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French revolution

By Christina Quick

It’s Saturday morning, and Nancy Le Cossec is busy preparing her home for a move. Dishes must be packed carefully to prevent breakage. Tables and chairs need to be put away. Every small family possession must be accounted for and stowed in its proper place.

Nancy knows the routine well. She’s been doing it nearly every week for more than three decades.

The American-born woman and her French husband, Jean, are Assemblies of God missionaries to the Roma people, or Gypsies, of France. Over the years the Le Cossecs have learned to live as Gypsies, uprooting every few days or so, doing laundry wherever they can, and enduring the social marginalization that goes with eking out an existence on the fringes of society.

The World Bank describes the Roma as Europe’s poorest and largest minority. On average, they live 10 to 15 years less than others. They suffer discrimination in virtually every arena, from education to employment opportunities.

There are an estimated 300,000 Gypsies in France, and an impressive 50 percent of them are believed to be born-again Christians. Most are nomadic, moving from place to place just as their families have done for centuries. Instead of wagons, however, they now travel in sleek camper trailers.

Their modern transportation isn’t the only sign of change. Half the Roma in Europe today are under the age of 20. The Le Cossecs believe this new generation of Gypsies has the potential to become a powerful force in the church at large.

“The gospel has made a great change in them, and today they’re not as shy as they used to be,” Jean says. “They’re more open about sharing their faith.”

As sojourners who are constantly on the move and interacting with new people, Gypsy converts are in a unique position to spread the good news of Christ far and wide.

“Their work, many times, takes them door to door,” Nancy says. “It gives them an opportunity to take the gospel with them. They are bold witnesses. Most Gypsies I know are not ashamed to share their faith.”

Yet the Le Cossecs’ job is far from finished. Many Gypsies throughout France and across the European continent are still unreached.

“There are many projects ahead of us,” says Jean. “And so we’re praying if the Lord gives us the project, He’ll also provide the funds to follow through and get the work done.”

CHRISTINA QUICK is staff writer for Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.

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