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Keith Holmes and Mary van Rheenen
Kieth Holmes and Mary van Rheenen
are a husband/wife field personnel
team to the Romany people of Europe.

 

 


A MISSIONARY'S HEART

by Keith Holmes, Field Personnel to Romany People of Europe

 How do you deal with overwhelming need? How do you discern the best use of limited resources and yield to the Spirit's moving in being a redemptive presence? How do you explain it to your children? Keith shares his struggle, passion, and hope in describing an encounter with a Romany woman in Italy.

 We saw her sitting outside the door to a church in Assisi. The thin woman in mismatched clothes sat up a bit as we approached, waved a Polaroid of two toddlers at us, and clearly asked, in Italian, for money for food. I shook my head and stepped inside.

The entire interior of the church was frescoed, each wall and the ceiling. The floor was covered with an impressive mosaic. But during as we walked through it, my daughters did not ask about the artwork. They wanted to know about the woman begging on the steps. What was she doing? Why was she doing it? Why didn't I give her any money?

The woman was the first Romany person I'd seen in Italy. I knew, from experience elsewhere, that Romany consider Catholic holy places and holy days as prime opportunities to beg. Christian Romany had advised against giving to apparent beggars. There is no way to separate out the people in genuine need from the ones who see this as one of several survival options. I did not drop any coins in the woman's outstretched hands. I will devote all the necessary time, energy, talent, and funds make her begging unnecessary. Will you join me?