Missionary looks at present and changing future of churches in Romania

By June 5, 2008

Romania (MNN) — Scotte Staab's first love is church planting. He's been a missionary with Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) in Romania for ten years. For the past three years he has partnered with Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Bucharest who has nine church plants. 

Communism fell in Romania in 1989. They entered the European Union a couple of years
ago and since then, materialism and post-modernism, among other new waves of thought, have entered into the Romanian mind, creating challenges for evangelism. 

On top of that, non-violent persecution is constant. The more rural the church plant, the more influence the orthodox church has. A Mothers of Preschoolers group was shut down because priests actively told women that spiritual problems would result if they participated.

Several years ago, one of Holy Trinity's nine church plants was visited by news cameras and orthodox priests before a building had even been put up. "They filmed the priests as they cursed the property," said Staab. "They basically cursed the property that the church would not be planted and so immediately before any buildings or any people were meeting there, the property already had a stigma placed on it."

Today, that church plant is growing. A layman named George came along a few years ago and used two garages to create a meeting place for the congregation. He acquired them easily
since it was the time during which Bucharest was crunched for parking and doing away with personal garages. There are about 60 people who meet there. George was ordained just a few weeks ago.

One of the challenges for the future is the prediction that the population of Bucharest could double, even triple, in the next five years. It is already difficult to find property for churches.  Staab says they're planning ahead to minister amidst those changes. "These people are going to need housing, and these people are going to need to be evangelized as they move from various parts of Romania. So our goal is to
teach and train the local churches how to do house churches and apartments and small groups," he said.

As the population grows and more churches are planted, Staab said ABWE hopes those churches will become self-sustaining and that they will send out their own missionaries. "Just in the country that surrounds Bucharest, I believe, there are over
50 villages that do not have any type of evangelical church at all. So the need is tremendous, and it's only going to grow as the population grows."

Staab reported that the biggest need right now is to add missionaries to their small team. They are specifically in need of a person to do discipleship and leadership training. They also need a business
manager. Their camping ministry has lots of potential. Last summer 18 individuals
accepted Christ as a result of their experience. Property is needed for that ministry. 

"What we'd like to see is for churches to begin to commit to pray for at least one year for Romania and for the church plants that are here in Bucharest. [Also pray] that God will raise up
missionaries to be sent out from these churches," said Staab. Prayer is also needed for encouragement for missionaries in Romania–for their strength and struggle as support may decrease as the dollar drops.

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