Spirited music wafts from an encampment of travel trailers and tents outside a village in the south of France, filling the summer night with the sounds of worship. It’s Tuesday night, and the Gypsies are having a worship service, just as they did the night before and will the following night.
Around the world, Gypsies are finding a new reason to sing. A revival that began in France in the early 1950s continues unabated, reaching now throughout all of Europe and into India, Latin America, and North America.
Today, according to John Le Cossec, founder and international secretary of the Evangelical Gypsy Mission, some 200,000 Europeans are members of the Gypsy Evangelical Church (GEC). Thousands more in other countries have become Christians in the last three decades. The GEC in France, 70,000 strong, is one of the country’s largest evangelical denominations. The Gypsy church in Spain is larger than any other Protestant denomination. In Latin America, one of the newer fields for Gypsy mission work, hundreds are converted every month.
Le Cossec, an Assemblies of God pastor, established the first Gypsy church. Rejecting the traditional approach toward the nomadic people, which regarded their lifestyle as unsuitable for Christians, Le Cossec encouraged Gypsies not to be Christians instead of Gypsies, but to become Christian Gypsies. As a result, their nomadic lifestyle has proved an asset in the evangelization not only of other Gypsies, but also of people in communities through which they travel.
A strong vision for missions has led to the conversion of Gypsies throughout Europe and overseas. For example, India counts 36 Gypsy churches, ten children’s homes, and a Bible school. A key to the rapid spread of the gospel ...1
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