Changing Hearts & Lives
is part of SGA’s Leadership Support programme and shares God’s word with children and families and children’s workers in Slovakia. We asked her to share a little of the challenges and blessings of her ministry among the Roma community.
Bohuslava writes as follows:
‘Warm greetings. Thank you for supporting me through SGA. My work is very much centered on children. I travel by train twice a week to Vitkovce, which is about 60km from my home. These are my threefold ministries during a typical school year.
Firstly, I am involved in teaching five Roma Sunday school teachers. There are about 70 children in Sunday School, of varying ages, so this is an important ministry. The Bible is still quite a ‘new’ book for the teachers, so I try to make the Bible stories understandable for them so they can teach the children on their own.
Next, I lead a girls’ group of about a dozen 13-22 year old girls. This involves Bible lessons, and preparing arts and crafts activities. It is my most challenging work. Roma girls in this age group just want to find a boyfriend as soon as possible and to have babies! It is part of their culture. I try to help them understand that the most important thing is to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Finally, I help to tutor up to ten Roma children with their school lessons. Their parents are unable to help. They really enjoy this, and discovering new things makes them happy! The lessons give me an opportunity to teach them to be thorough and hardworking, and to see things through. It is a great encouragement when they come with joy to tell me that they have received good grades at school in the things we have worked on.
I spend a lot of time doing different activities with children – like wood burning, making models, and sometimes visiting museums. These activities create opportunities to talk, and to show them Jesus. We also have a saying that ‘idleness is the mother of sin’, and doing meaningful things with these Roma children helps them to learn valuable lessons for life, such as patience, diligence, obedience, and telling the truth.
These lessons often affect parents too. One of our women made a second visit to the doctor with her sick son. The first time her son was given some medication but it made him worse, so she stopped giving it to him. On her second visit the doctor asked if the boy took the medicine. She replied truthfully and explained why she stopped giving it! The doctor was surprised and said: ‘I appreciate very much that you did not lie, because most people lie and say they took the medicine as prescribed’. Then he prescribed something more suitable. This was a great encouragement for the woman, that God helps those who obey him. At the same time she witnessed to the doctor about Jesus.
The Roma often go to the forest to gather wood for heating. They must have a permit to do this, but many don’t and continue to gather wood illegally. The police make regular checks in the forests. One of our men was gathering wood and was stopped by the police. They were convinced they had caught a thief! But the man took out his permit and told them he does not want to steal anymore, because the Lord Jesus changed his life. And then he talked to them about Jesus.’