MBC staff missionaries minister to Romania
By Brian Koonce
April 4, 2006
BUCHAREST , Romania – Three Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) staff missionaries recently crisscrossed the snowy Romanian countryside teaching two weeks’ worth of seminars on discipleship, stewardship and church planting, lessons they say Romanian and Missouri Baptists alike could stand to take to heart.
For the second year in a row, Bruce Morrison, Jerry Field and Spencer Hutson strode alongside International Mission Board missionaries preaching and witnessing on Sundays and spending their weekdays teaching more than 100 students and pastors in Baptist seminaries in Oradea and Bucharest and two pastors’ conferences.
Hutson, biblical stewardship specialist for the MBC, taught on scriptural giving, a concept sometimes foreign to Romanian believers.
“The mindset there is that ‘we don’t have anything,’” he said. “We tried to help them understand that biblically God owns it all and it doesn’t matter how much or how little you have, you’re accountable to him.”
A further obstacle is that most Romanians are culturally influenced by the Orthodox Christian church, which gets its support from the state.
One of the two pastors’ conferences was in the southern Romanian city of Craiova, which coincidently was also playing host to a two-week international witches’ convention. Concerns of witchcraft and suspicion of the Ides of March aside, 38 pastors crammed into a room not larger than the average Missouri Sunday School room to gain whatever insight they could from the American trio.
Morrison, the MBC’s point man for discipleship and Sunday School, taught the current and future Romanian pastors the importance of continued discipleship after salvation.
“ Romania is a place where they need to start and continue to build that foundation, or as their economy flourishes, they’re going to find themselves exactly where we are, having abandoned discipleship.”
Morrison said many smaller churches – the overwhelming majority of Romanian Baptist congregations – make little or no effort toward discipleship beyond a Sunday morning worship service.
“It’s a challenge for leaders,” he said, “and yes, you have to be creative regardless of facilities and resources. But you cannot limit a believer’s growth by not being intentional about discipleship.
Morrison conducted an informal poll of five Romanian pastors that underscores the Romanian church’s typical absence of intentional discipleship: “What comes after baptism?” he asked. “Nothing,” they replied.
Church planter Jerry Field introduced a more effective way to spread the Gospel in Romania.
“This was news to them,” Field said. “Strategic planning at a very basic level is a huge need there. They didn’t need an academic theory, but a hands-on approach. It was very much ‘What is our plan?’ ‘Who is going to do it?’ and ‘What do we need to do to accomplish it?’”
At the Oradea Bible Institute in northwestern Romania, the three specialists presented their standard “syllabus,” but were then asked to do some additional tag team teaching on Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism and homiletics for “distance learners” in their fourth year of study.