“We need another revolution – a spiritual revolution. And there are good signs that God is hearing our prayers.” – Haggai leader Oniga Lucian Ioan

From 1947 to 1989, Romania existed as a socialist republic. During this period, Romanian life was characterized by brutal communist economic policies and rigid totalitarian rule. Religious freedom was non-existent, and the few churches that survived this period were corrupted by state control. Growing up the son of strong believers in Christ who were persecuted, Haggai leader Oniga Lucian Ioan witnessed his parents’ devotion to Christ.

“My father was the church music director, while my mother was very much involved in the church as well. So, they ‘forced’ us, their children, to get involved in the church, too. I played in the fanfare and sang in the church’s choir. However, their convictions, their lifestyle, and their suffering for Christ in a communist country inspired us to seek their God.”

Oniga Lucian Ioan

As Oniga came of age, Romania began to change rapidly. Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown in 1989, and the country began a years-long journey to undo the damage of a brutal four-decade regime.

Unlike his parents, Oniga had the opportunity to practice and pursue his faith publicly. After two years of law school, he decided to dedicate himself to full-time ministry in 1995. He established Bistrita Pentecostal Bible Seminary in 1996 and later established the Peniel Youth Camp, a ministry that disciples thousands of students each year. The word “Peniel” is found in Genesis 32 and is in reference to Jacob’s “face of God” encounter. Oniga sees this new generation of Romanians, with little to no recollection of the country’s communist era, as the key to rooting out corruption and reviving a traumatized nation’s character.

“In my opinion, there are many underlying causes of corruption: no fear of God and no respect for others, and a communist mentality that ‘you can steal from the state since it steals from us.’ With Peniel Ministry, we always focus on a personal encounter with God and emphasize the fact that when Jacob saw God’s face in Genesis 32 at Peniel, he was totally transformed in his character.” 

In 2014, nearly two decades into his ministry career, Oniga attended the Haggai Leader Experience (HLE). The Haggai model inspired him to create something similar at home.

“Watching a model that works made me replicate it. Therefore, shortly after returning from the HLE, I organized a Romanian Leadership Forum for those interested in having an impact for Christ. ‘Christian leadership’ should not describe only the ‘full time’ people involved in a Christian ministry but should also describe all those who intentionally act like Christ, thus leading in different spheres of society.”