[a “busful” of gypsies]

[a “busful” of gypsies]

To just make things clear from the start: I am not racist but taking into account the reputation gypsies got over here, I prefer not to be around them.

Their reputation is that of thieves and charlatans. 99.99% of the time when you see a gypsy on the streets of Kyiv, they would either try to steal something from you, or try to tell your fortune (and then ask for money)… Sometimes they directly say “I can tell you your destiny,” at other times they might ask you what time it is at first or how to get to a certain street. I have been brought up with a habit of helping people. If someone needs my help and I can help, most of the time I do help. So it bugged me when I stopped to say what time it is or the street address, only to be asked for money… Ugh. Also I am opposed to them because they use their kids to beg for money… Anyway. That was a prelude.

I was coming from my friends’ place tonight and hopped into a bus. It smelled odd and musky, and when I looked around… the bus was full of gypsies! There were few other people standing in the doorway because none wanted to get really close to them, but the 70% of the riders were gypsies.

My first reaction, after I paid the fare, was to put my hand in my pocket where I had my cell phone and my arm around my backpack that was in front of me. Thankfully the bus ride wasn’t too long, but I have spent those 10 minutes thinking “I should be aware of what is going on. I should not let my guard down.”

I got out of the bus, checked the presence of my wallet and camera, and walked down a lonely street to my home.

The thought that often made me curious: there have to be good gypsies. There are good gypsies – the ones who don’t try to take advantage of others and want to make something of their lives. It is tough to change one’s mindset when you’ve been growing up around people for whom stealing was just a way of life for centuries, when you thought that magic and fortune-telling is an okay thing, a way to get money.

That made me think of Christians. I have heard so many arguments against Christians, even more so against the name “Christian” because of the image that we’ve got after 2,000 years.

“If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today. I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Mahatma Gandhi

I am not the one who first raised this question. My favorite author, Ted Dekker, wrote about it on his blog (click here to check it out – this guy really knows how to write!)

The term “Christian” has gained so much “weight” that it borders with obesity. Whenever people find out that I am a Christian, they look shocked, “We thought you were normal.” In many minds, at least over here, Christians are not better than non-believers, and sometimes even worse (sad to say). Some of it is because almost everyone is claiming to be a Christian: “Sure I go to Church. Sometimes. On Christmas and Easter. God? Sure, He exists. The idea of God doesn’t stand in my way.” In a way, many “talkers,” but too few “walkers.” And when a walker comes, they are perceived as just another talker.

I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes it is so hard to break the stereotype. Just like when one sees a gypsy in Kyiv, the initial assumption is “Oh, I should protect my wallet and cell phone,” same stereotype is with Christians sometimes, “Oh, I don’t want to mess with those people. They only accept perfect people into their community and I am far from that. So I won’t even bother.”

Did you ever have trouble with breaking the mold of pre-established notions about Christians? How did you overcome that prejudice?

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