Paul & Julie Wakefield, from Great Britain, began visiting Romania in 1991. Initially they were invited to be part of a team travelling to Alba Iulia to train Sunday school teachers in different methods of presenting the gospel. While they were there they fell in love with the country.
After that experience they made several trips every year, using their holiday leave and extra time off work, bringing practical aid as well as spiritual support. Their passion for the country and its people steadily grew. Soon they came to join Open Air Campaigners and along with Constantin Rodila, they pioneered a work with the National Association of Sunday school teachers. This was to train their members to present the gospel using Sketchboard and Puppets, both in Church and elsewhere.
Organisatia Crestina in Actiune
Over the years the ministry has grown. OAC is now registered in Romania and is called ‘Organisatia Crestina in Actiune’. The main office is in Alba Iulia, along with a camping facility called Bethany Camp near Cluj. In addition there is a field in Vatra Dornei. It is hoped this will be the site for a Christian centre with the grounds used for many different sorts of evangelistic open-air meetings. Good relationships have been developed with the local Mayors and they have also developed relationships with a good number of churches.
The vision is to ‘Train Romanians to reach Romania for Christ’ & ‘Presenting Christ by all means everywhere’.
Cristi was born into a Christian family. His parents and his brother and sisters all attended the local Baptist church. In 1995 his father was killed in an accident while building a new church in his village. His death affected not only the family but the whole village. Everyone came to the funeral.
He became a Christian in 1996 and was the first person to be baptised in the new building. Cristi plays keyboard, guitar, accordion and harmonica as well as singing and preaching. He also has a very good command of the English language and is frequently asked to interpret. During the week he holds several study groups in and around the University of Cluj where people can come and find out what Christians believe. These groups have grown in number and Cristi has trained many leaders. Several people have given their lives to Jesus.
Cristi says,”I am excited about the future. One of my options was to go to Bucharest Bible College to study for five years and then start with the evangelism, but people need Jesus Christ now! I am looking forward to working with O.A.C. in Romania and using my gifts to serve the Lord. I have listened to Paul and he has told me how OAC work. I was with him while the registration process took place and I am now a full-time staff evangelist. Being able to study the Bible and to evangelise is something which I thought could not happen at the same time.”
Traian and Lidia Opruta
Traian’s Dad is a retired injection pump engineer and his mum works for a clothing manufacturer. He has a married brother, Horea, five years his senior.
Traian says, “I have been going to Church since I was 4 years old. My mum told me that she was going to take me somewhere special, that place was church. At 12, I started going
to Sunday school regularly, church was part of my life, it
was routine. I started mandolin lessons and got involved with the orchestra. I didn’t really like it, but I can see now that it was the way the Lord kept me attending regularly. Right up to the age of 17, the orchestra was a big part of my life.
I used to pray before school every morning and read my bible from time to time because that was the thing to do. Things went on like that until 19th July 1998. It was then at a baptism service that I realised the importance of having a relationship with Jesus. Before that bible study and praying was something to brag about and be proud of even if it was a bit of a struggle. Everything changed that night. When I returned home I told my mum, but she said that she already knew because she had been praying for me and was expecting the Lord to meet with me.
It was then that I started my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and on the 3rd January 1999 I was baptised. Unfortunately I wasn’t encouraged to join a bible-study group, till 6 months later, so I didn’t realize the importance of reading the bible until then. But as time went on my relationship with God began to grow. The following July I was able to go to Bethany Camp with the puppet team and I met Paul & Julie Wakefield. They invited me to England to take part in their Christmas puppet tour so I went and stayed for 2 months. I arrived in England without really knowing what God was doing. I remember thinking ‘What’s the purpose of all this?’
However over a period of time, through bible study and listening to sermons, God began to speak to me about actually getting involved in ministry and I can remember saying to Him at the time, ‘I can’t do it, I don’t know what to do’. But the Lord said, ‘Trust me – do what you did before’. He meant the puppets were the key and I became the Church puppet team leader as well as a full time staff evangelist with OAC.
Taking Him at His word, I tried to get appointments to go into the kindergartens in Alba Iulia, people said I had no chance. God knows of no such barriers and He opened the doors that people said couldn’t be opened. Since then God has been working miraculously in my life and ministry. Door after door has been opened and now we are regular visitors in all the kindergartens in Alba Iulia. We even go into schools on a regular basis. But we are praying for more. I have learnt how to use the sketchboard and I use it with the puppets.
When Paul asked me to arrange the first open-air I again thought, ‘I can’t do that, I have to see the Mayor and get permission’. But I did and it happened. Permission was granted and the Mayor even sent some bodyguards to protect us, it was amazing! We now have regular open-airs in the middle of Alba Iulia. So now with God’s help I am really looking forward to serving the Lord full-time with OAC and helping to develop the organisation here in Romania.
I grew up in a Christian family and ever since I can remember my life had more or less to do with church; that is church, not God. My brother, sister and I were regular attendees. In Sunday school I always tried to impress my teachers and friends with my extensive Bible knowledge, but I never allowed it to change my life, I did not give God any chances. My heart was totally closed for him. But still He did not give up on me.
When I was 16 I went to an evangelistic meeting in the cultural house in Alba Iulia and that was when the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the terrible sin in my life. That’s when I knew that no amount of Bible knowledge was going to get me into heaven. I had to give my life to Jesus and that’s what I did that evening at home.
Both my parents have jobs that require stressful physical work (my father Ioan is a printer and my mother Ana works in a china factory) and that’s why they encouraged me to study as hard as possible to make something of my life. During my 3 years in High School I studied mathematics and physics changing to social sciences in my final year. I graduated second in my class.
In university I studied Romanian and English, my plans were to become a teacher. All through university I served God with OAC being part of the Puppet team and a children’s club leader. I would always check my day’s timetable and decide what lectures I could miss so I could go with Traian and the rest of the team. It was all great, but I viewed it as my way of serving the Lord for that time.
I was also studying really hard in order to make teaching a possibility. Strange enough though, God had other plans and in my third year of university he unveiled them to me. I was paying really good attention to the lecturer and God was the last thing on my mind when all of a sudden I heard a voice saying, “You will never do that”. It was Him. I went back home and decided to dedicate myself to 3 days of fasting and listening to God in order to know what to do with my life. He told me to bring knowledge of Him to my country and to do so by continuing the ministry that I was already involved with.
I graduated in June 2005 and instead of starting a teaching career I joined OAC Romania as a full time staff evangelist.
As part of OAC Romania I am involved in open airs, puppet tours in schools, kindergartens, churches, children’s clubs etc. I also organise our kids clubs, kid’s camps and Sunday school. I have the chance to use my studies by translating ministry resources to be used in Romania.