Areas of Ministry
- Church and Bible teaching
- Mission and missiological training
- Freedom and Justice in the Public Square
Our ministry has various aspects as we put our efforts in different areas of need. Our ministry aims to “equip the church and engage the culture.” We do this in the Eastern European and Bulgarian context and as the Lord leads us. Our ministry has both local and national, and sometime international, dimensions.
Church and Bible Teaching
Equipping the church is a work that requires hearing God, following His guidance through obeying the Holy Spirit and abiding in Christ’s teachings. And a lot of patience. One cannot equip the church if they are not equipped by God themselves.
As the church, the people of God, are equipped for a godly life, thus we can bring the message of Jesus Christ, and God’s ways to a wayward and hopeless people — the world, or “the culture.” Engaging the culture means bringing the Gospel of hope to those who are seeking; it may also mean bringing the warning of divine judgment to those who are obstinately perverting justice and God’s ways. This prophet-evangelist dynamic is critical as it is a part of the message of hope delivered by the same church, which has received and appropriated the message in itself.
Mission and Missiological Training
Part of the building of the church and the engagement of those in the world with the Gospel involves explaining the missionary essence of the teaching of Christ. Without actively discerning the times and engaging the people with the message of salvation and the pending judgment our church life becomes rather pointless. That’s why explaining New Testament mission and practically engaging in it is part of our work. Academic or practical biblical training in this regard is conducted depending on the context. We hold conferences for lawyers and leaders, as well as have served the poor and the orphans.
Freedom and Justice in the Public Square
Christian ministry does not happen only in the church, during the Sunday morning worship service. Hence, our work interjects with the secular in certain points (religious freedom and justice issues relying on the appeal to secular law) and rather spiritual at other times (preaching the Gospel, Bible study, spiritual discipleship).
Yet the essence in our ministry is that in all we do we seek to express the Lord’s work on the cross, His current engagement in the lives of people, and the exception of His glorious return and righteous judgment. Christ is head of the church, and God is God of all, through Christ Who reigns supreme as Savior and High Priest to salvation.
Some of our court cases as examples of our defense of the freedom to believe, worship and preach, and other natural fundamental human rights and freedoms:
Agency for Social Help (Social Services) v. Kostov, 2012. The social services agency filed criminal complaint against pastor Yavor Kostov for homeschooling his child, after the child had been systematically beaten in the state school. After legal counseling and public debate on behalf of the father and his rights, due to international support and the lack of evidence of a crime, the prosecutor dropped the case and the social services withdrew attempts to sperate the child from the father.
State Schools v. Damyanov 2013. The case was lost on regional court and lost on appeal, yet the fine levied against the homeschooling family was minimal in view that even if the law did not provide for homeschooling, the family had the right to make that choice on the basis of natural rights adn international treaties. This allowed for the family to complete their homeschooling program of their 4 children without further intervention by the state.
The State v. Stefanka Savova, 2014. Won against the prosecutor’s claim, under the Health Law, to send Mrs. Savova to a mental institution. She was a key witness in a high profile case where special forces attacked a man, her son, in his home. The attack ended tragically in the death of one policeman, the wounding of three others, and the wounding of the home owner and a severe damage to his/their residence. Under the facts and the law with our defense the 76-year old women was set free as mentally fit and was not sent to a mental hospital.
Legal Opinion (Amicus Brief) before the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria in July of 2020 on case for the derogation of the Law on Social Services. The court found several provisions of the criticized law to be unconstitutional. These were namely those articles which we critiqued in our opinion and which threatened the constitutional rights to personal and family privacy and the traditional family.
Legal Opinion (Amicus Brief) before the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria in Nov. 2021 in favor of the interpretation of the Constitution as upholding sex/gender as only biological. The Court’s decision was issued in favor of this view.
Kostov and other v. City of Vidin, won in 2011. The mayor and the city of Vidin apologized to evangelical Christians for lumping religious expression with pornography in the local ordinance for law and order. The ban was deemed anti-constitutional by the local Administrative Court. Plaintiffs dropped their claim for damages upon the public apology by the city.
Bogdanov and NMD v. Kostov, Sheytanov, and Alfa TV, won in July 2022, on the regional court level, a civil lawsuit for alleged “defamation” by the plaintiff, for being criticized for his and his NGO network by the defendants for their anti-family policies. Won also counter-claims for defamation by the plaintiff on the initial cases. (The losing party is appealing.)
Kostov and Simeonov v. Mayor and Police Chief in Vidin, won in 2021, for the plaintiffs for anti-constitutional banning of freedom of assembly of citizens to protest against human rights violations during health measures, at the local Administrative Court.
Bogdanov v. Laftchiev, won for the defendant in 2022, against private criminal prosecution denying freedom of speech to our client. (The case is appealed by the losing party.)
Court Case of Dimitova v. Bulgaria, 2015, won for the plaintiff on the basis of violations of her freedom of religion, at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, EU
The plaintiff’s house was ransacked and searched by police for holding an unregistered and illegal prayer meeting. The Bulgarian courts ruled against the plaintiff. The ECtHR found for the plaintiff and asserted the right for all to pray in their home without any registration with the government. I filed the case against the police for violation of freedom of religion back in 1997. This was one of the first cases in defense of freedom of religion in post communist Bulgaria.
The case of Tonchev and Others v. Bulgaria, 2022, awaiting the court decision in Dec. 2022. This case has been tried for 7 years before the ECtHR for government defamation of evangelical Christians in the city of Burgas. The letter of 2008 by the authorities to all state schools termed Christians “dangerous to national unity,” that they engage in illegal activities even if they are registered with the state, that one could have psychological damage if attending their worship services, and if a person or a child should receive a religious material from them the police and a psychologist should be contacted immediately. The city and the government never apologized for this defamation and the case was filed in 2011 in the local courts. The case was brought up to the Strasbourg Court in 2015, after exhausting the Bulgarian legal system.
We cannot give more than what we already have. That is why in our equipping others we rely on going back to God and His Word for more wisdom, faith, friendship and direction. He gives to those who ask Him and do not doubt (James 1:5-8).
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