Romania

ROMANIA

Balkan state on the lower Danube River, a mix of mountains, hills and plains with the geographical area 238,391sq. km. The population of the country is 21,190,154 with the capital Bucharest. Official language Romanian.

Romania has a large and growing evangelical population, Europe’s fourth largest. This is despite an overall decline in population. In fact, evangelicals are the only growing major religious group. Romania is considered one of the more spiritually receptive European nations.

CHALLENGES FOR PRAYER

A legacy of brokenness endures from the days of Ceausescu’s regime, a moral vacuum being filled with every kind of social evil. Substance abuse, prostitution, pornography, human trafficking and challenges to child welfare are widespread. Romania has one of the highest abortion rates in the world, with three or more abortions for every child born. Poverty is still common, with widespread unemployment and economic instability, caused to a large degree by rampant and entrenched corruption. Divisions in government reduce its effectiveness; major strides forward are needed in its legal, education and health care systems as well as police and local administrations. Pray for leadership that has the wisdom to chart the right path and the integrity to implement the right policies.

Romania is one of the world’s most Christian nations by percentage, yet this is hard to perceive in society. A worldview shaped by atheistic Communism persists. Nominalism, legalism, hypocrisy and slander of other denominations are problems in all confessions, and such antagonism does not glorify Christ nor edify the Church. Folk religious practices and the occult permeate beyond rural superstitions even into the practice of some clergy. Very little practical ministry is being done to address community needs; the Church neglects many poor people. Pray for a breakthrough of love, holiness, discipleship and prayer in all denominations.

The Orthodox Church dominates society with 87% of the population affiliated. Cultural pressure to remain Orthodox, however nominal, persists. For many, this affiliation is inherited rather than reflective of a deeply held personal faith. Some Orthodox priests frequently oppose, sometimes violently, evangelical outreach. Yet within this ancient confession there is life and potential for great good. Pray for renewal from within and for the Holy Spirit to awaken those whose faith lies dead or dormant.

Many challenges face the Church. Since the fall of Communism, the Church has grown numerically and even matured, but there remains a long way to go.
Lack of unity is a major problem among denominations and within congregations.There is almost no cooperative work, concerted prayer or unified public voice.
Blind adherence to tradition creates a Christian ghetto out of touch with the wider society. It becomes increasingly difficult to connect to non-Christians and young people in particular. Pray that churches find a balance between genuine holiness and cultural relevance.
Materialism imported from the West has a toxic effect on spirituality. The deep spirituality of long-suffering churches is damaged. Materialism is now a prevalent attitude, especially among the younger generation who aspire to a Western lifestyle at the cost of spiritual vitality. Also the unhealthy dependence on outside money was created as a result of generous but ill-advised material assistance. This stunts the local church in many ways, it introduces potential divisions locally and it introduces difficulty in ministry partnerships as well as dangers of manipulation and questionable motives.

Leadership development in churches is a great need. The average pastor supervises multiple churches. Most new churches lack a pastor, and many pastors lack training. Active congregations with effective programmes will emerge from well-trained leaders. Bible schools and seminaries have been launched by many denominations, many focused on pastoral training and leadership development. Yet these places of learning are not enough to fill the needs of the churches. Pray that the schools might be able to train increasing numbers of students who are biblically astute, spiritually on fire and ready to lead.

Church planting is still a vital ministry. Over 100 new churches are planted each year, but many more are needed. Pray for this vision to become a widespread movement, owned by the national church and effective at planting churches in every city, town and village.

Foreign missionary deployment was rapid and profuse in the immediate post-Communist years. Amid much that was good and worthwhile, some workers went in with little tact and less wisdom, causing almost as much harm as help. There is still a great need for expatriate missions in training,church planting and meeting the many social needs.Pray that expatriate Christians called to serve may show sensitivity, humility, true partnership and an ability to learn from, and work alongside, Romanian Christians.

The younger generation is a poignant image of the brokenness of Romania. Yet young people, especially in urban areas, are the segment of the population most responsive to the gospel. There are several significant prayer needs:
Stories of the hundreds of thousands of orphans and abandoned children in the 1990s broke the hearts of many. While this is still a great need, churches and missions do an increasingly good job caring for these young people. EU policies helped limit the unscrupulous use of adoption as a means of profit for some, but these actions also make it difficult for those doing effective ministry with orphaned and at-risk children.
The relevance of Christianity to youth is a challenge – this is more an issue of church culture and tradition than openness. Churched youth are often dedicated and effective in ministry. Unfortunately, most church programmes are not attractive to unbelieving young people. Pray for effective programmes and pastors who are willing and able to mobilise the youth into ministry, an area of ministry surprisingly lacking until now.

Romanians as a mission force are a new and quickly expanding dynamic. Romanians can easily access fields that Westerners cannot, and agencies are interested in Romanians serving with them. Limiting factors are the lack of financial support/ sponsorship and the lagging missions vision in many churches. Pray for the removal of every barrier to the full flowering of an indigenous missions movement.

The Romanian diaspora in Europe can be regarded as both crisis and opportunity. Looking for a better life, between 10 and 20% of Romanians have left the country since 1990. Combined with urbanisation, this damages social structures and many families and churches. The exodus of the younger generation and the brain-drain of intellectuals and professionals will have a serious effect on the nation as will the trend of parents leaving their children with grandparents while they move abroad. But, on the positive side, many dynamic evangelical churches have been planted throughout Western Europe as a result. Pray that these churches might reach out beyond Romanians to the spiritually needy nations that host them. Pray also for more Romanian Christians to stay or to return in order to build up and transform their own nation.

Evangelical churches are not evenly spread throughout the nation. Pray for the outreach of the ethnic groups that are less evangelical include Hungarians, Russians/Lipovens and Serbs.  The Muslim community is not large, but it is in need of Christian witness. Most are Turks, Tatar or immigrants and very little is done to reach them.

The Romani (Gypsy) community, notoriously difficult to count, but numbering between 500,000 and 2.5 million. Although they are proportionately more evangelical than majority Romanians, they remain a needy people. They suffer discrimination and isolation, with much lower standards of living, education, health care and employment. Government programmes raise these standards and integrate them into society, but deep-seated prejudice must be overcome. Hundreds of thousands flee Romania only to meet harsh treatment in other European countries. But they are also the most spiritually responsive ethnicity to the gospel. Increasingly, Christian Romani now have bold vision to reach their own people.

PROJECTS IN ROMANIA

for others please contact Zuzana

LIST OF USED LINKS AND BOOKS

Jason Mandryk; Operation World, The definitive prayer guide to every nations; Printed in the United States of America; 2010; 978p.