Category Archives: Life in Bulgaria

Posts about Bulgarian culture, habits, social, political and everyday life.

Northwestern Bulgarian Initiative to Secede: A Cry of Despair and a Call to Mission?

map of Northwestern Bulgaria
The Northwestern corner of Bulgaria, from west to east: Vidin, Montana, and Vratza.

We have been serving with the Gospel and mission work in Vidin, the Northwestern city of Bulgaria since 2001, and by moving to serve in the local church in 2009.

Recently people in the region called for the autonomy of the three Northwestern districts in the country — Vratza, Montana, and Vidin. However, the initiative was withdrawn as its leader, a factory worker from Montana, acknowledged that his idea was to point to the devastating economic situation in the region and feeling of despair people who live there feel. Northwestern Bulgaria is the poorest statistically region of the European Union.

The Northwestern voters usually support generally support in the majority the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the former communist during elections. Only the truth of the Gospel can help these desperate people, and this may be a cry for spiritual help with the message of hope in Jesus.

There are churches in the Northwest region, however, they are small and face economic and spiritual hardship. Our perception is that it is the place with least missionaries in the nation.

(NOTE: The articles in Bulgarian may have to be translated with an online translator for general concepts and ideas, as such machine translation is not reliable.)

map BG
Map of Bulgaria and neighboring countries

Slander and Efficient Christian Ministry

Charles H. Spurgeon
Charles H. Spurgeon

“The more prominent you are in Christ’s service, the more certain are you to be the butt of calumny [slander]. I have long ago said farewell to my character. I lost it in the earlier days of my ministry by being a little more zealous than suited a slumbering age. And I have never been able to regain it except in the sight of Him who judges all the earth, and in the hearts of those who love me for my work’s sake.”

— Charles H. Spurgeon

Quote taken from this article: http://veracityvoice.com/?p=5973

Suprgeon’s thoughts on the close relation between efficient Christian service and ad hominem attacks on the minister are a biblical and sober reminder that the spiritual battle never lets up.

The new village road

In 2010 I was hired as a legal consultant to represent a mayor of a small viallge in Southern Bulgaria. He was an evangelical Christian whose greatest issue was to have a road built for the people of his viallge. The village was in the mountains separated by 30 km (about 18 miles) from the rest of the world by a dirt road which went through private property; the owner of the property did not allow the villagers to use the path going through his piece of land.
Continue reading The new village road

Bulgarian Homeschooling Update

After the August 2010 conference in a remote Bulgarian town the Association for Home Education filed papers with the local court to register as a non-profit. The registration was denied in October. The founders of the registration voted in majority not to appeal the court’s decision to the higher courts. Since then a new homeschooling family in Sofia, a Christian couple with four children, withdrew their children from the state school system.
Continue reading Bulgarian Homeschooling Update

National Homeschooling Conference in Bulgaria – on TV

August 20-22 the whole family drove to Silistra, to the annual conference of Bulgarian homeschoolers. Viktor was the co-founder of the Association for Homeschooling earlier in July. There were families from Romania as well as the situation there is very similar to that in Bulgaria. In both countries the law supports mainly state-run education which is mandatory and the legal status of homeschooling families is uncertain.

Continue reading National Homeschooling Conference in Bulgaria – on TV

Pornography and religion — equal moral value?

I still remember how 30 years ago, during the years of the atheistic communist regime under which I was growing up we, 10-12 year old boys, had a fun thing to do. We used to go to one of the central streets of our town to look at a window which displayed items of Western diversion and propaganda. Among those items were pornographic magazines and films, and…Bibles and evangelistic tracts.
Continue reading Pornography and religion — equal moral value?

Walking the Path of Life

Writer’s Class in the Youth Club - Rosa in the far right cornerThe essay below was written by Rosa, one of the former “inmates” of the orphan home in Novo Selo, who pretty much we saw grow up in the last 6 years. I translated the essay in English because I find it to be one of the few moments of vulnerability and honesty that Rosa has allowed during the time we’ve known her.

She is 24 and is still trying to define a direction in life where she could live with dignity. After a long time of seeing the work of the Lord among us, in the life of her peers and her own life, she finally gave her life to Christ and was baptized in the Danube. On the photo to the right, Rosa is in the far, right corner. Barely visible, typical for her.

The essay was written as part of the assignment for a young writer’s course which we designed and started as one of our outreaches in the Youth Club. She has written before, but any attempt to encourage her has resulted in her shrinking back and rejecting any attempt to help her express herself in writing. Reading the piece really shows the struggle of this former orphan, now a young Christian woman, to be someone who lives with a purpose. Only Jesus can make this happen for her. She is on the right path as long as the “I” in her story remains surrendered to God.Rosa’s baptism

–Viktor

The photo on the right: Rosa awaits her baptism.

All are hurrying somewhere

By Rosa Dobreva

Imagine a busy street – cars, buildings … people, people. All are quickly going somewhere, each buried in their problems, pain, joy and trying to live one more day, to do more work or to get lost along the street, to kill the next twenty-four hours of life. This is the world – everyone is in a hurry to somewhere. Everyone is fighting for his or her own survival. Everyone has their dreams and aspirations, no one stops at nothing, and everyone strives to be fine as it can.

All these people emanate such coldness! You want to love them, to trust them, but how? How can I trust them when they continue to lie to me? How to love them when they hate you and all they want is to use you and bring you down? How to stay clean and pure while striding in mud and depravity? What do I have left? To lie, to cheat, to leave behind morals and dignity, to compromise my values in order to achieve my goals, all in the name of success.

But maybe this compromise will lead to others after it and ultimately I will become a hypocrite? To go up in this world, certainly you should make a compromise with your dignity, and  even accept humiliation. I fear this! I do not want to become a slave to greed and money. Everyone strives to have it, believing that it brings happiness. But no! Money does not make you happy, it turns you into a miser, you want more and more and gradually, without realizing it, you become a monster. But you cannot fight money. It has already overtaken the whole a planet since long time ago. But, No! I will not give up.

I am beginning to stride confidently down the street called “Life.” I have already solved my dilemma. I decided not to be like them! But it is terribly difficult to stand for what I want to be, my values and my ideals. I know one thing that should be alive my life with dignity, but that will be hard to achieve. However, I will put much effort into it.

I hope that the ugly picture that I see at the beginning of my path will not destroy me, but will give me the resolve to walk it all the way. And to get to the end of the street, proud that I stood up for myself that I was a person, that I am “I.”

Copyright (c) 2009

Prayer Letter – March 2009

Prayer Letter – March 2009

Dear Friends,

The last two months were quite busy. It is God’s grace that works in us and helps us do what we do.

Mission in the Orthodox Context Prague, Czech, Feb. 8-11. Viktor presented a report on the totalitarian state and its tendency to use ideology or religion to impose a union of state and society and how this dynamic plays out in the post-communist Bulgarian situation. The report was presented at this scholarly conference held in the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague with participants from England, Czech, Romania, Armenia, Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, Bulgaria and other places. Viktor was able to connect with missionaries, missiologists and theologians working in the Eastern European context of various situations where the Orthodox Church is largely perceived as the national church. Our latest spring issue of Freedom for All which will go online before the end of March features several articles presented during the conference.

On the radio. Viktor was the guest in a midnight show on the national radio program “Horizon.” The subject was homeschooling as an alternative to the collapsed Bulgarian state-controlled educational system. There were many callers and a lively discussion. One of the callers almost in an accusing tone said: “You speak like an evangelical!” I told her that I have the constitutional right not to inform her of my convictions but that she is thinking in the right direction.

Moving, moving, moved! The move was a bit extreme since it was cold and snowy, but by God’s grace we are now almost settled into our new apartment in Vidin. We have unpacked all boxes and currently have only an electrical problem to deal with (the way some electricians do wiring here is beyond simple comprehension or explanation) and a few more leaks.

In the courts. Viktor was the counsel at the hearing of a group of Christian pastors in proceedings against a newspaper and a non-profit leader for disseminating false accusations against evangelical Christians on March 9. The next, and possibly final, hearing will be on April 9, in Sofia. This case of national and international importance was filed in order to fend off  other church-like slander against certain evangelical groups in the media.

Freedom of the Faith: Legal and Biblical Dimensions, March 13-15. Viktor prepared and was the main speaker at a seminar hosted by a multiethnic Church in Stara Zagora, a town of 150,000 people, 350 miles from our residence, in the southern part of Bulgaria (the announcement on the web, in Bulgarian).

This seminar dealt with complicated ideas so I brought it down to concepts and ideas which non-specialists could relate to, although freedom is not a difficult subject to connect with. I spoke at five meetings in three days and held two conferences with the main church leader. One attendant wrote to me after the seminar was over: “I would like to express my excellent impression from meeting you these several days at the seminar. All that happened, the understanding and the attitude toward the subject of freedom, gave light and set fire in the meetings. A new way of treating one another as believers was established. Some Jericho walls fell down. This was felt especially when a “strange quietness” was coming down in the room…I’d be happy for you to visit us again. I was seriously shaken and refreshed!”

The Bible is clear – do not brag about yourself, let others speak well of you. I am mentioning this positive feedback because it was the Holy Spirit who was moving and touching the lives and understanding of leaders and church-members during this conference. God’s desire is to bring His freedom to the church so that it will not bear the marks of a culturally burdened society but that of the love and truth of the Son of God and His community. But the words of encouragement by this believer were powerful for me.

Teresa led the church service and the teaching during Viktor and Yavor’s absence on the ministry trip. She had engaged several church members to act out parts of the message. The roles were those of Nicodimus, the woman at the well and doubting Thomas. The Vidin believers, who tend to be less interactive, gave feedback to Teresa only several days later. She was eager to grasp whether the message God had given her had reached the listeners. The remarks were positive.
 
The first activities have started in the Youth Club: the Sunday church meetings, daily prayer meetings, guitar lessons for unchurched teenagers and English lessons, and making hand-made jewelry to sell for support of the club projects. We are meeting every Tuesday with the small leadership team to work out the vision, the activities and the schedule and the management. Danny and Matty have joined the worship band – Matt is playing drums and Dan is on the piano. Yavor, who is a long-time worship leader, forms the band along with his two kids – Sara and Philip. During Sunday church services Viktor is teaching a series on depending on God, not on mammon, especially in a time of economic hardship. We will also be starting a course for young writers (age 16-25) which will last 8 weeks. The course will be hosted weekly in the club and will be lead by Yavor – an author of a collection of short stories, which we published in 2005.

Prayer needs: (1) please, pray for our hosting of 3 visiting teams of short-term missionaries between April 2-11. That we have wisdom about logistics and clear vision of the ministry and outreaches we are to do together; (2) Dealing properly with hostile neighbors in our new place.

Thank you for all your support and love,
Viktor, Teresa, and the boys

To make a donation visit this web page on our site:
http://www.kmission.org/support_us.htm.

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vikkostov@kmission.org