Reformation Romania

Planting a Confessional Reformed Church in Bucharest, Romania

January 2017 Update

Below you can find the January 2017 Update of the URCNA mission work in Romania

 

December 2016 Update

Below you can find the December 2016 Update of the URCNA mission work in Romania.

November 2016 Update

Below you can find the November 2016 Update of the URCNA mission work in Bucharest, Romania.

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October 2016 Update

reformation-2Dear brothers and sisters,

I praise our Lord that, by his grace, the ministry of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Bucharest has now entered in its third month of existence. Here, in Bucharest, we are deeply thankful for the love and generosity of the URCNA people and churches which help make this mission work possible. Our prayer is that one day we would have a Romanian Reformed denomination that would be a blessing for the generations to come.

Since returning to Romania, I have been preaching through Hebrews on Sunday mornings and through Ecclesiastes on Sunday evenings. The book of Hebrews helps us lay a sound foundation in understanding the work of Christ and the book of Ecclesiastes helps us navigate the absurdity of this fallen world. In order to get the message out, we have been video recording the sermons and posting them on social media. This allows for more people to learn about our church plant and about the Gospel. We had several visitors in the past couple of months, but this last Sunday we had the first walk-in, our first visitor who learned about us through Facebook and YouTube.

On October 31st we plan to organize a Reformation Day meeting to celebrate the 16th century Protestant Reformation and present the important role that the Reformation has also for us today, as an orthodox recovery of the Gospel in the Church. We hope to use this meeting as a means to point people to Christ and introduce them to our church plant. Please pray for our small church plant and for the outreach efforts that are under way. Pray that the Lord would use his Gospel to bring sinners to faith!

 

Warmly in Christ,

Rev. Mihai Corcea

Evangelical Reformed Church of Bucharest

 

 The PDF version of this newsletter can be found here.

 

Technology On the Romanian Mission Field

In most places in Europe, being a confessional Reformed Christian means being part of a tiny minority which stands as an isolated island among other religious communities. Except for the UK & the Netherlands, in most countries in Europe there are only a few small confessional Reformed churches. These are often struggling church plants separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles.

Planting a confessional Reformed church in Bucharest is no exception to this European experience. But in spite of being far away from the sending church and from other NAPARC missionaries, I have found some comfort in the little communication that is made possible by technology.

This week I was able to address Classis Southwest US of the URCNA through a Facebook video call. I rejoiced seeing the delegates and hearing from them. Although we often complain that modern technology discourages personal relationships, there seem to be cases where it actually connects people who are otherwise separated by thousands of miles.

Just like the alphabet or the printing press, modern technology is a common grace that comes from the providence of God. We are often fascinated by the new gadgets and we see them as purely human creations forgetting that ”all things come not by chance but by his fatherly hand.” (HC 27)

I can’t imagine being a missionary 200 years ago and having to send letters overseas as the only way to communicate with a sending church. Although modern technology, like all other common grace blessings, can be used for sinful purposes because it is in the hands of sinful people, in cases of far away mission fields it can be a valuable lifeline.

Just as the printing press helped our 16th century Reformed churches communicate to people who would not have the chance to step every Sunday in a Reformed church, so also modern technology enables small church plants like ours to communicate to people who didn’t even know that we exist.

Out of the 2 million people who live in Bucharest, 1.2 million of them have a Facebook account. I have been posting ads on Facebook and also video recordings of my sermons on Youtube. Our Romanian website also contains the sermons as well as other Reformed articles and books we have translated over the years.

Please join us in prayer that the Lord would bless our communication efforts and that more people might be introduced to our church plant through these means.

Rev. Mihai Corcea

 

The (Communist) Tiny House Movement

While I was studying in California, I heard about the tiny house movement: people moving out of large suburban homes into tiny houses in order to gain financial independence. At first, this seemed odd to me, but then it reminded me of a totally unrelated “tiny house movement” which was experienced by Romania in the 20th century.

2000px-flag_of_pcr-svgDuring the four decades of communist dictatorship, millions of Romanians were moved out of their homes into ugly grey apartment buildings. Entire villages were teared down and sometimes the entire population of a village was moved in one building. In Bucharest alone, the communists built more than 500,000 apartments. Some who still owned homes lived in fear that any day their house might be demolished if the state has other plans with their land. People started hating the small apartments and began calling them “match boxes.” The neighborhood where I grew up was predominately made of such “match box” apartments stacked on top of each other. Although the neighborhood had a total area of only 1 square mile, the population was over 120,000.

In the process of building ugly highrises, the communists destroyed many beautiful old buildings. The new buildings brought uniformity. Everyone lived in the same kind of place and nobody was allowed to own more than one apartment. People had to adapt to the new living conditions in very crowded cities. Old farmers had to get used to living on the 10th floor of an apartment building. This left many scars on the Romanian culture.

Since the 1989 Anti-Communist Revolution, Romanians gained the freedom to live where they chose and own as many homes as they wish. In recent years, many people have been moving out of the cities and the nearby villages started growing into suburbs. Most people dream of making this transition as they are looking to obtain a better life.

As everyone is looking for a better home, the mission of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Bucharest is to proclaim the good news of a free housing program. The kingdom of heaven, through the church as its embassy, is offering free everlasting housing on a new Earth and under a new Heaven. In the City of God there will be no suffering, no tears, no injustice, no hunger, and no death!

Contrary to how things work in our economies, there is no down payment you have to make for your home in the City of God. Christ paid it all in full! Instead of making payments, we receive the Spirit “who is the guarantee (or down payment) of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.” (Ephesians 1:14)

As the Holy Spirit works in us every Lord’s Day through preaching and sacraments as the means of grace, we are given a foretaste of the City of God. Whether we live in large homes, tiny houses, or “match box” apartments, our hope is in Jesus Christ, the first resurrected man who entered  in the glory of the new creation.

Please join us in prayer that the Lord would bless the preaching of his word and work faith in the hearts of those who don’t have yet a home in the City of God!

 

Rev. Mihai Corcea

Our Daily (Romanian) Bread

bread-1281053_1280Romanians love their bread. We eat bread with almost any dish. Our whole culinary tradition seems built around it: soups served in bread bowls, vegetable spreads to be served with bread, and meat salads spread on slices of bread. We eat a lot of bread and we have a tough time dining without it. In fact, the best way to torture Romanians is to prepare for them a very good meal and not give them bread. Bread is like a universal side dish that seems a perfect fit to all other dishes. So when Romanians pray the Lord’s prayer asking our heavenly Father for our “daily bread” we are not using the word “bread”  just as a symbol for the food we eat, but it is truly our daily and most basic staple food.

Traditional Romanian bread oven

traditional Romanian bread oven

While my grandmother used to grow wheat crops and bake bread at home in a traditional oven, most Romanians today get their bread at the local bakery or supermarket. We just buy it at the store and we are disconnected from the elaborate process of making it. Because of this, we fail to see God’s hand in the process of making it and we have difficulties understanding his providence. Our heavenly Father is sustaining the Earth, blessing the agricultural work, sending rain and sunshine, enabling farmers, truck drivers, bakers and store clerks to do their job so that we would be able to buy our daily bread. Even though in Romanian public schools kids are still taught the Lord’s prayer, everyone seems tempted towards trusting in themselves and their ability to earn the daily bread.

After four decades of communism and a couple of decades of turbulent transition, Romania is expected to have 6% GDP growth this year. Oddly, prosperity is not helping the Romanian people be thankful to God, because as fallen people we can always find natural explanations for our success. While my parents’ generation experienced the communist food rationing and the breathtaking sight of nationwide empty stores (much like we see nowadays reports from Venezuela) the current generation is tempted to not be content even with the moderate prosperity that we are experiencing as an emerging economy.

Much of our discontent is shaped by our sinfulness. We only look at the nature, at the society, at the economy and we are frustrated because the universe is not aligned in fulfilling our selfish dreams. But the teaching of the Scripture turns our eyes towards our Father who cares for our needs even when he does not fulfill our foolish desires. As we receive the Gospel by preaching and  sacrament, we are taught that we need not only the bread which sustains our bodies, but also the bread which sustains our souls. We are never going to be satisfied with what we achieve in our life “under the sun,” but by the obedience, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are granted an eternal life.

This is the mission of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Bucharest, to preach the Gospel of Christ to the people of Bucharest, to bring people the good news that God, by his grace, gives away freely a bread which nourishes our souls for eternal life. Please join us in prayer, that just as God sustains the work of the farmers, truck drivers, bakers and clerks, he would also sustain the work of the ministers, elders and deacons by which the spiritual bread is imparted to starving sinners!

 

Rev. Mihai Corcea

August 2016 Update

Dear brothers and sisters,

I praise our Lord that by his grace I was able to complete a journey which three years ago seemed impossible. By God’s mercy, after completing my seminary studies in May, I was able to sustain my candidacy exam before Classis Southwest on July 19th. Shortly after, I was ordained as a missionary under the oversight of Christ URC Santee on July 24th. Then, my wife Lidia and I returned to our home country Romania on July 25th. These past few weeks have been full of challenges and blessings. As we said goodbye to the saints of Santee, we were reminded what a blessing it is to have a church family where our souls are nourished with the sound teaching of the word of God. We were comforted by many words of encouragement, and our hearts were filled with joy and hope even though our tears were not absent. It was indeed a bitter-sweet experience: we longed to return to our home country but we were sad to know that we would be far away from many dear friends.

Recently, we were able to secure a meeting place in Bucharest where we are now able to start worship services with our core group and reach out to other people. In God’s providence we found an affordable meeting place in a great location downtown Bucharest: it is within 3 minutes walking distance from a subway station and one block away from the largest park downtown Bucharest. Because of this, it is easily accessible to anyone in Bucharest.

We ask you to join us in prayer that the Lord would bless the ministry of Word and Sacrament in Bucharest. Pray for the few people who are part of our church planting work: being far away from other like minded churches is difficult, especially as loneliness can become a frequent experience, both for the church planter and for the church plant members. Please pray for our financial needs and consider contributing towards our 2017 budget. We trust that the Lord will continue to use the love and generosity of URCNA churches for this work in Romania to be able to continue.

 

Warmly in Christ,

Rev. Mihai Corcea

Evangelical Reformed Church of Bucharest

 

P.S. If you have any questions regarding Romania or about our mission work please contact me at mihaicorcea@christurc.org

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