In January of 1998 the Bulgarian Government released statistics about the current economic situation for the nation. The following results were published: 93% of the population of Bulgaria earns income well below the poverty level. Approximately 5% of the population is very wealthy, and the remaining 2% of the population are of relatively (lower) middle class. It takes approximately $200 USD per month to survive in Bulgaria. The average income for a middle class worker is $139 USD. The cheapest rental for a one-bedroom apartment in Bulgaria is between $150-200 USD.
Such income is barely enough to take care of rent alone. That also leaves most people without enough money to have electricity, water, or even food. For this reason the soup kitchen, which was opened in 1991, operates five days a week. It is located in the headquarters of the Bulgarian Church of God and is the oldest social center in Bulgaria.
Since the economical inflation is now over 400%, the number of people which the soup kitchen feeds have been steadily increasing monthly. Most of them are intelligent people, and mostly retired people whose Social Security is not enough to even pay their monthly rent. While in September of 1997, the amount of people the soup kitchen fed was approximately 250-275 people per day. As of January 1998 it feeds more than 400 people per day.
Religious Freedom: Despite the fact that the Great Wall of Communism has fallen, and the Cold War is over, Evangelical Christians in Bulgaria continue in their own Cold War and must still worry for their lives and the lives of their families. Last year a number of Church of God congregations suffered extended persecution ranging from demonstrations (including vandalism) to pastors being beaten; from churches being confiscated by the government to attempts to burn down churches with the congregation still in them.
Along with this is the abuse from the media is constant. The most recent attack was an article that was printed about a Church of God in the town of Kiustendeel. It was falsely reported that they receive a donation in the amount of $30,000,000.
This article along with many others caused much tension between the Government and the churches. Because of this tension, the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance (BEA), of which the Bulgarian Church of God is a very active member, decided to have a nation-wide conference, which dealt with these issues.
The conference took place in Hall #3 of the National Palace of Culture (NDK), on January 31, 1998. On January 30, there was a press conference, in which it was announced that this conference would take place. Literally hundreds of preachers, pastors, and leaders from all Evangelical denominations attended the conference. The main topics dealt with human rights and freedom of religions. There were many testimonies from the preachers about the persecutions they had suffered, in results of which an official Declaration was drawn up, and an official letter was written that would be delivered to both the Parliament and the Bulgarian Government.
The first Bulgarian state was recognized in 681 A.D. and was a mixture of Slavs and Bulgars. Several years later, the First Bulgarian Kingdom or the “Golden Age” emerged under Tsar Simeon I in 893-927. During this time, Bulgarian art and literature flourished. Also during the ninth century, Orthodox Christianity became the primary religion in Bulgaria and the Cyrillic alphabet was established.
In 1018, Bulgaria fell under the authority of the Byzantine Empire. Byzantine rule was short-lived, however. By 1185 Bulgarians had broken free of Byzantine rule and, in 1202, they established the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Ottoman domination of the Balkan Peninsula eventually affected Bulgaria in the late 14th century, and by 1396, Bulgaria had become part of the Ottoman Empire. Following the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) and the Treaty of Berlin (1885), Bulgaria gained some autonomy under the Ottoman Empire, but complete independence was not recognized until 1908.
The early-to-mid-1900s in Bulgaria was characterized by social and political unrest. Bulgaria participated in the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912 and 1913) and sided with the Central Powers and later the Axis Powers during the two World Wars. (Although allied with Germany during World War II, Bulgaria never declared war on Russia.)
Following the defeat of the Axis Powers, communism emerged as the dominant political force within Bulgaria. Former King Simeon II, who is currently Prime Minister, was forced into exile in 1946 and remained primarily in Madrid, Spain, until April 2001, when he returned to Bulgaria. (Note: Simeon assumed control of the throne in 1943 at the age of 6 following the death of his father Boris III.) By 1946, Bulgaria had become a satellite of the Soviet Union, remaining so throughout the Cold War period. Todor Zhivkov ruled Bulgaria for much of its time under communism, and during his 27 years as leader of Bulgaria, democratic opposition was crushed, agriculture and industry were nationalized, and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church fell under the control of the state.
In 1989, Zhivkov relinquished control, and democratic change began. The first multi-party elections since World War II were held in 1990. The ruling communist party changed its name to the Bulgarian Socialist Party and won the June 1990 elections. Following a period of social unrest and passage of a new constitution, the first fully democratic parliamentary elections were held in 1991 in which the United Democratic Front won. The first direct presidential elections were held the next year.
As Bulgaria emerged from the throes of communism, it experienced a period of social and economic unrest. With the help of the international community, former Prime Minister Ivan Kostov initiated a series of economic reforms in 1997 that helped stabilize the country. Recent elections in 2001 ushered in a new government and president, but the new leadership in Sofia remains committed to Euro-Atlantic integration, democratic reform, and development of a market-based economy.
Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the world has witnessed a miracle. In the corner of Europe, coming out from the severe Communist persecution and surrounded by the Balkan religious wars, one growing group of Christians is making a difference for the Kingdom of God. Placed on the crossroad of three world religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) and three continents (Europe, Africa and Asia), the country of Bulgarian has experienced an on-going spiritual revival in which hundreds of thousands of people have been touched by the power of God. But this miracle is not over just yet. Revival must go on …
In 1996 Mission Maranatha began a powerful and effective ministry in the area of Yambol City. The mission has been laboring in eleven churches, two of which were started by the Home Mission Team of Life of Christ Church of God in 1996-97. The humble work with the two small congregations has continuously grown to be a regional network of true apostolic churches, several of which were founded in villages where there has never been a Protestant church before. The total membership in the churches is over 300 which has been made possible through the powerful outreach ministries to orphans and widows that has touched both individuals and communities in a time of deep economical, political and social crises in Bulgaria.
The itinerary of the small mission team contains the minimum of four weekly trips to villages in the area. They often hold up to twenty services per week as the team is always open for new opportunities for ministry. Their church meetings are often accompanied with miracles and healings, which has drawn many new converts.
Naturally, besides converts and friends the magnitude of the work has drawn much opposition. It comes predominantly from Eastern Orthodox priests and believers, who are part of the traditional religious orientation of Bulgaria. Acting contrary to the established laws and constitutional rights, a nationalistic political organization that deliberately opposes Protestantism has brought a number of threats and manipulation against the outreach work of the church network. Despite the numerous external obstacles and financial difficulties, the work is continuously growing. The members of the team are regularly writing to both Christian and secular newspapers informing of their work. They are often asked to speak about their work at seminars and church meetings, and hold a weekly program on the local radio called Pentecost Today.
- Alexandrovo Church 45 miles away from Yambol has 10 members. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 1 service per week there since May, 2001.
- Bogorovo Church 38 miles away from Yambol has 30 members including the mayor. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 1 service per week there since October, 2000.
- Dobrinovo Church 42 miles away from Yambol has 30 members. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 3 services per week there since March, 2003.
- Iretchekovo Church 20 miles away from Yambol has 26 members. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 1 service per week there since January, 2003.
- Kamenetz Church 32 miles away from Yambol has 50 members including the mayor. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 5 services per week there since February, 2000.
- Leyarovo Church 38 miles away from Yambol has 12 members including the mayor. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 2 services per week there since May, 2000.
- Lulin Church 28 miles away from Yambol has 17 members including the mayor. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 2 services per week there since October, 2000.
- Parvenetz Church 35 miles away from Yambol has 6 members. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 1 service per week there since March, 2003.
- Polyana Church 52 miles away from Yambol has 60 members. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 2 services per week there since October, 1999.
- Robovo Church 38 miles away from Yambol has 10 members. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 1 service per week there since May, 2000.
- Tamarino Church 30 miles away from Yambol has 10 members. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 1 service per week there since December, 2002.
- Tchukarovo Church 52 miles away from Yambol has 12 members including the mayor. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 2 services per week there since May, 2000.
- Vodenitchane Church 26 miles away from Yambol has 16 members. Cup & Cross Ministry Team has held 2 services per week there since January, 2003.
For many years, we have preached about the Easter morning resurrection. The words of the angels are still true, “He is not here, for He has risen” for Jesus Christ is still alive.
But there is more to the Easter Story that has been happening in the past 2,000 years. The resurrection power of Jesus Christ continues to work in the world beyond the Easter resurrection into our very lives. In the Easter story which the Bible tells, not only Jesus, but we are also risen with Him for Eternity.
Our spiritual resurrection is not without a reason. We are raised for a new spiritual life which becomes the very testimony of Christ’s resurrection. And it is through this testimony, which we call the Gospel, that people continue to be saved today.
The ministry of the Kingdom is the reason for our spiritual resurrection. It is with this purpose in mind, that God gives new life to human kind – that men, women and children may be involved in His global mission to save the creation from sin and death.
Resurrected from spiritual death, we are involved in God’s mission is through the ministry which He has given us. Revived by the Spirit of God, we bring revival to others who are delivered from the state of spiritual death. And thus, we are witnesses of His saving grace until His returns. Because He has risen, we must remain faithful to our spiritual calling for ministry that “Revival must go on …” This is our reason to celebrate Easter.
A new website dedicated to prayer and fasting was released on April 1, 2007. Molitvata.com (the prayer) is an web co-production of Bibliata.com and Wide-and-High Ministries which presents prayer needs of Bulgarian evangelicals.
Cup & Cross Ministries and partners released online the first modern Bulgarian translation of the Bible of 1871. The entire text has undergone a digital revision to fit the modern Bulgarian language and is included in the online Bible parallel.