers had not completed primary school education and the programme provided them with an opportunity to practice their reading and writing. In the second village, around 50 children attended the class and 10 mothers or grandmothers also came regularly. None of them were believers, but all stayed together for the lessons.
‘Both children and adults enjoyed the lessons and learned the stories, and at the end of each lesson everyone answered questions together!’ said Samaritan’s Purse’s Rebecca Lauder. ‘They opened another house group in the village and the group of believers is now growing. Soon they will officially open a church!’
Since 1990, more than 168 million children in over 160 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Each shoebox gift brings an opportunity for local church partners to share the good news of new life and hope in Jesus.
• Samaritan’s Purse are on stand S43 at CRE National 2019