Emanuel was born and raised in Romania, and was converted out of an Orthodox background through the influence of his believing grandparents and aunts. After his conversion, he quickly sensed a calling from the Lord for missions, and had a strong burden to preach the Gospel to those around him. He later went to Italy for work, which the Lord providentially used to lead him to help pastor a church for some time before returning to Romania where is currently serving in ministry alongside Sorin Prodan.
Testimony of Conversion
I was born in Romania in an Orthodox family, and I have five siblings. My father’s grandparents were Brethren, and they used to take me to church with them when I was a child. After the Revolution in 1989, a missionary named Timotei came to our town and planted a Baptist Church there. The church first gathered in my aunt’s house, and my grandparents and Christian aunts invited me to the meetings. By that time I was older and better able to understand things. That was my first encounter with a Baptist Church, and what appealed to me most were the songs that were sung there.
Pastor Timotei asked me one day when I was going to turn to God. I had been attending the church for a while, so my answer was, “Anytime!” I expected him to be happy to hear this answer, but he was disappointed and left me alone to think more about my response. The Holy Spirit searched my heart and helped me understand that the right answer was, “Right now!” When I understood the response that God was requiring of me, I knelt down, and I prayed and received the Lord into my heart. I was baptized in the fall of 1992 and I am happy that the Lord gave me His grace that I did not deserve.
Shortly after that, the Lord laid it on my heart and on my cousin’s heart to go to Sudan as missionaries. However, rather than Sudan, He sent us to a small village in a rural part of Sibiu, Romania, called Marsa. My cousin and I spent two weeks there, sharing the Gospel with the people. I was 16 when we did that. After graduating from high school, I wanted to go to the Baptist Theological Institute, but the pastor did not give me the recommendation I needed, considering that I was not mature enough for ministry. So, I went to a different college, but I had to quit after one year because my family could not support me financially. My mother died when she was 35 years old and my father was a widower with six children to raise by himself. So, I could not continue my education and I went to work in Italy. There I started attending a Baptist Church in Rome and I was involved in the ministry of the choir. From time to time, I was asked to lead the prayer time during the worship service.
About nine years ago, brother Radu Gheorghe was sent as a missionary by the “Holy Trinity” Baptist Church in Bucharest to plant a Romanian church in the outskirts of Rome, where many Romanians were living. He shared his vision with me and my wife one day, and we formed a group of young people that all had the same desire to plant this new church. The church was planted and I was one of the founding members, so I was part of the committee from the very beginning.
Call to Ministry
My calling to ministry started with that first thought of going as a missionary to Sudan, and it was clear that this sense of calling was from the Lord, because over the years I began to have a greater urgency to serve the Lord by sharing the Gospel with people around me wherever I was. Together with the church in Rome, we used to go every Sunday morning to a subway station to share the Gospel with the Romanians that gathered there. The Lord worked in a wonderful way through that church plant and the church grew to a hundred members quite soon.
The pastor of the church in Firenze had to go back to Romania and asked brother Radu Gheorghe to take over the ministry in Firenze. The church plant in Rome decided that each Sunday one of the members of the committee would visit Firenze to minister to the church, and this is how I got to know the Romanian Christians in Firenze. The Lord gave me a love for my brothers in Firenze, and I saw their needs and the great potential they had for ministry. Meanwhile, pastor Radu invited a different brother to come as a pastor to Firenze. He accepted and pastored this church for one year, but the church could not support him financially. When the wife of this pastor became sick, they went back to Romania. But, before doing that, he asked pastor Radu whom he could put in charge of the church in Firenze. Pastor Radu recommended me, so I started going to Firenze twice a month, as a missionary. After 8 months, my wife and I decided to move to Firenze, in order to be able to serve the church better. Prior to making this decision, I asked the Lord for His guidance with regard to this decision, and He spoke to me through the first four chapters of the book of Ezekiel. It was then that I understood that God’s will for us was to move to Firenze.