Training Pastors Under Persecution: Video Interview

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Training Pastors Under Persecution: Video Interview


Pastor Daniel Fodorean knows times of persecution first-hand. He also believes that “freedom or not, we can train pastors!”

Growing up in Romania, Pastor Daniel chose to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in spite of living under an oppressive political regime that tried to eliminate religion. “Nobody can stop the Church,” he says. “The Church will still serve the Lord no matter the circumstances. Also, when we want to train leaders, no matter if there is freedom or not, we can train leaders.”

He admits it was–and will be–hard. In his country, the Secret Police raided training sessions and arrested pastors. “But the training cannot stop,” he says.

Pastor Daniel is passionate about training pastors and leaders, and as religious freedom has now come to Romania, among his many initiatives he includes training pastors who serve in areas of oppression and persecution. Although the persecution they face comes from religious extremists, he believes his years persevering under oppression prepared him to serve them wisely and well.

We believe Pastor Daniel’s story will encourage you–and the free curriculum he has developed with Leader Formation International’s Dr. Bill Lawrence may be what you’re looking for. Watch our video interview with him and read more about his ministry to learn why he is so passionate about training pastors “inside to outside” and confident that God’s purposes will prevail no matter the circumstances.

Take a few moments to watch the video interview and be refreshed! Written interview below. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for future interviews.


What led you to begin training pastors and leaders?

In 1994, I moved to Constanta, the poorest area of churches in this part of the world, and realized that without training leaders, we could not expand the ministry.

In 1995, I started training leaders, and until now I have not stopped one minute from this calling and this ministry of training leaders.

I love to train pastors because pastors will change the church and the church will impact the world.

You train pastors through non-formal and formal avenues, tell us more:

I am an assistant professor at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Bucharest and teach online for Liberty University. I also train pastors in small groups all over Europe and through a non-formal online curriculum accessible through


Graduation of Leader Formation Program in Ukraine ( Romanian Leaders)

How many pastors are you or your team committed to training per year?

Our vision for the next five years is to train 50 strategically-selected pastor/mentors (pastoral trainers) from 25 countries in Europe and Central Asia who will commit to train a cumulative 500 pastors in their own countries.  

What strategy have you implemented to train pastors in countries with little religious freedom?

The pastors I’m working with now face a different type of persecution than I did, but I think all those years under a hostile government system prepared me to serve in difficult situations, especially working with pastors who have not experienced the freedoms I now have.

We realize we need to be wise when training these pastors. I am working with pastors from Central Asian countries who come to visit European countries and at the same time receive training. We are developing contacts to do some training inside those countries where there is greater religious freedom. We have also partnered with a university in Moldova to help provide training.


You became a Christian and wanted to attend seminary in Romania while Romania was a socialist republic; how did God clear the obstacles in your path?

I felt called to be a pastor at 12, when I became a Christian. When I told my pastor this, he discouraged me from pursuing ministry because of the dangers posed to Christians at the time. He said, “The government will control you, you will face difficulties in the ministry. Think and pray, because this path is not easy, especially for those in leadership roles like pastors.” At the time, Secret Police raids spied on the church leaders who met for underground training in homes. They searched the houses and, in some cases, they arrested some of the church leaders. U.S. organizations, like Navigators and BEE International, have had a significant contribution to secretly preparing church leaders.

During this period of limited freedom and government oppression, the government controlled the seminary through the Romanian Religious Affairs Department, which oversaw the admission at the Biblical Institute. The number of admitted students was very low, at two to three students every year or sometimes even two to three every two years.

Even with the persecution I saw, I knew the Lord would protect me and I determined in my heart to attend seminary. I said, “I will go there, no matter how hard will be the ministry. I believe God’s power is over the government. His power will bring victory for us and for the Church.” In fact, six months before graduating high school, the government collapsed and I was honored to be in the first generation of college students to attend seminary after the revolution.


Graduation, Leader Formation Network, Moldova

What would you say to pastoral leaders and pastoral trainers facing religious persecution?

Church life cannot be stopped by any oppressive government. The Church will still serve the Lord no matter the circumstances. Also, when we want to train leaders, no matter if there is freedom or not, we can train leaders. I am deeply convinced that when we follow the Lord in our purposes, in our ministry, God will bless that ministry.

What has been your greatest challenge in training pastors?

Helping them to realize that they need continual training, despite having received formal training or not. They often have a long list of excuses, but their ministry will be refreshed if they continue.

Did you attend a Dallas GPA?  How has it helped your ministry?

The 2008 Dallas GPA (Global Proclamation Academy) convened by RREACH was an important time in my life. The teaching and fellowship encouraged me in a profound way and helped sustain me through a time of struggle after the GPA. It helped me discern and prepare for God’s plans for my life.



Pastor Daniel and Dr. Bill Lawrence

How did you partner with another ministry to train pastors?

In 2003, I began studying through the Center for Christian Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary, where I met Dr. Bill Lawrence, president of Leader Formation International [also a RREACH board member]. I saw similarities in our ministry visions and invited Dr. Lawrence to teach at conferences in Romania. After a few years, we realized that was not enough.

We developed and launched a curriculum for forming leaders, not just giving them information alone. I now run Antioch Center in Romania and conduct online training for surrounding countries, in partnership with Leader Formation International.

God also used me to help host GPA Romania, a 10-day version of the Dallas GPA. Dr. Ramesh Richard came to teach and fellowship with some of the finest young pastoral leaders in our land.

Do you have a curriculum that you use or have written that we could share with other pastoral trainers?

Yes, we do, you know, pastoral training is more than giving new information. It’s about a process of transforming the life from the inside. Usually, pastors are looking for training for their performance. Our curriculum starts with this: inside to outside.

Our training has three levels. The first level is spiritual formation and is focused on the heart and the inside convictions of a leader. We start with the person and then move to the second level, which is leadership transformation. We talk about transforming how pastors lead a body of people. The spiritual formation and leadership transformation sessions then lead to ministry reformation, which is the third level.

How may we access it?

This curriculum can be studied in a modular, face-to-face format, as well as online. The online courses are at

How much are the online courses and what languages is it available in?

The online program is 10 weeks long per session and is available free of cost to anyone who wants to use it. The only requirement is to register on It is available in English with Romanian translation. We are working on a Russian translation and then will move to Spanish.

Pastor Daniel Fodorean is a leader-mentor who served as a pastor and church planter in the least evangelized part of Romania. He actively trains pastors in formal and non-formal contexts. His own training includes a master’s degree in canon law and a doctorate in theology with a specialization in church leadership. He also graduated from RREACH’s 2008 Dallas Global Proclamation Academy.  

Dr. Fodorean served as a pastor in Constanta, Romania, for almost 25 years, also founding the Constanta Baptist Association and Constanta Bible Institute, and spawning a church planting movement that has resulted in more than 50 new churches throughout this region of one million people. In 2002 he founded the Antioch Center to equip church leaders. He also serves as European Director of Leader Formation International and Executive Director of the Leader Formation Institute.

In the formal training context, he is a professor and assistant dean at the Baptist Theological Institute of Bucharest (Romania), adjunct professor for Liberty University Divinity School (U.S.) online, and adjunct faculty at the Titu Maiorescu University School of Law.

Dr. Fodorean and his wife, Felicia, founded the Champions for Life Primary School as a way to reach out to the 18 different nationalities in their region with the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have one son, Nathanael.

CALL TO ACTION: What ministry challenges do you face in your part of the world? How do you help pastors lead well in spite of them? Your experiences can help others!

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