Equipping Gospel Bridge Builders in Romania
“I believe in local things. I believe that this is a road from soul to soul. If you want to do something, you have to start building from the ground.”
For Langham Scholar István Pásztori-Kupán, seeing the impact of God’s Word travel from “soul to soul” happens not just inside the walls of seminaries and churches, but also in our local pubs, parks, and offices. And in Romania, where the vast majority profess Christianity yet faith is primarily nominal with little impact on people’s daily lives, this kind of holistic and relational approach to the Gospel is an important avenue for helping people connect God’s Word to their daily lives. And—it’s one he is hoping to pass on to his students.
“God is unknown for the average young European person who is born Christian in name, but basically God is unknown to him or her,” István explains.
As a teacher of theology and philosophy at the Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj-Napoca, where this year 159 students are being equipped to serve as bridge builders between the Gospel and God’s people in Romania, István is committed to the task of identifying, preparing and mentoring the country’s next generation of pastors and leaders. With his students, he models what it looks like to be in community by doing life alongside of them. István lives on campus and integrates daily in the lives of his students, including a weekly game of soccer.
“Football brings out people’s character…you can learn a lot about people when you play football together. It helps me to not only build relationship with my students, but also identify leaders.”
This gets at the heart of why Langham invests in the training of theological leaders like István, leaders who go on to multiply other leaders by investing their lives into their students. For Romania, where the effects of communism still linger—there is a need for equipped leaders who understand how to point people toward Christ by first understanding the struggles they face.
István shares, “Romanians have been told what to do, how to do it, and how to live for so very long. I think Romanians crave to be listened to. And with young people as well, you have to start building a bridge. We need to speak to them from their context, not with words [that may not mean that much to them] . . . I think that it is very important to meet young people, not by waiting for them to come to church. It is going to their gatherings. Trying to talk to them. We should start listening. See what the real problems are.”
One important way to prepare future pastors and leaders to help their congregations and community members make the connection between God’s Word and the issues they face is with biblical books and resources to help them. In many seminary and Bible college libraries throughout the Majority World, these resources are scarce. That’s why through our library grant program, Langham recently began sending books to the Protestant Theological Institute to expand their library. Though the partnership is new, since 2014, 40 volumes have been sent—including books on preaching, biblical commentaries, and practical theological handbooks.
“It’s very important to have good books,” István says. “When there’s a lack of good theological books, that means first, you don’t have a good tool to work with. You have to have good tools. When you’re talking about theological books, you need the good ones in order to have a proper house built otherwise, you would build something that will last for a while but will eventually perish.”
John Stott once said that “God intends us to penetrate the world. Christian salt has no business to remain snugly in elegant little ecclesiastical salt cellars, out place is to be rubbed into the secular community. . .” That’s why Langham exists, and why for more than 45 years, we have supported the theological training of more than 350 scholars, like István, who go on to prepare other leaders to serve as salt and light within their communities. Thank you for your faithful prayers and partnership with Langham—your generosity is multiplying leaders of leaders around the world.