ORADEA, Romania -- The European Union has deported more than 1,000 gypsy people in recent weeks, and most are being sent back to Romania where they face a life of poverty and deprivation.
But Christian groups are working to bring hope to Romania's gypsies. For many, it has led to a relationship with God.
After years of mission work in Romania, Kevin Hoy realized gypsies have often struggled with advancing in Romanian society.
"What you realize as you travel around is so many of the gypsy communities haven't moved forward at all," he said. "They are exactly where they were, whether its 10 years, 20 years -- they haven't moved at all."
For example, the village of Salard is home to about 500 gypsy people and is one of the poorest areas in Romania. Homes are made of mud bricks, which are easy to crumble. And children don't have the opportunity to go to school.
"I think the only way I can make some money is to be there when people need us to help them picking the crops and so on," said 27-year-old gypsy Robert Mogiori.
Hoy founded The Smile Foundation, a ministry dedicated to helping people in Romani like Mogiori who are struggling to fulfill their dreams.
"Education is a big factor. But prejudice also plays a major part in the fact that they are just trapped," Hoy said. "And whatever we are trapped by, at the end of the day, the truth of the Gospel can release us."
In 2000, Hoy met a young boy in the Tileagd gypsy village, which was once known for crime and violence.
"We were on our way to eat," he recalled. "This little boy was hungry. He came with us."
"Over the two hours, we learned a lot about his community, his family," Hoy continued. "And he ended up taking us back to meet his mom and dad, and his eight brothers and sisters."
In the 10 years following that meeting, Hoy has worked to get running water for the Tileagd village, a neighborhood store, a school, and a church where many gypsies have come to know Christ.
"When people have lost hope, which so many have here in Romania, you realize that in the economic circumstances of this country and the social limitations of it, their only hope is Christ," Hoy said.
The growing gypsy revival in Tileagd was documented by Tudor Petan and Romania's Alfa Omega television network.
"God in His mercy decided now to work in strong power to this group," Petan said.
In 2009, he witnessed what many call the "Toflea miracle," where 500 gypsies in southeast Romania were baptized after accepting Christ. It was the largest baptism in Romania's history.
Hundreds more in Tileagd answered the call to Christ this year.
Hoy prays revival will soon reach the residents of Salard as well. In the meantime, he and his team preach the gospel -- without words.
"There is a place for talking and in an educated society, preaching the word is fundamental. But many of the people we are dealing with here are uneducated," Hoy said.
"We could talk to them all day long and they would not be able to grasp what we are trying to say," he explained. "Practical evidence of God's love is what the people need."
Original broadcast on Christian World News, Sept. 20, 2010.