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What they lack in resources, Romanians possess in passion

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The rural villages of Romania are battlefields where the anti-evangelical Orthodox Church wields unimaginable power. This fact has left Romanian Baptists with a great challenge: how to sow churches in that rocky soil with laborers that are not only few but scarcely equipped.
The task might seem monumental, but according to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Chuck Register, the workers in Romania possess something deeper than books, supplies and buildings.
“They have a tremendous passion for the mission to which God has called them, even though their resources and education are limited,” he said. “What we have in resources, they have in passion. What they lack in resources, we lack in passion.”
Register, director of NOBTS’s Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Growth, visited Brailia Bible College in Brailia, Romania, where he taught courses in evangelism and church growth. Register took a group of NOBTS students to Romania as part of the Romanian American Mission (RAM) team for a two-week missions project. While the students led Vacation Bible School activities around the city, Register hosted a class of roughly 35 students from the area, many of whom were mission church pastors in the many villages outside Brailia, whose obstacles in ministry are much like his own.
“Their challenge is much like the challenges we face here in New Orleans: How do we wrestle with inherited religion? How do we deal with the concept of being a Christian by birth versus being a Christian by faith?” he said. “Several village pastors noted the struggle to try to create an evangelical environment in a system of cold theological belief. The Romanian Orthodox priests have a power over the villages much stronger than anything here in America.”
Despite the limitations, Register said Romanian churches are doing some very interesting things. They, too, have moved toward a greater time of praise and worship in their services, and they sing many of the same contemporary praise songs as American churches. Register said they also have developed home Bible studies as well as very contemporary children’s ministry.
“Even in their culture, they’re doing some very contemporary things,” he said.
In the classroom, Register said he had challenges of his own. Because he relied heavily on a translator, he was only able to get half the teaching material into the allotted class time, and he had to rely on strictly auditory rather than audiovisual teaching. In spite of the challenges, though, Register said he was motivated by the faith and passion displayed by the class — one member in particular.
“There was one particular pastor in his early 50s,” Register said. “He wasn’t a student. He was just learning on his own. You could tell his desire was not a degree or prestige. His desire simply was how to be the best pastor he could be. He had an overwhelming thirst to be equipped to reach his people. It was really motivating.”
More than anything, Romania is presently a country in need spiritually. On the surface, Register said, the country is in desperate need of supplies and buildings, not because they just want them, but because such items give them an organized appearance to a skeptical audience.
“Buildings mean legitimacy in that culture, and they need that desperately right now,” Register said.
Below the surface, however, Register said the country is in need of much more than physical provision. They’re in need of something only God can provide.
“They need a display of God’s power in their villages that cannot be explained away by man,” Register said. “If we could so support them in prayer, asking for a demonstration of the power of God that cannot be explained away by people, something so powerful that it could only be attributed to God, that would release the ministry of those Romanian pastors for kingdom impact.”

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