Stefan: A Passion for His People
Executive Vice President Michael Cooper met Pastor Stefan on a recent trip to Romania. Read Michael’s reflections of Pastor Stefan’s big passion to share the Lord Jesus with his fellow gypsies.
When he walked in the room, you knew he was different. Although not an extraordinary looking person, his presence radiated with a love for God that you could feel. Pastor Stefan introduced himself and began to share his story.
The 68-year-old Romi, more colloquially known as gypsy, with a 7th grade education was filled with a passion to reach his people with God’s word.
His worn face gave way to a huge smile when he talked about the gypsy church he planted a few kilometers from Craiova in southern Romania.
The region where Pastor Stefan planted this church is well known for the occult practices of gypsies, primarily fortune telling in the form of palm reading and reading tea leaves.
These traditions date back for a millennium or more, and with the traditions, the prejudice that so many minority people experience in the world.
There are anywhere between 600,000 to two million Romi people living in Romania. Their numbers are difficult to estimate because they tend to live isolated from the rest of society and are skeptical about the government. Their reputation for the occult is only surpassed by the stigma they bear as thieves who live off unsuspecting people at the market or on public transportation.
Pastor Stefan shared more and his face lit up when he talked about his 30 grandchildren and one great grandchild. But even more, his love and respect for his people, along with his deep desire for them to know the Lord, kept us all riveted.
Stefan spoke eloquently about the struggles and trials of reaching out to the gypsies, even though he is Romi himself. He told us about the New Testament translation project with the International Bible Society and the challenge of accurately relating the biblical accounts in a language that has a very small vocabulary. Stefan’s respect for God’s word was evident as he explained how he sought the proper words to represent the original Greek.
So far he has translated the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and is working on the book of Acts. While many Romi are illiterate, this translation is still vital. Stefan shared how the people enjoyed hearing him read God’s word out loud
to them in their heart language.
Thank you for your prayers and support for the tremendous work the Lord is doing in Romania. The hunger these church planters have to serve Him and bring the message of Christ to their people is a story of dedication and love. It’s a story of a passion for their people.
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