Kostov Prayer Letter – July 2007
Due to the call of God and the generous giving of two church communities (CWOW in Berkeley, California, and Antioch in Llanelli, Wales), Naomi Fa-Kaji and I traveled to Wales and then onto Serbia and Bulgaria on a short-term missions trip. Naomi is the 15 year old daughter of our good friends Troy and Margie Fa-Kaji from Berkeley. Together we embarked on a two-week “wild wandering” adventure with God! And boy did we ever wander wildly!
Gathering the Team
We joined the church in Llanelli for a gathering of individuals who would be wandering throughout Europe to pray and share the gospel with the poor in various countries. We had an amazing four days of fellowship, worship, prayer and teaching on mission and the cost of going. Feeling well prepared for the challenges set before us, two Welsh ladies joined Naomi and myself for the second leg of our trip: Sian and Valerie.
During a prayer time before arriving in Eastern Europe, I was asking God to speak to me about the trip. One word came to my mind: Forgiveness. I didn’t fully understand what that meant, other than that God had planned a change of heart, a softening and repentance that would one day lead to healing for the people of Serbia and Bulgaria. I was excited about what that would look like for us as His instruments of healing.
Once in Bulgaria we were joined by six Bulgarians, five of which we have been discipling over the past 4-5 years. After a night of rest in Sofia, Bulgaria, and a time to reconnect, we traveled by train to Serbia. I planned on us staying two nights in Nish, the third largest city in Serbia. I felt that visiting two historical sites in the city would give us not only an understanding of the Serbian people, but much to pray about during our stay in the country.
One site we visited was the Red Cross concentration camp, built during WWII, to house prisoners before sending them off to the death camps of Western Europe. The camp existed for four years and 30,000 men, women and children (Serbian, Jew and Gypsy) were imprisoned during that time.
The main building of the camp was quite small and was comprised of three floors – the third floor being a row of small, dark cells with barbed-wire floors used to hold prisoners. As the 10 of us moved from room to room and from floor to floor, the heaviness of the place weighed in on us. By the time we reached the third floor, most of the women were either crying or close to crying. I felt led by the Spirit of God to gather on the stairs and worship God right then and there – to glorify God in a place where prisoners had once etched their prayers onto the walls, hoping God would answer them and free them from their hopeless surroundings. As we worshipped on the stairs, the lady who served as the grounds keeper of the camp came in.
We told her that we are Christians and that the camp was a significant place for us – that we were able to see man’s brutality to his fellow man, and how difficult it is to crush the hope for freedom out of man in spite of the worst of circumstances and conditions. One of the Bulgarian women felt led to ask the Serbian lady for forgiveness in regards to the Bulgarians who turned in Serbs who were fighting against German occupation. The Serbian lady was impressed and shocked at the same time, and gave her forgiveness. After that we were able to pray for her.
Another high point of our travels was the delay of our train from Serbia to Bulgaria. Upon hearing that we had several hours to wait, one of the women mentioned that God must have something for us to do right there at the train station. Three other women jumped at the opportunity to discover what that might be and left to begin walking and praying about the station. Soon they were talking to a disabled man suffering from muscular dystrophy. The young man’s father soon joined them and the women were able to encourage the father and pray for the two of them.
In Bulgaria we also had the opportunity to walk throughout a large gypsy neighborhood and talk and pray for men, women and lots and lots of children! We also spent two days singing and doing all sorts of fun arts and crafts with orphaned and abandoned children in Novo Selo.
Freedom for All
We published our 12th issue of the religious freedom online magazine in June. For this issue we had evangelical Christian leaders write about their view of the Bulgarian post-communist evangelical church. In a separate commentary article Viktor addressed the moral and spiritual issue of those leaders who had worked for the communist regime and against the church—a subject that has never been honestly and openly addressed by Bulgarian evangelicals. We continue to feel that the work on this web site is creating an atmosphere of openness to the Gospel and honesty in addressing issues of importance for the church and society. Please, pray for our finding means to support this web site and the work we do through it.
Some funny photo links
Some of Vik's and the boys' relax time while mom was on a mission trip: