Most people only know me for about five or ten minutes before I start talking about Romania. Four years in a row is a lot to go anywhere. What is it that draws me back to the same place? Everybody wants to know what the weather is like, what kind of food do you eat, where do you stay, how do you get around? All great questions, but the reason I go back year after year isn’t for the culture, which is great, or the landscape, which is beautiful. I go back to make sure the Romanian kids that we work with every year know that I haven’t forgotten about them.
Why does Romania, the country often considered the most religious in Europe, need missions? Although 86% of the population claim to be Eastern Orthodox or Catholic, only 1-2% would be considered devout. Most just attend church on major holidays and consider that sufficient. Romania had a strong Protestant minority that survived intense persecution during the decades of communist rule, but sadly, many Protestant churches today are mired in the traditions of the past, spending more energy enforcing rules than reaching out to their communities. Very few Romanians have heard a clear gospel presentation even once in their lives.
Every summer a Global Encounters team spends three weeks leading camps and VBS programs for kids and young teens in Romania. Many of the kids who attend are from gypsy communities, the despised minority group in Romania. Many of these kids have received salvation over the years, and some former students have even become volunteers, teaching and leading at camp!There’s nothing special about Romanian kids that makes them easier to love, or different in any way from the children I see every day. I wish I had a miraculous transformation story to tell about them, of how their lives turned out all right in the end. But I can’t see their end from where I am. I just keep going back year after year to make sure that these kids know that they are loved and valued and worth it, to me and to Jesus. The progress I’ve seen since my first year extends not only to the children, but to our translators, my team members, and hopefully everyone we come in contact with. This is the work God has given me and I’m so excited to go back.
“But isn’t Romania awfully close to the Eastern European conflict? Will you be safe?” Nothing about sharing the Gospel has ever been “safe.” It’s true that Romania borders Ukraine, and the border is a 5-6 hour drive from where we will be. The Romanian people have been incredibly generous to Ukrainian refugees and there is now a large population of them in Romania. The organizations there are not emergency centers and most are not set up to handle the increase of need, however the people are giving from the little that they have to help their neighbors. War brings fear and uncertainty and we pray for seeking and open hearts to receive the message of the Prince of Peace.
Please consider being a part of that mission and partnering with me in prayer for the Romanian people. Pray for safe and easy travel, health and strength for everyone involved, and open hearts to receive the love of Jesus and His saving grace. You can also help out by donating below toward the cost of travel, housing, and ministry supplies.
– Careena Emrich
“The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” -Frederick Buechner