Baptists in Romania
Baptists in Romania
The President of the Baptist Union of Romania, Dr. Otniel Bunaciu describes Romanian Baptists as “Bible-believing people who… have the goal of bringing the Gospel to a needy world”. Dr. Bunaciu regularly travels across his nation visiting Baptist congregations in order to discover how the Union can help them accomplish this goal.
It is important to remember that the Romanian Baptists were harshly persecuted by the Communist regime. It is only since the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century that Baptists have experienced unprecedented freedom.
The Baptist denomination is a mass movement in Romania now. There are several mega-churches that belong to the Baptist Union. The largest one with over 3,000 members is located in Oradea. There are several large congregations comprising over 1,000 members. Besides excellent preaching they also feature wonderful choirs, music ensembles and large buildings.
Large churches are also the backbone to nationwide evangelistic campaigns, like the campaign due to take place with Franklin Graham in the summer 2008. Hundreds of new church plants have been started since independence in 1990. Large churches run ambitious mission programs aimed at planting new congregations.
It is my privilege to introduce a couple of the indigenous church planters from Romania.
Church plant in Viseu de Sus
The Romanian countryside is typically picturesque with rolling hills. Travelling by road, you might see a horse-drawn plough as well as flocks of sheep scattered on the hillsides.
Viseu de Sus is a town inhabited by 10,000 people. It is located in the mountains on the border with the Ukraine. Todor, the church planter used to be a carpenter and now he is full-time missionary. He is married to Silvia and the couple have a 10 year old son.
The church started several years ago and now comprises of about 30 members. Initially, viewings of the “Jesus film” were presented and the mission group visited as many people in the town as possible. Members of the church faced various kinds of opposition, including having the church building windows smashed, which has fortunately stopped happening. Local people have seen over the years that the new church has produced good fruit.
Unfortunately migration slows down the pace of growth – as numerous church members have left their homeland looking for work abroad. Many have immigrated to Spain, Italy, Germany and other Western countries, but despite this the church has still grown.
The goal of this church is to become self supportive. Emphasis is placed on small group fellowship, discipleship relationship-building but from time to time the church also organises public events. The newly planted church has also started fruitful mission work in a local orphanage. The vision for the next 2 years is to present the Gospel message to each family in Viseu de Sus as well as distribute literature and establish several Christian meeting points. There are also opportunities to plant a new church in Borsa, a town approx. 30 km from Viseu de Sus. The mother church at Arad provides various kinds of support including prayer, regular contact, sending mission teams in summer, financial aid etc.
Church Plant in Miercurea Nirajului
Church planter Jakab is married, his wife is a nurse and they have 2 small children. They are planting a new church in the town of Miercurea Nirajului (MN). They started in 2006 with a small team of four people. Jakab distributes the Gospel of Luke and tries to win people through personal contact and friendships.
Jakab and his church planting team primarily focus on young couples who have children. They have invited some families from the neighbourhood to different activities and have succeeded in making good friendships with them. Some of the families come regularly for a chat and the kids enjoy playing together. There was a baptism in the neighbouring church in Magherani which was good occasion to invite several people from MN. For most of the people it was the first time they had witnessed an adult baptism, so it was a special experience for them.
The church planting team has also started mission work among teenagers and young people of the town. There are regular youth meetings in Magherani and young people from MN have joined the youth group several times, which they have really enjoyed. The church planting team is also planning to start a mothers-and-toddlers group, where children can play together and mothers can enjoy chatting and spending time together.
Jakab says that “the traditional method of inviting people to Christian meetings or worship is not effective, so we’re looking for new ways to engage with people and open doors. Though the church plant is still in its preliminary phase, we believe that the mustard seed will become a big tree one day…”
Church Plant in Chisineu Cris
Janos is 25 years old and married. The couple visits Chisineu Cris on the weekends to do some evangelistic events, distribute literature, visit people and build relationships. Their goal is to move to the town soon in order to start a new fellowship.
Janos is gifted in preaching, leadership, and evangelism, as well as being an accomplished musician. He has also read several books which are helpful to his ministry – including the “Purpose Driven Church” by Rick Warren. Several Baptist churches from the surrounding area have promised to support this new project. The majority of the population in the area is Reformed. Janos is enthusiastic and hopeful for the future success of his exciting ministry.
As you read these testimonies, please pray for growth for the newly planted congregations in Romania. I trust that we will regularly hear mission stories from this nation.
The Baptist Union of Romania is the third largest Baptist body in Europe. There are over 1,722 churches and about 100,000 members. The Convention of the Hungarian Baptist Churches is comprised of 240 churches and nearly 9,000 members.