Into the tent where the gypsy boy lay
Dying alone at the close of the day.
News of salvation we carried; said he
“Nobody ever has told it to me.”
Tell it again, tell it again!
Salvation’s story repeat o’er and o’er.
‘Til none can say of the children of men
Nobody ever has told me before.
I heard this song when I was in the primary division of Sabbath school. It made me so sad to think of a young boy dying alone that I actually cried as I memorized the song. And what was a gypsy? “They’re not thieves or trouble-makers,” my Mom said. “They’re travelers. They’ll do any kind of work to trade for food or clothing. They’re good people.” Then she told me more about the gypsies, how she remembered loading them with food from the garden as well as bread and other foods. In exchange, they’d pull weeds or wash off the sidewalk or pick corn from the cornpatch. Or they’d trade precious stones or even horses they had with them. Then they’d disappear.
Later I learned they like to be called “Romas” or “Romanis” instead of “gypsies,” and came from India originally, not from Egypt as many assumed and is the reason they were called “gypsies.” They love music and their tunes have influenced famous composers such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahams. But apparently because of their nomadic lifestyle and haunting appearance, they have faced prejudice and racial hatred through centuries and are just now settling into modern culture. There are about a million gypsies in the U.S. today, and ten million worldwide, according to estimates by Romani groups.
What are we doing to tell the story of Jesus to gypsies today? Or are “people like that” beyond our reach? How far should our desire to reach others extend?
[Thought Questions for Every Member Ministry April 10, 2012]
1. A pastor for gypsies. The above story calls for an answer. Why doesn’t the General Conference Sabbath school department set up a special set of programs just for gypsies? Or couldn’t we just choose a pastor to be the “minister to the Romas?” Ah, that’s the answer. Pastors know more than we do about winning new members. If there are gypsies in your city, town, or neighborhood, and there probably are, why not set up a friend-to-friend evangelistic program just for them and put your pastor in charge of it? Your pastor is already too busy? And he’s not a gypsy. Then what about you? Just a thought.
2. All of us priests. What does the “priesthood of believers” mean? In the Old Testament, weren’t there specific tasks and honors accorded to the priests but to no one else? What changed from the days of the sacrifices and temple service to the days of an every-member priesthood? Does the pastor of your church have responsibilities no one else can share? Is the pastor a modern priest? Do you agree with the lesson that the priesthood we share stems from and only from our relationship with God? Do you feel qualified, personally, to be a priest in God’s gospel movement?
3. Ministry and talent. Does the pastor of your church have more talent than most other members? What about those other members? What role does talent play in their ministry? Have you ever been especially blessed by a musical presentation and thanked the persons involved for their ministry in music? What about the crippled elderly woman who is carried with her wheelchair into the sanctuary every Sabbath? Does her presence offer a ministry? Paul says we should be equipped for ministry. By whom? Are you willing to use your talents of time, of friendship, of money, of speaking, or any other gifts bestowed on you by God to reach others with His eternal message of love, acceptance, and redemption?
4. No Job shortage. We’re slowly coming out of a recession here in the USA, which means the job market is improving, and more people are employed. In God’s economy is there ever a case of unemployment with people wanting to work but not able to find a job? Or are there more jobs in God’s economy than there are people willing to do the work? Can you share an example of planting a seed to bring people to a saving relationship with Jesus? What new doors do electronic means of communication open for us to reach others? Do people ever go to work for God and end up doing a bad job of it? What went wrong?
5. Individuals together. Do you believe in the power of small group Bible study in Sabbath school? Or are most classes in your church opportunities for the teacher to teach? Or do you even discuss the lesson in Sabbath school? Is your church growing? Is the conference where you worship scrambling to find more places for people to meet on Sabbath? If not, why not? Does your church have a strategy for growth and outreach? Do you support this strategy and look for ways to match your God-given talents with the needs? Why is it so hard for us to make friends with other Christians? Or is it?
6. Working with God. Imagine going to war, fighting a battle against 5,000 enemy troops, and you can choose only one person to go with you. Whom would you choose? Does going with God guarantee you’ll find success? Which is the worse extreme: Working alone to win others, or leaving it all up to God? What is an even better option than either of these? Is God willing to work with us sin-sick feeble human beings to accomplish the mightiest work of all Creation? How does the Holy Spirit help us have God’s spirit within us? What role does the Holy Spirit play in helping us fulfill the opportunities surrounding us?
7. Reporting. Does your church provide for regular, factual reporting of evangelistic and friend-winning programs you carry out? If not, why not? What about publications prepared for members in conferences, in union conferences, and in the division-wide and worldwide church? Are they a type of God-ordained reporting? If you’ve decided to join the church, don’t you want to know what your church is doing around the world? Is it possible to be so modest about the work we do (“I don’t want to brag”) that our modesty interferes with sharing the Word of God with others?
8. Putting it together. Your lesson ends with four actions recommended for you to follow to participate fully in God-ordained evangelistic witnessing. What would happen if everyone in your church followed all four of these actions? Would it be possible to take the pastor out of his job of initiating every program you church undertakes because there would be too many ideas for him to handle? Would that be good news? Instead of looking for pastors who are good at thinking up programs, organizing them, and presenting them, how would the pastor’s job description change if the entire church was working on small and not-so-small projects for God’s kingdom?