Reaching Out to the Sinti and the Roma in Germany
Tens of thousands of Sinti and Roma live in Germany. * Recently, Jehovah’s Witnesses have produced Bible-based tracts, brochures, and videos in their mother tongue, Romany. *
During a special campaign in September and October 2016, Jehovah’s Witnesses endeavored to share this Romany-language information with the Sinti and the Roma in various German cities, including Berlin, Bremerhaven, Freiburg, Hamburg, and Heidelberg. They also arranged Romany public meetings at their Kingdom Halls.
An Overwhelming Response
Many Sinti and Roma were surprised and overjoyed by the Witnesses’ campaign. “People were excited because we made a special effort to reach them,” reported Andre and Esther, a couple who participated in the campaign. Many were touched when they heard and read the Bible’s message in their mother tongue. A young woman watched in Romany the video Why Study the Bible? Again and again she exclaimed in disbelief, “This is my language!”
A Witness named Matthias, who supported the campaign in Hamburg, says: “My wife and I were in a group of eight Witnesses visiting an area where about 400 Sinti and Roma live. Every person we talked to requested literature.” Bettina, who also volunteered in Hamburg, adds: “Some cried when they saw that Jehovah’s Witnesses had published literature in Romany.” Many immediately started to read aloud from the publications, and some obtained extra copies for their friends.
A number of Sinti and Roma accepted an invitation to one of the public meetings. Many of the 94 persons who attended in Hamburg had never before entered a Kingdom Hall. In Reilingen, near Heidelberg, a total of 123 attended a meeting. Afterward, five Romany-speaking individuals requested a Bible study.
During the campaign, Jehovah’s Witnesses distributed almost 3,000 tracts and brochures. The Witnesses had discussions with over 360 Sinti and Roma people, and 19 began to study the Bible. Several of them said, “It is so nice that God is reaching out to us.”
^ par. 2 The Sinti are defined as a minority who live in Western and Central Europe, and the Roma, as a minority who originated in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.
^ par. 2 Encyclopædia Britannica Online notes that the Romany languages consist of “60 or more highly divergent dialects.” For simplicity, this article uses the word “Romany” to refer to the language spoken by the Sinti and the Roma living in Germany.