Lidia and Dorel Şchiopu
From the kitchen to the world
by Laurie Lind, Entrust staff writer
Because of traditional culture and strong communist rule, women in Romania believed they had little or no role in the church. The concept of “women’s ministry” was entirely absent. Women were, for the most part, relegated to the kitchen, both at home and in the church.
Such was the case for Lidia Şchiopu.
Lidia was eager to learn and grow in her faith. She was encouraged when The Navigators came to Romania, providing Lidia’s first small group discipleship experience, something she saw as “a great privilege.” But that was it. No further equipping. Until …
Women’s ministry training comes to Romania
In 1979, Entrust began training men in ministry in Romania. Slowly, “a great grace for us as women” emerged. Entrust’s female staff members realized how eager the Romanian women were for training, and quietly began visiting the country to offer ministry training, initially only for the wives of men in training.
“They came in secret and everything was a great risk,” Lidia recalls.
Lidia’s husband, Dorel, wasn’t in a men’s training group, but Lidia got involved thanks to a friend, a coordinator of the men’s training. This friend “knew my deep desire to grow and to know God more and more. So, providentially, I was part of the first group of women in Timisoara. God had a plan! He put everything together so that his plan could be fulfilled in my life.”
“O! So many things changed in my life, my family, my perspective. I learned God’s will about marriage, and my family life was transformed. I understood for the first time that God put his spiritual gifts in our lives, as women. I understood that I can have a calling in God’s kingdom. And I understood the Great Commission: to make disciples!
“Our leaders gave us homework. One day they told us each to start a small group with three ladies and to teach them what we were learning. I am a diligent student, so I did the homework. I invited three young ladies to my apartment. With fear and emotion, I shared with them what God was teaching me. This was a great step on the waters.”
Lidia’s three disciples eventually emigrated to the U.S. Twenty-five years after her courageous step of faith, Lidia met the three again, in the U.S.
“They told me, ‘Lidia, do you remember when you invited us to your small apartment and taught us how you were learning … to appreciate your husband? That teaching helped us a lot after we got married. It was such a blessing for us. Thank you, Lidia, for investing in us.’
“This was like a reward for me. I had forgotten their names, but they knew in detail what I had taught them.”
From the home to the church to the world
After the fall of communism in her country, Lidia launched a women’s ministry in her church, introducing small groups. She traveled every Saturday to various cities, teaching women in small groups.
When Entrust indigenized its church-based leadership training, its Romanian leaders asked Lidia to coordinate women’s ministry training nationwide. Since 1998, she has served full-time with EBE (Entrust-Romania). As she puts it, “tens and tens of women’s groups, hundreds and hundreds of women have been part of our program.” Those women have gone on to initiate women’s ministry in their churches. “Now, women’s ministry is all over the country, with more in the Romania diaspora.”
As of 2019, Lidia says, her passion is a discipleship program called Priscilla, which she developed after taking Facilitating Relational Learning in Switzerland. Part of the homework after FRL was to make a plan for the future in her country. “How I can invest more strategically in the new generation?” Lidia asked herself.
Priscilla is a 3-year program of two modules per year. “We teach them using all the methods we know for the adults,” Lidia says. “Lectures, discussions, debates, small groups, drama.” Each meeting includes teaching followed by small group discussion. Currently, 30 women from Romania, Moldova and other European countries are involved.
“Titus 2 is coming alive,” Lidia says. “Older women teach the younger women. I am so grateful to God that the young generation is interested to come and to learn from us as older women. This is amazing! There is hope for the future with such young women! Praise the Lord for this time and for his grace!”
Thirty years ago, Lydia was constrained to making tea in the kitchen. Now she is directing women’s ministry training and has launched an international discipleship program for young women. “I cannot imagine how my life could be if Entrust had not come to Romania! It is the most wonderful thing that has happened in my life!”
Most of all, she concludes, “I am very thankful to my Lord Jesus Christ who planned such a grace for my life. Praise him!”