Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing prayer requests from Christian leaders in Eastern Europe, often identified with countries that were once part of the Soviet Union or under its sway. Despite post-Communist atheism and secularism, the Eastern Orthodox Church wields considerable influence in the region. Protestants, however, remain a small minority and often face opposition. Learn more about Eastern Europe and ScholarLeaders’ work there.
This week, please pray with us for Dr. Gelu Paul Faina in Romania.
Home to over 19 million people, Romania is known for its medieval towns and castles, Transylvanian forests, and Carpathian Mountains. Modern Romania formed in 1859 and gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877. The country fell under Soviet occupation after WWII until the 1989 Revolution. Today, Romania is a democracy with a developing market economy. According to 2022 census data, 73% of Romanians are Eastern Orthodox, while 6% are Protestant and 5% Catholic. 9% report no religious affiliation. Sharing its northern border with Ukraine, Romania has welcomed over 107,000 Ukrainian refugees since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Gelu earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (USA). A pastor, theologian, church planter, and teacher, Gelu currently ministers at Missio Dei Baptist Church in Timişoara, Romania. He also co-founded and serves as President and Strategic Coordinator of BIG Impact, a network of church-based training centers preparing Christian leaders throughout Romania. In addition, Gelu co-founded and leads Estera Foundation, a crisis pregnancy center, where his wife Lidija also serves.
Gelu shares the following message:
Together with my wife Lidija and daughter Ioana, I am serving the Lord in Timişoara, Romania. Our son, Jonathan is currently studying arts and education at Gordon College in Massachusetts, USA.
During Communist times (1981-1989), I was involved in developing and leading an underground evangelistic college student ministry (OSCET), which joined the 1999 International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) World Assembly in Korea. After completing my MDiv at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1994, I started teaching ethics at Emmanuel Baptist University in Oradea, Romania.
In 1998, together with other 30 college students and graduates, I launched (and led over the next 20 years) Vox Domini Baptist Church in Timişoara, Romania. That same year, together with four other Evangelical leaders, I launched Estera Foundation, a pregnancy help center, and AFCI, an Evangelical leadership development movement. In 2000, the Lord used AFCI to launch BIG Impact Foundation, a Romanian Evangelical leadership development ministry committed to providing formational environments for developing leaders and churches with global impact.
In 2013, I defended my PhD dissertation on Evangelical church leadership in post-Communist Romania. In 2019, together with several dozen Evangelical Christians, I launched Missio Dei Baptist Church in Timişoara, Romania. In 2022, together with nine Evangelical leaders, I launched Romanian Leadership Forum (RoLF), a ministry designed to unite, equip, and resource Romanian Evangelical leaders. RoLF is a partner of the European Leadership Forum.
Praise the Lord for:
(1) Launching BIG 5.2.1 (BIG stands for “Churches with Global Impact” in Romanian) in April 2022. BIG 5.2.1 is a three-year process for local pastors and church leadership teams to implement church-wide lifestyle discipleship.
(2) Jonathan’s enrollment at Gordon College.
(3) Lidija’s PhD defense on “Spiritual Intelligence vs. Biblical Godliness” on September 27, 2022.
(4) Launching the first Romanian Leadership Forum and eight leadership development networks (arts, academy, business, church leadership and administration, church revitalization, discipleship in the local church, evangelism and church planting, and youth ministry) in November 2022. Our guest speaker was Peter Williams of Tyndale House.
Please pray for:
(1) The guidance, inspiration, and empowerment of the Holy Spirit for life and ministry.
(2) Protection from the Adversary’s attacks.
(3) The launch of the Romanian Pro-Life Network.
(4) Preparations for BIG 5.2.2.
(5) The launch of the second Romanian Leadership Forum.
(6) The lifting of CDC restrictions for international travel to the US. This would allow us to return to the US to partner with various ministries as we develop several critical ministry projects.
(7) My family’s health.
Serving Him with gladness under high pressure,
Gelu Paul Faina