Pride and Roma

You will have seen the Day 4 photos by now, but there is unfortunately one event that morning that marred an otherwise perfect day. Note that the below is related to us in a first person view from the kids involved in it themselves. It is the final "revision" that we counselors have agreed to accept as what actually happened, but we only arrived at it after several people involved in it changed what they said. And there is obvious disagreement between the people involved on account accuracy.

One of our younger participants felt that another older one had been disrespectful to one of his family members; it is unclear whether he means one of his sisters/relatives attending the camp with him, or another relative that he or his brother shared about at bedside on Wednesday night. He confronted the older participant Thursday morning in the elder's room, while all the camp leaders and translators were doing devotions. The younger asked the older participant to take back what he had said or done. The older one refused.

At this point, we do not know who pushed who first, but there was a physical confrontation. The younger participant's neighbor heard the commotion and rushed to defend him; the older participant's two friends, who came from the same Roma camp as him, also noticed what was going on and did likewise, escalating the confrontation until the younger participant and his neighbor left the room.

We would not receive word about this incident until breakfast time, when three boys refused to show up at breakfast.

This has been heavy news on the entire Roma team. I personally have fellowship with the three older boys at the same table everyday, every meal, and am a role model for them; the other leaders have similar or deeper levels of relationships with all five boys.

We have asked the younger participant to apologize to the older one for fighting with him, and asked the older one to apologize for disrespecting the younger's female relatives. Both have complied. But the older one has refused to accept the younger one's apology, and when asked, also refused to apologize to the younger one for fighting with him. He instead asked to leave; to call his camp to provide a ride for him. When Lisa tried to convince him to stay, he declared he would walk if he had to, so he could return to his camp. His two friends also asked to leave after he did so.

In the end, we granted the requests of all three boys. But it is with burdened hearts that we do so.

Upon hearing about this after the Roma camp, Vasya himself noted that the outcome of the confrontation was to be expected. Despite having much of their culture, their identity, and their very dignity as human beings stripped away, the Roma remain fiercely prideful. In fact, their pride forms a mental protection and coping mechanism for dealing with how unfair the world deigns to treat them; but this same invulnerable shield is a terrible wall that blocks out forgiveness, mercy, grace, and the immense love that comes from the saving message of Christ's resurrection.

It is a tragedy, that pride is one of the few things that the present Roma share in common with other humans. And where it concerns missions, they would be better served without it if they are to willingly and sincerely come to Christ and mature in His character.

I don't intend to sound like I'm pontificating or self-righteous. If I am, I apologize. But I am all too familiar with pride, and it's destructive results to both the self and to everyone around it. To see it here, with only trivial differences between it and my past experiences, has saddened me, angered me, and put me on my guard. My fellow teammates also had strong reactions to this, though I will respect their thoughts and not attempt to detail them here.

On Monday, we will be visiting the camp that the three elder boys came from, to host a day camp. We expect the pastor of that camp will ask us why those three will be sent back, and we will have to recount our story. Though my fellow team members may have some idea of what will come, I have no clue what kind of fallout the confrontation will create, or if we will even get a chance to communicate with those boys, who need our prayer and intervention by the Holy Spirit.

Please pray for us, as we battle with our emotions and our reactions to this storm. Please pray for the continued mission to the Roma, that God will work boldly through it to bring his children back into his family. But most importantly, please pray for the Roma themselves.

Pray specifically for the five boys who fought each other, and pray for the Roma as a whole, that humility would become a virtue, and not a vice to them.

Pray that the godliness that Christ and the servants of God show become a role model for young and old Roma alike, displacing their old, prideful sin nature.

Thank you, for your time in reading this, and in what care and thought you might have for our progress.