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The Gypsies

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Michael Seth

   

It was somewhere around 2008 that I had my first encounters with the Gypsies in the Houston area. I was working with the Childrenís Activity Center in Bellaire at the time. I had several contacts with different food sources such as; Le Madeleine French bakery and Oak Farms dairy products at the time and was distributing fresh products in the area to needy families. Out of curiosity, I stopped in to a used car lot on Bellaire Blvd one afternoon to check out the possibility of buying a little better car. This was my first encounter with Ricardo and Leo Christo. It wasnít long before I became friends with Leo, or Pastor Ringo as he is better known as.

I began stopping in at least three times a week with fresh breads, pastries, and dairy products as a blessing to some of the families that I had become acquainted with. I would also spend as much time with Ringo as I could having bible studies with him and learning a little simple communication in the Gypsy language. I seemed to fit right in with them and felt very much at home with my new found family. I dug deep and started learning everything I possibly could about their unique culture. I soon discovered how special this particular group of Gypsies were as I found that many of them had already come to know the Lord and Jesus in a very strong way. As time went by I encouraged Leo to become a pastor to his people as he had a very deep and strong relationship with the Lord already and who better to reach his people and lead them into that same covenant with the Lord.

Before you know Leo was having home group meetings at his home and some of the other homes in the area. It wasnít long before the home groups outgrew the homes and larger accommodations were necessary. For a while they began meeting and sharing a building with a Hispanic Christian group in Bellaire on the off days when the Spanish group was not meeting. They quickly grew in numbers to somewhere around 100 to 150 members at a meeting. It wasnít long before they outgrew that meeting hall and needed to find their own building for more convenience and growth. This is when they found the abandoned bowling alley then owned by a Korean businessman. They moved in and it was amazing how they all worked together to remodel and get the building in shape for fellowship of their rapidly growing numbers. It was very impressive! However, it wasnít long before tragedy struck and the building was struck with an electrical fire. The smoke damage was so severe that the building became unusable and they were forced to move the meetings into a very small and very odious restaurant without A/C in the same strip center next to a massage parlor. This didnít work well at all, but many still hung in there strong.

   

It was at this juncture that the Lord spoke to me about a church that I had previously built for a very close friend of mine who had been experiencing the same growth pangs in the growth of their fellowship as well. It was situated in Stafford not far from the Gypsy community and very accessible to all. I told Ringo and some of the leadership about the possibility of moving their fellowship to that location and then went to present it to my extended family. I assured them that I would take full responsibility for the proposed merger allowing the Gypsy Church to meet in the fellowship hall while another very small group met in the larger sanctuary. With a little reluctance it was agreed that the Lord may very well be in this move. We started with the preparations to make the fellowship hall ready for meetings immediately. With the help of my good friend Jimmy Duncan, owner of Southpaw Guitars, a new PA system was provided with all the necessities and many others pitched in to provide chairs and platforms and whatever was needed. It once again was amazing the numbers all working together and the urgency with which they worked to get everything in order. The Gypsies had a new church home. Praise God!
He is always faithful. He was certainly showing himself strong on their behalf. It wasnít long before the numbers multiplied and conditions were becoming crowded.  I encouraged them that the Lord had definitely spoken to me an assured me that they were to possess the land soon. Meanwhile I finished preparations for the beautiful baptismal in the main sanctuary in readiness for a large group of Gypsy baptisms. It was at this time that the Lord began opening the door for expansion into the larger sanctuary. (Above)
   

It wasnít long before the smaller group that was meeting in the larger part of the building just up and left without notice. They had been invited to attend some of the Gypsy Christian meetings but never seemed to be interested in attending. Prophecy fulfilled and the Gypsy Church possessed the land. We began immediately with renovations. The first thing we did was to tear down the middle wall of partition literally as the numbers in the Gypsy church were growing so fast that even the main sanctuary was not going to be large enough for their meetings. We opened up the fellowship hall into the main sanctuary and this gave us almost 500 seats which were soon filled.

Ringo and his congregation have been so faithful that over the past few years many missionaries have been sent out around the world and another three churches have been planted by them in other areas.

 

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