For centuries, Gypsies have dwelt on the margins of society, often stealing or begging to survive and gaining a reputation as petty thieves. In Arab countries–and Jordan particularly–they are despised by even the lowest social classes, earning them the title given by one research group, "outcasts of the outcasts."
The nearly three million Gypsies in Arab countries have very little permanent witness for the gospel in their communities, since most local Christians and foreign missionaries have neglected them in the past.
An exception is a group of native missionaries in Jordan that began ministering among this unreached people group several years ago and is now seeing the fruits of the gospel in many shattered lives.
Native missionaries have usually found it difficult to reach the mostly-Muslim Gypsies—not because of their fervor for Islam but because of their inherent isolation, apathy, and reluctance to discuss religion. Evidently they fear becoming even more outcast by being Christians in an Islamic country. The Lord is blessing missionaries' persistent efforts, however, as more and more Gypsies show interest in Christ, particularly through the meeting of physical needs.
As social pariahs, most Gypsies in Jordan are excluded from public medical benefits and education. The cycle of poverty is perpetuated through unemployment and crime, which are high in Gypsy communities. Native gospel workers have begun distributing pairs of goats to poor Gypsy families, giving them a reliable means of income and fostering a sense of personal responsibility. They also provide medical care, which is perhaps the strongest felt need for Gypsies in Jordan. Diseases can spread rapidly, since communities are extremely tight-knit, and many die from lack of modern medicines. Missionaries were recently able to stem an outbreak of tuberculosis among one group of Gypsies by providing such medicines.
When they see that missionaries are committed to helping them, many Gypsies become open to their message. One leader writes, "For the last few months we prayed for a small group of Gypsies we had recently located. Specifically we prayed for a meeting place and a true believer who would come and share the gospel in their mother tongue [Domari, the traditional language of Gypsies in Arab countries].
"God has led a church leader who is fluent in their language to come and hold weekly meetings with these Gypsies. He recently led two services, and at each several Gypsies came forward and gave their lives to Christ!"
As they experience the love of Christ, in which "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision" (Col. 3:11), many Gypsies are finding a hope and acceptance they have never known before.
Although most Gypsies in Jordan know Arabic, missionaries are developing a translation of the Bible in their native Domari language, since none yet exists. Native gospel workers currently produce evangelistic videos in Domari, which have proven to be fruitful missionary tools.
Please pray for them as they continue to lead these outcasts into the center of Christ's love. For more information, write email@example.com and put MI- 615 420-BAGD on the subject line.
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