In this issue:
• Welsh invasion photos
• Viktor speaks at a secular conference at Sofia University
• Occasional outreaches in Vidin
• Ministry trip to Vidin and Silistra
• Prayer point and praise reports
o Developments on the orphan ministry in state institutions
o Noah prays for healing
o Religious freedom – law on membership limitations tabled
The Welsh group’s visit and joint outreach was a great blessing to all. We felt that God was building an even stronger connection for future joint ministry. We hope you enjoy the photos!
A GREAT COMMISSION TALK AT A SECULAR UNIVERSITY
April 2-10. During the second week of April I was able to attend a conference at the Sofia University on “Faith and Reason for Civil Society.” The conference was organized by the philosophy department of the university. Many of the talks were not only scholarly but bitterly noted the chaos in the nation marked by government corruption, ongoing mafia killings in public places and poverty, regardless of certain improvements due to recent EU membership of the country.
God opened a door for me and I was scheduled to speak although my name was not initially on the list of conference speakers. I presented a talk entitled “Freedom of Religion as the Foundation of a Free Society.” My thesis was that the fulfillment of the Great Commission of Jesus Christ is foundational for freedom of the individual and that of society as a consequence. I saw some wide opened eyes among the professors of philosophy and their students in the audience, but my sense was that the Holy Spirit had grabbed them and I had their attention. What a great opportunity to speak on the greatness of God’s mission in Christ in the main hall of the atheistic university where I had gone to law school many years ago!
In April two young Christian men from Minnesota, traveling throughout Europe, joined us for a couple of days of fellowship and ministry. We took the chance to organize a shoe delivery in a poor gypsy neighborhood (these shoes were initially meant for the orphans in Novo Selo). All went well but the recipients of the shoes got a little bit too excited and caused some chaos toward the end of the outreach. Fortunately no one was hurt. Even the cardboard box which was used to carry the shoes in was taken away!
MINSTRY TRIP TO VIDIN AND SILISTRA
April 20-25. We had the privilege of having Stuart Watkins visit with us again. We put together our usual team of him, myself and Yavor, as the worship leader and a member of the Vidin church, and held church services in Vidin and Silistra (400 miles away). The theme of teaching and ministry was the need to be hungry for God and to have His will done on earth, as it is in heaven. Stuart’s book on practical aspects of ministry, which we are helping publish in Bulgarian, will soon get into the printing house in Silistra.
While Stuart was in Vidin, all three of us went to talk to the officials from the Agency for Child Protection Services. We stated that they should look at the reputation our ministry has and not look at the law with the lenses of restriction. The ladies at the meeting, however, were not willing to take responsibility. They offered that we present our request to visit and minister as Christians in the home to them in writing so they can take it to their superiors. Obviously, even though we had a chance to visit the Novo Selo orphan home during the Welsh group visit, we cannot rely on the understanding of the bureaucracy.
NOAH PRAYS FOR HEALING
The weather here is quite funny, quite warm then abruptly very cold. This is very untypical and there is a lot of flu going around. Teresa had fallen quite ill with the flu for about a day or so when we had some prayer time. She had all the symptoms: nausea, dizziness when standing up, aching body, and headache. She lay on the couch during our prayer time. During the worship Noah put his hands together, closed his eyes and prayed: “Jesus, make everything OK, mom healthy, not sick.” After the prayer time he pointed at his mom and said: “You’re well now. Get up!” She tried to tell him that these things don’t happen that fast and that she’s still sick. He just insisted: “Get up.” So she did and within a short time she was feeling dramatically better. Teresa felt so much better that wanted to go on a family adventure somewhere (it was a non-working day here)! Sometimes we need faith like that of a little child (Noah will be three May 19)!
A praise report in this area is that the parliament tabled their idea to introduce a limit on the number of members in a religious group which can obtain registration from the government. If you remember, Viktor had written an article criticizing the idea back in January. We’d like to believe that the article contributed to the pressure put on the legislature to back off from this limitation.
However, while the central government may be susceptible to the laws on religious freedom, local mayors seem not to care. Last month the mayor in a large town on the Black Sea, along with the police, sent a letter to all public schools to make sure that the students are “protected” from dangerous “sects” including “evangelical Christians.” The letter was fully reminiscent of communist anti-religious propaganda. It caused public outrage among evangelicals but no public apology was offered by the law-breaking mayor. It seems that almost 20 years after the fall of communism things have not changed that much in the way evangelicals are seen by society and government. This makes the ministry of religious freedom quite needed.
Thank you for your prayers and support! May God give us grace and strength to keep going!
Viktor, Teresa and the boys