Prayer Letter – March 2009
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
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