A Church for Tourists
By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission
The new pastor was shocked when he showed up at the Bucharest International Seventh-day Adventist Church, the only English-speaking church in Romania’s capital, and found only three people present. All three were Romanians.
Three weeks later, pastor Benjamin Stan learned that one of those three, a 21-year-old woman, was leaving. He wondered why God had led him to a dead church. “Why am I here?” he prayed. “Why did You give me this call?”
At that moment, two American tourists walked in the door. Benjamin realized that tourists need a place to worship. He kept praying.
A couple weeks later, he found a man dressed in a suit and tie waiting outside the church. The man lived with his family in Poland and worked in Romania. He belonged to another Christian church but, after studying the Bible, wanted a Sabbath-keeping church. Benjamin realized that there are foreigners who work in Romania but don’t speak Romanian. They need a place to worship.
After several months, Benjamin suggested holding Sabbath School and the divine worship service on Sabbath mornings. Until then, the church didn’t have any Sabbath School, and its hour-long worship service took place on Sabbath evenings. The two members opposed the proposal. They went to Romanian churches on Sabbath mornings and didn’t want to lose those friends. But Benjamin was insistent. “We do not come here to study English,” he said. “We come here to study the Bible. We need to be a church.”
Visiting other churches, Benjamin invited two teens and a man of about 30 to help organize the worship program. He advertised the new morning worship schedule on social media. That first Sabbath, 32 people showed up.
“You should have seen the expression on the faces of the two members when they arrived,” Benjamin recalled. “Their eyes were big. They were surprised when they saw so many people, especially young people, in the church.”
The Polish man was baptized several weeks later.
Today, Benjamin has no doubt that the church, started by pastor Adrian Bocaneanu in 2010, serves an important role in Bucharest. It has 26 members, and weekly attendance ranges from 30 to 50 people, including tourists, foreign workers, and international students.
What happened to those three people who attended the church on Benjamin’s first Sabbath? They are now very involved, including the young woman who left. She returned and is now a leader.
Connect with the Bucharest International Seventh-day Adventist Church at “englishadventist” on Facebook.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. Find more mission stories at adventistmission[dot]org