The Lord’s directives are very clear – we are to ” loose the chains of injustice . . . set the oppressed free  break every yoke . . . [S]hare our food with the hungry . . . provide the poor wanderer with shelter— [and] when you see the naked,  clothe them.” (Isaiah 58:6-7).
Here at Mustard Tree, we strongly support first, second and third generational human rights, and we seek to restlessly pursue justice and mercy for all of God’s creation through our sustainable community development missions and programs.
Our work began in Romania about seven years ago when our Director was invited to go on a mission trip to the area. Once there, his heart couldn’t helped but be moved for the plight of the Roma people.
The Roma, a traditionally nomadic ethnic group living mostly inEurope, constitute the largest ethnic minority in the European Region. More widely known as “Gypsies,” the living conditions and life chances of the Roma have undergone a dramatic and ongoing decline constituting a major human rights crisis. Currently, the Roma have limited access to political, economic and social rights such as the right to life and equity before the law, the right to natural resources and a healthy environment, the right to food and housing, the right to sustainability, the right to education and the right to economic and social development.
The pictures here acurately depict the average living conditions of the Roma people. Humans and animals alike live in a one-room hut made out of make shift trash and leftovers with a dirt floor; and small children live and play in areas where raw sewage runs open in the streets.
Our Director immediatly responded by joining the European Roma Rights Centre and began sponsoring churches that offer outreach and community development to the Roma people. We specifically seek to assist with local community development projects and programs that seek to meet the needs of the impoverished community and the orphans of that county, so that instead of playing in raw sewage, they instead can enjoy clean water, other natural resources, sustainable food, housing and an education.
Thanks to the generous support of our donors, we are currently working to develop and build churches in three cities and six villages, and we recently purchased land to build an outreach center for the youth and orphans of one of the Roma villages. This center will also provide the community a place where they can come and worship in peace. We are also working to develop a local farming industry as part of our sustainable community development programs in the area. For more information on the human rights crisis facing the Roma, visit the EERC’s website here.
Mustard Tree Ministries and First-Centenary United Methodist Church work closely with Ray and Lidia Zirkel and their Methodist Children’s Home Hogar Metodista in Patio de Agua, Coronado. The mission work in the past has included helping build the children’s home and doing Vacation Bible School with the children. First-Centenary goes to Costa Rica every Summer with fundraising in the Spring. If you are interested in going or are interested in fundraising for yourself or the team, email Madeline or Barry for more information. We would love to have you join us!