March 11, 2017

Romanian Pastor Sees in “Total Member Involvement” a Dream Fulfilled

Wally Amundson

Eddie Tilihoi is a young associate pastor with a pleasant demeanor and an engaging smile. He lives with Camelia and their six-month-old daughter in Northeast Romania, within minutes from the Ukraine and Moldova borders.

Serving a district with 256 members in five churches and four companies, Tilihoi is constantly on the move through the fields and patches of forest that separate the villages and small towns. It is a farmland that resembles Southern Canada and the United States Midwest, regions of the world that welcomed immigrants from his country and neighboring nations many generations ago.

Retired Pastor Wally Amundson, from the United States, and Pastor Eddie Tilihoi, from Romania, visit rural members and interests ahead of an evangelism series in Romania in February.

With the collapse of the Socialist Republic in the late 1980’s, many Romanian Seventh-day Adventists left for better paying jobs in Western Europe. Generous gifts from abroad along with the influx of missionaries helped to build much needed church structures back home. With surprising church growth, a new group of youthful pastors and church leaders like Tilihoi emerged. Today, most pastors in Romania serve multiple churches and companies in a union with 65,000 members.

Within this context of vibrant church life, Romania was chosen along with seven other countries in Eastern Europe to participate in Total Member Involvement (TMI)—a program of the world church to get every member involved in outreach and evangelism—now in its second year. TMI Romania was a perfect fit. In all, 2,017 evangelistic campaigns will be held in Romania before June 3, the date selected for a countrywide baptism.

“We could see God’s hand in this campaign”

“We could see God’s hand in this campaign,” said Tilihoi.

The young pastor, the elders, deacons, deaconesses, and active members all came together well in advance to plan for a future TMI for their churches. They held many Vacation Bible Schools—events for children to improve their religious education through educational and recreational activities—including field trips for the participants; formed a combined choir with other churches and faiths in the area, and had public concerts including a brass band comprised of youth and adults. The church team held health expo that offered free health screenings to this rural community. They even received donations from other countries and volunteered to rebuild a home for a destitute family.

Tilihoi reflected how as a child growing up in Romania with new religious freedom, the members met together often. They were very close, and visited each other in their homes speaking from the Bible. Now these good relations were a perfect setting for the TMI.

He was amazed to see the enthusiasm among the members along with the influx of visitors to the evangelistic series. In a stratified religious society, this is unusual.

“I knew that prayer and total involvement would lead to this,” said Tilihoi. Each church and company held 10 days of prayer just prior to the start of the TMI Romania.

With winter weather at its peak, churches were nearly full night after night for 18 meetings. Members and visitors alike reviewed and accepted Bible truth. Many have committed to further Bible study with Tilihoi and the elders. “I always dreamed about taking part in the Loud Cry,” Eddie exclaimed, referring to the expression commonly used to God’s last message to the world in the end of times. “Now it is happening in my country, [where] we worked together to advance His kingdom.”

After the evangelistic meetings, Tilihoi started a new evangelistic series in a neighboring village along with a retired pastor. TMI continues to reap a harvest, even in the winter.

Wally and Christine Amundson, from Miami, Florida, United States, represented the Inter-American Division during TMI Romania.