I often like to joke around when it comes to the subject of religious missionaries. And why not?
Most of them come here thinking it is “in the middle of nowhere” and is a “jungle” and some kind of super MadMax Beyond Thunderdome poverty chaos where filthy street urchins knee deep in sewage beg for coins outside an orphanage. Heck, making it back out of Romania alive is the thrill of a lifetime!
Yet Romania is of course super safe, tolerant and downright welcoming, especially if you’re Christian (or say you are).
Therefore this country is brimming to the top with missionaries of all stripes. Since Judaism doesn’t apparently evangelize and I’ve never heard of an Islamic missionary here, most of the below are Christian in some kind of way (at least according to them).
Let the Countdown of Tenacious Missionaries in Romania begin!
Actually a grab bag of different groups all lumped together, we start off the countdown with Indian Guru Cult missionaries.
Rarely actually spearheaded by a person from India, your average Indian Guru Cult missionary is going to be a white European, perhaps German or Dutch or British, who has been to India and is now following some kind of guru there.
Main Move – Holding free lectures about yoga or “spirituality” or philosophical questions like “Who are we?”, heavily advertised by posters glued to every telephone pole, phone booth and trash can in town.
I actually got a free pizza from an IGC missionary once, so no complaints on my end! :P
Number Four – Quite numerous especially during those golden rays of sunshine in the summertime are the American Do-Gooder missionaries.
Often paying their own way, these hale and often quite hearty (fat) Americans come to Romania for brief periods of time to do “good works” and volunteer somewhere as a deliberately religious act.
Main Move: Teaching the kiddies to love English and Jesus.
Since the help is free (and well meant), nobody in Romania really makes a fuss over the evangelical angle and quite often, in fact, enjoys it. An American Do-Gooder can be of any age but quite often is 30-40 or even older.
Number Three – Similar to number four above, number three are the Lazy American Singing missionaries. During warmer months these ones sprout up like fungi, floating in vast hordes down most of the main squares in downtown around lunchtime.
Note: Older and more senior Lazy Singers may be entirely funded by their church congregation back home but usually younger ones have paid for the trip themselves.
Instead of doing anything tangible, your typical Lazy Singer will stand for an hour or two on the street corner, handing out tracts (sometimes like this hilarious one) and try to save your soul on the spot. Sometimes they’ll rig up a microphone and speakers to be able to harangue more people at a time (efficiency).
Main Move – Endless, tone-deaf singing.
Truly well-funded Lazy Singers will give away snacks and drinks to get attention, particularly bottles of water with a religious quote on the side equating Jesus to water.
The other 22 hours of the day are spent eating at McDonald’s and lots and lots of singing, almost exclusively in English, the vast majority of it off-key and extremely simplistic both musically and lyrically.
This singing is done in public for specified performances as well as spontaneously throughout the day whenever two or more of them congregate as a natural outburst for their enthusiasm about how gosh darn much they love the lord.
Yes, number two on my countdown are those sons and daughters of Joseph Smith, known worldwide as the Mormons or the Church of Latter Day Saints.
Main Move – Surprisingly still hesitant to use the trusty bicycle in Romania but whether on foot or wheels, dressed in their signature “bus boy” outfit, i.e. black pants, white shirt and black tie, traveling in pairs, often one foreign Mormon with one local one.
Don’t be fooled by those cornfed, American boys! Many of them take the missionary biz quite seriously and have learned Romanian. They also often run free lectures and hand away a metric ton of literature.
Number One –
Yes by far the most tenacious missionaries of all time in Romania are almost never foreigners but converted Romanians themselves. These are yes… the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they of the wacky little free magazines called the “Watchtower (Turnul)”.
Main Move: Disguised as little old ladies nicely asking for a moment of your time on the street, they quickly whip out the literature and begin trying to convert you before you can say “Machu Pichu”. Even if you pull away they may call after you, trying to entice you, so stand strong!
Note: Weather to these ladies is irrelevant. They’ll try to get you any day of the week in any kind of conditions.
AND NOW YOU KNOW! PRAISE THE LORD(S)!