“Even if we save only one, it’s worth it,” was a common saying of TWR founder, Dr. Paul Freed.
In 2009, TWR aired a program called The Voice of Truth on a small radio station in Prilep, Macedonia. This weekly, one-hour program was aimed at providing discipleship and encouragement in the heart language of the Roma of Macedonia. Unfortunately, shortly after, funding became a problem, and the broadcasts stopped.
Who are the Roma?
“They are the most unwanted people group in Europe,” Werner Kroemer, vice president of Global Operations for TWR, said of Roma people, who are very close to his heart. As Ray Alary explains, “The Roma (or Romani) people are often referred to (by the derogatory term) as gypsies. Historically, they have been known to travel widely and are thought to have originated in India and maintained, to varying degrees, the caste system. Their reluctance in the past to register themselves as citizens of any country has left them out of any social programming or helps, and the societal stereotypes see them as outcasts.”
The Roma church in Macedonia is not to be compared to the large communities of Roma believers in the neighboring countries of Serbia and Bulgaria. An often underrepresented minority group who comes from a Muslim background and who composes roughly 12 percent of the total population, the Roma of Macedonia have very little opportunity to learn about the gospel since Evangelical and Protestant communities are nearly non-existent.
A young church grows
When Werner brought the The Voice of Truth proposal to him, Ray Alary, president of TWR Canada, was immediately taken with the story of the Roma people. “There were no Roma Evangelical believers 25 years ago, yet through the brief time TWR aired programs, a church was built. I thought it was time to get this broadcast going again and support the believers there. TWR Canada is proud to be a partner in this ministry and see it begin again,” he said.
“In spite of all the rejection [faced by the Roma people], our Lord Jesus is currently building His church among this people group. Interestingly, while the Church in Europe is largely in decline, the Roma Church is growing,” said Werner Kroemer. “Through the radio broadcasts, we are preaching the gospel to the poorest of the poor here in Europe, and I am excited for the support of TWR Canada in this important ministry.”
The Voice of Truth is written by Roma pastor Edijan Selioski from Prilep and features Bible preaching, testimonies and music that are of special appeal to Roma listeners. The program is aired on a small local FM station and is helpful in reaching those people beyond Prilep who would not consider entering a church or would not otherwise have access to the gospel. Though it is difficult to quantify results and not even possible to provide listener responses at this time due to the high rates of illiteracy, it is exciting to think of the untold importance and meaning of this program to a group of believers who did not even exist 25 years ago.
It is in faith for the encouragement and spiritual strengthening of Roma listeners that TWR continues on, even for the one.
Story by Anna Waller
Picture by TWR Europe