Under the totalitarian regime of Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu, most church attempts to construct new buildings or renovate existing ones resulted in government demolition by bulldozer. Today the Communists are gone, and the Second Baptist Church of Oradea has begun construction of a desperately needed new church complex. However, completion of the project is uncertain. The cost estimates that were set at $1 million last July have skyrocketed to $3 million, while the average person’s income has plummeted to about $40 per month. Second Baptist is appealing to Western churches for help. Yet at a time when severe economic crises are placing strains on ministries throughout Eastern Europe, many Christians there fear American churches have lost enthusiasm for their region.

“There seems to be a feeling that there was more interest [from American Christians] in Eastern Europe when it was under communism than there appears to be now,” said Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who recently returned from a fact-finding visit to Romania.

“Relief work [by Western Christian groups] has declined,” says Danut Manastireanu, a board member of the Filo Calia (Love for Truth) foundation in Iasi, Romania. “Most has almost stopped.” Although Manastireanu expects some of the relief and evangelism activity to resume as weather improves this summer, he still foresees an overall decrease in mission efforts “because the interest has switched to other countries, such as Albania.” Many Christians believe the unprecedented amount of evangelical work in the former Soviet Union is also turning attention away from other areas.

Even the outpouring of interest in Romania’s orphans seems to have waned. Andy White lock, an American missionary working in a Cluj orphanage, estimates ...

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