Services in Samokov, Bulgaria

May 30, 2006 by  
Filed under Events

We just returned from Samokov, which is one of the oldest industrial towns in Bulgaria. Almost 200 years ago the first protestant missionaries to Bulgaria discovered its strategic location and used it as a halfway point between Europe and Asia in their mission trips. Soon a modern American school opened its’ doors some of the brightest minds of the Bulgarian Renaissance were educated there.

Last October, our team visited with one of the Roma (Gipsy) Church of God congregations in the town and held a Sunday service followed by two youth rallies. Hundreds came to the altars as we prayed together in the presence of God. These services were part of our national ministry and support to the Roma people of Bulgaria.

This past Sunday the miracle occurred again. Led by the Holy Spirit we found ourselves in Samokov ministering to the same Church of God congregation there. We preached and prayed with the congregation and were to meet again with several old acquaintances. A citywide evangelization meeting in cooperation with the Assemblies of God Church was held in the center of town that same evening. Over three thousand were in attendance. We are already planning our next return to the city of Samokov to hold a regional youth conference there.

Rebecca St. James in Sofia

May 25, 2006 by  
Filed under Events

Grammy award winning pop-rock singer Rebecca St. James will be performing in Sofia this Sunday. She and her band will take part in a concert organized by Harmony Media. The event will also feature the popular Bulgarian duet Karizma as special guests who will promote their first long awaited album Ecclesiast. The concert will be held on Sunday, May 28, 2006 in the National Palace of Culture. The event will be part of Rebecca’s European tour for promotion of her new album ‘If I had one chance to tell you something’, released at the end of 2005.

New Ministry Websites Released

May 20, 2006 by  
Filed under Media

Regardless of the busy traveling schedule which our ministry demands in Bulgaria, our team has been able to outsource and finish several major websites which have been released in Bulgaria during the past 60 days. Two of them offer free audio and video Christian worship and sermons, as well as entire Christian programs and Bible studies in the Bulgarian language. They have successfully reached a rating between 650-980 visitors per day just in the past month alone.

A website which presents a large volume of Bulgarian gospel songs (www.Hvalenie.com meaning “praise”) is an old dream of ours. We have begun working on it some five years ago as a sub department of another one of our websites, www.Bibliata.com. After much work and anticipation, the time came to release a stand-alone web interface which offers visitors a large database of Bulgarian gospel music to listen to and download free of charge.

The second website (www.Propovedi.net meaning “sermons”) is surprisingly building a much larger audience than anticipated. It offers audio and video sermons online also free of charge. This is the first Bulgarian website to create and offer a nationwide database of video sermons by Bulgarian ministers. The website can be viewed on a regular computer as well as on internet enabled cell phones. This technology is so innovative, that we are being persistently asked by secular media companies and independent producers to partner in its future development and implementation. Although the website is in Bulgarian, you can also watch the current episode by opening www.Poropovedi.net and clicking on the “PLAY” button which will appear on the right hand side of your computer monitor or cell phone display.

National Chaplaincy Meeting in Yambol

May 15, 2006 by  
Filed under Events

A national chaplaincy meeting was held in the city of Yambol to discuss the recent agreement for placing NATO airbases on Bulgarian territory. The participants expressed their interest in joining forces with existing chaplaincy ministries in Bulgaria with a special focus on chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Army. The next step in the chaplain’s educational program was also devised and dates were set for its final presentation, accreditation and implementation as a graduate level course. Strategic meetings were scheduled with the head of the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance and concerning the visitation of NATO’s chaplains in Bulgaria this fall.

Romani Evangelical Theology

May 10, 2006 by  
Filed under Research

The Role of Evangelical Theology among Roma Communities in Bulgaria

The Roma (Gypsy) ethnic group, which abides on the territory of virtually every country of the world, has found prolific context of existence within the borders of Bulgaria – a postcommunist, Eastern European country expecting its immediate merge within the European Union.

Despite the racial and religious tensions, quite typical for the Balkan region, the Roma ethnic group has historically flourished in Bulgaria. After the liberation of the country from the Ottoman oppression, Roma communities were freely established throughout the territory of the new Bulgarian Republic. During the brief nationalistic waves that followed, the Bulgarian state generally protected its ethnic minorities including Armenians, Jews and Romanies. The Communist Regime in the country presented a dilemma for ethnic minorities, especially when the infamous “Vazrozhdenski” (revival, renovation) process took place in its latter period attempting to assimilate cultural minorities within the Bulgarian nation.

Today, the Roma culture is an undividable part of the Bulgarian reality forming the third largest ethnic and cultural group in the country. Every Bulgarian city has a Roma suburb and every small village has Roma inhabitants. The last census shows their number is 313,396, but analysts insist that these figures should be handled carefully because many of the Romani prefer to declare external ethnic self-identification.

Most Romani are from the Muslim Roma circles that present themselves as Turks. A portion of the Christian Romani identifies themselves as Bulgarians, and a third as Wallachs or Romanian in origin. Most Romani speak more than one language at home. The most used language among them is, of course, the Roma language (67%), followed by Bulgarian (51%), and Turkish (34%).

The living conditions of the Roma communities are often dire. Many are still living in poor quarters resembling ghettos. The Roma child mortality rate is much higher than that of the Bulgarians: 240 per 1,000 versus 40 per 1,000.

The Roma community is characterized by lower levels of education. Consequently, its representatives are less competitive. Less than 1% of the Roma women in Bulgaria have higher education. The number of high school-educated among them is 4 percent.

A great deal of opportunities have been introduced for the Roma minorities in Bulgaria by the European Union. The integration of Bulgaria within the European Union has concurred with a general self-realization among Roma communities with political, economical and religious implications.

Much of the current revitalization of Roma communities is owed to the transforming power of evangelical theology actively present among them. Today, nearly a quarter of Bulgarian evangelicals claim to be of Roma origin and the number continues to grow.

Bulgarian Audio Bible

May 5, 2006 by  
Filed under Media

Several years ago, our team at www.bibliata.com adopted a very valuable project to record the Bulgarian Bible in audio format. The project was managed by Hristo Hristov from Shumen, an old time friend of ours and founder of the Prosteveten.com Project.

When we first started working with Hristo in 2002, he had begun recording the Bulgarian New Testament. Our team quickly implemented the audio files into a subproject of our website at: http://audio.bibliata.com. Soon after, the complete New Testament was ready and we were able to freely distribute it online to our visitors who downloaded over 3,000 complete copies of it in the first month alone.

The whole Bible was recorded in the Bulgarian vernacular in 2003 and became the first Bulgarian Audio Bible ever. Through our website, www.bibliata.com our team was able to distribute the Bulgarian Audio Bible free of charge for the next two years.

During our National Bible Tour in 2005, we released a new version of the audio Bible making the product more user-friendly, easier to navigate and download through a streaming media server. The intention was to include the audio Bible in the online parallel of Bible versions hosted by our website. This vision was realized in 2006, when 20 text versions of the Bible were included in the online parallel along with four audio versions of the Bible (KJV, Hebrew, Greek and Bulgarian).

Since then, over 10,000 copies of the full Bulgarian Bible have been distributed over the internet. This amounts to 30,000 GB of information or the equality of some 40,000 CDs. Two larger projects will be implementing the Bulgarian Audio Bible in the near future. One will be its official DVD release next month, and the second will be its incorporation with a live broadcast through a dedicated radio station. Until then, the Bulgarian Audio Bible is available for free download and use by all visitors of www.bibliata.com.

You can listen to Psalm 23 in Bulgarian here.

The Oldest Pentecostal Church

May 1, 2006 by  
Filed under Publication

Regardless of the persecutions before and after the Communist Regime, today Bulgarian Pentecostals remain the largest evangelical group in Bulgaria. But the national Pentecostal revival that has swept the country goes back to humble beginnings in the city of Bourgas where in 1920, Ukrainian immigrants Zaplishny and Voronaev preached a message of Pentecost and several were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Since then, the Bulgarian Pentecostal movement has grown to be a major part of the Bulgarian reality.

Our team was fortunate to receive an invitation to minister at a historical youth event which took place in Bourgas on May 1st. Each year at this date Pentecostal youth from all over the country gather for a day of prayer, preaching and proclamation. The meetings continued even during the Communist Regime although May 1st was declared by the government as the International Labor Day accompanied with parades in which everyone was force to attend.

We traveled to Bourgas and ministered in the Sunday morning service at the oldest Bulgarian Pentecostal Church and witnessed a great move of the Holy Spirit with an extraordinary anointing present as congregational prayer continued after the message. A youth service was held in the evening at which we were able to speak of our Pentecostal heritage and Biblical foundations, the future of Bulgarian Pentecostals and the role of the new Pentecostal generation in the movement. This recent ministry among youth in Bulgaria has confirmed our expectation that the sixth Pentecostal generation in Bulgaria will be able to restore Pentecostal unity and set the course toward a new style of ministry of transforming church leadership, effective social involvement and moral integrity based on personal Biblical holiness.