Jozef from Slovakia

Jozef with his wife Julia
Jozef with his wife Julia

Fifteen years ago, Jozef’s life was steeped in darkness. He hated his family. He hated everyone around him. Most of all, he hated himself.

The walls of Jozef’s bedroom were painted black and decorated with evil images. Like many hurting people, Jozef numbed his pain through a self-destructive lifestyle that included smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol, engaging in sexual sin, and using and dealing drugs.

Jozef was born into a community of gypsies living on the outskirts of the village of Cinobana in Slovakia. Gypsies comprise Europe’s largest minority group; in Slovakia their population is growing three times faster than the general population.

Throughout history, gypsies have been ostracized and viewed with suspicion. As a result, they often create their own isolated communities outside towns and villages. These communities often struggle with poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, and crime.

Jozef looked around his broken and forsaken community and saw no signs of hope.

But in 2001, a good friend shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with Jozef. By God’s grace, Jozef caught a glimpse of the hope that had been eluding him and his community, and a passion began to burn inside him.

Overwhelmed by the fact that Jesus loved him, Jozef was able to let go of the pain of a lifetime of bitterness and misery.

 

After giving his life to Jesus, Jozef began to share his faith with the people in his village. As the Lord changed the lives of person after person, the new believers began meeting in Jozef’s apartment for prayer and worship. Eventually, the group grew so large they began meeting in a forest near their village.

Jozef was instrumental in connecting his community with the resources and support of International Needs.

Now, gypsy children hear about a God who loves and values them. Gypsy teenagers learn that they have an important voice in society because they matter to God. Gypsy adults are catching the fervor of these young adults and are being baptized into the family of God.

Jozef and his wife Julia recently celebrated the birth of their first child. Together, they are following the Lord’s leading by helping to transform the gypsy community in Christ’s name.

Today, Jozef goes to bed in a room with walls painted white.

“God has changed my life completely,” he says. “Like the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, I’m a ‘new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!’” (ESV).

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