Distinct Historical Memories of the Bulgarian Mindset

April 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Nearly 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall traces of communism still remain throughout Bulgaria. For those who lived directly under communism these traces include mental footprints which daily influence these individuals’ approach to life. For that generation who has no personal memory of communism, they find themselves indirectly influenced by the physical traces that will forever be a part of the undeniable history of Bulgaria.

Historically, Bulgaria, similar to other Balkan countries, has gone through turmoil, slavery and defeat. Though Bulgaria is the quietest and most obscure nation on the Balkan Peninsula, its people are confronted with the typical social obstacles that plague former communist-bloc countries: slow reform, economical, educational and cultural destitution and moral confusion.

Due to such rich history, Bulgarians have distinct historical memories and it is this distinctiveness that produces their national identity. These similar yet unique experiences of economic ordeals and historical legacy are what shape the Bulgarian mentality. The economical, educational, political and cultural crises have remained an indivisible part of Bulgaria’s reality. And Bulgaria’s evangelical community of more than 100,000 people has its own set of unique anxieties and hardships.

Excepts taken from “LOOKING OVER the WALL”
A Psychological Exploration of Communist and Post Communist Bulgaria
Copyright © April 12, 2012 by Kathryn N. Donev
© 2012, Spasen Publishers, a division of www.cupandcross.com

RELATED ARTICLES:

[ ] Obama, Marxism and Pentecostal Identity

[ ] A Psychological Exploration of Communist and Post Communist Bulgaria

[ ] Insight into Communist Agent Techniques in Bulgaria

[ ] The Bulgarian Evangelical Believer and Communistic Consequences

[ ] Distinct Historical Memories of the Bulgarian Mindset

[ ] National Identity and Collective Consciousness of the Bulgarian Community

Show me Thy Glory

April 25, 2013 by  
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Regardless of my 20+ years of ministry, I would have never understood this message until two years ago, when during a youth Bible camp in Bulgaria God showed up in a way we’d never experienced before.

I wrote about this experience on a number of occasions consecutively in:

Prophetic Restoration of a Nation and the Glory of God

4 Points to the Glory of God

A New Generation Called to the Presence of God

For a night-long service with some 100 young ministers on fire for God, who witnessed and testified of entering the cloud of God’s Glory, simply cannot be forgotten…

But counting the days since that very experience, we’ve come to realize that there’s not only a cry for the Glory of God among the people. There is an urgent need today for the people of God to reconnect, re-experience and relive again the Glory. The failure to do so threatens our very identity, our existence and our future as a church of God. And as sure as our past experiences are soon forgotten, there is an urgent need to impart the experience of the Glory of God into a new generation.

For it is time to be known in this world not by our own accomplishments, but through the physical manifestation of the presence, through the cloud and the pillar of fire, of the Glory of God. And this will never happen except if we have first (1) longed, (2) prayed, and (3) been in the Glory alone with the Living God overshadowing us…

The Liberating Spirit

April 20, 2013 by  
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9780802807281[1]The Liberating Spirit is an analytical examination of the Pentecostal movement in the Latino community. Pentecostalism is presented as a social transformation factor. The research is written for a scholarly audience, though it is understandable by the common believer as well. It argues for a “pneumatic” social ethic, and urges Pentecostals to move beyond selective preaching of salvation and to address such systemic issues as human rights, social injustice, racism, etc.

The study follows a well developed structure which integrates Pentecostalism and social transformation within the context of a Hispanic American culture. Chapters one and two of the study deal with the Hispanic American culture through focusing on the Hispanic immigration in North America. Chapter three is an overview of the Hispanic Pentecostal reality to identify the Pentecostal church as a center for liberation from oppression in the context of Pentecostal eschatology. Chapter four provides Scriptural proof for the presented ideas, and chapter five concludes the research with a presentation of social ethic for the Hispanic American Pentecostals.

Pentecostal churches are presented as traditionally unlearned in their majority, but always open to the needs of the poor among them. Villafane even speaks of “menesteroso” (the oppressed) as a main focus of concern of the Pentecostal churches. Since its beginning the movement has emphasized the inclusiveness of the Christian community existing in the context of Christ’s love for all with special emphasis on the poor, suffering, sick and oppressed.

Being concern with all of these, Pentecostalism has viewed the pneumatic theology and praxis not only as a heritage of its ethos, but also as means through which social justice is made possible within the church and the world which the church reaches through ministry. In the pneumatic part of the research, the author responds to Karl Barth’s dream for theology of the Spirit. Villafane sees Pentecostalism as the movement that brings such theology.

In relationship to the immigration dynamics, the author gives an extensive overview of the Latin American immigrants and the way they experience their ethnic belongingness. Villafane shows that Latin American immigrants form at least four groups of language preferences (1) English only, (2) Bilingual with English preferences, (3) Bilingual with Spanish preferences and (4) Spanish only. This division is somewhat different than the Bulgarian language preference. At this present time, research shows that all Bulgarian immigrants speak some English but prefer Bulgarian among them. Also, all Bulgarian-born immigrants have studied Russian beside Bulgarian and English, but do not use it in their communication within or outside of the Bulgaria community. And finally, at this time there is no English only preference group among the Bulgarians. Perhaps such will be formed when a second generation of Bulgarian immigrants emerges in America.

Another interesting point of difference is the ethnos of the immigrant communities. Villafane shows that Latin American immigrants represent five such groups as follows:

  • Mexicans 61%
  • Puerto Ricans 15%
  • Cubans 6%
  • Central and South America 10%
  • Other Nations 8%

The ethnic structure of the Bulgarian immigration in North America is close to the ethnic ratio in the Bulgarian nation which are: Bulgarians 80%, Turks 12%, Roma (6%) and others 2%. This presents several major differences between the Latin American and Bulgarian diasporas which are:
(1) The Latin American diaspora represents a much larger ethnic and geographical area from which immigrants have come than the Bulgarian one.
(2) The Latin American diaspora represents a much larger immigrant group in North America, with a longer history and large geographical location than the Bulgarian one.
(3) The Bulgarian diaspora represents a less defragmenter community as a large majority (80%) is Bulgarians. In the Latin American case almost 50% of the immigrants are with different ethnic background.
(4) The Bulgarian diaspora represents a different ethnic group, which differ not only by national belongingness, but by language as well.

In this context it must be critically noted that until recently cultural assimilation was considered an inevitable fact which can be prevented neither by the assimilating culture nor by the assimilated culture. It was considered that once a group of two or more cultures meet, assimilation begins. In America, however, assimilation is no longer seen as an inevitable process. Instead a cultural diversity exists in a rather mosaic structure described by the term “segmented assimilation.” Such phenomenal ethnic formation derives from the multiplicity of lifestyles and worldviews that formed a contemporary American culture. The technical term for this new mixing is “transnationalism.”

Villafane’s research further offers an in-depth overview of the Latin American communities in North America examining their culture and paradigms and influence of Pentecostal ministry among them. The text speaks of the “homo socius” or the person in the context of community, claiming that an individual is only a person when acting in the social context. A certain transformation from one social context to another is also suggested when viewed in cross-cultural dynamics of immigration, assimilation and naturalization. These processes are similar within the Bulgarian immigrant communities in North America in relation to the ministry of Protestant churches among them.

The Bulgarian Christian communities are searching for a model of adjustment to the assimilating culture in which they exist. This can be accomplished by adopting a strategy of incorporating the postmodern setting of worship, theology and praxis within the Bulgarian Christian community. It should be accompanied by an intentional process of liberation from the dysfunctional model through which the Bulgarian Protestant Church operated during the Communist Regime (1944-1989). This process should purpose to liberate the believers from an oppression mentality and transform them toward the mind of Christ, in order to minister effectively in the present context of existence. Failure to address this present dilemma will result in an inability of the Bulgarian Christian community to communicate its faith and to minister to the younger, faster-adjusting generation of Bulgarian-Americans, whose religious belongingness remains unexplored and often even unknown to themselves.

In all cases, the Bulgarian Evangelical churches accept the responsibility of being much more than a religious center, as it serves as a social and ethno-cultural center as well. Thus, in the context of ethic assimilation and cultural regrouping, the Bulgarian churches not only remain a protector of the Bulgarian ethnicity and the Bulgarian way of life, but also acts as an agent of cultural integration. Naturally, as such it has received the attention of Bulgarian immigrants who have altered it to meet present needs.

Selling out the Church

April 15, 2013 by  
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sell“Selling out the Church” is a protest against the market-driven shape which society has given to the modern church. The authors defend the thesis that the form in which the gospel is manifested molds the content of its message. The main focus is on the aggressive use of marketing principles to advance the vision of the church without taking into consideration all negative effects that may follow because of it.

They contend the church marketing principles articulated by Kotler claiming that the purpose of the church is to be a sign of the future Kingdom and the new creation which God is bringing into being. The marketing principles actively oppose this purpose of the Christian church as they emphasize on making the church more attractive to the eventual “customers.”

These strategies wrongly accent on attracting people to the Christian community through offering them to meet their apparent needs and thus give them proper reasons for being churchgoers. This way the target of the church becomes the consumer as the church is expected to provide the proper products. The problem is that the Christian faith does not follow “the logic of self interested exchanges.”

The main problem is that when the church acts as just another manufacturer of hopes, it is no longer able to act as directed by God. The actual truth is that the world no longer expects the church to act according to its calling but rather according the present market needs. Meeting the worlds expectation means the church mission is redefined to whether or not a “customer” would keep his/her business with the church.
The importance of the book is its presentation of how any cultural formation introduced into the church, can deform its message and form a corrupted vision, which will reflect negatively on its future development.

National Identity and Collective Consciousness of the Bulgarian Community

April 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, News

In understanding the history of the advancements in psychotherapy in Bulgaria and the foundations of the country as a whole, we gain a glimpse into the national identity and collective consciousness of a community; one which was formed by a strong people; a people that strive for religious freedom and the quest for knowledge; one that overcame oppression, trial and, hardship.

For many Bulgarians, communism was not simply a set of ideological directives, but it permeated nearly all spheres of social life. Communism and the lasting effects on its population is not one that is comfortable to recollect. It is neither something that is easy to understand and we may never fully comprehend the post communist mentality. And perhaps we should question those who make such claim.

However, if left ignored, we ignore an undeniable part of history and identity. The danger in not recollecting is that we may in doing so, ignore the possibility for change. Recognition is the first step toward change and empathy. It is only via the shoes of empathy that we can walk in the paths of genuinely comprehending the post communistic mentality and another culture.

Excepts taken from “LOOKING OVER the WALL”
A Psychological Exploration of Communist and Post Communist Bulgaria
Copyright © April 12, 2012 by Kathryn N. Donev
© 2012, Spasen Publishers, a division of www.cupandcross.com

RELATED ARTICLES:

[ ] Obama, Marxism and Pentecostal Identity

[ ] A Psychological Exploration of Communist and Post Communist Bulgaria

[ ] Insight into Communist Agent Techniques in Bulgaria

[ ] The Bulgarian Evangelical Believer and Communistic Consequences

[ ] Distinct Historical Memories of the Bulgarian Mindset

[ ] National Identity and Collective Consciousness of the Bulgarian Community

Bulgarians Unite in 3 Days of Public Prayer

April 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, News

prayer_fastingChicago Tribune
SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgarians set aside religious and political differences on Friday at the start of three days of prayer, as President Rosen Plevneliev sought to heal rifts following protests over poverty and the deaths of four men who set themselves on fire. The country has been rocked by demonstrations which brought down the center-right government in February and in particular by the self-immolations highlighting low living standards and suspected corruption among the political elite.

The prayer initiative, which drew more worshippers than normal to mosques on the Muslim day of prayer on Friday, came after Plevneliev met leaders of the dominant Orthodox Christian church and minority Muslim, Jewish and Catholic communities. Orthodox Christianity accounts for more than 80 percent of the 7.3-million population of Bulgaria, a country where 45 years of Communist rule undermined its influence.

“We need to have more hope and believe that we can pull through,” Plevneliev told reporters at his presidential offices. “As we face up to the challenges, we should draw lessons and believe more. “We need solidarity – personal, human, fraternal solidarity,” Plevneliev added. “Let us look after the sick, give a hand to a neighbor who is in distress. Let us not leave people alone.”

Special prayers will be held at mosques across the country, the synagogue in the capital Sofia and all Bulgarian Orthodox and protestant (evangelical) churches over the next three days. The Armenian church will also hold prayers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Widespread protests over low incomes and a political elite accused of maintaining a corrupt system since the collapse of communism in 1989 forced the resignation of the cabinet led by Boiko Borisov. New elections are set for May 12, and, although Borisov’s center-right GERB party is leading in the polls, it is unlikely to command a majority and will have to try and form a coalition.

Alive, Alive

April 1, 2013 by  
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baba-dida-v-dialog-s-baba-djenka1Rev. Dony K. Donev, D. Min.

“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”

2 Timothy 1:5

My Grandma, Todorka Mindova, was one of the first Sunday school teachers in the Bulgarian Pentecostal Union. After successfully graduating from a training course in the city of Sliven led by Donka Kinareva and personally organized by Dr. Nicolas Nikolov, she was allowed to minister in the denomination. But for grandma, the faith was more than teaching or a sermon. It was life. Many Bulgarian Pentecostal ministers can testify to the effectiveness of her ministry. And for her constant fasting and thousands of answered prayers I could write a book.

But far more interesting for me as a child was the fact that being a Sunday school teacher, Grandma never tried to preach to me. In the hardest moments of life she would only confess these words, which I have remembered from my childhood: “We serve a living God.” More was not needed. For Grandma preached with her life.

This I know from personal experience, because after she had been interceding for me in prayer for more than 16 years, God saved me in the Pentecostal church in Yambol without anyone evangelizing or preaching to me. There, at the last pew by the back wall, God saved my eternal soul and my young life was transformed completely. Not through human words or sermons, but through the testimony of her life in which He was revealed as a living God. For the ones who have known Him as a living God, preach with their lives.

When several months later God called me to the ministry in the Church of God in Pravetz, I met people who knew the living God just like Grandma. Their personal experiences gave them the strength to survive the persecution of the communist regime and the sentence of the brutal life. These were presbyters, who preached the message of the crucified God regardless if it cost them their own lives, because they knew Him as the resurrected and living God. A mother, who gave her leukemia stricken son to the prayers of the church and the living God returned him to her forever healed. A family, that lost their young son, but continued to minister before God. People, who endured the persecution of the regime and the hardship of life, for whom their faithfulness to God needed no rational explanation. They testified with their lives that God is alive and their testimonies were the very reason hundreds of students in Pravetz received Christ as a personal Savior. Because, through the testimony of the lives of one generation, He reveals Himself as a living God to the next generation in a spiritual revival, which changes history itself.

Thus preached the ancient. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And from their testimony Jesus Christ alone made that marvelous conclusion that no mortal theological mind could birth: “He is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Mark 12:27). Through my eleven years of formal theological education, I have not read a more powerful interpretation of the Biblical text. Such conclusion cannot be reached by any hermeneutical methodology, semantic exegesis or ontological paradigm. Such interpretation of the Word can only be given by the One who lives over death. Because He does not speak about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the chronological order of the historical times, but simultaneously, as One who is independent of time and as One who is life itself.

For this reason, the apostles of the Early Church called Him “God of our fathers”, having the understanding that the faith in the living God is handed down from generation to generation. And not just faith, but the Gospel which finds its eternal power in the Resurrection of the Son, in order to become a living faith, which makes us live as He lives. Otherwise, how would we be different from any other religion that serves handmade idols and dead gods? Is it not by the fact that He cannot be found in the death of the mortals? For He is God alive forevermore.

If He was not a living God who could raise from sin and death, the sermon of the Early Church would have been empty, their faith without foundation, their hope without reason, their sacrifice in vain, their testimony untrue and their expectance of His Parousia absurd. But they knew. Even if we have forgotten today, they knew. The ones who had written the words of the gospel story, they had touched the stone that rolled away, they had seen the shroud put aside and they heard the words of the angel: “He is not here, for He has risen.” For this very reason, when they were sentenced without fault, the first Christians preached that He is alive. And even when they were killed in the arena of the gladiators, thrown to the hungry lions, burnt as human torches at the Roman aqueducts, sentenced to die through dismembering, stabbed and beheaded, crucified upside down along the roads of the empire before the eyes of one whole sinful world, they looked up toward the Coming One and with their life and death preached to the generations to come: “Alive, alive, alive forevermore.”

God is still alive in Bulgaria today. The ones, who were saved in the revival 20 years ago, knew him as the living God. But does our generation, having known Him then as a living God, live now as if God is dead? Have we kept the faith in the living God as we received it, so we can give it to our children? And how do we preach the living God? With quarrels, divisions and divorce or with the power of our testimony? So that the generations may say about us that we have preached with our lives. And not just our small, poor and mortal life, but His: the eternal life of the living God. For, “Alive, alive, alive forevermore. Jesus is alive.”

San Francisco, 2009