An Unlikely Start – Jozef from Slovakia
An unlikely start to a ministry for a gypsy community in Slovakia.
When Jozef was a teenager, he was on a path to destruction. He was part of a gypsy community in the village of Cinobana, Slovakia and his hatred of everyone around him was only outdone by his hatred of himself. Like many hurting people, Jozef relied on alcohol, sex, and drugs to numb his pain.
Throughout history, a people group called “gypsies” have lived on the outskirts of society around the world. They are distrusted and despised. They are isolated. Often they are treated like they aren’t even human beings. The
300,000 gypsies live in rough conditions. They suffer from high rates of poverty, crime, illness, and unemployment. They are not welcome in villages, so they set up camps outside the city limits and make their homes where they can, sometimes living in wooden shacks, tents, or even cardboard boxes. Everything around them seems to speak of isolation and not belonging.
In 2001, Jozef’s friend shared the gospel with him. He was amazed that Jesus could actually love him, a sinner and a gypsy. Jozef gave his life to Jesus Christ and everything about him changed. He was truly transformed by the love of Christ and was on fire to share this love with friends and family in his village. More gypsies came to know Christ and their prayer and worship services outgrew several meeting sites so they expanded to meet outside in the woods.
Today, Jozef is joined by other Christians in his village who are working with International Needs to change the message the world gives to gypsies. Gypsy children hear about a God who loves and values them as His beloved children. 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.
Where is Jozef today? Jozef is a vital and valued full-time staff member of International Needs. He is
married to a lovely woman named Julia, who is not a gypsy. Julia was embraced by the Cinobana gypsy community. They have challenges in their life together but both have a strong faith in Jesus Christ and recently celebrated the birth of their first child. Praise the Lord for the way He speaks truth into hearts around the world.
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