Trying to find Gypsies

Yesterday afternoon, we headed to Sector 5 of Bucuresti, looking for Ferentari, the poorest neighborhood in the capital city and well-known as a “gypsy neighborhood.”  Ferentari is also said to be the most dangerous, where many drug dealers and gang members make their homes.  While I can’t say much about the crime, I can safely say this is the dirtiest part of Bucuresti, and by all appearances also the poorest.  From our experience, it was also one of the friendliest.

When we first proposed a trip to Ferentari, many people worriedly described the dangers of the neighborhood to us, and so I was definitely nervous going in.  (Check out the Wikipedia entry and this Romanian news article for a look at the area.)  But I have always felt God calling me to work somehow with the poor–it’s why I first went to India, why I led trips to the inner city areas in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Kansas City, and why I served in Lone Rock at The Wave youth center–and I know his heart is with them.

Jake and I decided to make our initial exploration of the neighborhood yesterday afternoon, probably picking the world’s hottest afternoon to head there.  The plan was to pray over the place and try to talk to people as God led, but mostly just check things out.

On our way there, we ran into a number of dead-end streets.  At one point, a Romanian woman noticed us turn around, so she (I assume) asked if we were lost.  When she found out where we were going, she told us something along the lines of, “Don’t you know there are Gypsies there?  Why the heck would you ever want to go there, crazy Americans???”

Well, after a bit more wondering than  I would’ve planned , we eventually found our way to Ferentari, and we could tell right away that this was a poorer area of the town.  But we also ran into some of the most friendly people I’ve yet met here.  My Romanian is horrible, and Jake’s is really rough, but people were more than happy to give us directions and speak with us.  Although we didn’t get to share the gospel, Jake did mention Isus to the three women who were hitting on me.  Overall, I am definitely getting a heart for the people living here, and I hope to return with the love and power of Jesus.

Many (I’m sure) are criminals, many are wrongly judged as such, all of them are loved by the One whose blood is more powerful than our deepest sins.

P.S.  I didn’t take out my camera.  I was too nervous about attracting attention.  But check out this link for some great photos of life in Ferentari.

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2 responses to “Trying to find Gypsies

  1. Our STM group is in Honduras and spent time at a place known as the Crematorium aka the landfill where they ministered to those living in the landfill. It’s heartbreaking, and frankly, every American should spend time in these places.

    One note, in the pics link I couldn’t help noticing the satellite dishes on the sides of the buildings, interesting.

    • I definitely agree about every American needing to visit some of the poorer places in the world. I think this would be especially beneficial for teenagers.

      Concerning the satellite dishes… They are definitely *everywhere* here in Bucuresti, and there seems to be a high regard for looks (newest gadgets/clothes) even among the poor. As to their appearance in Ferentari, I head that back in 2006, there was a crack-down on the neighborhood due to widespread illegal tapping into the electrical grid to get free electricity, probably so they could watch their free cable TV. In response, the city disconnected everyone and gave a massive bill. Many have electricity now, and it looks like they’ve switched to satellite TV, too.

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