The Power of the Fringes

Last week the Traveller Community was formally recognized as an ethnic group in Ireland. This was a low-key affair – the Taoiseach simply stood up in the Dáil and announced it. No laws had to change, no cases were brought to court. It was simply a statement by a powerful man. This low-key affair however addresses 2 long over-looked facts; that the Traveller Community have a distinct identity, history and culture which occupies a special place in our society, and that they have suffered marginalization like no other group in Ireland.

The Traveller, Roma and Gypsy communities in the UK, who have suffered similar marginalization, are currently experiencing what some people are calling a revival. In November the BBC published an article stating that an estimated 40% of British Gypsies belong to a Pentecostal movement, which is causing people to give up alcohol and fortune-telling as they embrace deep-seated faith in the gospel.  One author, who has written a book on the movement, has called them Europe’s new moral force. 

When I first heard about this I was intrigued but not surprised. Whatever direction society goes, however dark it can seem, God cannot be blotted out.

Yet when God seeks to change societies or culture, he so often uses those who are marginalized.

Corrupt tax collectors become upstanding citizens.  A man with a speech impediment becomes a public speaker and instrumental leader. Illiterate and uneducated fishermen become history-makers.

God does not operate like we operate. He is not building a kingdom of wealth and political power. His power is in the meek and lowly – those who let Him in. Therefore let us celebrate what happened last week and pray that the margins of our society will be changed by the power of the gospel for the good of us all!

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