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The Beginning of Charis Foundation
“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible… all things were created by Him, and for Him… and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist…”
(Colossians 1: 16, 17)
The 80’s and 90’s
This period brought the Chamber Choir of Second Baptist Church of Oradea in the local evangelical community. The faithfulness, commitment, vision and strategic mind of the initiator of this choir, the late professor Relu Toșa, have brought blessed fruit along the way. Here, in this choir, a new young Christian generation has been shaped through and for ministry and serving. Among those shaped in the chamber choir there was a small group that founded Charis Foundation in 1991.
Between 1986- 1989
During these three years, few intellectuals from culture, art and literature areas, professors and engineers, most of them from evangelical churches, formed a group as a response to the challenge launched by Beniamin Faragau through “The History of God’s Blessing”. The objectives of this group were: to comprehend the way in which God has poured his blessing upon man throughout the history, to identify the cultural context in which the Gospel is applicable and to discover “pulpits” in the civil society where the message of Christ could be preached in a genuine and relevant manner. The conclusions of these workshops have contributed decisively to forming a mentality that drove each participant into a motivated involvement in solving some of the civil society’s problems from God’s perspective after 1989. Among the members of this group were Relu Toșa and Daniel Ciupe, the later initiators of Charis Foundation.
The Second Baptist Church of Oradea has initiated a program called the School of Prophets that intended to develop and equip a group of Christians for the ministry between 1987 and 1989. The classes of this program allowed to more than 70 young people to be educated and equipped. Among those that attended these classes was Daniel Ciupe, one of the initiators of the foundation.
Daniel Ciupe and his family were camping in Apuseni Mountains near Iera Valley. In a rainy Saturday they were hiking the mountains and something interesting happened in that trip that could not be explained in words. Daniel’s mind and heart felt God’s calling to ministry. He did not really understood what was going to happen next but he knew that God was calling him to “put on the market the investment” He has entrusted in him along the way. Right then at the edge of the valley he wrote down the outline of a Christian mission that later took the name of Charis. For 6 months he and his wife Mona prayed for it and told nobody about the calling and the vision he was given.
After the Revolution in 1990
The evangelical community realized the opportunity for starting association, foundation and organizations. The youth leaders of Baptist churches decided to start The Romanian Baptist Youth Organization and elected Daniel Ciupe – general secretary for 4 years. This period allowed Daniel Ciupe (one of the Charis founders) to know better the Romanian problems and the realities of West Europe evangelical community.
1990 – 1991
The evangelical community realized what a great opportunity for starting church related secondary, high schools and universities was given to it. In Oradea the leaders of the Baptist movement have brought together few professors with expertise in various areas and tried to put the basis of the first Christian high school and theological institute. Among those involved in this ministry was professor and artist Relu Toșa, one of the initiators of Charis Foundation.
In one of the many evenings spent together as two good friends, Relu Tosa told Daniel Ciupe about Theology- Music major of the new founded Bible Institute of Oradea. He spoke about the vision and difficulties faced until this program was finalized and the suffering he was having deep inside into his heart regarding some people’s perception of his involvement and authority upon this ministry. Using this special moment, Daniel Ciupe shared the vision he received in August 1990. In that evening, from Relu’s suffering and Daniel’s enthusiasm Charis mission was conceived.
1 June 1991
Charis Foundation was set up in Oradea on 1st of June 1991 in response to a call from God to contribute to the restoration and development of Romanian society after the social and political transformation of the 1989 revolution. We believe that the responsibility and solutions for the problems of Romanian society lie with Romanian Christians.
First Stage (1991-1997) – Let’s build a better place together!
In our first stage we focused on supporting Evangelical communities. We ran projects such as:
- Supporting the development of small businesses: for 12 Christian families from the Crișana region who benefited from financial, logistical, and consulting support for 3 years.
- Business Training: for a group of 20 Christian businessmen and equipping 5 trainers.
- Gaudeamus: constant support for two students and occasional support for the students from the Bible Institute.
- Enjoy your Flute: a project through which we managed to support some groups of Christian young people with over 500 recorders (flutes).
- Charis Chamber Choir: won the first prize at Agape Festival; the choir had served in various churches and communities for 5 years; it participated in festivals and concerts.
- Manna Program: we supported a community of Christian Baptists to open Holy Trinity Church, in Oradea; we supported two churches in building their prayer houses and we offered constant support to two pastors from the countryside.
- Helping People in Need: clothes and staple foods for over 5000 poor people and over 300 children from the orphanages.
- Helping the Elderly: constant support for two elderly houses, in Arad and Bihor counties.
- Task Force Teams: two groups from Great Britain served together with us in different projects.
- Charis Centre: we bought a farm in Sântion, we developed it, and we built a community center.
- Charis Farm: an agricultural program that enabled us to help many communities and social institutions.
- Charis Business Club: a club where for 5 years we have facilitated the periodic meeting of Christian businessmen who have benefited from our support.
Second Stage (1999-2005) – People in need! Get involved now!
In the second stage we focused on helping groups and people in need. We had the following projects:
- Hope for Orphans: we supported the social integration of 25 orphan boys coming from orphanages.
- Families in Need: we helped over 200 poor families with goods, vegetables, and humanitarian aids.
- Manna Program: we supported 6 pastors who served in small village churches.
- The Church from Drăgeşti: we helped a small community build a church.
- Mission and Holiday in Romania: we organized the visit of 16 youth groups from Great Britain to Romania that came to serve people in need.
- Make a Child Smile: we distributed goods for poor children from several villages from Bihor County.
- Talking Hands: we organized a conference for the deaf people in which they were taught the sign language.
- Charis Farm: an agricultural program that enabled us to support the orphan boys from our program and several elderly homes, orphanages and families in need.
- Charis Summer School: we organized Summer camps for the children and young people from Holy Trinity Church; we organized a camp for the visually impaired children from a high school from Cluj-Napoca.
- Charis Business Club: we organized a beginner’s course in business for 9 people from the countryside.
- Cultural Activities: we supported the work of a Christian sculptor.
- Oradea Community Center: we bought, transformed, equipped and modernized a building for Holy Trinity Baptist Church.
Third Stage (2007-2013) – The Young Generation – Impact without Borders!
In the third stage we focused on supporting young people. We had the following projects:
- A Chance for Anyone: we had constantly supported young people from the orphanages and two students from university
- Give and it Will be Given to You: each year we made Christmas Gifts for 500 children and teenagers coming from orphanages and Gypsy churches
- Manna Program: we supported the children ministry of a group of missionaries in a Gypsy community; we supported the ministry of a youth group from a Baptist church; we distributed organs for youth groups and choirs from several churches.
- Ezra Program: we invested in training of 4 young men to serve in the church; we wrote and taught four courses in working with small groups in a Baptist church.
- 2 Cultures 1 God: we organized the visit and the volunteering of 9 youth groups from Great Britain and Switzerland.
- Nehemiah Program: we served in 3 Gypsy churches and we organized The School of Discipleship for 15 leaders; we supported the opening of a new church; Summer Camps for the children and teenagers; practical activities to repair and paint these churches.
- Open Doors: we organized in Charis Center the visit of a group of visually impaired children from a high school from Cluj-Napoca and a conference for a group of deaf-mute people from several Evangelical churches.
- God’s Garden: we started to turn Charis Center and Farm into a multifunctional center with conference halls, rooms for accommodation, sport fields, and leisure areas.
- Charis Summer School: for 5 years, we had organized a youth camp; around 25 teenagers attended this camp each year.
- Be active: we organized clubs, meetings for teenagers, and birthday parties.
- Charis Farm: we scaled down the agricultural production, enough to support our educational and social projects.
- God’s Love in Action: we visited an elderly home and an orphanage several times distributing aid and other necessary goods; we distributed food and goods for several Gypsy families from a city in Bihor county where over 3500 people live.
Fourth Stage (2015-2021) – Open Hands for the Hopeless
In the fourth cycle we focused on serving and supporting disadvantaged individuals, groups, and communities. We had the following projects:
- Open Doors: Charis Center from Sântion was made available to 57 groups from churches, schools, kindergartens, families, organizations for the purpose of organizing celebrations, picnics, birthdays, day camps, etc. 3900 people benefited from these meetings.
- 2 Cultures 1 God: we organized the visit to Romania of 8 groups from Great Britain, the USA, and Switzerland. 75 volunteers were involved in charitable and missionary activities in elderly homes and orphanages, served in churches, and carried out practical actions at the Charis Center from Sântion.
- Neemia: we occasionally served for a year in Gypsy churches in Batăr and Tileagd. Also, for 5 years we periodically got involved in the Gypsy church in Telechiu.
- Agapeo – Giving you Shall Receive: for 4 years we made and distributed Christmas gifts for children from disadvantaged communities. 400 children benefited from these packages.
- Be Active: for two years we organized VBS (Vacation Bible School) for children from underprivileged communities with 85 children participating.
- A Chance for Everyone: we continued to meet and support the orphan boys who were in the Charis program. We supported one of the boys to get his driver’s license and find a job. We helped another boy to buy a camper to live in and offered him a place at Charis to park it. We kept in constant contact with 7 of the boys and organized various meetings with them.
- Ezra: a program through which for a year we got involved and coordinated the activity of small groups in a church, a program in which about 400 people were involved. Also, two of the foundation’s volunteers organized a Bible study for several months in 2016 entitled “How to Study the Bible”; young people from a local church attended this study.
- Charis Center: the program through which we continued the modernization and transformation of the Charis Center in Sântion into a multifunctional space by adding a small goat farm, an apiary, and reorganizing the greenhouses into a small vegetable and fruit farm.
- Mana: a program through which for 4 years, together with the volunteers of the foundation and different groups, we organized several charitable activities in an elderly house and for two years in an orphanage.
- Agapeo – Help for People in Need: a program through which we helped more than 300 poor families with clothes, goods, and food and we made and distributed (for a time) a hot meal for 525 people, mostly homeless people.
- Charis Retreat Center: we organized a series of social-charitable, cultural-educational, and community-religious projects and programs in Sântion in which 80 groups were involved. A number of 4300 people were part of these activities.
- Open hands for Ukraine: a project started because of the humanitarian crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine and carried out in our transition year (2022) between the cycles of activity. We hosted 13 groups of Ukrainian refugees (210 people) and organized a humanitarian transport of goods and food to Ukraine.
For the recent history of Charis, check out our About Page.