God’s call to ministry is sometimes mysterious until we see the needs he prepared us to meet. When Ben (ThM, 2010) and Anda (MABC, 2010) Mogos left Romania to begin studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, Ben believed his calling was to join a pastoral staff and serve as a Bible teacher and preacher. But as he completed his degree, God gave him a different vision: planting a new evangelical church in the heart of Bucharest. This leading into an unexpected ministry created a Christian community prepared to respond to people in crisis.
Ben and Anda grew up in Romania during the communist era, coming to faith in Jesus in an adverse circumstance. After communism fell in 1989, leaving the country with lingering questions and spiritual searching, they sought to learn how to share the gospel in Bucharest. Many Romanian pastors have only a Bible college education. When Ben and Anda completed Bible college, they yearned for further high-quality training. Dallas Theological Seminary allowed Ben to pursue studies in theology and Anda to receive training in counseling.
As they finished their programs at DTS, Ben and Anda saw one door after another opening to the possibility of planting a church. First, a family in Bucharest asked them to consider praying about starting something new in the city. Then a pastor in Dallas gave Ben a book about church planting and encouraged him to think about it. Finally, an opportunity came for Ben and Anda to attend a church planting seminar with Tim Keller in New York. Even though the idea of church planting had initially seemed outside of Ben’s comfort zone, “that training was so amazing, we were both ready to start a new church right away,” he remembers.
They were eager, but Anda felt unsure what her role would be. “If Ben is the church planter,” she wondered, “then what am I?” Equipped with a degree from DTS that gave her a unique integration of counseling and theology, she began seeing clients and opened a practice. “I didn’t have a vision for big impact with my counseling,” Anda says. “It was just about obeying for this one step, and then God shows the next step, and the next.” Focusing on trauma healing, Anda wrote a book about a biblical perspective on getting through grief. That book enjoyed popularity within Romania, and it would soon play a role in a larger context.
Even with Ben and Anda’s encouragement and excitement, starting a church in the center of Bucharest was an intimidating prospect. Bucharest is a university city with a lot of young professionals, but less than half of one percent of the population are evangelical Christians. “To our knowledge,” Ben says, “not only was there no other evangelical church building in the downtown area, but there was not even a group of evangelical believers meeting together there.” So Ben and Anda started with a group of seven people, gathering in their apartment for Bible study and singing. That first community grew, and soon Ben baptized new believers. The church moved to a rented house, and then in 2022 they purchased their own building in the heart of the city.
God’s plan for the church was not that it would become an isolated community. Rather, he placed the believers in that city at that time so they could show his love to others. That plan became clear in 2022, when war pushed thousands of Ukrainian refugees into Romania. The church in Bucharest was ready to respond—first by getting on their knees together and praying, and then through meeting tangible needs. Though every day brought the church members new challenges and emergencies, “I don’t know anybody who complained about it,” Ben says. “They joined in and asked what they could do.” They donated supplies for the refugees, made arrangements for shelter, and drove caravans of provisions into Ukraine. Anda’s book about getting through grief was translated into Ukrainian and now brings comfort to people beyond its original audience.
Just when the stream of refugees from Ukraine into Romania slowed, disaster struck the region again: a deadly earthquake in Turkey on February 10, 2023. Again, the church in Bucharest eagerly did whatever possible to assist a country in severe shock and trauma. Church members sent in supplies and teams of people to build temporary shelters for those who had lost their homes.
God wants his people to be salt and light to the world around them. It’s not only a challenge for the immediate here and now but also a preparation for sharing the gospel in ways we can’t yet imagine. When Ben and Anda Mogos followed God’s call to church planting and counseling in Bucharest, they couldn’t have predicted the way God would use their obedience to build a community that brings comfort and relief to hurting people in the heart of the city and throughout the region.
About the Contributors
Neil R. Coulter served as an ethnomusicology and arts consultant for twelve years in Papua New Guinea, with Wycliffe Bible Translators. He is now senior writer and editor at DTS. He and his wife, Joyce, have three sons.