Dynamic church planting movement takes flight in Romanian city of Bacau
June 8, 2004
|Romanian Interpreter Pavel Clipa works in sync with Howell as he preaches at Third Baptist Church, Suceava. Clipa is part of a Romanian missionary emphasis that flows from the biblical office of deacon.|
BACAU, Romania – George Dumitrascu has a peculiar way of doing church.
He is an elected pastor, leading what is, in effect, the First Baptist Church of Bacau. It is the only Baptist work in a city of more than 300,000 and it may turn out to be the only Baptist church Bacau needs.
“He’s got a real heart for missions and a real heart for the Romanian people,” said Lendall Beushausen, a layman at First Baptist Church, Lebanon, who is serving as his church’s missionary in its partnership with the church at Bacau. “He’s also got a heart for the Arab nations. He is one dynamic individual.”
Dumitrascu, 34, works with Lucian Tomulescu, an ordained elder. The church’s deacons serve as missionaries preaching in church plants, which is peculiar to the way that most Missouri Baptist churches do ministry. Since 1996, the mother church has planted five other congregations and one of them has already birthed another flock of 25 people who are temporarily meeting in a house, in a room that is four meters square.
“It’s very natural,” Dumitrascu said. “It’s the way that it should be. A church should give birth to another church.”
The Romanian Baptist church in Bacau knows multiplication, which is all the more amazing considering Dumitrascu’s relatively short length of service in Bacau. He has been on the job since April 2003.
“This church has been seen as a problem church for many years,” he said. “However, I discovered they are more than willing to cooperate, more than willing to share and to start something that unites them. I think I found this. I’m really hoping to work hard with them.”
Dumitrascu was trained at Emanuel University Seminary in Oradea. Among his teachers: Paul Negrut, president, Romanian Baptist Union. He graduated in 1996 and was sent out as a missionary to Albania from 1997-2001 by Emanuel Baptist Church, Oradea, where Negrut is the pastor.
“He’s a great man of God,” Dumitrascu said, referring to Negrut. “I’ve preached many times in his church.”
Negrut, who was persecuted by Romanian communists until they were removed from power in 1989, knows suffering, and Negrut knows joy. The same suffering-joy combination exists in Dumitrascu, who was serving in the Romanian Army on the outskirts of Bucharest when the army, as part of a popular uprising for freedom, turned on the dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and killed him. Dumitrascu eventually left the army in the spring of 1990.
“I was caught by security forces when I had the New Testament with me, which was strictly prohibited, and they were questioning me for four hours,” he said. “I told them, ‘This whole regime is a fake. You will see it falling. People are done with it.’ Nothing happened, but of course, they put a black mark on my file. However, just a few months later, this whole revolution thing happened. I thought, ‘Oh my, am I a prophet?’
“I’m a joyful person. Our God is not a sad God. We do not have any reason to be sad. We have a living Savior. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is our God.”
When Larry Carnes, International Mission Board strategy coordinator for Romania, met Dumitrascu for the first time May 23, he called him “dynamic and charismatic.” Born in Talmacu, Romania, and reared Baptist in Ploiesti, the Bacau pastor is a complete package according to the Missouri Baptist pastor in partnership with him, Gary Longnecker of First Baptist Church, Lebanon.
“I observed him not only dealing with mission pastors, missionaries, deacons and elders, but with little children,” Longnecker said. “When we would stand there at the door, he would hug little children, pick them up, play with them, and they’d talk to him. So I saw the pastor concept in him.”
Dumitrascu seems to share the same visionary quality so many people say is characteristic of Negrut.
“In 1991, I heard that the communist regime fell in Albania,” he said. “I knew that Albania was the only declared atheistic country in the world. It’s actually how I met my wife, in a prayer group for Albania. Later on, after I finished my studies, and my wife finished her studies, we were there for four years.”
He more recently served as a missionary in Iraq for nine months in 2003 and is viewed as a key asset to the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) as Norm Howell, partnership missions specialist, and Jerry Field, state director of church planting, help formulate a revised strategy for the MBC/Iraqi partnership. Dumitrascu’s ideas are among those planned for presentation June 15 at an Iraq Partnership Missions breakfast in Indianapolis. It is being held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.
Field preached May 23 in one of the five “daughter” churches that have come from the Baptist church at Bacau. He said that experience was the highlight of his trip to Romania, in which he was part of a four-member Baptist Building delegation within the overall team of 18 Missouri Baptists.
“Our Missouri Baptists can learn so much about what it means to be a church-planting church from the Romanians,” Field said.