This post falls under “Stones of Help.” I wrote this email to our church family in Kenbridge on April 15, giving details of how God brought us to this assignment. If ever we doubt that God has brought us this far, this is a good reminder…
Remember some of the information here is dated – we’ve gotten a lot more clarity in just two months!
The news we’ve all been waiting for, at last: We have accepted an assignment in Kosice, Slovakia. We’ll be working with the Roma people – known more widely as the Gypsy people – who are among the most marginalized and discriminated-against people in the world.
Kosice (pronounced “coh-SHEET-seh”) is a city of around a quarter-million people in the eastern part of Slovakia (more info on Kosice at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ko%C5%A1ice). This area has a large concentration of Roma people. Our work will begin through an all-Roma school in the city, as English teacher assistants. I say “our work will begin” because that will only be a starting place as we learn more about the Roma culture and find new ways to minister there.
This assignment is an answer to many prayers, and we’re so thankful you’re a part of the process with us! We were looking for several things in an assignment:
- Existing Field Work – We hoped to find a location where we could come alongside some field personnel who had already been ministering in the area. This assignment was submitted by Shane and Dianne McNary, who have already been in Kosice 6 1/2 years. You can find more info about the McNarys here – http://www.thefellowship.info/Missions/Field-personnel/McNary (their work was the international focus for the CBF Offering for Global Missions this year – see the article here: http://www.thefellowship.info/Give/OGM/CBF-Offering-international-focus). Shane and Dianne have already developed a strong presence and ministry among the Roma. They have been very helpful and open with us during this process, and we believe that we’ll work well together!
- Children – We were looking for a place where our girls would be safe, and could receive education – for all our sakes we decided that homeschooling is not a good option for us! Kosice has several options for education – both through the Slovak schools, and there is a private international school in Kosice. We’re not sure which direction we’ll go, but it’s nice to know we at least have options!
- Poverty – We wanted to go to a place where we could help meet physical needs alongside the spiritual ones. Because of their status as third-class citizens, there is always need among the Roma.
- Music & Arts – We also wanted a place where our musical and artistic gifts could be utilized. The Roma are an intensely creative people (suffering will do that to you), and they are known as wonderful musicians and performers.
- Tropical Climate – While many of you hoped we’d locate to the Caribbean so that you can all come vacation with us, God somehow decided to send us a different direction (only kidding about this part, of course). I’ve talked to several people who’ve been to Slovakia, and one of the first things they invariably mention is that the winters are “long, dark and cold.” So plan your winter vacations to see us, and bring skis.
We have orientation in Atlanta June 1-4, and we’ll be commissioned at the CBF General Assembly in Tampa on Thursday night, June 23. Those of you who were hoping for a tropical assignment had your prayers indirectly answered through our commissioning location!
For videos about the ongoing work among the Roma in Slovakia, see this Youtube search:
Thanks again for all your prayers and support! We’re excited and relieved, but now the hard work begins of raising financial and spiritual support. We look forward to talking more with you about all of this!
Jon & Tanya