5 Difficulties for Doing Mission Work in Bulgaria in 2020

July 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

(1) The long debated and postponed Law on Social Services took effect in Bulgaria on July 1, 2020 after a six-month prolonging by the government. Masked under already exiting Bulgarian legislature for child and minorities protection, this new legal framework funded by EU will unfold in 2021-2027 under the Human Resource Development Operational Program, which includes

  • restricting civil organizations through mandatory state licensing;
  • merge between state and foreign funded NGOs and commercial private companies targeting school age children, while homeschooling remains illegal;
  • empowerment of NGOs and private companies to carry out state activities;
  • intervention in relationships between children and parents of private individuals through specialized multidisciplinary teams with conflicted financial interest;
  • ongoing open authorization of private individuals and social workers of unprecedented access to personal data from all institutions;
  • legal admission of LGBT ideology in schools;
  • comprehensive sex education for all students without parent’s knowledge or agreement including open support for gender change, use of contraceptives and abortion;

This new legal bill completes a set of 5 new legislations imposed on Bulgaria in just a few short months since 2019 when the new Bill on Religion was voted in.  The previous 4 were:

(2) The 2019 Law in Religion is very much active and imposing new difficulties for evangelical churches in Bulgaria as following:

  • Each church is to maintain and submit to the government a detailed list of all ministers operating within its government registration. It is unclear how churches, which refuse government registration, will continue to operate
  • Buildings owned and used for religious purposes (liturgy, worship service) must be registered into a national registry before receiving any tax deductions
  • It is unclear if and how will churches with rented auditoriums, which account for roughly some 70% of the Bulgarian congregations, will report to the government or use any tax deductions
  • Worship services allowed outside of designated building are limited on the use of loudspeakers and PA systems
  • Foreigners can hold services only after informing the state Directorate of Religious Affairs about their activity in Bulgaria

 

(3) Church fragmentation is being caused by the mandatory government registration of ministers and places to worship as deemed in the 2019 Law in Religion. This new form of government control has proposed that only registered and approved by the government ministers can perform religious activities in a given place of worship. This restriction in practice halts cross-denominational evangelism, guest speakers who are not included in the official open registry and puts an end to mission work. In essence, in order to minister legally a missionary will have to became part of the denomination, acquire legal residency status, be approved by the open registry and follow all other requirements by the 2019 Law in Religion via series of never-ending legal loops. As if this is not enough, a local mayor office or county/municipality government can impose further local limitations on church activities, building, educational and social programs, thus making not just the work, but the very stay of a missionary in a given locale at legal risk virtually at all times.

(4) The resent COVID-19 pandemic has imposed further restrictions on church and missionary work in Bulgaria. Multiple fines and court cases have been filed against churches holding services in the open though there have been no official government restrictions on religious activities announced. Those limitations appear to be renewed mid-summer as the new G4 EA H1N1 strain of flu has been identified with the potential to become another pandemic.

(5) Surveillance of phone, texting, emails and otherwise electronic and social media communications. This includes church live services, social media and otherwise publications some of which have been already used to subpoena pastors and church members for the trail against the Samokov Church of God. There is some judicial control over the requests for extension for the data in storage, but no judge or court order is needed for obtaining of initial phone and internet records.

Finally, the new norm imposed by the pandemic season has produced not only economic impact, but unexpected political realm and tensions. The political party, which has ruled Bulgaria on and off for the past decade, is again threatened with early elections coming this fall instead of in 2021 as planned. During the past decade, this party was forced to resign twice and then came back in power each time after an acting government was appointed. They have vouched not to resign in this third term, but as the Bulgarian economy weakens during the pandemics and multiple wave of protests, the political realm seems more and more distorted. All this just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Pentecostal movement in Bulgaria coming in the fall of 2020.

How a Small Ocoee Flower Shares a Big Story

June 30, 2020 by  
Filed under News

With VBS season upon us, we are always looking for inventive ways of sharing the Gospel with our little ones. We are internally motivated by the Biblical mandate of Proverbs 22:6.  When we start children off on the way they should go, even when they are old they will not turn from it. So this summer let us shift focus from the Corona Virus to the Corona Filaments of a small plant that tells a big story.

When Spanish Christian missionaries arrived in the jungle of Brazil in the 16th century, they discovered a plant with such beauty and distinctiveness unlike any they had seen before. These explores were encouraged feeling it was a good sign for their mission.  After closely observing the structure of the plant’s bloom, they called it the passion flower because to them it symbolized the passion or death of Christ.

This exotic flower (Passiflora Incarnata) grows wild in South America and the southern United States as well. Beginning around June is when you first see the vine emerge from the grown after laying dominate all winter. It is the official state wildflower of Tennessee and is sometimes know as the maypop (term given by the Powhatan Indians), wild apricot, Holy Trinity flower and the ocoee. The Cherokee were the ones to referred to the passion vine as “u-wa-go-hi” or “ocoee”. The root “oco” refers to the plant and “ee” describes location. The word “ocoee” literally means the apricot vine place. The passion flower was considered to be the most beautiful of all flowers among the Cherokee and to this day it is a revered piece of their heritage.

Here’s how a small flower turned to be the center stage of the story of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.

The passion flower is a strong plant that is resistant to pulling and bending as was Christ who endured the horrific pain of a crucifixion. The radial corona filaments of the flower represent the woven crown of thorns which mocked Christ’s claim of authority.  This corona rests upon a cup-shaped structure that reminds of the cup of suffering and the Last Supper. The spiraled tendons of the plant are symbols of the lashes Christ endured and  the flower’s trailing tendrils are like the whips.  The central flower column receptacle is symbolic of the pillar of Christ’s scourging. The three stigmas are symbols of the nails used in the crucifixion as well as the Holy Trinity. The five anthers remind us of the five piercing wounds Christ suffered.  Together the five petals and five sepals refer to the ten disciples who did not betray or deny Jesus. The palmate leaves depict the hands of His persecutors or the Holy lance that pierced Christ’s side.  The fragrance of the flower helps us recall the spices used in the burial cloth for the body of Christ. The purple color is symbolic of royalty, the white is for purity.  The shape of its fruit is symbolic of the world that Christ saved through his suffering. Finally, because the passion flower is a vine it points to Heaven and will compete with surrounding trees to see the light.  

Cup & Cross Best Selling Cookbook “Cooking Traditions of Bulgaria” Now Available on Barnes and Noble

June 25, 2020 by  
Filed under News

It is a true privileged to have one of our most popular publications available on Barnes and Noble.  Get your copy today here:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com

OAHU SCHOOL OF WORSHIP 2020 ONLINE

June 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News

One month self-paced school with 50+ Classes, Activations, & LIVE content released between June 22 – July 22
• Streamed worship
• Prophetic video calls
• Spiritual & practical equipping for students from every background to create cultures of worship wherever they
go
• Classes for musicians and non-musicians
• Guests from Bethel Music, UPPERROOM, Isla Vista Worship, Maverick City Music, Worship Coach, Burn 24/7, Light a Candle Global, YWAM & more.
Guests include: Alton Eugene, Joe Volk, Morgan Faleolo, Halley Heilgenthal, Kristene DiMarco, Mark Barlow, Sean Feught, Rick Pino, Hanzo Hamamura, Daniel Lehmann, Sam Cabra, Tori Saludez, Lise Acosta, Rachel Morley, Pablo & Nina Aguirre, Stephanie Gross, Andrew Alarcio, Kirsten & Andrew Steele, Dee Chang, Orin Mozon, Tiffa Garza, Jonathan Lee, & Joel Figueroa.
ALL for just $99 • https://www.oahuschoolofworship.com

Small Churches Are Popular – Half Of Churches Are Small in 2020

June 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Small Churches Are Popular

When it comes to attendance, 46% of people attend small churches with 100 or fewer members. Typically, this is due to the fact that smaller churches are more prevalent and easy to get to. They’re also often more community oriented for those who want to build relationships with the majority of other members.

Half Of Churches Are Small

To prove how prevalent small churches are, the same study as above found that 50% of churches have 100 members or fewer. Small to medium churches make up another 40% of churches and have 100-350 members. Sometimes it’s not about having the most members, but retaining and engaging the members you do have.

Digital Discipleship at Lee University

June 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Media, News, Research

Digital Discipleship is a practical training manual for the use of collaborative online tools, digital storytelling, creative websites, and mobile networking in the ministry of the Church. This course is intended to provide students with a hands-on toolbox for extending their present ministry to the internet world with the intent of soul-saving and discipleship. There are no pre-requisites to this course, and it is open for enrollment to current students or new applicants. This 3-credit-hour, fully online, asynchronous course will take place June 23 to Aug. 10. To register, visit applytolee.com and use the code DIGITAL (case-sensitive) to waive the $25 application fee.

Lee University 2020 Church of God Scholarship Program
Receive a Lee Online student scholarship of $1,000, disbursed over the academic year – Fall, Spring, and Summer. Continuous enrollment is required. Details are important, so here are some of the finer points of this special scholarship offer:

  • The scholarship is open to new applicants starting a program in August 2020.
  • The $1,000 will be applied evenly over the 2020-2021 academic year (Fall, Spring, Summer), so make sure you stay enrolled to reap the full reward.
  • The award can be used towards Lee Online certificate, undergraduate or graduate programs.
  • Enroll full-time (two classes per session) or part-time (one class per session).
  • It can be combined with the ministry or military/first responders program tuition discounts (but not with other scholarships).

Make sure to use SPIRIT (case-sensitive) as your discount code when you applytolee.com so that we can reserve your scholarship funds.

Ensure Eligibility
Available to newly enrolled Lee Online undergraduate, graduate, or certificate students with a start date of August 18, 2020. May not be combined with any other offers or scholarships.

Register for your scholarship today here: https://leeuniversity.edu/cog/

Pentecost Sunday Full Gospel as Preached by the Early Pentecostals

I keep on repeating this through the years, but the need for the constant repetition comes from the simple fact that among new doctrinal teachings and Hillsong style of worship the True Message of Pentecost remains long forgotten

  1. Salvation – That a man must be saved while the hour of grace is still upon us has been that teaching of every protestant evangelical since the Reformation. Why people attend church all their lives without getting saved is beyond me. But I do know that the commitment of the CHURCH to REVIVAL brings people to SALVATION.
  1. Sanctification – The Wesleyan teaching of sanctification resolves that the sanctification of the believer is definite. This means that though it may progress and evolve through time, as the believer gets closer to God in his/her daily walk, sanctification must become ENTIRE i.e. allowing NO sin to abide in the believer’s body, soul or spirit. Without ENTIRE sanctification resulting in holiness, no one will ever see God (Heb. 12:14).
  1. Holy Ghost Baptism – The doctrine of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost means that when baptized we speak in one tongue with God because we are ONE with His Spirit. Not just in us or upon us, but that we are IN the Spirit as John was on the day of Revelation.
  1. Healing in the Atonement of Christ belongs to every believer. This means you, your family and your church members. The healing provided in the Atonement is for ALL believers – no exception. It is also for ALL sickness, disease, viruses, infections, tumors and cancers. But that it belongs to does not yet mean that it has been received by the believer. For this reason, God does not stop healing neither in this age nor through eternity, as the leaves of the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem are still and forever for the healing (Rev. 22:2)
  1. The Second Coming of Christ for Pentecostals is not simply pre-millennial, but also pre-Tribulation. There have been MANY teachings on the End Times until today. Post-millennials claim we live in the Millennium even now anticipating the return of the Lord; a-millennials that there will be no Millennium at all. Post-tribulationists expect his return at the end of the Tribulation, mid-post-tribulationists in the middle. But in Pentecost, we expect Christ to return before the Tribulation that we may be saved from the hour of trial (Rev. 3:10) and before the Millennium so we may reign with Him 1,000 years. Any other message is no message of hope for the Church of the Living God.

Diamonds in the Rough-N-Ready Pentecostal Series

 

Speaking in Tongues in America Prior to the Azusa Street Revival of 1906

April, 1906 – The Azusa street revival swept the globe starting with California

January 1, 1901– The initial phenomenon of speaking in tongues occurred at Parham’s school in Topeka, Kansas

January 6, 1900 – Frank Sanford’s Shiloh school reported that “The gift of tongues has descended”

1896 – Over 100 people baptized in the Shaerer schoolhouse revival conducted by the Christian Union in the North Carolina mountains

1887 – People falling in trances and speaking in tongues were reported at Maria Etter’s revival meetings in Indiana

1874 – Speaking in tongues occurred during healing meetings reported in New York

1873 – William H. Doughty and the Gift People of Rhode Island spoke in tongues

1854 – V. P. Simmons and Robert Boyd reported tongue speaking during Moody’s meetings

51bmftgrh4l_ss500_1

FURTHER READING:

Church of God (Cleveland, TN)

Azusa Street Revival of 1906

Prior to Azusa Street Revival of 1906

The message of PENTECOST is still the same…

June 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Publication

Since the beginning of the 21st century, only 6-10% of new born believers in America receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, which by 2018 has resulted in:

  • Over 60% within Global Pentecostalism do not speak in tongues
  • A major doctrinal shift within Pentecostal Theology today claims speaking in tongues is not the only evidence of Holy Spirit Baptism
  • Some theologians even claim there is no initial evidence in the Bible
  • Others today go further to believe that no outward sign of the Holy Spirit baptism is necessary.

For this reason, WE are re-committing ourselves and ministry to revival and restoration of the Pentecostal Message through praying, fasting and preaching:

  • Salvation of the sinner’s soul and entire sanctification through the Blood of Jesus
  • Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire with initial evidence of speaking in tongues
  • Supernatural gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit
  • Healing, deliverance and signs following
  • Pre-Millennial return of Christ and pre-Tribulation Rapture of His Church to glory

Please consider the URGENCY of this generation!

Let us reason together what can we do to prevent this rapid decline in Biblical spirituality.

Revival will not come without preaching!

Revival of Pentecost will not come without preaching the Message of Pentecost.

Diamonds in the Rough-N-Ready Pentecostal Series

 

Speaking in Tongues in America Prior to the Azusa Street Revival of 1906

April, 1906 – The Azusa street revival swept the globe starting with California

January 1, 1901– The initial phenomenon of speaking in tongues occurred at Parham’s school in Topeka, Kansas

January 6, 1900 – Frank Sanford’s Shiloh school reported that “The gift of tongues has descended”

1896 – Over 100 people baptized in the Shaerer schoolhouse revival conducted by the Christian Union in the North Carolina mountains

1887 – People falling in trances and speaking in tongues were reported at Maria Etter’s revival meetings in Indiana

1874 – Speaking in tongues occurred during healing meetings reported in New York

1873 – William H. Doughty and the Gift People of Rhode Island spoke in tongues

1854 – V. P. Simmons and Robert Boyd reported tongue speaking during Moody’s meetings

51bmftgrh4l_ss500_1

FURTHER READING:

Church of God (Cleveland, TN)

Azusa Street Revival of 1906

Prior to Azusa Street Revival of 1906

Back to the Basics of Pentecost: Diamonds in the Rough-N-Ready (2020)

May 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

Since the beginning of the 21st century, only 6-10% of new born believers in America receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, which by 2018 has resulted in:

  • Over 60% within Global Pentecostalism do not speak in tongues
  • A major doctrinal shift within Pentecostal Theology today claims speaking in tongues is not the only evidence of Holy Spirit Baptism
  • Some theologians even claim there is no initial evidence in the Bible
  • Others today go further to believe that no outward sign of the Holy Spirit baptism is necessary.

For this reason, WE are re-committing ourselves and ministry to revival and restoration of the Pentecostal Message through praying, fasting and preaching:

  • Salvation of the sinner’s soul and entire sanctification through the Blood of Jesus
  • Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire with initial evidence of speaking in tongues
  • Supernatural gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit
  • Healing, deliverance and signs following
  • Pre-Millennial return of Christ and pre-Tribulation Rapture of His Church to glory

Please consider the URGENCY of this generation!

Let us reason together what can we do to prevent this rapid decline in Biblical spirituality.

Revival will not come without preaching!

Revival of Pentecost will not come without preaching the Message of Pentecost.

Diamonds in the Rough-N-Ready Pentecostal Series

 

Speaking in Tongues in America Prior to the Azusa Street Revival of 1906

April, 1906 – The Azusa street revival swept the globe starting with California

January 1, 1901– The initial phenomenon of speaking in tongues occurred at Parham’s school in Topeka, Kansas

January 6, 1900 – Frank Sanford’s Shiloh school reported that “The gift of tongues has descended”

1896 – Over 100 people baptized in the Shaerer schoolhouse revival conducted by the Christian Union in the North Carolina mountains

1887 – People falling in trances and speaking in tongues were reported at Maria Etter’s revival meetings in Indiana

1874 – Speaking in tongues occurred during healing meetings reported in New York

1873 – William H. Doughty and the Gift People of Rhode Island spoke in tongues

1854 – V. P. Simmons and Robert Boyd reported tongue speaking during Moody’s meetings

51bmftgrh4l_ss500_1

FURTHER READING:

Church of God (Cleveland, TN)

Azusa Street Revival of 1906

Prior to Azusa Street Revival of 1906

25 Years Ago, in Chicago…

May 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, Missions, News, Publication

Exactly a quarter of a century ago today, I arrived in Chicago with a plan to start a Bulgarian church. That was my second trip to the Windy City after a mission’s trip with a few college friends in Christmas of 1994. The Narraganset Church of God in Chicago hosted us with great success and it was there I met several Bulgarians who desired to start a church. A key moment still remembered from 1994 was the “boot sermon.”

On Memorial Day weekend of 1995, I drove my Carolina baby blue Buick Grand National exactly 777 miles north to Chicago. It was still the time of no GPS or phone navigation so the only thing I had to go buy was an old atlas. Not knowing a better way just yet, I didn’t take the North-West Suburbs but exited on North Avenue and ended up driving its whole length through the city. On a warm Sunday the entire population of Wicker Park was in the streets. It was like in the movies. So was the rest of the Summer of 1995.

I had made little arrangements for my stay and ended up with a Bulgarian family living on Jackson Blvd. For the lack of space, I slept on an old couch on their balcony. Yes, during the Chicago heat wave of 1995.

I stayed with the pastor’s family a lot, especially when we started our 5 a.m. prayers in the church for members who would stop by to be prayed for before going to work. Some of those nights I just stayed at the church and slept on the first pew before the altar. It was there one early morning God woke me with the whole Gospel of John open before me, which later became the plan for my Bible translation.

As to the start of the Bulgarian church in Chicago, it came naturally as part of the ministry. The small band of Bulgarian believers would come for the English-speaking morning worship and then stay for a Bulgarian service in the early afternoon. A Spanish-speaking service followed at 4 P.M. as well. Several key events through the summer like the now-traditional Bulgarian 4th of July picnic in Chicago and a block party organized by the Narraganset Church of God helped spread the word of our Bulgarian ministry. Soon migrants of all ages began attending the afternoon services.

The most I remember from those services was prayer. Yes, I preached and there were guest speakers as well, but we mostly prayed. Bulgarians of all ages would come to the alter with their life pain and needs. Deep hurt within immigrant hearts, missing family members left behind in the old country, new struggles with work and existence in their new migrant reality and so on – all became a part of the new life of the Bulgarian church in Chicago. And those prayers were answered one by one. People did not come to attend or become members of a church plant project. They came and found answer to their prayers, direction in their lives and healing for their deep pain. Hidden from everyone else in Chicago, a river of pain flowed at those old church alters and a rain of healing, hope and peace filled the emptiness in those emigrant souls. That much I do still remember.

Through the whole summer as the Bulgarian church in Chicago began, I wrote my parents every Friday. Two regular stamps were what it took for a letter to get to Bulgaria back then. I would walk from the church on Narraganset across the street to Grand and drop the letter in a blue street U.S. mailbox. They all got to their destination. My dad had stored them all in an old shoe box after reading them, and I was able to find them all recently. They ain’t no diary, but still tell the story with details of each week of those humble beginnings. Along with the letters, there were a lot of pictures I had taken with my small 35mm. camera that looked more like a taser. The Metro, Sear’s Tower and under it where we ministered to the homeless, South Side and Cabrini Green, Rigley Field and Comiskey Park, McCormick and LSD. I only wish I had taken better notes now that I am writing this book. Times, places and faces are often mixed and sometimes lost in the timeline, but the story is far from forgotten. Now, a quarter of a century later, it is time to tell this story and tell it right… for the generations.

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