Author Archives: Viktor

Financial Support for Mission

money treeMoney is the god of this world. Yet our faith in Jesus is revealed not by rejecting the worldly system but by giving it meaning from the perspective of the Kingdom of God. In order to work as a missionary one must consider as part of their calling the issue of support for the ministry. There are various methods and ideas of how this can be done in the New Testament. One of the ways that stands out is the community of believers sharing their finances with those dedicate their life to serve the Kingdom of God. Jesus lived on support; many of the teachers and preachers of the Word were being supported by the church; often the receiving church did not support the ministers who had raised support from other churches to do their mission. Paul the apostle states that it is God’s command that “those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).

Either way, money was circulating in the NT church for the purpose of doing the work of the ministry: sharing the Word of God with those who God had called to eternal life and caring for the helpless and poor and needy (Acts 11:7ff).

One of the main obstacles for people to enter their call for minsitry is the lack or at least the scarcity of finances. The need for financial security is a decisive component of one’s decision to go or not to go. But the Lord has said: seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else will be added to you; ask and you will receive, knock and the will opened to you; and seek and you will find (Luke 11).

One of the most serious casues of fear or discomfort to Christian ministers and missionaries, who have to raise their own support in order to be able to go into the ministry, is the support-raising process. We all love the work God’s assigned to us; but we hate to raise the support needed to to do the work. And this attitude is wrong because we are limiting God. He has commanded us to ask and to seek and to be persistent in our pursuit of His will and His Kingdom. He has commanded us to be a body of believers who share not only their gifts, but their possessions as well. He also has told us to give especially to those who have devoted their life to the teaching of God’s word.

Why is it so difficult to ask then? Why is it so “unpsiritual?”

There is one major distinction that needs to be addressed by all missionaries and workers, who raise their support in order to serve the Lord. Is asking people to support the missonaries begging or a legitimate request?

Well, if  your perspective is that it is embarrassing to ask people to support your ministry then you have an issue of pirde that overshadows your calling and desire to obey God’s direction. I know this because I am struggling with similar thougts myself. If you think that people support you becuse of pity for you and your finanical situaion then maybe you should not be raising money to go into ministry.

It is not pity but conviction that moves God’s people to give. That’s what the purpose of support raising is–to make those in the body of Christ interdependent with the means of this world to achieve the goals of the world that is to come.

There is an opennes and vulnerablity that happens on both sides the giver and the receiver in support raising situations. The giver is vulnerable to the intent and motivation of the one he gives to. The receiver is vulnerable by showing his need and trusting it to the will and judgment of the giver. In this transaction however pity is not an emotion that is valid. It is the belief of both the giver that he is giving to a worthy person for a worthy cause, and of the one on the receiving end that he is called to humility and responsibility with what is entrusted to them, beacuse they represent a worthy cause, that are the right outlook on this almost covenant relationship. But pity? Who pities the ambassador of the United States for representing the nation? How much more so the ambassadors of the “kingdom that has no end?” However, when external circumstance of lack become the standard and faith is not, then the wonderful relationshihp of generosity in the body of Christ may turn into something it is not.

May God give us wisdom how to guard this precious relationship in the use of our worldly resources for adavncing the message of eternal life. 

Why The Life of a Missionary Is Hard

This was part of Daniel and Mattias’ shool assignment on writing and composition. This is the perspective of a 11 and 10 year old.

“The life of a missionary is hard. The first thing you have to do is find a country where there are orphans or poor people. Next you need to choose a city to live in. The city where you live must be close to an orphanage. The last thing you need to know is how to teach them about God. It isn’t easy to live like a missionary.
–Written by Daniel V. Kostov

The life of a missionary is hard. People make fun of missionaries and tease them. They usually have very little money. People sometimes even threaten to kill them or their families. Sometimes missionaries are even murdered because of their beliefs. Missionaries don’t give up their work even if it costs them their life.
–Written by Mattias P.A. Kostov”

Amen to that.

Great commission: Go, give, pray

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-18), at a closer reading, is not a wishful thinking. It is a command of the Lord. We participate in this endeavor accroding to our ability and calling. to whomever much is given much will be required from at the day of account. We cannot all be missionaries. We cannot all be apostles and prophets. We cannot all be businessmen. But we are all to be “commissionaries” with Christ for the glory of His name. Not all have the same calling yet the call is issued to all–Go and make disciples. We can be a part of this “salvation business” of the Kingdom of God as we put our trust in Him first and learn how to be dependent on God and interdependent on the community of the brothers. Some will go, some will give, and some will pray. But we all can come together in this most revolutionary and most wonderful enterpirse of all times: Living for Jesus and teaching all who are hungry for meaning and life the same.

Unpacking the Great Commission

Lately I was reading (yet again) the Great Commission passage in Matthew 28:16-20. What struck me was that the authority that Jesus has, because of His ulitmate obedience to God, is also given to those who are sent as His witnesses for Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit.

This, of course, is not a new concept or teaching. As I dug deeper, however, I realized that the key to having Christ’s authority is that we must be involved in Christian work the way Christ defines it. Otherwise we have no authority from God, nor His endorsement to do what we do in His name. It may seem obvious but the subtlety of it is in the practical personal test of asking ourselves: do we really do the mission work the way Christ commanded us?What is the scope of the Great Commission? Here is the text:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Our main goal is to make disciples of Christ who come from among all nations. This is Christ’s commission. How can we do that? By baptizing them in the name of the Holy Trinity, which means that they have already heard the Gospel and made a confession of faith in Christ as the son of God (Acts 2:38). The second aspect of making disciples is teaching them to observe all of Christ’s commandments. This is a lengthier process of growing as a follower of Christ in one’s lifestyle and life-choices. Thus mission has two main goals – an outreach and an “inreach.”

The outreach aims to tell people about God and salvation in Christ. The second part of the missionary task, the inreach, is to help them grow into a Christ-like human being, one that is known to constantly apporpriate more and more obedience to Christ’s teaching into themselves.

If we fall wtihin these limits of the sending out given to us by Jesus, (1) reaching out those who seek God but don’t know about Hiim, and then (2) making sure the converts grow in their faith and develop ever deeper relationship with Christ, we will have God’s approval, His authority and His protection.

These limits are not actually limits – discipleship can take many formats and shapes; it can be done it innumerable various languages, settings, and time spans. The format is not that important; the motivation is and keeping the actual commission. After this evaluation is done, however, we must rest assured that anything that falls outside of the “disciple-making boundaries” will not be supported by God; it cannot be called “The Great Commission”; God’s authority will not be behind it. We may claim that God has given us the authority but this claim will not be true unless we are indeed making disciples of all nations by baptizing them in God’s name and teaching them full obedience to Him.

We have two encouraging observations to make to this brief study of the Great Commision: (1) the commandments of Christ are not difficult (In Matthew 10:30 Jesus stated that His yoke is easy and His burden is light – showing that with God’s help discipleship is not rocket science although it is much more valuable) and (2) they are all available for review and study in the New Testament. Those who want to see the backdrop of our faith can go for a more extensive study in the Old Testament of the Bible.

It will be a grave mistake, however, to attribute to ourselves as believers and Chrsitian workers, God’s authority for mission in this world, if we are not willing to follow the guidelines of His commissioning.

Teresa’s Short Term Mission Trip to Bulgaria and Serbia June 24-July 5

Kostov Prayer Letter – July 2007

Wearing the Special Missionary Head Band

Dear Friends:

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.

The Women's Team in SerbiaDuring 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.

Mission Encounters 

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.

Nis concentration camp groundsThe 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.

Prison camp cellsThe Skull TowerWe 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.

The Missionaries Pray and Anoint with Oil the Skull Tower in NisAnother 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.In the Gypsy Neighborhood

Naomi is happy she's flying back homeFreedom 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:

Dad and the boys   img_0462.JPG

Many blessings,
The Kostovs

A Thorn in the Flesh

This was the famous expression by Paul the apostle in the NT passage:

And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me–to keep me from exalting myself! (2Corinthians 12:7)

There are various interpretations as to what “thorn in the flesh” means exactly here – a person, a medical condition, or even a demonic harassment. Whichever it is I found that a thorn is an indeed a significant presence in ones life from a persoanl experience.

Several days ago I got a splinter in my index finger. It was so minsicule that I had no concerns about it – it did not affect my daily routine in any way. In a sense – it was no big deal. But the funny thing is that this little splinter was always reminding me of itself. I would type on the computer, play the guitar, or just hold a glass, I would feel a sharp pain in my index finger. Not a life threatening situaiton – but quite annoying and constantly present.

I imagine this was what Paul the apostle describes in his expereince. A thorn in the flesh can be the mercy of God so that we are alaways reminded, in a vigorous, but not impeding manner, of our limitations and of our need for Him. But after several days and after I got the spiritual lesson I asked Teresa to help me get the splinter out. I felt that I had learnt the lesson and was relieved to have the splinter removed.

Isaiah 42:1-9

I have read this passage from Isaiah numerous times. Today however it seemed to have a much deeper and personal meaning to me. I am realizing that the Spirit of God is encouaraging me to not stop looking to Jesus and to God for my inspiration for life and purpose. This passage is part of my callig as a servant of God. Although it originally describes the ministy of Christ, and I have been somewhat reluctant to apply it to myself, in an attempt of humility, I realized that God’s promises cannot make us proud. They humble us, if we would respond in the right way. And to be a bit more specific about the passage – I think that the ministry God’s called me to is indeed setting captives free, through the Word of God and through calling people to fall back on the basic need – to make right with God. I realize how incapable I am of this unless God really blesses me with His presence and guidance so I can do His will.

1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

Looking Back

Looking back This is one of my favorite photos of our third born son. He looks back but his mom is carrying him forward. He is full of peace and security because he knows he’s in good hands. This is how we often are in the hands of our heavenly Father. We can look back with peace and security, because He is lovingly carrying us forward. This photo was taken by someone on our ministry team during time in one of the orphan homes we serve.

This missionary blog…

Here I will update you with the latest events in our ministry and will post Bible studies and reflections on church, Christian mission and dealing with the fallen world around us. We will also post more photos Bible studies and reflections, and lessons and updates that we don’t post on our web site. We invite you to leave comments or write direct to us. God bless you in your effort to serve Him better!