Joint Statement by President of the United States Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria

November 30, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News, Publication

We, the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, reaffirm the strong friendship and alliance between our two countries.  As friends and Allies, we dedicate ourselves to deepening our security cooperation and to promoting economic growth and prosperity for our two great nations.  Today, we are announcing measures intended to strengthen the strategic partnership between the United States of America and the Republic of Bulgaria.

The principal goal of our relationship is to strengthen the transatlantic community as a community of nations, united by shared sacrifice and a commitment to common defense, democratic values, fair trade, and mutual strategic interests.  Thirty years ago, with the end of the Communist dictatorship, Bulgaria freely chose a transatlantic orientation.  Fifteen years ago, Bulgaria reaffirmed its transatlantic Western choice when it became a NATO Ally.

The United States commends Bulgaria’s leadership and commitments to burden sharing, exceeding two percent of gross domestic product for defense spending this year.  Bulgaria also plans to meet its longer-term NATO defense spending pledge by 2024.  Our militaries stand together in the defense of freedom and look to reinforce our defense and deterrence posture across NATO’s eastern flank, including in the Black Sea, which is critical for Euro-Atlantic security.  The United States and Bulgaria have derived mutual benefit from combined training and other U.S. operational usage of Novo Selo Training Area and Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria, and intend to explore ways of furthering our combined training opportunities in the future.  The United States and Bulgaria also intend to continue cooperation on the destruction of excess conventional weapons.

The United States commends Bulgaria’s recent purchase of eight F-16 aircraft and its efforts to modernize its armed forces.  Bulgaria thanks the United States for its support in this acquisition.  The United States and Bulgaria plan to deepen our defense technology and industry partnership.  We commit to pursuing additional defense technology and industry partnerships in areas that are critical to regional defense and deterrence, including by continuing to facilitate access to high-end defense technologies and armaments that the United States deems available.  Bulgaria commits to provide due consideration to proposals from U.S. defense companies who wish to compete in the Bulgarian market.

The United States and Bulgaria understand that energy security is national security.  We underline our common understanding that the diversification of energy sources is a guarantee of energy security, independence, and competitiveness for our economies.  Recognizing Bulgaria’s interest in moving toward more efficient and cleaner sources of energy, we will cooperate on increasing the supply of gas from diverse and reliable sources and diversifying the nuclear energy sector.  To this end, the United States intends to send a technical team to Bulgaria to work with Bulgarian counterparts to explore the possibilities for further cooperation in different areas of energy, including nuclear.  We share the view of only developing energy projects which have a clear economic basis or commercial need.  The United States and Bulgaria also plan to work together to enhance Bulgaria’s energy security by supporting expeditiously the licensing and use of American nuclear fuel for the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, in strict compliance with the safety and diversification requirements and the rules of the European Union.

We welcome Bulgaria’s aspirations to become a regional natural gas hub by completing the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, taking a stake and booking capacity in Greece’s Alexandroupolis floating storage and regasification unit, liberalizing its domestic gas market, expanding gas storage capacity and access, working with Serbia to build another interconnector, and investing in the reverse flow capacity of the Trans Balkan Pipeline to diversify Eastern Europe’s gas imports in compliance with the rules of the European Union.  These steps together will significantly enhance Bulgaria’s energy security, lower energy costs for the Bulgarian consumer, and make Bulgaria an energy leader in the region.

We also share a desire to work together through multilateral fora, especially via the Three Seas Initiative and the Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation, to promote regional development, including via the expansion of vital energy, transportation, and digital infrastructure.  Taking into account that secure Fifth Generation (5G) wireless communications networks will be vital to both future prosperity and national security, the United States and Bulgaria declare the shared desire to strengthen cooperation in this field.

The United States supports Bulgaria’s recent efforts to defend the country’s independence and sovereignty from malign influence.  We support the long-term efforts of the institutions and agencies involved in investigating and exposing violations of Bulgarian law by foreign malign actors, and we affirm Bulgaria’s right to chart its own future.

We stress that good governance and the rule of law form the basis of our shared security and prosperity.  The United States welcomes Bulgaria’s ongoing efforts regarding economic reforms, best practices, and a regulatory framework in pursuit of compliance with international standards, including those of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  Bulgaria underscores its desire to begin the OECD accession process as soon as possible.

The United States encourages Bulgaria to further address corruption that hinders faith in public institutions and economic growth.  The United States strongly supports media freedom everywhere, since a free press is essential to democratic nations, and encourages Bulgaria to further protect media freedoms.

The United States and Bulgaria proudly underscore the trade and investment ties that link our two countries and our common interest in shaping an investment climate that offers transparency, predictability, and stability, as well as a level playing field for our respective companies.  We commit to the principle of fair treatment of investors, to resolving any investment disputes by good-faith negotiations, and to expanding bilateral trade.  We also intend to work together to determine when it would be feasible to enter into a Social Security Totalization Agreement.  The United States supports Bulgaria’s aspiration to join the Visa Waiver Program and welcomes Bulgaria’s continued progress toward meeting the statutory requirements for designation as a program partner.

The United States and Bulgaria commit to conducting a regular strategic dialogue between our two nations in 2020 and beyond.

Bulgaria Won’t Be Part of NATO Fleet in Black Sea, Premier Says

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov rejected a Romanian call for North Atlantic Treaty Organization to set up a permanent Black Sea fleet in response to Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine on grounds it will increase military tension and hurt tourism. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis discussed with Borissov and Bulgarian counterpart Rosen Plevneliev proposing the joint initiative that would include Romania, Ukraine, Turkey and Bulgaria, at a NATO summit in Warsaw in July. Borissov said the move would “turn the Black Sea into a territory of war” and that he “wants to see cruising yachts, and tourists, rather than warships.”

“To send warships as a fleet against the Russian ships exceeds the limit of what I can allow,” Borissov told reporters in Sofia on Thursday. “To deploy destroyers, aircraft carriers near Bourgas or Varna during the tourist season is unacceptable.”

Russia’s 2014 takeover of Crimea and proxy war in eastern Ukraine near NATO territory led the U.S. to rotate troops into eastern Europe and prompted the alliance to set up a 5,000-man rapid-response force that can mobilize within days. To allay fears in former Soviet-bloc nations that they’re vulnerable to attack, the alliance decided this week to deploy a multinational group of 4,000 troops in Poland and the three Baltic nations, all of which border Russia.

According to a 1936 Montreux Convention, countries which don’t have a Black Sea coastline can’t keep their warships there for more than 21 days. NATO members Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria are all Black Sea basin countries. Russia has its own Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea.

Bulgaria hosts a U.S. base, takes part in joint NATO military drills and has troops in Afghanistan, Borissov said. The government is prepared to send 400 ground troops on rotational training as part of NATO brigade that may be deployed in neighboring Romania, he said. The European Union’s poorest state plans to spend 2.3 billion lev ($1.3 billion) to replace outdated Soviet-era armament with new warships and fighters jets.

Bulgarian resorts, spread along the 350-kilometer (217 mile) Black Sea coastline made the bulk of the 2.9 billion-euro ($3.25 billion) tourism revenue last year, or 11 percent of economic output.

“Russia won’t attack Bulgaria with tanks and missiles,” Borissov said citing historical ties based on the Christian Orthodoxy religion the two countries share. “Their actions on Bulgarian territory are different, mostly economic.”

Bulgaria will ask NATO ships to guard the Bulgarian coast only in the case of “a huge refugee wave crossing the Black Sea, should their route across the Aegean and the Mediterranean be closed,” Borissov said, referring to the migrants seeking refuge in western Europe amid continuing war in Syria.

2019 Bulgarian Elections Continue the Same Political Trajectory for 2020

November 20, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Publication

2019 Bulgarian Elections Continue the Same Political Trajectory for 2020

Our preliminary impressions of the political and economical situation in Bulgaria were based on the recent acceptance of the country into NATO and its anticipated admission into the European Union in 2007.Immediately before our arrival, the elections were won by the Socialist party which brought extra tension to the country, although less than 50% of the population participated through their votes.

The Bulgarian Christian Coalition, representing Evangelicals, won only 21,000 votes while struggling to remain politically active. Nationalistic urges among political circles were also common.

Violent public executions among underground cartels have become a normal event in Bulgaria’s everyday reality. The economy has also been dramatically affected as over 90% of the population lives on the verge of poverty. The price of gas grew in the fall and led to the increase of the cost of food, electricity and travel. Various evangelical churches, some of which are pastored and attended by friends of ours, were targeted by the media. Articles against them infiltrated many evangelistic activities among Romani and other minority communities.

These media attacks remind of similar anti-protestant campaigns during 1990-93. Hopefully, this time, the evangelical churches may be prepared to respond adequately.

As we have previously proposed, this puts Bulgaria back on the “Red Light of 30 Years of Communism…” as in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020…

Government Elections in Bulgaria (2005-2019):

elections 20132005 Parliamentary Elections
2006 Presidential Elections
2007 Municipal Elections
2009 Parliamentary Elections
2009 European Parliament elections
2011 Presidential Elections
2011 Local Elections
2013 Early parliamentary elections
2014 Early Parliamentary Elections
2015 Municipal Elections
2016 Presidential election
2017 Parliamentary elections
2019 European Parliament election (23-26 May)
2019 Bulgarian local elections
2019 Municipal Elections

The Legacy of Dr. Nicholas Nikolov and the Bulgarian Pentecostal Union

November 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Publication, Research

Dr. Nicholas Nikolov passed to Glory on November 6, 1964. After his death, his wife Martha visited Bulgaria twice in 1976 and 1978, the second time for the 50th anniversary of the Pentecostal Union there where their legacy is strongly remembered to this day.

The organizational talent of Nicholas Nikolov applied with the Pentecostal movement in Bulgaria shaped the history and set a course for the next century. A study on his role and leadership cannot be completed without pointing to the key factors of his ministerial and organizational success despite the divisions present in the Union.

After reviewing Nikolov’s work in Bulgaria, it is becoming clear that it was not the cause for a split among Bulgarian Pentecostals in 1928 as often held. The official registration of the new organization simply confirmed a deepening division that had began with the very start of the movement. More important for us today are the factors that helped Nikolov establish, grow and ensure the future of the Pentecostal organization, while many older and more experienced Bulgarian leaders failed and lost their rightful place in history.

Firstly, what other nucleases within early Bulgarian Pentecostalism lacked in comparison with Nikolov’s Union, was the strong support from abroad (educational, financial and otherwise). It proved indispensable in the Bulgarian context of ministry shaped by deep economic crises and spiritual hunger after WWI. Nikolov found way to implement this advantage effectively in areas where the few before him did not succeed.

Based on his strong relationship with Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield came the clear articulation of doctrinal understanding expressed in a written statement of faith and praxis. In all fairness, neither faith nor praxis borrowed from the American Assemblies of God fit perfectly the primitive Pentecostalism of Bulgaria in 1928. But as the Union grew into a nationwide organization, more useful applications of organized life were replicated even after Nikolov had left Bulgaria for good.

Then comes the very strong and effective educational and discipleship vision for denominational growth (also borrowed from the American Assemblies of God). Other Pentecostal groups in Bulgaria were too formed around strong leaders, but as most of them remained in leadership for life their spiritual strength and vision naturally weekend. While the work of the Spirit and the practice of gifts were central among them, any formal education or even basic training in practical ministry and organizational leadership were disregarded as worldly having no place in the Church of God. With this mentality prevalent, many Pentecostal groups did not survive after the passing of their first generation of leaders and disappeared from history – either assimilated by the Pentecostal Union or lost forever.

In contrast, Nikolov gave special use of strategic organizational structure that aided the work of the Spirit and empowered the Pentecostal churches. He also found ways to invest in the development of trained leaders able to build and lead the Union until his initial vision was fulfilled. In the process, some congregations did loose spirituality while gaining more structure and training. But overall, a healthy balance was reached ensuring a growing and spiritual Pentecostal denomination.

Lastly, the decision to comply with government legislation opened doors to cooperate with other Protestants organizations on a national level. This decision brought constant tensions that had to be carefully weighed. Siding with churches of the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance, many of which subscribed to liberal theology, was seen by the older believers as compromising of the Pentecostal faith. Yet, it gave the young Pentecostal movement much needed credibility.

In a similar matter the government registration, provided a nationwide representation of Pentecostals in religious life and opened doors for renting auditoriums, building sanctuaries and creating a national network of self-sustained churches. Some older Pentecostals still saw this as compromising with the world and an unforgivable sin. Especially when the Communist Regime took over Bulgaria in 1944, most leading Protestant pastors were sentenced to life in prison and their place in the pulpit was filled by government paid agents, who infiltrated the decision making body of the Union and enforced government mandate over the churches.

But it also helped the Union churches survive the Regime and be among the few allowed to have regular meetings and services making them the largest evangelical group in Bulgaria today. Nikolov was right with his decision that a small band of organized Pentecostals was much stronger than any other divided majority. And that empowering Spirit-filled communities with organizational structure and leadership mandate can earn their rightful place in history.

Virtual Real Estate for the Kingdom Conference

November 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, Media, Missions, News, Publication, Research

Cupandcross.com launched in the fall of 1999. Our first public letter went out for Thanksgiving exactly 20 years ago and snice then has reached thousands of readers, partners and friends each week.

Since these humble beginnings, nontraditional means of increase have provided Cup and Cross with unique opportunities to serve in times of hardship. Investing in Virtual Real Estate (VRE) in the 90s has not only provided an e-pulpit to minister to millions of people, but it has been an unprecedent venture. Acquiring and popularizing top level internet domain names has been a long-time focus of ours and its return to the ministry has been irreplaceable.

Our intent for acquiring domain names has been to allow other ministries or organizations to benefit from and use them for a period of time before sale in order to be a good Stuart of the e-space realty. With the wild fluctuations in the .com market, the potential value also alternates.  It has been only with the Lord’s help of seizing the right moment within the divine destiny, that this unique venture has paid off.

Your Website Does Matter

Even if you’re fully engaging your members in church, you still need a church website. Why? According to Grey Matter Research, 17 million Americans who don’t regularly attend church visited a church website. While most are searching for church hours or programs, 26% are streaming video and another 26% are streaming audio. So yes, a website is vital for reaching more people and increasing your members.

Consultation

Beside personal presence and team building strategies, we implement the media in virtually every approach of ministry. We have published several research monographs as well as film series about our ministry work. Our team holds a weekly TV program called the Bible Hour.

Learn how we help churches build their own and unique media presence. For more information about such opportunity feel free to reach out to Cup and Cross. We can provide Internet conferences on the topic or come and visit with you at your church

Please Pray for our Area of Ministry in Bulgaria

October 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Publication, Research

10 Years of Chaplaincy on the High Seas

October 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Publication, Research

We began our literal journey of ministry on the high seas in 2009. After exploring the opportunity for several years’ prior and submitting applications to various chaplaincy organizations which dealt with such ministry, the doors finally opened for Cup and Cross.

This search for a ministerial identity and its proper application in the real world coincided with the start of the Master’s in Chaplaincy Ministry Program which we designed for the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in Sofia around 2008-2009. The long standing relationships with professors, active military chaplains from various fields and countries, and the wisdom of several Generals in the field helped us calibrate our ministry focus with what is needed by real people in the real world.

The new fad “to be real” is not enough in a realistic ministry setting. When 25ft. high storm waves beat the aft and the ship is thrown towards the dark wall of ocean waters ahead, one cannot help but “to be real” and depend on a very real and skilled crew. A captain alone cannot run the boat through a storm even if all systems are reported working. It is the crew deep down in the engine room and making its way on the slippery deck that makes it all happen.

The Crew. Some of them have not seen their families for months or even a year at times. They struggle with the same fears and anxieties as the rest of us. Except, while the rest of us can hold on to something for dear life, the crew is obligated by duty to continue to serve and move the boat ahead. The little chapel on the top deck becomes a passage to a lagoon past the riffs of stormy life where stories are shared, prayers are lifted up together and human lives are reclaimed anew for Heaven.

We have found these nontraditional paths of travel and ministry yielding the most unique encounters and connections for Kingdom growth.  Our family is thankful for these 10 years and looking forward to even more means of ministry outside of the four church walls.  If you would like for us to come to your church as share our journey feel free to reach out to us.

First Day of School in Bulgaria

September 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Publication

Toward a Pentecostal Strategy for the City

September 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Publication, Research

Toward a Pentecostal Strategy for the City

One of the questions that seems to come up in this course discussion is how to change the world around us with a more positive and effective approach toward using the Gospel of Salvation. In this particular module, the difficulty addressed is ethnocentricity. The particularity of our search then arrives at the more detailed question, how can we change the culture (respectively subcultures) of our church congregations? This is a drastic move from a closed circle toward an outreach community that many congregations are unable to accomplish. How do we then empower such congregations to be transformed into cultural reach-outs to a single ethnos or multiple ethnic groups? 

Problem

The problem in the first quarter of the 21st century has been incapability of our church strategy with the times we live in and the mindset they occupy. We’ve been preparing the church for the multicultural battle, all and while we should have been equipping the saints how to rebuild the walls since the battle has been lost.

We’ve been equipping leaders for the ministry while the church ship has been sinking only to end up with well trained captains of a sunken fleet. And in a doomed attempt to reconcile the reality of the ministry with their training, they have turned to wave walkers who briefly surface for breaths of fresh air during Sunday worship only to return to the deep blue walk of their daily ministry never finding their lost piece of eight.

For the battle was lost long ago before the present generation of ministers ever came to existence. They know not the battle. They’ve only seen the ruins that were left within the broken walls of the church. And they have been struggling to reconcile the incomputable of what church eldership has been teaching them to battle against with the Nehemiah calling for restoration, which God has placed upon them. For the answer has never been in building a New Jerusalem for a fresh start, but restoring the old Jerusalem and its former glory to a new state that reclaims our history and heritage.

bulgarian-church

Context 

Recent analysis of migrant churches in the United States reveals that the predominant majority of them are located in cities which have a high influxation and concentration of immigrants. Such localities are called “gateway cities”. Immigrants typically enter the United States through one of these cities and settle there. These areas contain over half of the foreign-born population in the United States as follows:

  1. New York, NY – Foreign born population 18.7%
  2. Los Angeles, CA – Foreign born population 27.1%
  3. Houston, TX – Foreign born population 12.3%
  4. Washington, DC – Foreign born population 8.6%
  5. Miami, FL – Foreign born population 33.6%
  6. Chicago, IL – Foreign born population 11.1%
  7. San Francisco, CA – Foreign born population 20.0%

Strategy

Asking the right questions is important, but the answers cannot be generic for all ethnic groups or cultural settings. There is a strong need to be flexible and observe changes in culture, but not to change the message of the Gospel or compromise our witness. Several common things are noted in any cultural setting where our ministry is involved:

First and foremost, people of all cultures prefer to be personal with a purpose, rather than being project driven. No one longs to be part of someone else’s project. Yet, our very existence demands personal purpose, which could serve as a great cultural catalyst in a church ministry.

Secondly, cross cultural ministry is not done merely on relationships, but on being real in the relationships. The greatest halt of ministry work is when people realize the relationship with the church has not been a real one, but merely a part of a program or a paradigm.

Finally, our cross cultural model for ministry should not be just salvation oriented, but soul oriented. There is a great difference between writing down the number of saved every Sunday and actually caring for the eternal well-being of the saved souls. In fact, this is so fundamentally determinative that it should be the goal in mind of every new church plant.

30 Days of Prayer and Fasting in 2019

August 30, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Publication, Research

Week 1
September 1, 2006 – Restoration of the Backslidden
September 2, 2006 – Church Leadership: Bulgarian Pastors and Ministers

Week 2
September 3, 2006 – National Revival in Bulgaria
September 4, 2006 – Spiritual and Physical Harvests
September 5, 2006 – Restoration of Protestant Evangelical Heritage
September 6, 2006 – Unification of the Bulgarian Nation and the Bulgarian Church (In observance of Unification Day in Bulgaria)
September 7, 2006 – Renewal of Family Ties
September 8, 2006 – Child Protection
September 9, 2006 – Mission Work

Week 3
September 10, 2006 – The Hopeless (In observance of World Suicide Prevention Day)
September 11, 2006 – Against Fear (In observance of Patriot Day in the United States)
September 12, 2006 – Sexual Purity and Biblical Moral Principles in the Bulgarian Society
September 13, 2006 – Sanctification and Prayer for Restoration of Holiness in the Bulgarian Church
September 14, 2006 – Return Toward Evangelical Roots
September 15, 2006 – Students of Bulgaria (In observance of the first day of school in Bulgaria)
September 16, 2006 – National Day of Fasting for the Bulgarian Evangelical Movement

Week 4
September 17, 2006 – The Country of Bulgaria
September 18, 2006 – National Prosperity
September 19, 2006 – Abortion Prevention and Prayer for Mothers Who Have Had an Abortion (In observance of Abortion Prevention Day in Bulgaria)
September 20, 2006 – Deliverance from Addictions (In observance of the National Addiction Counselors’ Day)
September 21, 2006 – World Peace (In observance of the International Day of Peace)
September 22, 2006 – Spiritual Freedom (In observance of Independence Day in Bulgaria)
September 23, 2006 – Spirit of Forgiveness

Week 5
September 24, 2006 – Restoring of Friendships and Relationships (In observance of National Good Neighbor Day)
September 25, 2006 – Against Stress and Results of Stress
September 26, 2006 – Physical Healing and Deliverance
September 27, 2006 – Peace for Israel
September 28, 2006 – A Fresh Anointing
September 29, 2006 – The Persecuted Believers
September 30, 2006 – Strength and Endurance

The message of PENTECOST is still the same…

June 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Publication

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