College/Adult Mission Trip to Kosice, Slovakia
First Baptist Church of Marion, NC
May 17-28, 2019
By Scott Hagaman
Recently, 16 college students and adults from First Baptist Church of Marion NC journeyed to Kosice, Slovakia to work among the Roma people. Upon arrival in Budapest, Hungary, the team was greeted by Jon and Tanya Parks, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Field Personnel, who work among the Roma People. Exhausted from nearly two days of travel, the Parks’ guided the team north to Kosice, opening their home, providing dinner, and helping prepare the team for ministry. The Parks taught the team some basic Slovak language along with background information about the Roma people and their unique history and culture.
Over the next five days, the mission team spent time in three different predominantly Roma schools. The first was in an urban neighborhood in Kosice; the other two were in small, rural villages, Cakanovce and Backovik. Not only did the team engage children of all ages, they also worked with children who spoke little or no English. The Roma speak Slovak in school but usually their native Romani language at home.
Shelby Pyatt, a rising junior at UNC Charlotte, said, “When we arrived, we were greeted with smiles and hugs from students and teachers. In the three schools, we helped the children create flip books filled with basic life lessons and simple English. We also told Bible stories about David, sang songs, and played countless bingo games. Most importantly, we were able to interact with the children, not only sharing our love but also God’s love.”
On the last full day in Slovakia, the team returned to the first school where they had worked, prompting Pyatt to reflect on her overall experience among the Roma children. “Seeing again the same building, I had time to look around and realize how neglected the facility was. The building was old, dirty, and falling apart. On the outside, the grass was overgrown and trash was all around, much different from schools I attended in the states. However, as I looked at all the beautiful faces, I realized that the children did not notice the broken windows or peeling paint. They saw a place to learn and spend time with their friends and gain new skills to help them in life. These children and teachers helped me to see God while I was with them because they knew how lucky they were to be able to attend school and learn Bible stories. This was truly one of the best experiences I have had on a mission trip. These experiences with the children in Kosice and the small villages showed me how God works in so many different types of people.”
This North Carolina mission team also worshipped with two local Christian congregations and had daily debriefing and learning times led by Tanya and Jon Parks. These sessions helped process the group’s ministry and introduced basic missiology and community development concepts. The team also spent time seeing the sights and history of Kosice and Budapest, Hungary. While in route back to North Carolina, they also enjoyed a 48-hour stopover in London, which included dinner and a show.