It’s clear to Ben and Anda Mogos—the pastor and executive
director, respectively, of Insight for Living Romania—that their
country is ripe with opportunity to share the grace of Jesus. Spring
2016 is an especially exciting time, because after three years of translating and one year of recording, Ben and Anda are launching the first broadcast series in Romanian: Character Counts. A poignant starting point for the ministry, this series offers practical guidance on reflecting godly character in
day-to-day life—guidance the people of Romania desperately need.
Romania’s recent history can be measured by the rise and fall of
communism, beginning in 1945 and crumbling after the Revolution of 1989.
Ben and Anda—natives of Romania who were born during the communist
era—know the stark differences between life during and after
Anda lived in the capital city of Bucharest as the daughter of an officer
of the communist army. She remembers spending hours waiting in line just to
get a loaf of bread because Romania’s government so severely rationed
food. Ben, in contrast, grew up in a small town in Arad County,
Transylvania (yes, of Dracula fame), where his family grew their
own food. Country life shielded Ben from some of the communist regime, but
his family still faced significant challenges. The sixth generation of Christians in his family, Ben recalls, “I
remember my dad showing The Jesus Film in our village at midnight
to avoid arrest for evangelizing.”
In all parts of Romania, Christians who refused to cooperate with
communists were under constant scrutiny, barred from evangelizing, and
forbidden to baptize new believers. Church planting was illegal as was the
accumulation of religious literature. Christians’ personal libraries
were monitored and their books counted. Those who were baptized were
refused promotions at work or acceptance into good schools. The government
even planted spies within Romanian churches, individuals who posed as
believers in order to take attendance and monitor sermons. Pastors were detained.
Jailed. Some spent years in prison and labor camps, where they were
sometimes worked literally to death.
Romania has changed drastically, though one can still find
communism’s vestiges in architecture, politics, and people. Freedom
brought many things from the West—businesses and restaurants, as well
as night clubs, legalized abortions, immense shopping malls, and a wide variety of
luxury cars. Materialism and consumerism without regard for morality have
become a way of life.
In 1989, Romania also attained freedom of the press and more than just one TV station
. . . with more than just two hours of daily programming. The airwaves were
thrown open. People were thirsty for what was formerly forbidden, namely,
spiritual things. Media exploded with religious information, but not with
the truth of Scripture.
Recently, eastern religions have impacted Romanian culture. In 1990, one or
two mosques stood in Romania; now there are 17 in Bucharest
alone. There have never been many evangelicals in Romania, however. Of
Bucharest’s three million people—only .5 percent are
evangelical, and most of those live by legalism. “Sadly,” Ben
says, “Evangelicals in Romania have become known for what they are not allowed to do. They are called
‘Repenters’—an epithet pointing out their
More than 90 percent of Romanians classify themselves as Romanian Orthodox.
Although they hold to the Nicene and Apostolic creeds, the Romanian
Orthodox Church emphasizes the sale of candles, holy relics, and
pilgrimages as means of salvation or steps toward it. In fact, the majority of Romanians believe salvation can come only through the orthodox
church. Traditions, superstitions, and folk beliefs have a greater
preeminence than Scripture, Christ, and the gospel.
This—a culture full of consumerism, materialism, empty spirituality,
and legalism—is where Insight for Living Romania’s broadcast
will air and clearly proclaim the great news of God’s saving grace.
These are exciting times, indeed.