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Roma Recordings to Share the Story of Scripture

Roma Recordings to Share the Story of Scripture

It took three organizations, four weeks and countless prayers. But, at the end of the month, a people group in Albania that once had no recorded accounts of Scripture in their language finally possessed over 30 Bible stories in their unique dialect.

Christar workers James and Dawn* had long asked their support team to pray that God would enable them to create partnerships that would help churches take root and multiply among the Roma throughout Albania. They were already ministering alongside workers from Pioneers, and through these coworkers’ connection with a third organization, Libretto International, they saw the Lord’s powerful answer.

Libretto equips least-reached oral people groups like the Roma to use Bible stories that can serve as a starting point for launching groups of believers who worship together and share the gospel with others. Libretto teams travel to communities that don’t yet have recordings of such stories in their dialect and, through monthlong workshops, lead groups of local people in creating a collection of stories that convey the narrative of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

James and Dawn’s team invited Libretto to come to their community, and they began making plans to host a group from the United States. There was one complication, however: Libretto’s model was designed to be used by small groups of believers; but no one who spoke the dialect in which they hoped to record the stories had yet followed Jesus.

This presented a significant challenge. “Normally participants would be motivated to reach their own group, but we didn’t have that,” Dawn explains. Instead, they hired local people looking for work as translators and bathed the project in prayer, asking their support team to pray along with them.

The Libretto team arrived in fall 2021. “It was like a conference that kept going on for a month,” James recalls. Five days a week, he and Dawn would pick up participants in the project and drive them to the hotel that served as home base. Then they, along with their coworkers and local partners, served as translators for the Libretto staff, enabling the visiting team to work effectively with the Roma who had gathered.

Every morning the Roma workers would divide into small groups, each of which would hear a Bible story and practice telling it in their language to one another, with the Libretto team ensuring that they understood the key concepts. After lunch and games, recording began in a makeshift studio the team assembled in a vacant business office at the hotel. Those who weren’t directly involved in recordings would work on writing songs to accompany the stories. “Libretto has a very well put-together program,” Dawn says. “It’s very relationally intensive.”

Jolene, who led the Libretto International team, saw numerous obstacles going into the project. But she was confident that God would work out the challenges before them.

“It was amazing how it all came together,” Jolene recalls. She was thrilled to see the entire group of translators show up day after day, despite being asked to process information in ways that were unusual for their culture. “They don’t [typically] sit around and talk about spiritual things. But they did all day. They’d grapple with key terms,” she adds. “They were taking real care and ownership of these stories. They were very proud they did it.”

Jolene describes the extra effort she and her team put forth to explain concepts like baptism and make sure that the translators understood words such as “disciple”—steps that wouldn’t be necessary with a believing group. But this effort paid off as each night participants would take with them a clear understanding of the day’s story. “I was impressed that so many of these Roma participants went home and shared their Bible stories with family members and friends as they were preparing for the following days’ official recordings,” James says.

As the end of the project neared, James presented a clear gospel message to the group, and he invited a believing woman to share her heartfelt testimony of Christ’s work in her life. And he and Dawn rejoiced in the strong bonds they’d formed over the course of just a few weeks—connections they pray will help them and their team minister more effectively among the Roma. “The quality time we got to spend with these Roma people resulted in a camaraderie akin to that established during a summer camp,” Dawn shares. “Many tears were shed as we said goodbye to the visiting American team who led us through the process and to the project that had woven us together.”

By the end of the month, the group had produced 33 stories—more than the Libretto team or the workers in Albania expected. But these stories are just the beginning. James, Dawn and their coworkers now hope to turn these recordings into YouTube videos that would provide powerful tools for sharing the gospel widely among the Roma. And all are praying that God would work through these stories to lay the foundation for numerous churches among this people group.

In fact, they may already be seeing answers to this prayer. A couple of young women who participated in the project have joined Bible study groups, and one man has shown great interest in the gospel and is being trained to lead. “I think he’s on the track to become a believer,” James says. He adds that if the great effort to create the stories simply helps his team to identify someone who could lead the local church in the future, it will all be worth it.

And none of it would have been possible without members of the Body of Christ working together. “Having partnerships allows everyone to accomplish things they couldn’t do themselves—things that aren’t in their wheelhouse,” Jolene explains. She adds, “This is such a springboard for what’s going to happen in the future.”

Participate Through Prayer

  • Praise God for using a partnership to give the Roma in Albania access to the message of the gospel presented in a culturally relevant way!
  • Pray that God will provide a short-term worker who could create visuals to accompany the recorded stories.
  • Ask the Lord to draw individuals who participated in translation to Him through the stories they learned and to raise up some of them to play pivotal roles in establishing churches among the Roma.
  • Especially pray that Roma men will believe in Christ, lead their families to Him and transform their communities from the inside out.

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