For the past three years reports from Romania have indicated a growing movement of spiritual renewal and growth among the churches there. This year came indications of both compromise and crackdown by the government. News Editor Edward E. Plowman recently traveled to Romania to see and hear for himself. The following account, written by him, is based on his visits among believers and churches, on interviews with Romanian and other workers in the West who carry on a ministry in Romania, and on reports filed by aCHRISTIANITY TODAYcorrespondent who has visited important Christian leaders there several times in the last few months.
To the Christian tourist from the West, the evangelical churches of the Socialist Republic of Romania are a tonic. At many of the churches the services, lasting three to four hours, are packed. Prayers are intense; often dozens lead in prayer during a service. Large numbers of young people attend; they’re active in the choirs and orchestras, and they testify and recite poems they’ve written about Jesus and their faith. The congregational singing is probably unequaled anywhere in the West. Sermons are Scripture rooted and given an intent hearing. No visitor comes away without sensing the fervency, friendly concern, and unostentatious joy of Romanian Christians.
The largest Protestant church in the land is perhaps Hope Baptist in Arad, a city of about 130,000 near the Hungarian and Yugoslav borders (for various reasons church statistics are hard to come by in Iron Curtain countries). To the Western eye the building looks more like a warehouse than a church.
Its masonry exterior tanned by weather and decades of dust, the church is located next to the railroad tracks.
It is ten o’clock on a sunny, warm Sunday ...1