Situation in the country

Romania is a Balkan state on the lower Danube with very fertile plains, mountains and chains of hills. The country once had rich natural resources and oil occurrence which were plundered under communism, impoverishing the country. According to the last census in 2011, Romania had a population of 20.1 m, and the capital is Bucarest (with a population of 1.9 m ). The two largest minorities are Hungarians (6.1 %) and Romani (officially 3.5 %, actually up to 10 %). Other examples of minorities are Ukrainians or the Transylvanian Saxons and Banat Swabians of German origin.

Romania has been a member of the EU since 2007. Whilst people in the towns use glass fibre internet and shop in glittering malls, much of the rural population still uses horse-drawn carts and they have no drains in their homes. The extremely high cost of living in comparison with the average income is common to all. Despite the at times relatively high economic growth, even 30 years after the fall of the communist regime bureaucracy, corruption and shortcomings in the legal system curb the country's sustained development. Seeking work, about 4 m Romanians live outside the country. This not only stunts the country's productivity, but the churches and not least marriages and families suffer. Children often stay behind with their grandparents and young people are left to their own devices. The abortion rate is still one of the highest in Europe.

Since 2006 there has been legislation on religion according to which there is no state religion and all 18 recognised religious denominations are equal before the law. The dominance of the Romanian Orthodox church - with 81 % of the population according to the census - leads at times to unequal treatment and to tension with the minority churches.

In addition to the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches (in total about 5.1 %) there are also evangelical churches, the largest being the Reformed Church (3.0 %) which is Hungarian in character, followed by diverse free churches (in total about 3.1 %). The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Romania (of Hungarian origin) and the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession in Romania (mainly Germans) together account for about 0.2 %. Active evangelical churches can be found first and foremost in the north-western half of Romania, whilst in the southernmost part of the country there are hardly any evangelical Christians. Falling numbers in the Orthodox church reflect the general secularisation of society which goes hand in hand with the westernisation of the country.

In Romania there is much light, but also much darkness: large Protestant churches and a comparatively large number of Christians on the one hand, and on the other spiritual "dark spots" on the map with a great deal of superstition, occultism and hardly any evangelical churches. The economic and social gap between the cities and the rural areas is huge. Many people leave the country in search of work. Broken families and social orphans are the result.

What we do in Romania

Literature with good news

To spread the Good News we issue Christian literature in the Romanian language. The books and our children's magazine FELINARUL are available in Christian book shops and passed on in schools and Bible colleges. A teacher of religious education has told us: "FELINARUL has come right on cue. I use it in my lessons and the children enjoy reading the magazine which helps them get to know about Biblical faith."

Lili Paraschivescu: Mission that helps relieve poverty

In Oltenia, a poverty-stricken and both economically and spiritually under-developed region in the south of Romania, we support our missionary Lili Paraschivescu. Through personal evangelisation she introduces people to the Gospel, using her gift as a "fisher of men".

Together with a team of young volunteers, Lili runs camps for children and young people in the summer months, and in the winter months organises outreach in hospitals and homes for children and the elderly. Lili holds evangelistic meetings and visits children in a Romani settlement. Through her ministry a small house church has come into being. Lili visits people in their homes, talking with them about faith in Jesus Christ and helping them in a practical way to cope with every-day life, providing the necessary relief aid such as clothing or items of furniture. In her home, Lili frequently takes in underprivileged young people in need of suport in their life. In this way they also come to faith and become part of the ministry group.

After-school project: long-term support

The over 10 m Romani are Europe's largest ethnic minority. About 2 m of them live in Romania, most of them in uncertain circumstances in small huts, without water and drainage. They suffer from a reality which promotes poverty, and in addition they are ethnically and socially marginalised. Hardly any of them have a job. Anyone who has, moreover, never been to school, like many adult Romani today, has little chance of escaping the vicious circle of poverty and hardship. A large number of children go out begging instead of to school.

In our after-school programme we provide a warm lunch for about 50 Romani children three days a week followed by homework support. At the beginning of the school year, each child is given the necessary school materials: a schoolbag, a pencil case, pencils and exercise books, and especially needy families are given clothing for the children. It is not uncommon for children to stay away from school because their parents cannot afford these things. In the summer the children can take part in a week long camp. Most of them also regularly attend children's groups and services in the church on whose premises the project is run. The project leaders are in regular contact with the class teachers of the state schools. These confirm that the children's achievements at school improve significantly, so that almost without exception they keep up in class.

"No-one has ever been so interested in our children as you are. Thank you!", one mother said. In addition to helping them with their school work, we also want to put Christian values across, so that the children find hope and a lasting perspective in life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, despite their difficult social environment.

Click here for the detailed afterschool project

Prayer requests

Lili Paraschivescu
Lili was able to buy a half-finished house for the church, as a store for relief-aid and as living quarters for herself and the people she has taken in, which they have been working on for some time doing much of the work themselves. Finding good skilled workers, but also financial resources is a great challenge and is a pressing prayer request.

Afterschool-Projekt: long-term support
Please pray for a continuingly stable team of good co-workers who have an open ear and heart for the children's needs; that the project really is a help in the children's lives: in school and also in faith; for raising the necessary funds for food and school equipment. More children would like to take part in the project.