In Romania, encouragement can be hard to come by for evangelical Christians. When Baptists plant a church in a village there, they also try to buy property for a cemetery. That’s because those who profess faith in Christ and join a Baptist church will lose the right to be buried in the local Eastern Orthodox cemetery. They may also face other types of harassment from Orthodox priests.
Couple that with the atrocities of war spilling into Romania from neighboring Ukraine, and it’s a recipe for discouragement. So a team of Alabamians from Madison Baptist Association in Huntsville was welcomed with open arms when they traveled to north-central Romania Sept. 4–19 to deliver encouragement and assistance.
Romanian Baptists “are very gifted” and don’t need expertise or training from Americans, said Ron Lynch, associational mission strategist for Madison Association. “The trip was to be able to encourage them and just share with them and spend time with them.”
The trip was part of a decade-long partnership between Madison Association and Subiu Baptist Association in Romania. The team that traveled to Romania in September included seven people who centered their work around the city of Sighisoara. Among their ministries, the team spoke in churches and did other activities in nearby villages and also hosted a three-day retreat for 50 local pastors and their families.
For a pastor named Relu, the retreat made a special impact.
“Thank you for this wonderful ministry you did for us,” Relu said in a video through a translator. “Through it we have been refreshed spiritually. It was also a great time where we refreshed our physical bodies and relaxed.”
The retreat included ministry training, sessions on pastors’ families and plenty of free time for pastors to network and encourage each other. Best of all for the Romanian pastors, it was free of charge thanks to money given by Madison Association churches.
The Alabama team’s work impacted Romanians of all ages. The team served at a crisis pregnancy center and a family ministry center. One team member used a portable Hot Wheels racetrack to draw the interest of children and share the gospel with them.
Lynch said the Romanians can count on a return trip.
“I just fell in love with” the city of Sighisoara, Lynch said of his work there over the past 10 years, “and I decided to start a partnership.”
Relu looks forward to the Alabama team’s return.
“My prayer and my hope is that the Lord will bring another retreat like this in the future. It was a blessed time for us,” he said. The team from Alabama “has given me more energy to continue the ministry I started here.”