Come and Serve: Opportunities in Romania
Romania is a land of spiritual challenge and opportunity. Even though parts of the country have some of the largest concentrations of evangelical believers in Europe, many parts of the country still have well less than 1% who know what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. In many areas, spiritual darkness is woven into the culture and fabric of daily life.
For many of us, our image of Europe is a place rich in Christian history, art, and faithful tradition. We know that today much of the continent lacks the light of Jesus, but when our history books tell us Europe and Christianity used to go hand in hand, we must ask ourselves where did it go wrong? As Christianity initially swept through Europe, certain parts lacked the depth and foundation of faith that undergirded the Christianization of society. As Dwight Poggemiller, a GEM global worker in Romania, notes, “they simply changed the names of pagan deities to saints; but the local practices never disappeared. Rather than adopting the lifestyle of Jesus, Jesus was adopted to serve our man-made lifestyles.” Down through the centuries, this syncretism of Christianity and cultural beliefs have intertwined in subtle yet powerful ways.
Where is the hope when darkness is so rampant? One could easily label the spiritual darkness in Europe as a crisis. But as our president, Jon Burns, says, “Out of crisis comes opportunity.” The truth of this is no more evident than in places like Romania.
“The Romanian Church is a praying church,” said Dwight. And out of the remnant of believers being faithful to scripture and the way of Jesus, the Lord is raising up a generation of disciple-makers. Even during COVID, 1,500 believers were trained last year online and most of this was led by national believers who have a passion for Jesus and sharing His love with others. “It has been an intentional cultivation of some of our Romanian partners to train the youth to share the Gospel,” said Dwight. “Most Romanians think of evangelism as the pastor telling you to invite your neighbors to church, but following Jesus makes a difference in every aspect of our lives—our family dynamics, our friendships, who we are in our workplaces, how we treat our neighbors, and every little thing we do from sun-up Monday through sun-down Sunday.”
While the Lord is proving faithful in building His Church in Romania despite the syncretism and opposition, the spiritual darkness is great and the Church needs support and workers to help fight this great battle.
“There are huge needs but incredible opportunities,” said Dwight. There is the beginning of a new discipleship movement in Romania led by local partners in Timișoara. Through youth camps and training seminars in evangelism as a lifestyle in cities and villages, Romanian leaders are helping “make evangelism cool,” he said with a smile. And it’s working! A movement of young people passionate about the good news of Jesus is taking root in the Romanian church and people are being drawn to Christ.
When asked what type of people the GEM team would love to have them join the ministry in Romania, Dwight lit up with ideas. “There are so many types of ministries we are connected to and would welcome people to join us in,” he shared. “Older people are greatly respected in Romania. We would love second-career folks to join us in Romania. Or people with a passion for social work and justice ministry.” From human trafficking to the great number of foster children in the country, social workers are often swamped and could use support.
Bucharest, Romania’s capital, is a city with nearly two million people and has tremendous opportunities for urban church planters. Timișoara and other cities, also, continue to have a great need for more churches to be planted in order to reach the many different people groups and cultures in the country.
“Romania is a tech-savvy country,” said Dwight. “There are many IT opportunities for people skilled in communications and technology.” On top of all this, Romania is growing as a mission sending country. “In the past twenty years, we’ve seen over 200 long-term missionaries sent out from Romania to serve in other countries,” shared Dwight. There are many open doors to train and equip believers interested in missions. “In many ways, we want to help missionaries train nationals and hand them the reigns, working ourselves out of our job.”
“The GEM team in Romania currently consists of two couples and five single missionaries with four units joining our team soon. Do you have a passion for discipleship, youth ministry, IT, social work, or training missionaries? “You have an opportunity to become part of a blessing,” shared Dwight.
Visit gemission.org/go to learn more about serving with GEM in Romania! And join us in praying for God to keep moving in power in Romania and all of Eastern Europe.
About the authors:
Grant is a storyteller with Greater Europe Mission and serves in Birmingham, England. Check out grantandnaomi.com to learn more.