Albanian Workshops and Culture Create Valuable Connections

What an amazing time we had at Roma Networks 4th International Conference! Ivy Manning, David Blowers, Paul Sayers, Nicky Chater and two of our young people, Michael and Pashey Manning, travelled 9 to 12 April 2024 to Albania.

We were learning skills in workshops, discussing issues in small groups, worshipping, sharing bible study and praying with 320 people from over 40 countries, speaking many different languages. The majority of these people were Roma, who as you may know, are among the most disadvantaged and marginalised of ethnic groups wherever they live.
During the conference we saw many short videos of how people were working to help Roma with health, education, supporting themselves in business, and founding or joining established churches. We heard many testimonies from people whose lives had been transformed. We made new friends and valuable connections and there was plenty of time built in for networking, particularly good when it happened over a coffee in the evening or looking out over the beautiful beach in the afternoon.

I enjoyed sharing a workshop learning about intercultural conflicts, how to help understand them and how to work to resolve them. Paul, Ivy, Pashey and Michael enjoyed learning about best ways to communicate using of social media and powerpoint. We saw mentors offering skills in business management and development, and others shared how to use a programme for developing literacy using the bible.

Each day had a main theme, our identity in Christ; the mission of God; Mentoring and Training. For each bible study we were asked to think how to apply what we were reading to our own settings.

The music was wonderful and varied and an enormous privilege to hear violinist Marian Mocanu (Have a look on YouTube DinkaGeo MediaLive 13th April 2024) and the worship team from Serbia.

We heard how all this had stared just 10 years ago when a few people living in different parts of the world responded to a sense that God wanted them to work with Roma people. Melody Wachsmuth researching for a PhD the movement of God among Roma in Europe and the difficulties Roma faced, was invited to write some articles for publication. Meanwhile Dr Sharon Chan, president of the Great Commission Centre International, believing God wanted to bless the nations through a group of people, read the articles. After careful discernment her organisation made contact with Melody and Roma leaders. Roma Networks was born on flip charts laid out on a kitchen table. The vision is network, connect, and research to see transformation in Roma communities and the gospel shared throughout Europe.