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