Kostov Prayer Letter — July 2008
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father (1 Thess. 1:3).
The Youth Club
The words of Paul at the beginning of his letter to the church in Thessalonica expresses the way in which we look forward to our work materializing with the youth club in Vidin. Our work with the youth of the town, as well as the orphaned and abandoned children living in nearby villages, must be a work produced by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and not shaped by our desire to be “good” people who do “good” works. The work must also be prompted by our love for the Lord and not driven by our emotions at their state of hardship. And our patience, which will carry us through many a tough season, must be inspired by the hope that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ, otherwise we will surely fail.
As you may already know, we have found a large room to rent in an old building in Vidin which will serve as the youth club. The rent is low, $125 a month – however, even for this small amount we need to trust in the Lord for provision. Cleaning and repairs on the room will hopefully start up in August. The club will have four main areas of ministry: 1) Music area – for worship, concerts, and music lessons & jam sessions; 2) Prayer area – for informal conversations with youth and prayer ministry; 3) Learning area – for informal and formal teaching, seminars, tutoring and internet access; and 4) the Café – where youth can grab a soda or light snack, talk and play games. There is much to do to prepare this room for ministry, so we ask that you pray for: volunteers, energy, and the finances to accomplish the work (We are looking at a need of about $3,000 for the renovation alone!). The task seems huge and more than what our small group of volunteers can handle, but with God’s help and your prayers we know that we will pull off more than what an army could have done in our place! (photos of the plan and the building)
The Baptist Theological Seminary, in Prague, and the legendary Ph.D.
Viktor was able to spend another two-weeks working on revisions to his Ph.D. dissertation at the BTS Campus in Prague. Getting away from Sofia, and many of his other job duties, has brought him that much closer to the end! He is shooting for an August completion date. We do ask for your prayers for his ability to work quickly and diligently toward this end.
Teresa and the kids went along for the ride, literally, and enjoyed every moment using the experience for homeschooling purposes. They were able to visit museums, castles, churches, the zoo, and learned how to use the convenient metro lines to zip about everywhere! Photo from Prague.
Religious Freedom Website
We published the 16th issue of our online magazine for religious liberty “Freedom for All.” The theme for this month’s issue was: The Bulgarian Law on Religions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The issue was aimed at revising the religious law after five years controversial history of the same in the light of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration. The latter, although a humanistic and pretentious document, has been a source of inspiration for religious liberty and this was a good reason to look into the inconsistencies of the Bulgarian restrictive religious legislature. The four authors include prominent local religious freedom advocate, an Orthodox democratically inclined theologian, an expert on ecumenical law from Berlin, and the former Member of Parliament who actually introduced the bill. Please, pray for our project of translating the web site in English. Our test translations proved that it is very hard to find good translators from Bulgarian to English.
The Burgas Case and the State of Religious Liberty in Bulgaria
In April this year, the mayor’s office in Burgas, one of the two major cities on the Black Sea, and the local police department, issued a letter to all the school principals in the area. In the letter they warned that evangelical Christians are “dangerous sects” who work against the “unity of the nation” by “preaching Jesus” and disregarding the local cultural worship of saints and traditional holidays. Evangelicals were accused of having a Bible different from the Orthodox Bible. The letter stated that if a student or any person is contacted by a “sectarian” they should get in touch with a counselor or the police. (For the text of the official documents in English, read here: http://pastir.org/index.php/archives/52).
Viktor got involved in this case by writing an article which was published in a national secular newspaper, Christian web sites and these were widely circulated in various forums. The publicity which was given to this case, as well as by our action, helped the issue be raised in the parliament. An MP of the democratic forces, sympathetic to the plight of the evangelical minority, initiated an official questioning of the Minister of Internal Affairs (the police). This incident happens 17 years after the collapse of communism and regardless of a multitude of laws and commitments of the government to the protection of individual freedoms and religious liberty, in particular. It is a proof how fragile is the concept of Christian freedom before the state in the Bulgarian post-communist society. Viktor is following the situation and is planning further action, possibly legal. Please, pray for wisdom and courage as he moves further into this needed ministry in this part of the world.
Preaching in Vidin (July 4-14)
We will be spending ten days with the church in Vidin next month. Part of our work there will be connected with the youth club and another part will be leading two Sunday services and gathering/encouraging the saints while Yavor (the pastor) is away. Please pray for Vik’s teaching on those two Sundays, God’s leading in both Vik’s and Teresa’s discipleship relations in the church, as well as a greater will, on behalf of the saints of the church, to follow God during times of hardship and testing. Vik will be leading the service on a third Sunday while the pastor is away, but the family will be in Sofia.
The House Hunt Continues
God’s work is always on time – this is something that we have learned through many pleasant and difficult situations in our lives. Since January we have been looking for a place to move to in Vidin. After facing the disappointing reality that we needed to prepare ourselves to either pay twice as much as what we are paying here in Sofia for an apartment in good condition (which in itself is ridiculous) or paying less, but for an apartment/house needing thousands of leva of repairs to become livable (Bulgarians have this practice of offering their apartments for rent at a slightly lower rate with the clause that the renter do all the repairs necessary to make the place livable). We’ve had a friend scouring the ads in the newspapers and have even had a real-estate agent say that our request (for a 150 sq. m. apartment in decent condition at the price we pay for in Sofia) is an impossibility. The real issue here is trying to be good stewards of the finances God has entrusted us with and not giving in to the greed of the housing market.
Well, this is where God needs to make His move on our behalf – after rattling about various ideas it seems that if we are able to get a loan and if we can come up with a down payment of 20%, we will actually be paying less monthly by buying a house than renting an apartment in good living condition in Vidin (which is a city about 320 times smaller than Sofia)! The “ifs” seem BIG at this point, but the timing appears right to us to move forward more radically. We know God wants this move to happen, so please pray for several things: 1) to find the right house to buy; 2) to find a means for getting a loan and other finances necessary to buy; and 3) that all of our searching be in participation with God and not our own efforts.
Thank you for your prayers – they are so important to us.
Thanks to all of you who pray for us and our ministry. To make a donation visit this web page: http://www.kmission.org/support_us.htm. To be added or removed from our prayer letter list write a note to: firstname.lastname@example.org.