The Danube River crosses Central and Eastern Europe and flows into the Black Sea, forming in Romania a delta of outstanding beauty. Hundreds of thousands of acres are covered by canals between the three main branches that split the Danube River before flowing into the sea. The population is a mixture of Romanians, Russians, Turks, and some remnants of former German communities. You can see here and there some Orthodox churches in a Romanian or Russian style, some Lutheran churches, and even some mosques.
Recently, the HeartCry missionaries in Romania joined together in a massive outreach in the Danube Delta, where HeartCry supports missionary Florin Galateanu. Almost an entire week was set aside to travel to the delta and visit its towns and scattered villages with the gospel. Our desire was to reach these isolated communities within Tulcea county.
Florin began his ministry of church planting a few years ago, after working for more than a decade as a Campus Crusade missionary on a major campus university in Romania. HeartCry began to support him two years ago to establish new churches in the isolated land of the delta.
The people of the delta have an acute sense of isolation and depression. The population is mostly poor, and only a few benefit from the tourism that is drawn to the Delta’s ecosystem.
The focus of our outreach was in two communities - Mahmudia and Nufaru - situated on one of three branches of the Danube Delta called St. George. The twelve missionaries canvassed each street of each town, and shared the gospel with the people in the street, in their homes, and in the local institutions (schools, city hall, stores, etc).
One particular group of people that was targeted consisted of the fishermen who were fishing along the river that flows through these towns. It was fairly easy to engage in a discussion with them, since they had nothing else to do but wait to catch something.
The days were rainy, but there was no hindering us in going and reaching out to the people on the streets. One day at breakfast, it was just pouring rain, and there was a bit of concern about what we were going to do if it did not stop. One missionary prayed that God would make a window in the sky so that we could preach the gospel to the town of Nufaru. When we drove to the village, we saw a miracle. All around the village were storms and floods, but not one drop of water fell in the town of Nufaru! The village was blessed that day with the rain of the glorious gospel, and some hearts became the good ground on which the seed of the gospel fell.
At the end of the day, we met in a courtyard because the mayor of the town refused to allow us to use the Culture House for evangelistic meetings. The courtyard was full of people, sitting on the chairs, the concrete stairs, or on a pile of stones. Some twenty-five people in the village came to hear the gospel that evening. What a beautiful picture of those hungry souls!
In the town of Mahmudia the time was very fruitful in terms of personal evangelism and gospel proclamation. We split up into teams of two, taking each street of the town, and trying to speak to every person on the street or in a courtyard. Most people would stop on the street or open their garden gates in order to have a discussion with us, and just a few were reluctant. We expected that the people in poverty would show interest, but surprisingly, we also had some good discussions with some wealthy people. Two of them in particular, who own hotels in the area, showed a great attention to the message of salvation. The gospel is for all - it is a message of salvation for those who believe, and a message of condemnation for those who refuse!
Many young people from the local schools were also approached. Many shared how discouraging it is for them to live in the area. Most of them are planning on leaving, either to study at a University far away from the Delta or to work abroad.
Religion is very strong in Mahmudia! There are two major religious communities. One is Eastern Orthodox and mostly committed to the rituals of their denomination, but having no real spiritual life. The other is a community of Russian speaking people called “Lipoveni.” They are very different than typical Eastern Orthodox. They have their liturgy in an old Slavic language and follow a different religious calendar.
We ended our outreach in Mahmudia with a major evangelistic event at the town’s Culture House. The city hall approved the event, and approximately fifty people attended. The gospel was preached with great power and we had confidence that the Holy Spirit would give new birth to some of those who came.
It was an interesting experience to travel deep into the Delta. One brother from Mahmudia, whose name is Ermil, is a local fishermen. He took us on a two hour trip in the delta with his boat. Ermil is a Lipovean, but he was saved, and now has a powerful testimony before all the fishermen in the delta. We spent one night in the heart of the delta, sleeping in tents, and meeting fishermen that were fishing on the canals. It was fascinating to see their life, understand their customs, and share with them the Good News that even fishermen in the isolated land of the Danube Delta are loved by God and called to be saved.
The whole experience of proclaiming the gospel message in the Danube Delta proved to be a great blessing for us all. Florin Galateanu felt encouraged to see how the gospel reached to so many people in the towns of Mahmudia and Nufaru, and the groups of fishermen in the Delta. Florin will continue the follow-up with the people that demonstrated an openness to understand the life that is found in Christ. He also plans to start a new church plant in the town of Sulina, which is the last town in Romania on the central branch of the Danube. Pray for Florin Galateanu. Pray for the missionary work in Mahmudia, Nufaru, and Sulina. Pray for all the isolated groups that are scattered in the Danube Delta.