Dr. Andy Seidel (l) and Mihai Dumitrascu
Made strong under persecution
Dr. Andy Seidel, Executive Director Emeritus, Hendricks Center, Dallas Theological Seminary; Entrust board chairman
Entrust’s Advanced Training Studies program, initiated in 1991, offered several concentrations: Old Testament, led by Ralph Alexander; theology led by Gordon Saunders and Dwight Ekholm, and pastoral theology led by me. We intended to have a New Testament concentration and a counseling concentration but weren’t able to find people to lead them. Mihai Dumitrascu was a young guy, a pastor’s son, who became part of the second generation of students in the 3-year pastoral theology program, from 1993 to 1996. In 1996, when it was decided to end the ATS program, I turned over the Romanian pastoral theology program to Mihai’s leadership.
Mihai Dumitrascu’s father pastored a church in Galatz, eastern Romania, during that country’s communist days. The communists would only allow a church to exist on the far edge of town, an area of primarily dirt roads, often blanketed in smoke from the largest steel plant in Romania, carried in by prevailing winds. The government permitted the church only a limited number of square meters of space, so the church bought a house; then, not allowed to expand the size in width or lengthy, they built up. Most of the seats were on the ground floor, with balconies going up.
Mihai has served as director of ATS’ pastoral theology program since 1996. Others who completed the training assist him in leading and teaching; currently equipping the 14th generation of learners. Romanians teach most of the 13 modules. I continue to teach a few modules and attend the graduation ceremonies.
The communists would place spies in churches in Romania, who would make up stories about the people and publish them in newspapers. After Mihai completed nine months in the army, he came back to the church his dad pastored, discouraged by articles he’d seen in the papers about people in the church; totally incorrect, perverted, meant to embarrass. He felt very disturbed by all that was said.
At about the time we were passing leadership of ATS over to Mihai and others, Entrust as a whole was turning its basic pastoral leadership training over to Romanians. What emerged from that was the Romanian-owned and directed, nationwide, church-based program known as EBE. Meanwhile, Mihai was involved in the start of another Romanian organization called BIG Impact (“Churches of Global Impact”), whose primary founder is Gelu Paul, pastor of Vox Domini Baptist Church in Timisoara. “BIG” is not a part of EBE, but the two organizations work together.
Mihai’s early years in communist Romania shaped who he is today. Experiencing “great opposition to my faith from teachers and the ideologies of communism … wasn’t always easy for me … I developed an inferiority complex because I belonged to a minority group that was rejected by society. At that time, it was difficult to find a Bible in my country, and Christian literature, especially for youth, wasn’t to be found. One Sunday morning my father found some Christian books, written in Romanian, in our letter (mail) box, and until this day we don’t know who risked coming at night to bring us these books. Also at this time, a young person from the west of the country came to my city with a copy of a Navigator’s course and, underground, [some of us young people began] to study this. Each one of us wrote every lesson out long-hand and we began, in a systematic way, to study God’s word. In this context, God transformed my life … I became the unofficial leader of the group. For a long time I didn’t realize I was the leader of this group, but I observed that the others were waiting for direction from me, and they were willing to follow me.”
In addition to directing the ATS pastoral theology program under the auspices of BIG Impact, Mihai is the pastor of Emanuel Church in Galati. He has planted several churches in eastern Romania, and his brother, who also went through the ATS pastoral theology program, leads a dynamic youth ministry.