No picnic baskets or ants could be found at this year’s General Assembly Missions Picnic, but the crowd did find stories of changed lives among one of the world’s most neglected people groups.
CBF field personnel Ralph and Tammy Stocks led the celebration of Project Ruth, a multi-faceted 20-year ministry among the Roma (Gypsy) people of Europe providing education, training, community development and wellness programs.
“I hope after today you’ll learn that Gypsies are not what you thought they were,” Tammy Stocks said. “They are people who desire to know the love of God.”
One of the key components of Project Ruth is the Ruth School, which provides education to Roma families in order to help them reach their highest potential. Through education, the Ruth School seeks to assist in the inclusion of Roma in society as well as their future educational endeavors. In 20 years, more than 2,000 children have been served by the Ruth School.
“Many of you have been part of the story,” said Oti Bunaciu, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Bucharest, and founder of Project Ruth. “CBF has been the hub of these stories. I came here today to say ‘Thank you.’”
Ministry partners who helped Project Ruth get started include Providence; CBF through field personnel Kathie and T Thomas; Boulevard Baptist Church in Anderson, S.C.; British and German Baptists; and First Baptist Church of Midland, Texas.
“Everything we say we believe about missions and the way to do missions is there in that Ruth Project, it’s among the most neglected, it’s done in partnership, its holistic,” Vestal said. “If we walked away today that ministry would continue to exist. Baptists from all over Europe participate in that project.”