I have to confess this sighting is a few days old… but it’s certainly genuine. I saw Jesus a few days ago in a store here in Kosice.
Just off the main downtown area of Kosice, there’s a small side street with a few unique shops that offer items beyond the typical touristy souvenirs available all over the main square. When we have guests we like to take them to these side-street shops – especially to a shop run by a local couple (Slovaks) who make beautiful pottery.
We visit the shop fairly often, and we’ve always been surprised that they prominently display a photo book featuring pictures of Roma in Slovakia from the 1950’s and 60’s. Having a book like that, front and center in your shop, makes a statement in a city where some people don’t have positive feelings about Roma! We’ve always been curious about it… but never had a chance to ask.
We had some visitors here a few days ago, and as we usually do, we took them to the pottery shop. While we waited on the wife to wrap up our purchases, we got into a conversation about the book. She displays it, she says, because she’s friends with one of the ladies who gathered the photos for publication. I told her we are here to work with Roma, and a little about what we’re already doing. She told me of some volunteer work she’s done, and her frustration with the tense relationship between Slovaks and Roma. She told me how much she admires the Roma people and how she, as an artist, can really see the gifts they offer the world.
When we left, I thanked her for her time and promised to bring back more customers. And she thanked me – not for bringing business to her shop, but for “coming here to help our Roma.”
It’s easy to get discouraged in our work. Many locals people don’t see Roma the same way this lady does, and we’ve sometimes gotten harsh responses when we tell people we work with Roma. But encounters like this remind us that God is already at work in people’s lives here – changing attitudes and softening hearts. It happens one at a time… and we’re always encouraged when we encounter it!
Where have you seen Jesus today?