How God Is Breaking Walls of Racism—in Europe

by | Jul 17, 2013 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

Only the Holy Spirit can break a vile form of racism that has lasted for centuries.

I can’t communicate too well with my friend Dániel Kovács. He doesn’t speak much English, and I only know three phrases in Hungarian. But last week we sat beside each other in a worship conference and enjoyed fellowship with the help of a translator.

Dániel is my brother in Christ. But many people in Europe look down on him because he is a Gypsy. He faces huge obstacles because Gypsies—also known as the Roma people—have the highest rates of unemployment, illiteracy and poverty in Eastern Europe, along with the lowest life expectancy rates.

Dániel and the people in his village of Uszka, in northeast Hungary, suffer from what is known as antiziganism, the hatred of Gypsies. It is racial profiling at its worst. It has plagued Europe since the Roma people arrived from India in their caravans 600 years ago. The highest Gypsy populations are in Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Slovakia and Spain, but Gypsies are scattered all over Europe and the Middle East—and many have come to North America.

Wherever they go, they experience discrimination.

Antiziganism reached its peak during the 1940s, when German Nazis murdered between 250,000 and 500,000 Gypsies in concentration camps. Like the Jews, many Gypsies were starved or gassed; others were sterilized. Scientists also used Gypsies as human guinea pigs for diabolical experiments because they felt their slightly darker skin made them racially inferior.

The Gypsy genocide in Europe was called “the devouring.” But even though Europeans eventually condemned what the Nazis did, antiziganist feelings have remained strong. Today, Gypsy children are still segregated in their own substandard schools, and Gypsy adults are denied work. Many Gypsies resort to crime in order to exist in this oppressed state, thus reinforcing the stereotype that they are all criminals.

Racism against Gypsies has been compared to what African-Americans suffered in the United States in the Jim Crow era or what blacks endured in the apartheid years in South Africa. Up until the 1960s in England, it was common to see signs in pubs that read “NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO GYPSIES.”

A poll in England just 10 years ago showed that a third of British people still have racist feelings toward Gypsies. These feelings are even stronger in Eastern Europe, where Gypsies are viewed as a public health threat. Some people fear serious violence could erupt in Hungary because anti-Gypsy sentiment is being fueled by right-wing politicians.

Zsolt Bayer, a Hungarian journalist who is now an elected official representing the Fidesz Party, grabbed headlines in January of this year when he made this shocking statement: “Most Gypsies are not suitable for cohabitation. They are not suitable for being among people. Most are animals and behave like animals. They shouldn’t be tolerated or understood but stamped out.”

Statements from leaders like Bayer have fueled suspicion of Gypsies, causing an increase in the number of racially motivated assaults of Gypsy people in Eastern Europe. Romanis have been attacked in their homes, in workplaces and in markets. The victims of these incidents of racial profiling include children and the elderly.

Yet amid the darkness of racism in Hungary, a bright light is shining among Pentecostal and charismatic Christians who have been building bridges of reconciliation and healing. Gypsy people have been open to the moving of the Holy Spirit for many years, and ethnic Hungarian churches are working in partnership with them.

When I preached at a worship conference last week in the city of Debrecen, I invited my friend Dániel; his father, who is a Gypsy pastor; and two other Gypsy guys to perform a popular Gypsy praise chorus for everyone. The audience cheered, not just because Dániel’s team performed so skillfully, but also because Hungarian Christians realize God is breaking down walls that man has not been able to dismantle for centuries.

And I know the same God who is tearing down the stronghold of antiziganism in Europe can break racism in America—even when the Trayvon Martin case in Florida seems to have reinforced racial divisions in our country.

The apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28, NASB). That verse has broad application: to Native Americans who have suffered on our reservations; to Aborigines who have been marginalized in Australia; to warring tribes in Africa; to Gypsies in Europe; and to African-American men who feel they are labled criminals simply because of their skin color.

Racism is alive and well in the world today, and it will never be stopped by juries, street protests, riots or even legislation. Christ alone, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can give us the kind of love that looks beyond the outside to see the heart.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

In 1971, I was invited to spend one month in Singapore at a new institute that had been started by John Haggai. It was still in the formative stages then—a place where Asian church leaders would be trained and challenged to witness for Christ. Today, more than 40...

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

It was a Pentecost bloodbath and most Christians never heard about it. More than 50 Christians were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks on Nigerians this year. Scores of gunmen rushed in to kill Christians in the midst of worship. All told, over 360 million...

The Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: The People I Saw in Hell

The Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: The People I Saw in Hell

In 1998, God gave me a life-changing vision of hell. I receive many questions about my experience from people all over the world, but one question I'm often asked is, "Who did you see in hell?" There are others who say they've had an experience like mine, and they...

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

One of the most amazing facts about the Founding Fathers of our nation is this: The one referred to as the "voice" of the revolution (John Adams) and the one referred to as the "pen" of the revolution (Thomas Jefferson) both died on the same day—July 4, 1826—exactly...

RECENT ARTICLES

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

It’s a question I frequently hear. It’s one I’ve asked. And maybe it’s one you’ve asked, too. The question is, “God, why did You give this to me?” This can be any number of issues, from emotional or...
No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

I sense it. And I perceive a growing number of people in massive proportions sense the increasing momentum of power and might worldwide. Something is on the horizon—something more eerie and ominous than what the people of the world have ever before experienced. Even...

Curt Landry: 6 Ways to Open Your Heart and Mind to God’s Voice

Curt Landry: 6 Ways to Open Your Heart and Mind to God’s Voice

We are told that we must listen to God’s voice when we need to make important decisions. What does the Bible say about hearing God’s voice? How do we apply this to our everyday lives? 7 Bible Verses About Hearing God’s Voice “So then faith comes by hearing, and...

Pin It on Pinterest