Christmas Book Sale: Psychological Exploration of Communist and Post Communist Bulgaria

December 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News, Publication

In the past five years since 2011, we have authored over two dozen books related to our ministry and mission work in Eastern Europe. As several of the prints are now almost exhausted and second/third editions and several new titles are under way, we are releasing all currently available editions in a Christmas sale through the month of December. All titles are available at up to 30% off and Amazon offers free shipping and extra savings for bundle purchases.

Our book available on sale today is:

Psychological Exploration of Communist and Post Communist Bulgaria

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Surrounded with insecurity and uncertainty, the Bulgarian Evangelical believer finds great hope and comfort in the fact that God holds the future in His hands. Christianity is a reality that is certain. While having lived in a culture of oppression and persecution, the Bulgarian Evangelical believer now can trade a downtrodden spirit for one of triumph. The once atmosphere of turmoil is being transformed to one of liberation in the Spirit where chains of slavery are traded for a crown of joyous freedom. Living in the 21st century in a context of post communist and postmodern transformations, Bulgarian Evangelical believers must remain true to their historical heritage and preserve their identity in order to keep their faith alive. This unique testimony must be passed on to future Bulgarian generations by telling the story of the true Pentecostal experience.

Obama, Marxism and Pentecostal Identity

Time and time again in the past several years, while ministering in churches across the United States, friends and partners ask us about our opinion on the political situation at home and around the world. Many of them ask the direct question of America becoming more and more socialist-like. Our response is that while people have the right to own a business, there cannot be communism, but this barely scratches the surface.

“Looking over the Wall” answers this and many other important questions about the current global reality from a very distinct Pentecostal and the same time post communist point of view. Yet, the text does it in a way, which can actually relate to popular American culture and current economic reality. The book provides Christian answers as of what defines our identity and makes us human – a right communism strips from the persona, the family and the church without much regard of the consequences that follow.

But this drastic dehumanization has an almost irreversible effect on the human psyche – a slavery mentality that penetrates the very heart of men and women and leaves forever its mark of fear, depression and insecurity. The book traces how Pentecostalism as faith and ideology has the power to deliver post communist communities from the grasp of oppressive governments and transform them into a socially relevant culture changing force. At the same time, it remains a warning to theologians who dare to flirt with Marxist idealism being fulfilled in the context of the New Testament ecclesia. And rightfully so!

The book is a must read for any and all who are ministering or planning to minister in a post communist culture or among post communist groups regardless of their geographical locale. For the principles it shows are valid for post community mentality everywhere. Preview and purchase your copy directly at Amazon.com

New socialist president-elect throws Bulgaria in a new political crisis

November 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News

red-lightAs we have previously proposed, this puts Bulgaria back on the “Red Light of 25 Years of Communism…” as in 2013 and 2014.

A socialist general from the Bulgarian Air Forces took by surprise the recent presidential elections winning +60% of the vote. He has already declared his pro-Russian preference asserting Bulgaria may pull out from NATO and the European Union.

As soon as loosing the elections, the ruling political party resigned the government early Monday morning. Bulgaria’s constitution now demands that the president gives mandate to the opposing Socialist Party, who will reject it due to insufficient presence in Bulgaria’s Parliament. The president then returns a second mandate to the ruling party, which they claim will turn down promptly.

A temporary government is then to be formed by the President and current Parliament, as it was the case in 2013 and 2014. In term, the democrats will hope to win with majority the new parliamentarian elections in 2017, which will be the 11th consecutive government elections in Bulgaria for the past 11 years since 2005:

2005 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 Elections

 

What does all this mean for the Church in Bulgaria?

Unstable political situation in Bulgaria with pro-Russian policies proposes a problem for the ministry of virtually all Protestants in the country. With a great probability to be voted in through a pro-Socialist government, a newly proposed legal measure bans any and all foreign organizations, companies and citizens from providing funding or donating to Bulgarian religious denominations. This would ban not only foreign physical and legal entities from funding Bulgarian religious institutions, but also companies with foreign ownership that are legally registered in Bulgaria. Using state funding for “illegal activities” by religious denominations will be sanctioned with prison terms of 3-6 years.

With these sanctions in mind, the new legal measure embodies the following rationale:

  1. Churches and ministers must declare all foreign currency money flow and foreign bank accounts
  2. Participation of foreign persons in the administration of any denomination is strictly forbidden
  3. Foreign parsons shall not be allowed to speak at religious meetings in any way shape or form especially religious sermons
  4. Anonymous donations and donorship to religious organization is not permitted
  5. Bulgarian flag shall be present in every temple of worship
  6. The new measure will block all foreign interference in the faith confessions and denominations in Bulgaria

New Law in Bulgaria Bans Women from Wearing Veils

October 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Protesters oppose the Socialist-led government in SofiaSOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s Parliament has approved a law banning women from wearing veils that cover their faces in public.

Bulgaria, a Balkan country of 7.2 million people, has a Muslim minority of about 10 percent. Similar bans have been approved in other EU countries such as France, Netherlands and Belgium.

The law was pushed by the nationalist Patriotic Front coalition citing security reasons for it, saying “the burqa is more a uniform than a religious symbol.” The law was opposed by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the third-largest party in Parliament, which has a substantial Muslim electorate. In protest, the group walked out of Parliament. Women who violate the ban face fines of up to 770 euros ($860), as well as a suspension of social benefits.

September 15: First Day of School in Bulgaria

September 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Bulgaria to ban all foreign preachers

August 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

church-stateThe Patriotic Front, a newly established political formation in Bulgaria, filed changes to the 2002 Religious Dominations Act last Thursday. The new measure bans all foreign citizens from preaching on the territory of Bulgaria, as well as preaching in any other language than Bulgarian.

The draft amendments also foresee banning foreign organizations, companies and citizens from providing funding or donating to Bulgarian religious denominations. All the religious denominations in Bulgaria will be obliged to perform their sermons, rituals and statements only in Bulgaria. One year’s time will be given to translate religious books into Bulgarian.

Financially, the draft laws would ban not only foreign physical and legal entities from funding Bulgarian religious institutions, but also companies with foreign ownership that are legally registered in Bulgaria. Using state funding for “illegal activities” by religious denominations will be sanctioned with prison terms of three to six years. With these sanctions in mind, the new legal measure embodies the following rationale:

  1. Churches and ministers must declare all foreign currency money flow and foreign bank accounts
  2. Participation of foreign persons in the administration of any denomination is strictly forbidden
  3. Foreign parsons shall not be allowed to speak at religious meetings in any way shape or form especially religious sermons
  4. Anonymous donations and donorship to religious organization is not permitted
  5. Bulgarian flag shall be present in every temple of worship
  6. The new measure will block all foreign interference in the faith confessions and denominations in Bulgaria

Further Developments on the Master’s Degree of Chaplaincy Ministry in Bulgaria

July 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaWe are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

The Master’s Degree of Chaplaincy Ministry in Bulgaria was:

  1. Upgraded to the necessary educational and professional levels, applicable to the specific context of ministry in Bulgaria (December 2010)
  2. Presented in its upgraded form for approval before the educational board of BETI in 2011 (January 2011)
  3. Applied in its full capacity with the remaining modules in Theology (Spring 2011), Counseling (Fall 2011) and Master’s Thesis (exp. 2012)
  4. Transferred to the New Bulgarian University in Sofia under their new social worker studies program.

Also important [click to read]:

Historical Overview of Military, Hospital and Occupational Chaplaincy in Bulgaria

June 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

pentecostal chaplaincy in bulgaria

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaWe are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

The Country of Bulgaria in World History
The dramatic split of the Roman Empire preceded the establishment of the first Bulgarian Kingdom on the Balkan Peninsula in 681 AD.  The consecutive military, cultural and economical influence of Byzantium over the Bulgarian nation claimed the newly established country to the side of the East from its birth. This propensity was sustained through the two Bulgarian Kingdoms (established respectfully in 681 AD and 1188 AD). It was renewed with even greater strength when the Ottoman Empire overtook the weakened country of Bulgaria in 1139 AD and for the next five centuries, the Orient claimed control of European Bulgaria.

In 1878, Bulgaria was liberated from the Ottoman Yoke by Russia, but only to remain under its political and economical umbrella for the next 111 years until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This event reaffirmed Bulgaria’s belongingness to the East as the country joined the Central Powers throughout World War I and deliberately remained with the Axis Powers in World War II.

Even when, on September 9, 1944, the Bulgarian Communist Revolution overthrew the monarchy and forced the country to move to the opposite camp of the war, Bulgaria’s allegiance remained with the Eastern of the Allies – the Soviet Union. This belongingness continued during the next 45 years to reform Bulgaria’s economical, political and cultural reality while transforming the Bulgarian mindset to a mentality which today remains the primary obstacle to Bulgaria’s integration in the free world.

As the country of Bulgaria is now a member of NATO and awaits acceptance into the European Union in 2007, international experts are working with various government institutions and consultant agencies to create an atmosphere in which the Bulgarian mindset can experience a new national revival in the 21st century. NATO’s involvement in this process serves as a catalyst both for reinforcing Bulgaria’s infrastructure and attracting international interest in the country’s affairs. Issues concerning national security, military involvement, international relations, economical development and ethnic diversity are continuously and carefully taken into consideration. However, one issue still remains untouched neither by NATO’s official position in Bulgaria, nor by the Bulgarian government. This is the issue of faith.

Also important [click to read]:

Brief Historical Overview of Chaplaincy in Bulgaria
It is true that clear documentation for the presence of chaplaincy in Bulgaria may be difficult to produce, especially according to any modern definition of chaplaincy ministry. However, it would not be unfounded to claim that the practice of military priests acting as chaplains in the Bulgarian Army dates back to at least Bulgaria’s national conversion to Christianity under King Boris I in 863AD. Having adopted virtually all the characteristics of a religious state from Byzantium, Bulgaria utilized priests and liturgy in its military forces.

During the time of the Ottoman Empire, the tradition of military priests ceased, as naturally Bulgaria had no army. However, foreign representatives continuously carried the ministry of chaplaincy through the Bulgarian lands. Around the 14th century, immigrants from Dubrovnik found a diaspora in Sofia. In 1486, they built the Patrum S. Franscisci Cathedral. The assigned priest also ministered as a community chaplain.[1] In the 16th century, German theologian Stephen Gerlah traveled through Bulgaria as a secretary to the protestant ambassador to Constantinople. Gerlah reports of the religious intolerance toward the Bulgarian population.[2]

Every military force dispatched to Bulgaria arrived with a chaplain.  For example, British chaplains were active during the Crimean War.[3] In 1860, Principle Chaplain to the forces of the East, H.P. Wright reported an outburst of cholera in the General Hospital at the Black Sea port of Varna.[4]

After the liberation from the Ottoman Yoke in 1878, the Missionary Herald reports: “The Protestant preacher from Adrianople is just in. …. The governor of Southern Bulgaria, who resides there, is a Russian general, and is a strong Protestant.[5] He has Protestant services (conducted by his chaplain) every Sabbath, at the government house.”[6]

In 1879, the German prince Alexander Battenberg was enthroned in Bulgaria. The new monarch arrived with a personal chaplain, a Lutheran minister by the name of Adolf Koch.[7] Koch was instrumental in organizing a commune of German immigrants and holding regular protestant services in a specially designed building. The royal entourage, German families, Austrian and Swiss merchants and bankers and Russian officers, attended these services.[8]

At approximately the same time, Bulgarian Orthodox priest resumed their position with the armed forces in various conflicts. Orthodox priests actively participated in the Russian-Turkish (1877-1878) and the Serbo-Bulgarian (1885) wars. It was during this period that the Bulgarian chaplaincy tradition was reestablished under the title “garrison priest” and Vladimir Solovyov first discussed the theology of war. The role of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church continues to be present during combat throughout the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), often called the “Orthodox Holy War” and “The Last Crusade.” Orthodox chaplaincy is also present in the two World Wars, but the orthodox theology of war viewing Bulgaria as the “New Israel” was completely destroyed when Communism overthrew the monarchy establishing a new regime.[9] Religion was rejected as “opium of the masses” and the military chaplain for the next 45 years was replaced by the regiment’s politcommissar.

[1] Kratak Istoriheski Pregled. http://www.bukvite.com/studio/teoria.php?lid=48 (August 1, 2006).

[2] Stephen Gerlah, Dnevnik na edno patuvane do Osmanskata porta v Carigrad (Sofia: Izdtelstvo OF, 1976).

[3] Frances Duberly. Journal kept during the Russian War. (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855). Also, William W. Hall, Purtans on the Balkans (Sofia: n/a, 1938), 49, 61 and 249.

[4] “Realities of Paris Life”. The Dublin University Magazine: A Literary and Political Journal. Vol. LV (January-June, 1860), 166.

[5] Perhaps reference of general Arcadii Stolipin, who served as the governor of Eastern Rumelia after Bulgaria was divided by the San Stefano Treaty of 1878.

[6] “European Turkey Masson.” The Missionary Herald, Containing the Proceedings of the American Board. (July, 1878:74, 7).

[7] Report Girl’s School, 1881. Archive: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Vol. I, 146. Annual Report, American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1882, 26.

[8] H. Mayer, Die Diaspora der Deutshen Evangeliscen Kirche in Rumanien, Serbien und Bulgarien (Postdam, 1901), 440.

[9] Svetlozar Eldarov, Pravoslavieto na Voina (Sofia: Sv. Georgi Pobedenosec, 2004).

The Restoration of Chaplaincy in Bulgaria (History of Events)

June 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaWe are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

05/12 Anticipated Date for Graduation of the First Cohort of Master’s Program of Chaplaincy Ministry in Bulgaria

2011
09/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Module 3: Counseling Completed
07/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Module 2: Theology Completed
03/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program approved by the Educational Committee of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute
01/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Continues

2010
10/10 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Module 1: Chaplaincy Completed
09/10 Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program begins in Sofia, Bulgaria
06/10 Chaplaincy Conference and Master’s of Chaplaincy for Bulgaria
01/10 Proposal masters program finalized and submitted for approval to the Educational Committee of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute

2009
10/09 Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association holds an introductory chaplaincy course in Yambol, Bulgaria

2008
12/08 Family Seminar for Military Men and Women held in Yambol
11/08 Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association Annual Meeting
09/08 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Associations noted in Church of God publications
06/08 – The Case of a NATO Chaplaincy Model within the Bulgarian Army released
06/08 – Celebrating 10 Years of Military Ministry in Bulgaria

2007
10/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Associations Recognized by U.S. Department of State
07/07 – National Chaplaincy Conference in Yambol, Bulgaria
03/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association was officially registered
02/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association gains legal status
01/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Assassination noted by international religious freedom watch dog Forum 18

2006
12/06 – Registration Rejected Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association by Bulgarian court
11/06 – A master program in chaplaincy ministry has been proposed for the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in Sofia
10/06 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association Founder’s Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria
10/06 – A contextualized course for chaplaincy ministry is offered at the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in Sofia
08/06 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association’s Resolution No. 1 sets course toward chaplaincy in churches, education and government institutions
07/06 – National Chaplaincy Meeting in Yambol, Bulgaria
06/06 – Meeting with NATO Chaplains
05/06 – Cup & Cross Ministries submitted a research paper to NATO’s Manfred Wörner Foundation dealing with the case of underground chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Armed Forces
03/06 – A contextualized course for chaplaincy ministry was offered in Veliko Turnovo
02/06 – www.kapelanstvo.com was released to serve as the official website of the chaplaincy movement in Bulgaria

2005
10/05 – A national training seminar held in Veliko Turnovo
10/05 – The Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association was presented before the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance
09/05 – Regional meeting in Nova Zagora which addressed the current issues
08/05 – A regional chaplaincy meeting in Sliven
07/05 – Publication of camouflage New Testaments and Bibles, some of which we distributed to Bulgarian army personal including the divisions currently serving in Iraq.

Also important [click to read]:

Chaplaincy in Bulgaria: Celebrating 10 Years of Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association

June 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaBulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Celebrating a Decade of Ministry

We are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

It has taken over 10 years since the envisioning of the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry in Bulgaria for its final realization in the Bulgarian national and cultural context. Through this time of struggle and anticipation, we encountered a number of obstacles as follows:

  • Government difficulties on various levels within the Bulgarian administration and a direct repression from the Ministry of Justice, which was later included in the Religious Freedom report of the U.S. Department of State
  • Administrative difficulties with approving the program as a legal educational process, while no legal background of chaplaincy had ever been provided in Bulgaria
  • Economic difficulties with arranging location and time placement for the program, lecturers, the very much needed student scholarships and various other academic expenses
  • Proper student selection through a special screening process to ensure only qualified candidates for placement within the Master’s Program
  • And of course, spiritual difficulties with the whole process of establishing chaplaincy in Bulgaria again being a definite spiritual warfare for all participants

Now, that the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Program is an undeniable fact, we realize how our training was more than just a necessity for the implementation of such a great task. It was also well sufficient for a time as such.

With the crises within the Bible College system of Bulgaria and the potential change of status for the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute (Theological Seminary) in Sofia, the professional programs offered thus far will have to be assimilated into some liberal art schools with a newly evaluated perspective on Christian education in Bulgaria or they will be forever lost.

In this context, some modifications may be required in the process to reflect more on these changes and their effects for the Chaplaincy Program as well as on the social role of chaplaincy in Bulgaria. Such search for equilibrium is only normal given that historically Bulgaria has placed chaplaincy ministry only within the perimeter of army, prisons and hospitals.

The final goal in our educational strategy, which directly targets legislation and practical implementation of chaplain ministry within various levels of government infrastructure, now remains for the student chaplains graduating with a masters degree specifically designed for their area of ministry from our program. Cooperation with a vast social network for this task is a must, and our students are already well trained through a practicum that strongly demands their cooperative work together.

And while the Bulgarian armed forces still remain the only one within the structures of NATO that has no chaplaincy whatsoever, professional Chaplaincy, as we foresaw it a decade ago, will most probably begin with a new vision within the reformed infrastructure of the Bulgarian army and shortly afterwards move to other professional branches as well.

Also important [click to read]:

15th Annual Conference of Bulgarian Churches in North America Building Bridges to Church and People in Bulgaria

May 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

Huston

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