ALIVE, ALIVE once again!

April 5, 2021 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Publication

For almost two decades now, we have published this Easter article without the proper picture. When Church of God World Missions first published it around 2002, I could only find one of the late-in-life pictures of my late grandmother. However, with our current research for the 100th anniversary of Pentecostalism in Bulgaria for Brill, SPS and EPTA, new historical evidences have been discovered related to this article. Beside pictures of my grandmother from the early age as one of the first Sunday School teachers in the Bulgarian Assemblies of God, the British Library published a number of early minutes and founding protocols of the first few Pentecostal churches in Bulgaria. Reading through several thousands of pages of archives that we have been searching for almost two decades now, we were able to find not only information on my grandmother but also the names of my great and great-great grandmother written in the founding documents of the Assemblies of God/Pentecostal Union of Bulgaria; thus tracing, five if not six Pentecostal generations back into the history of our movement. For the first time in the last one hundred years, they are now part of the official historical records once again.

Rev. 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

NEW REVIVAL in BULGARIA

July 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, News

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Unprecedented revival is sweeping the country of Bulgaria again and has started among the Pentecostal Church of God. We have spent the last full month in traveling and preaching in key churches crossing the country from the capital Sofia to the Black Sea and from the Danube River through the Balkan Mountains to the Thracian Valley.

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While people in general are struggling with the economic and political crises and the church is in continuous leadership dilemmas, God is on the move with a new revival mainly among the new generation of young people. We saw this in recent national youth events like our spring 2011 youth leaders gathering near Yambol and the regional youth revival in Silistra during Easter. Similar meetings were reported in Eastern Bulgaria in May and in the capital Sofia in June with the arrival of praise team from Hillsong, which gathered over 7,000 people in one single event. And last but not least, various meetings of Roma leaders and youth, to which we had the privilege to contribute as well.

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We are now looking forward to combining these experiences within our national Bible Camp which we hold for young ministers and youth leaders, followed by the New Wave camp at the Black Sea and the traditional Karandila Youth Camp in the Balkan Mountain. For when one generation looses touch with God, as described in Jeremiah 5:31, God always brings a new generation to serve Him. Today, God is raising a generation of young and faithful people full with the Holy Ghost, and we simply cannot afford to stay out of this great move of God in the last days.

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