Romania (MNN) — Like many countries, Romania has had it’s share of struggles. Since the end of World War II, it has been ruled by communistic dictators who have been openly opposed to Christianity.
Though the communist Ceausescu regime was overthrown in December 1989, the physical, economic, and emotional impact of decades of oppressive totalitarian rule still linger.
“Eastern Europe is a difficult field,” says David Shibley of Global Advance. “It’s entrenched in longstanding historic traditional religion. Even though they shook off communism a quarter century ago, there are still many residual effects of that. Often there’s a lot of depression in that area.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 1 in 10 Romanians are depressed–a total of about two million in the nation.
The depression is usually an extension of feeling isolated, not being able to connect with others, or the bad economy. Many in Romania have been forced to work two jobs to maintain a steady income.
Those same challenges exist for missionaries. Many have become worn down and have lost hope and fire for their ministry work.
That prompted Global Advance to hold a conference in Romania to help encourage, rejuvenate, and renew the passion and vision of Christian workers. Partnering with an indigenous ministry, the conference helped ministry families connect with others who experience similar challenges.
“We partnered with them at the invitation of the Evangelical Union of Romania just to bring pastors and their wives together for a couple of days, of not only training and challenge, but also of just personal refreshment and relaxation,” Shibley says.
The outcome of the conference was remarkable. 175 couples attended. Some were able to bring their kids along; others mentioned they had never had a honeymoon, so this was like finally having a well-deserved break.
One couple told Shibley they were very close to leaving the mission field, but “the Lord met with them in a very special way. I had the privilege of ministering to them personally, praying with them, and I’m just very grateful for all that the Lord did in those days.”
Global Advance also saw incredible fellowship during meals. Pastors and their wives would connect with others and would be able to relate to similar hard times or similar joys.
One thing Shibley noted was how their suffering helped them to be more accepting. They were able to overlook each other’s differences in denominations.
“I really want to commend the evangelical churches of Romania. There’s wonderful cooperation across denominational lines,” says Shibley. “The Gospel has been entrusted to them, to the Body of Christ, and so I’m very appreciative for the unity that I saw among evangelicals.”
Global Advance asks for your prayer for missionary couples and families to stay encouraged and excited about what God is doing through them.
Also be praying for church planting. Shibley says, “I was very encouraged by something of a church-planting ethos that seems to be in the DNA of many pastors in Romania,” adding that church planting “needs to be more aggressive.”
Pray that the encouragement received at the Global Advance conference will not wane, and that missionaries will continue passionately and faithfully spreading the Gospel.