Population in North America: 662,526
Languages Spoken by this Group or the People of this place: Romanian
Top 5 locations with highest population of this people in North America (when applicable): New York, California, Ontario, Illinois, Florida, Michigan
WHO ARE THEY?
The Romanians are an Eastern European people with deep roots in ancient history. Their culture and language has rich Roman and Greek influences while their country is surrounded by Slavic peoples. Romanians are the only people in the Eastern part of Europe who speak a Romance language. Most Romanians currently living in the United States immigrated during the Cold War because of religious, social and cultural persecution. Some fled their country illegally, while some were ejected by the authorities because of their religious or political views. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, and of communism, when Romanians were finally free to travel, they came mostly for economic reasons. It is estimated that there are a little over 1 million Romanians living in the United States. Romanians tend to get established in large metropolitan areas. Romanian is their mother tongue, but many are bilingual, speaking English as well. Most Romanians care deeply about their cultural heritage and try to teach their American born children how to speak Romanian. They also have many Romanian churches, cultural centers, restaurants, stores, and even radio stations in some cities. The Romanian immigrants tend to be educated, hard working, family oriented people.
WHAT IS THEIR HERITAGE?
The recent historical development of the Romanians was deeply impacted by the half a century of communist rule, characterized by restrained freedoms and overarching persecution. The Romanians learned to adapt, and as such they become a very malleable and cooperative people. They like to fit in and to assimilate while not forgetting their ethnic roots. It is not uncommon for Romanians to change their names, “Americanizing” them so that they would more easily belong to their adoptive country. Oppression, suffering and need have thought the Romanians over the past 50 years that they have to fight for what they have, taking everything with a grain of salt. This mentality imposed on them by the unfortunate political environment has left deep marks in the mentality of the Romanian people.
WHAT ARE THEIR BELIEFS?
Over 95% of Romanians are nominal Christians and are members of the Romanian Orthodox Church. As such they adhere to the basic Christian beliefs, but do not believe in a personal relationship with God. Baptized as infants, they are raised to believe that appurtenance to the church is the only way to salvation. The lack of a personal god has led to a very ritualistic practice of religion in which major holydays (Christmas and Easter) and major life events (marriage, death, baptism) are the only times Romanian Orthodox believers visit the church. Many of them take great personal offence at any fellow Romanian who leaves the Orthodox Church considering this an act of treason. One of the bridges to faith in Christ that is already in place in the case of the Romanian people is that many of them have begun to understand the utter emptiness of the Orthodox tradition as practiced nowadays and are becoming open to hear the Gospel. Another bridge would be through some of the Orthodox priests working in America and who are members of a Gospel centered movement within the Romanian Orthodox Church, called the Lord’s Army.
WHAT ARE THEIR NEEDS?
The Romanians in America need to develop intimate relationships with God. For this purpose they must understand that Jesus Christ is not a mere historical figure, but a personal God and the only one who is able to bring them salvation. The church is not an institution, but a living body made of the believers. The Bible is available for them and is not reserved for the clergy. They must realize that Christianity is not a state religion into which one is born, but a personal religion into which one accedes by faith alone. The only way to enter into this religion is by repentance and faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ.
WHAT IS KEEPING THE GOSPEL FROM THEM?
For most Romanians the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not something to be listened to or discussed. It is reserved only to the clergy and it belongs within the walls of the church. Evangelists are labeled quickly as cultists, and as enemies of the faith, and therefore dismissed. Some orthodox priests tell their parishioners to not have anything to do with Protestant Christians as they are evil. Thus, one of the better approaches for evangelizing Romanians is less by preaching and more by personal example. They will not listen to you if you tell them you are a born again Christian, but they may want where the hope of a Christian is coming from. The Orthodox tradition is mostly about doing and less bout understanding and believing. Thus a holy life would be a better way of preaching about a holy personal God than any words.
HOW CAN WE PRAY?
• Pray that God opens opportunities for Romanians to come in contact with Christians.
• Pray for new believers who are often persecuted sometimes by their own families.
• Pray for the Romanians living in your area.
• Pray for the missionaries to Romania.
• Pray for the Orthodox priests who are being witnesses for Christ
WHAT CAN MY CHURCH DO?
1. Endvisioning — beginning with the end in mind
- Conduct a Peoples Search and do other investigative work to locate Romanians in your community and beyond—and lead to work among all peoples, one at a time.
- Expand knowledge of this people and its worldview by continually adding information into a database, ethnography, or worldview document.
- Train church members to develop a strategy among this people and place, beginning with the end in mind.
2. Prayer — focusing on the Romanian people as well as calling out workers to the harvest
- Pray for persons of peace to be discovered among Romanians.
- Prayerwalk among the largest pockets or concentrations of Romanians in your community.
- Enlist church members to develop a prayer strategy for working among Romanians.
3. Networking for Evangelism — identifying relationships
- Be ready to follow up prayerwalking and Peoples Search efforts with believers that can engage a network within a specific people and place.
- Participate in the places or events where an ethno-linguistic people group’s heart language and/ or culture are studied.
4. Starting Small Groups — that can become churches
- Ask persons of peace from among Romanians if they would like to conduct a short series of meetings to discuss spiritual things.
- Identify existing gatherings and join in whenever they meet. (Examples: sports teams, cultural group, family group, classes, etc.) Look for opportunities to offer to lead a spiritual discussion or a Bible study within the group at a separate time.
- Learn Bible storying techniques to use with oral preference communicators that exist among the Romanians.
5. Leadership Training — identifying and equipping
- Train church members to identify and equip new leaders to lead their own church’s ministries and call out a pastor from their midst.
- Train members of churches to lead from the background, rather than being out front leading themselves. This helps the new groups respect their own leaders and depend less on outsiders.