By Chance Galloway
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3–4).
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8–9).
In Bulgaria, the Roma community faces a daunting struggle against deep-rooted persecution. This ethnic group — resilient yet burdened by the heavy chains of racism, inequality, and marginalization — confronts severe poverty, unemployment, and limited access to essentials like health care and education. In these trying times, the Christian community is called to act with love and compassion, not only addressing the immediate challenges but also tackling the underlying issues perpetuating this cycle of suffering. The mission work in the Balkans is dedicated to preventing human trafficking among at-risk Roma women, driven by the principles embracing God’s love, building trust through relationship, fellowship, and community.
“Our mission goes beyond rescuing victims; it’s about preventing vulnerability.”
Confronting the Core Issues
To battle human trafficking effectively, we must face the intertwined issues of poverty, hunger, racism, unemployment, and spiritual emptiness. These factors create a breeding ground for exploitation, making it crucial to address them for holistic change. We realized that at the core of poverty and suffering within communities and individuals was a broken relationship with God, a broken relationship with others, and a need to know their identity as a child of God.
The Roma’s Struggle
Despite their rich cultural heritage, the Roma in Bulgaria are trapped in systemic challenges. Discrimination and marginalization have led many into poverty and unemployment, making them easy targets for human traffickers.
A Christian Call to Action
Our mission goes beyond rescuing victims; it’s about preventing vulnerability. We focus on at-risk Roma women, especially those leaving orphanages or foster care, aiming to break the chains of exploitation and restore dignity and purpose. We also engage in education, leadership training, and spiritual and physical needs.
“Lord, break our heart for what breaks Yours.”
Embodying Christian Values
Our approach is rooted in Christian principles, creating an environment of love, safety, and provision founded in God’s love and acceptance.
Building a Loving Community
We are founded on love and compassion, embodying Christ’s teachings to offer hope. We foster acceptance and value individuals for who they are, beyond their past or circumstances.
We believe each person is made in God’s image, deserving of value, hope, and purpose. Our prayer is, “Lord, break our heart for what breaks Yours.” This view counters the dehumanizing effects of exploitation and shapes our outreach and programs toward restoration and redemption.
We provide opportunities for individuals to discover and develop their God-given talents. Through education, vocational training, and community support, our heart is to cultivate an environment where individuals can thrive, contributing positively to their communities and breaking free from the cycle of human trafficking.
“We must surround them with prayers and support, embodying God’s love as a tangible lifeline.”
A Cry for Freedom: The Journey of a Roma Girl and the Power of Prayer
In a small village in Bulgaria, a young Roma girl’s story unfolds, highlighting the struggles faced by many in marginalized communities. The life of the girl (named Iliyana) — controlled by family dynamics and compounded by her disabilities — becomes a tale of exploitation and vulnerability. This situation underscores the need to address poverty, control, and exploitation as systemic issues.
Her attempt to escape, with her baby and husband, calls the Christian community to action. We must surround them with prayers and support, embodying God’s love as a tangible lifeline. This story is not just a call for prayer but for active advocacy and support, as demonstrated by her safe arrival at the St. John’s Safe Home.
Her journey is a stark reminder of the urgent need to confront the root causes of human trafficking and injustice. Through prayer, support, and advocacy, we can embody God’s love and create a supportive community, empowering individuals like her to break free. United, we stand against oppression — fueled by faith, love, and justice.
Let us join in prayer and action for the Roma community in Bulgaria, and for all those who suffer under the weight of human trafficking and injustice. May our efforts be guided by compassion, understanding, and a relentless pursuit of freedom and dignity for all God’s children.
Chance Galloway serves as a missionary in the Balkans along with his wife, Dee Dee Galloway. They founded and oversee the International Fellowship of St. John, which is a 501c3 in the United States and nongovernmental organization (NGO) in the European Union. Click here to support the Galloways through Free Methodist World Missions, and visit the Galloways in the Balkans website to learn more about them and their ministries.
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