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New Orleans team leads 116 to Christ in Romania

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Randall Broome could not help but be silent as he gazed at the massive, blood-stained, marble columns in front of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Timisoara, Romania. In that very spot nine years earlier, hundreds of citizens were massacred as they struggled to free their country from the control of the communist government.
“There is no freedom without bloodshed,” a reflective Broome said as he and five other men from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary stood on the steps of the ancient building.
“The country is free, but the people aren’t, and they need to hear about the one who shed his blood for them,” said Broome, a doctoral student from Sumrall, Miss.
During the seminary’s spring break, March 12-23, evangelism professor Chuck Register took Broome and four other students to Romania to share the gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching, teaching and personal witnessing.
At the end of the week, 116 people had prayed to receive Christ as their Savior.
Timisoara, considered “The Pearl of Romania” with its stately parks and lush gardens, still falls behind other, more modern, European countries.
A decade without communism has done little to erase governmental bureaucracy or restore initiative and creativity in the lives of the people, Register said.
Pollution, high taxes, substandard living conditions, lack of jobs and inadequate health care are just a few of the problems the people face.
Yet, the people persevere and put their hope in something greater than the government, NOBTS mission team members said they observed.
“The people trust the Lord because that is all they’ve got and all they need,” Broome said. “They have freedom to work, but there are no jobs.”
Pastors in the tiny Eastern European country survive on about $100 a month in very sparse living conditions, yet they continue to serve diligently, dedicated to telling fellow Romanians about Jesus, Register said.
Brian Tatum, a doctoral student from Picayune, Miss., saw the dedication of Christians as he worshiped in several local congregations. “I could see their dependence on God in prayer because in each service (all) got down on their knees and prayed for 20-30 minutes each time,” he said.
Despite the absence of communist rule and the persecution of religion, pastors and congregations focus on Scriptures and hymns in much the same manner they did during communism, Tatum said. During communism, the government regularly confiscated Bibles and hymn books, so it was important for Christians to memorize Scriptures and hymns in case the written word suddenly disappeared. This practice is still encouraged by local pastors, Tatum said.
Romania was a focal point for the NOBTS group thanks to the help of Clay Moss, a student in one of Register’s classes two years ago. He and Register spoke of such a trip two years ago as Moss was taking classes in preparation for career service with the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board. Currently, Moss is the volunteer coordinator for short-term mission projects in Romania for the IMB.
The group worked with Moss and Larry Carnes, another IMB missionary, in several capacities. Most days were split between witnessing in the open-air markets within the city, crusade follow-up in the dorms of one of the universities with a group from Campus Crusade for Christ and personal evangelism training, as well as conducting evening revival services in local churches.
Overall, Romanians are warm and friendly, receptive to the gospel and developing an appreciation of God’s Word, Register said.
One example came following a sermon by Register when a professor of philosophy and atheism at the University of Bucharest declared his faith in Jesus Christ.
Register said there are many prayer requests for Romania, specifically:
— evangelization of southern and eastern Romania, the pioneer areas of the country.
— the transition SBC missionaries go through when they arrive on the field and the conditions many face upon arrival.
— a sub-par health environment due to large amounts of pollution.
— Romanian pastors, most of whom have zero to very little formal theological education.

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  • Steve Achord