The largest Baptist church in Europe is not located in Western Europe, but in communist Romania. The Second Baptist Church of Oradea, a town near Romania’s western border with Hungary, sees scores of new converts baptized every few months. Last year, the church was the site of one of Billy Graham’s most successful meetings during his preaching tour of Romania. Graham addressed a packed auditorium, with thousands more thronging the streets outside listening to his message on loudspeakers.
But successful as it appears, the church in Oradea thrives in spite of, not because of, the situation in which it exists. While there is no law preventing anyone from attending, the Oradea Baptist Church has often found itself in conflict with the Romanian authorities—most recently over the issues of pastoral appointments and church buildings. Though freedom of religion is theoretically guaranteed in the Romanian constitution, theory and reality frequently part company in communist Romania.
Oradea church members chose two new pastors at the beginning of 1982. Both were gifted and experienced men, convinced of God’s call to leave secular careers for full-time ministry. Neither had seminary training. In fact, finding suitable laymen was the church’s best option since the only Baptist seminary in Romania currently accepts new students only every other year; just ten students are currently in training, all of whom will graduate in 1988. There are literally hundreds of churches in Romania that have no pastor.
At the time of his appointment, one of the new pastors, Nicolae Gheorghita, was an eminent endocrinologist. The younger pastor, Paul Negrut, is also a physician, a clinical psychologist. But ...1
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