Outreach to Romania
In October 2005, Pastor Shinkle had the opportunity of teaching in Romania. Below is his report of how the Lord has opened a great door in this country. He has since made this an annual journey, assisting in the discipleship of these men.
(Pastor Shinkle is standing on the left. Dave Dernlan is kneeling front & center, with his wife, Sue, in white, just to the right.)
The Shepherds of Romania
by Pastor Ronald W. Shinkle
The new song in the book of Revelation that is sung to the Lord Jesus Christ proclaims, "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation," Rev 5:9. In October of 2005, I certainly witnessed a people that God has called out to proclaim His great grace in the ancient land of Romania.
Romania is a republic in southeastern Europe, bordered by Ukraine, Moldova, the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Hungary. The people migrated from Rome several thousand years ago giving it its present name. It is rich in culture and natural resources but has been one or Europe’s poorest countries. They have about 70% unemployment today. Their language is Romanian with a population 22 million and a land area of about 92,000 square miles which makes it about double the size and population of the state of Ohio. Their currency is the Romanian leu (pronounced lay) which has experienced considerable inflation. When I was there I got $100.00 worth of their leu out of an ATM machine which amounted to 3,000.000 leu. Wow, I thought I was rich. They have recently removed the last four digits form their money. 30,000 leu is now equal to 3 leu which is equal to one dollar.
The roots of my trip started several years ago when Lemoyne Baptist Church decided to support Pastor Dave Dernlan. He had resigned from his thriving church in West Liberty, Ohio, to equip pastors in third world countries who have had no formal education in the Word of God. Brother Dave saw this great prospect as the Communist countries had fallen and the window of opportunity was momentarily opened. Back in 1990, Dr. David Hagg had a passion for training national pastors and helped form Tri-M at Evangelical Baptist Missions in Indianapolis, IN. Tri-M stand for mobile, modular, missions. Since then, Tri-M has taught more than 350 modules in 27 countries. Over a span of four years (twice a year) the men are taught 24 courses. They receive a Bible education at a seminary level with all study materials, food and lodging provided for them.
William Carey, the father of modem missions who loved the doctrines of grace challenged us, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” I witnessed that in Romania as Brother Dave has gathered Romania pastors together who have a fervent spirit to learn the great truths from God’s Word with a passionate spirit to teach them to all. In October of last year, Brother Dave Dernlan, his wife Susie (she taught the pastor’s wives), Pastor Rob Seymour (of Magadore, OH) and myself landed in the capital of Bucharest and headed north to our first teaching modular.
I spent the weekend ministering with brother Constantine, a former communist mayor, who at age 62 came to know Christ. He has a great love to see the Gypsies come to Christ. He has a little chapel in his garage and ministers to several Bible study groups in the Gypsy village. I had the privilege to open the Word to these Gypsies in their homes as I talked through an interpreter of God’s great love in the Lord Jesus. Constantine is now 75 years old and said he hopes to live another 15 years to teach all he has learned in the modules. That is the spirit I witnessed many times from the Romania pastors.
One can still see the shadows of Communism, though it fell in 1989. The drabness of much of the architecture, lack of central heating and running water was evident in many places. The apartment buildings that are four and five stories high had no evaluators. After I preached a message at the Baptist Church in the town of Roman, the pastor and I had supper with a family of his church. The older woman of the family had to stop half way up to catch her breath as we walked up the stairway to her apartment on the fifth floor. When you traveled outside the larger cities to the smaller villages you saw many outdoor wells used for water in the homes and many horse drawn wagons on the roads. Some of the wagons had several families (ten or more people) on them. I saw large industrial complexes dormant and abandoned for when communism fell, no one had ownership or the business savvy to run them.
We taught one week in the north of Romania at Lacu Rosu (Red Lake), which was located in the quite beautiful Carpathian Mountains reminding me of the Alps or our Rocky Mountains. The second week of teaching was three hours from Bucharest in the small town of Baile Govora in the foothills. Both meeting places were formally communist retreat centers. The Romanians have a fondness for Americans for we stood with them when they were under communism.
We taught the pastors three courses. Pastor Seymour taught Soteriology or Christ’s work on the cross, Brother Dave Dernlan taught Nouthetic Counseling and I taught the Book of Hebrews. By the end of the course I had the men saying, “The book of Hebrews was written to the Hebrews to teach the Hebrews they were to no longer to act like Hebrews.” Each of us had prepared a syllabus for our subject were we teaching and then it was translated into Romania so each of the men had a set of notes in his own language. Some of the men wrote down everything we had to say even though much of what we said was right there in their notes. We all used translators but some of the men (about 20%) knew some English. One of the pastors, George, is a Gypsy who’s parents rejected him at age of three. He grew up in an orphanage and taught himself English. He helped me with the translation work and has a great zeal for the Lord.
What a privilege I had to unfold the glorious beauty of Christ in His New Covenant as found in Hebrews. Both teaching modules of some 20 plus pastors were greatly blessed by the Lord. The men are growing in God’s grace with a great spirit to learn. I taught the book of Hebrews with emphasis on the New Covenant. It was very well received by the men. Many already hold to the doctrines of grace and others are moving in that direction. We saw much interest in this area and were able to help them in their understanding.
This trip has caused me to rethink missions to some degree as this ministry reaches out to so many native pastors who know their own culture as Tri-M equips them with the Word for so little expense. With the spiritual darkness of the state sponsored Romanian Orthodox church and the high unemployment rate, many are looking for answers. The growth in the number of Baptist believers and churches in the Oltenia Region, where we were in the south, has been 350% since the fall of communism 15 years ago. Please pray for the Romanian church. Yes, the night has been dark in the land of Romania but the sun is dawning by the grace of God. As the multitude sang in Rev 5, “Worthy is the Lamb!”