The Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Csíkszereda held a mass immersion ceremony in the Olt river during the weekend; forty-five gypsy criminals have vowed to give up their criminal lifestyle and embrace God.
The long ritual started in the gypsy neighborhood as 150 residents gathered dressed in white to listen Pentecostal Pastor Béla Lakatos' sermon. The people sang religious hymns in Gypsy, Hungarian and Romanian languages during the ceremony. Several devotees became quite emotional; a woman wept bitterly because she too wanted to get baptized and join the congregation, but because she had no enough willpower to quit smoking she wasn't allowed to join the denomination – smokers are not allowed to be members of the Pentecostal sect.
"We have given ourselves to God the Lord to become better individuals. We stopped committing crimes, we stopped drinking, and stealing," said one woman waiting to be immersed.
In the crowd there was a repeat offender gypsy criminal who was sentenced four times in the past to long prison term. Twelve years ago in 2003 he was the first among Tavasz street Gypsies who embraced the teachings of Lord Jesus. Since becoming a member of the congregation, he has been living an exemplary family life; he maintains a small farm and now builds his own house said proudly the ex-convict.
At the end of the ceremony, Pastor János Rostás said that some 300 Gypsies attend Csíkszereda Tavasz Street church service every Sunday. He noted that these people were feared criminal, thieves and robbers, yet they were able to embrace God. "We want gypsies to give up their criminal lifestyle, learn how to honor their families and become responsible parents," said the pastor.
(szekelyhon.ro – hungarianambiance.com)