Resurrecting Lutheranism in Transylvania

Categories: Catechism, Romania

Transylvania – the birthplace of Bram Stoker’s Dracula – is a mysterious land shrouded in myths and superstition. But for Rev. Sorin Trifa, it’s home.

Rev. Trifa (center) and his family

Located in modern-day Romania, Transylvania was settled nearly 5 centuries ago by German Saxon immigrants, who brought with them their Lutheran faith. In fact, “the first book ever printed into the Romanian language, using the Latin alphabet, was The Small Catechism of Martin Luther,” Rev. Trifa said.

But after generations of Soviet-era communism, emigration and the influence of liberal European churches, only a shell of that Saxon Lutheran heritage remains today. Their massive fortified churches still stand (top photo), “but the Lutheran faith is kind of a dead faith in Romania,” said Rev. Dr. Matthew Heise, LHF executive director. “The churches are empty, more like museums.”

After growing up in one of the liberal Lutheran churches that had abandoned Biblical teachings, the Holy Spirit moved Rev. Trifa (who then was not yet a pastor) to begin digging into what the Bible really teaches. He scoured LCMS theological websites, completed his theology degree and connected with LCMS missionaries.

The LCMS Regional Director of International Mission in Eurasia (OIM) recognized Sorin’s zeal for the pure Gospel and his eagerness to get a theological education from the LCMS to become a Lutheran pastor. Through LCMS mission efforts in Europe, Sorin was trained and mentored by an OIM missionary, eventually ordained into the pastoral ministry and sent as an OIM Eurasia Alliance Missionary back to his home. Beginning in Bucharest, Rev. Trifa was then sent to begin a faithful Lutheran Church in the Romanian language.

With a goal to resurrect true Lutheran teachings in his homeland of Transylvania, Rev. Trifa began translating Lutheran writings into the Romanian language to share with ​his new members and other searchers online.

“In the fall of 2018, with the help of my son Sergiu who was actively involved in the translation work [and with the financial support of LHF], we published Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation in Romanian,” he said.

Rev. Trifa with some of his parishioners, members of the Confessional Lutheran Church in Romania.

Rev. Trifa studies the catechism with his small congregation, who met first in his home and then expanded to an Anglican church building in the city of Bucharest. Rev. Trifa also sends the books to people he meets through his Facebook page and other social media.

More translation projects are now underway, including LHF’s “Jesus Never Fails” devotional booklet and parts of the Book of Concord. In addition, Rev. Trifa has expanded his mission work into Greece and Italy, and with support from LHF, will soon publish the Greek and Italian “Jesus Never Fails” booklets.

“After centuries of darkness and spiritual wandering, Romania is called back to the Faith,” Rev. Trifa reflected. “I’m so happy that God chose to put me here. He’s given me the opportunity to share the Gospel with the country and people where the Reformation began so long ago.”

Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.