Romania
September 24-25
Europe


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 237,500 sq.km. Balkan state on the lower Danube River, mostly fertile rolling plains.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 22,326,502 -0.36% 94 per sq. km.
2010 21,524,798 -0.38% 91 per sq. km.
2025 19,945,452 -0.58% 84 per sq. km.

Capital Bucharest 2,300,000. Urbanites 55%.

PEOPLES

Romanian 85.1%. A Latin people descended from Romans settled in Dacia.

Hungarian 7.1%. Primarily found in Transylvania.

Roma (Gypsy) 5.4%. Government figures admit only 400,000, but could be as high as 2 million.

Turkic 0.8%. Rumelian Turks 145,000; Tatar 22,000.

German 0.5%. Significant losses since 1988 due to emigration.

Other 1.1%. Most Eastern European ethnicities.

Literacy 97%. Official language Romanian. All languages 14. Languages with Scriptures 8Bi 2NT 3por 4w.i.p.

ECONOMY

A land rich in agriculture, minerals and oil but pillaged by a rapacious elite under Communism. Government reluctance and a strangling bureaucracy has slowed economic reform as Romania lags ever further behind other former Communist states. Unemployment 45% in 1998. HDI 0.752; 68th/174. Public debt 25.6% of GNP. Income/person $1,410 (4.5% of USA).

POLITICS

Communist coup in 1947 with Russian support. One of the Communist bloc's most oppressive and cruel regimes. Revolution of 1989-90 overthrew that regime, but former Communists still play a large role in government. There is a revival of anti-minority nationalism against Hungarians and Gypsies. Romania aspires to EU membership by 2007.

RELIGION

Under Communism, manipulation and control of the churches was oppressive, with severe persecution for those who refused to submit. A proposed bill on religious freedom contained policies as strict as any in the former Soviet Union, but this was withdrawn. Only 15 religious groups are officially recognized – others can only operate as associations. Minority groups find that most persecution comes from the Orthodox Church rather than the government itself.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 87.85 19,613,832 -0.2%
non-Religious/other 11.08 2,473,776 -1.3%
Muslim 1.00 223,265 -0.4%
Jewish 0.04 8,931 -4.7%
Other 0.03 6,698 -0.4%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 20 6.38 1,425 +0.4%
Independent 17 0.65 144 +5.3%
Anglican 1 0.00 0 +1.1%
Catholic 3 7.30 1,630 -0.4%
Orthodox 8 77.86 17,383 -2.2%
Marginal 3 0.64 142 +2.1%
Doubly affiliated   -4.98 -1,120 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Romanian Orthodox O 12,420 11,888,112 17,000,000
Roman Catholic C 1,200 960,000 1,350,000
Reformed Ch of R P 777 550,000 725,000
The Lord's Army O 300 150,000 300,000
Greek Catholic C 60 167,665 280,000
Pentecostal Chs in R P 2,335 150,000 250,000
Christian Brethren [2] P 871 55,657 150,000
Romanian Bapt Union P 1,510 88,200 115,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 1,056 71,544 100,000
Unitarian Chs in R M 175 16,000 80,000
Jehovah's Witnesses M 527 37,915 60,000
Old Ritual Orthodox I 93 36,913 55,000
Other Indep [10] I 400 20,000 40,000
Ev Luth Presb Synod P 45 16,000 32,000
Ukrainian Orthodox O 20 23,308 31,000
Gypsy Evang Mvmt I 100 15,000 30,000
Ev Ch of Augs Conf P 150 11,810 16,889
Hungar. Bapt Union P 140 9,078 15,160
Other denoms [23]   267 64,700 95,000
Doubly affiliated     -772,414 -1,120,000
Total Christians [51]   22,446 13,559,400 19,605,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 6.3 1,412 +1.1%
Charismatic 1.8 409 +1.9%
  Pentecostal 1.3 297 +1.3%

Missionaries from Romania
P,I,A 115 in 15 agencies to 6 countries: Romania 107.

Missionaries to Romania
P,I,A 453 in 85 agencies from 20 countries: USA 274, Korea 35, Australia 14.



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Answers to Prayer

1 Romania has Europe's third highest population of Evangelicals, but the number of evangelical believers has not grown substantially since 1990.

2 Since 1989, Romania has seen a sustained church planting movement, with an average of five new church buildings opening every week until 1999. Only a lack of human and material resources prevents this from continuing at such a rate.

Challenges for Prayer

1 The burden of a tragic past lies heavily upon Romania. The moral vacuum left by Ceausescu's Communists has been replaced by every kind of social evil. Substance abuse, prostitution and violent crime are all on the increase. Romania has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. With freedom has come wealth for a few, but grinding poverty for the majority. Many spend most of their income on food. Pray that the nation's leaders might boldly and uprightly address the many problems with wise solutions. Pray that this disastrous legacy might be replaced by one of peace and righteousness.

2 Religious freedom is a treasured, but threatened gain. The government, at the urging of some Orthodox leaders, has set tight restrictions for the registration and activity of other religious groups. Some groups in the Orthodox Church, reacting to what they see as Protestant predation of the faithful, are violently opposing evangelistic outreach. Millions of Romanians have grown up as “Christians”, but with no meaningful exposure to the gospel – only 2-4% of Orthodox believers take their faith very seriously. Pray that there may be full freedom for the proclamation of the gospel and that there may be respect and trust – in all directions – between the major Christian bodies.

3 The Lord's Army is a remarkable, unofficial renewal movement within the Orthodox Church with about 300,000 converted adherents and many more sympathizers. It was severely persecuted in the past by both the Communists and the Orthodox hierarchy. Recently the Orthodox Church decided that the movement should be welcomed in the Church. The Lord's Army has close links with the Evangelical Alliance. Pray these believers may act as leaven in the whole Orthodox Church with its large nominal membership.

4 The challenges facing the Church. The church in Romania has developed well in the few years since the fall of Communism. A strong foundation has been laid for leadership and many types of ministry. Still, there are many needs which warrant prayer.

a) The transition from severe persecution and restrictions, to freedom of worship and witness has not been easy. Pray for flexibility and vision for the leadership; legalism and isolationism still threaten progress. Church structures can no longer function as in the days when the Church was underground. Pray that spiritual discipline and commitment may not be compromised.

b) Ethnic divisions infect Christians too. The poisoned relationships between Romanians and Hungarians and condoning the shameful treatment of Gypsies need an application of the Cross of Christ to heal these breakdowns. Denominational difference have intensified the issue further.

c) Materialism imported from the West has damaged spirituality. Westerners displayed a lack of wisdom in Romania by creating division and jealousy with their well-publicized material assistance. The deep spirituality of long-suffering churches was adversely affected as some agencies brought their Western values. Pray that outside assistance might be offered in an attitude of humility and service to the Romanian Church.

d) Meeting the needs of Christian youth. Few are able to minister meaningfully to young people.

e) Nominalism among the German and Hungarian Protestants. Many of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches need renewal. Most Protestant and evangelical growth is offset by losses in these ethnic groups.

f) The Evangelical Alliance (EA) formed in 1991 brings together the main Protestant and Independent bodies. Romanian Evangelicals suffer from a lack of unity and cooperation between denominations and para-church ministries. Pray that effective unity, cooperative evangelism and bold vision be promoted.

g) A saturation church planting movement is developing in Romania, as are several prayer movements. Pray that these movements might flourish despite government restrictions intended to thwart them.

5 Bible training for existing and future leaders is a great need. The average pastor supervises five churches. Most new churches lack a pastor, and many pastors lack training. This has hindered church growth.

a) Bible schools and seminaries have been launched by the Baptists, Pentecostals, Brethren and Presbyterians. The Romanian Missionary Society has started a Christian University in Oradea that focuses on training pastors and teachers. There are also modular training courses run by the SGA. While hundreds every year are taught in these places of learning, they are not yet enough to fill the needs of the churches. Pray that the schools might be able to train increasing numbers of students. Pray that the quality of teachers, course work and environment may be such that facilitate the formation of godly, visionary, educated Christian workers and leaders for the nation.

b) BEE (Bible Education by Extension) was pioneered in Romania and spread to many Communist Bloc countries. The work continues but has now become the basis of extensive development of Bible training in the denominations and is entirely run by Romanians. Pray for the hundreds of evangelical leaders studying part-time in BEE and other TEE courses. An advanced course is also now part of the programme.

6 After Communism's collapse, a profusion of agencies, congregations and individuals rushed in to help. Amidst much that was good and worthwhile, many went in with little tact and less wisdom. Short-term aid poured in, but the genuine needs were the establishment of an infrastructure for future work, and long-term workers who would learn the local language and facilitate the church to minister – rather than ministering instead of them. Pray that expatriates called to serve may show sensitivity, humility and an ability to learn from, and work alongside, Romanian Christians. Many Western groups are now working in partnership with Romanian agencies and churches.

7 The younger generation is the one which suffers most from the scars of Communism and its after-effects. Christian teachers are being trained so that this generation of children may be discipled. CCCI, ASCER/IFES, YFC, CEF, and the SdA all actively work with children and young people. Christian camps (RMS, Crusaders) have proved to be a very fruitful ministry. Perhaps the greatest need is that of the hundreds of thousands of orphans and street children – a legacy of Ceausescu's anti-contraception and high birth rate policies. The HIV rate among them is the highest in Europe. Working among them are the Baptists, Samaritans Purse, SGA, WVI and many other expatriate and national agencies. Pray that young people may encounter in very real ways the love of Christ, that they might be integrated into the church and used mightily of God to reach their own generation.

8 The Romanian Church is awakening to its responsibility to play its part in the Great Commission. It is also beginning to address the great social needs surrounding it. A national interdenominational sending agency was founded in 2000. Romanians can easily access fields which Westerners cannot. However, the economic situation in Romania is a challenge for the churches and those they would send. Pray for the removal of every barrier to the full flowering of an indigenous missions movement.

9 The church is not evenly spread throughout the nation. Pray for these less reached portions:

a) The Roma (Gypsy) community. Many live in ghettos and isolated villages. They are despised and neglected. Hundreds of thousands have fled Romania, only to meet harsh treatment in other European countries. But outreach to Gypsies is on the increase, and large numbers are turning to the Lord. Many Christian Gypsies now have bold vision to reach their own. The recent completion of the Kalderash Bible is a boon to the Gypsy believers.

b) The Muslims, who are predominantly Turks, Tatars and some Bulgarians. Most live in the southeast province of Constanta. Very little has been done to reach them, and Islamists from Turkey are becoming very active amongst them.

c) The south-east regions. There are three times more evangelical churches per capita in the north-west than in the south-east. There are 7,000 villages without an evangelical church in the south-east. Pray that believers might be burdened for these less reached areas and bring the light of the gospel to them.

10 Christian media ministries.

a) Literature. For years Romania has depended on free Western-produced Bibles and literature. This has often undermined the local publishers who operate without Western financing. Pray for the Romanian Bible Society, the CLC literature distribution base and many others, as they seek to establish a viable, indigenously-funded literature ministry. SGA and RMS assist in the translation and publication of Christian books and commentaries in Romanian – pray that more locally-written material might become available. Few pastors have a theological library.

b) Radio. Radio broadcasting is being taken up by evangelical groups, with assistance from agencies such as RMS and HCJB. But much of their work is met with opposition and legal wrangling; pray for complete freedom to broadcast the gospel. Pray for both local commercial Christian stations and transmissions from abroad (TWR) in both Romanian and Roma (Gypsy).

c) The JESUS film is shown in German, Hungarian, Balkan Romani, Romanian and Romanian sign language. More than half of the country has seen the film, and response to the message of the film is spectacular. Pray for the conservation of new believers in Bible-believing churches.

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