As manager of Grace Christian School in Lagoj, Romania, Emanuel Olariu ’08 has seen the power of lives transformed through Christian education. He helped start the school with just 32 students after graduating from Bethel. Nine years later, the school has grown to 430 students – from preschool to eighth grade – and 80 staff members.

“My dream was to leave a legacy, to leave something after I am gone that can magnify God’s glory in our community and improve the lives of those that come into contact with this project,” Olariu says. “I never dreamed this dream would become a Christian school.”

Emanuel Olariu '08

Emanuel Olariu ’08

Olariu grew up on the mission field in Romania, which is still recovering after 50 years of communist oppression. He watched his father, who served as the director of Percept Ministries in Eastern Europe, plant churches, build buildings, start a kindergarten and begin renovations on the old Jewish school that would become Grace Christian School.

It was through Percept Ministries that Olariu first heard about Bethel College, when Professor Dennis Engbrecht, Ph.D., led a Bethel task force team to assist in the construction of the Euro Asia Precept Ministries Bible Training Center.
Olariu came to Bethel to study business administration, but added another major in economics and finance because of the impact Associate Professor Aaron Schavey, Ph.D., had on him.
“Studying business, I realized the importance of a long-term investment and I understood that this is what a school really is …a long-term investment in the community where God has placed us to live.”
Grace Christian School is the only private school in Lagoj and is accredited by the Romanian Ministry of Education. They focus on academic excellence from an evangelical Christian perspective. Some of the most influential families in Lagoj send their children to Grace. But, Olariu emphasizes, this is not the school’s goal.

“Our main goal is to introduce Jesus to each child and parent that comes our way. Our mission is to create the best environment so that the children that God entrusted to us can grow spiritually, intellectually, physically and socially.”

So far, Olariu has not turned any child away, and about one-third of students receive some sort of financial assistance.
“I started this project praying that God would help us give a chance for a better education to any parent who wants to educate their child in an institution that is founded, guided and motivated by Christian principles,” Olariu explains.
He relies on God’s provision to make budget each month. Half of operational costs are covered by tuition; the rest by generous sponsors.
“This project was and continues to be a miracle [and] it is impossible not to associate it with faith,” Olariu says.
Renovations are nearing completion on an old Catholic school that will become the middle school. His next big project is the exterior, which will require significant funding. Olariu also has dreams of building a high school and someday, even a college.
“Education does not only open doors, it also opens minds,” Olariu says. “Christian Education can open the doors of Heaven for the students of Lugoj,” says Olariu. 
Watch a video about Grace Christian School here.