Toward a Pentecostal Solution to the Refugee Crises in the European Union

October 30, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

SyriaCrisisRefugees0215Rev. Dony K. Donev, M.Div., D.Min.

We saw them everywhere during our ministry trips through Europe. Long columns of dark bearded men, covered women and malnourished, underdressed little children. They fill the refuge villages in Bulgaria near the Turkish border. Many of them were forced to travel in long trains from Austria to Hungary, Germany and all the way to the large Muslim ghettoes of Amsterdam and East Berlin. And even at the Dover side of the English Channel, where tens of miles long truck columns were parked directly on the interstate waiting for the refugees to pass with the ferryboats.

Every minister/missionary should at least wonder about a solution to this largest migration wave of the century. What is the proper human, Biblical approach toward these people regardless if they are persecuted Christians, migrating terrorists or just refugees without a country? What would be the Pentecostal (in the Spirit of Pentecost) response to their fate?

Several outspoken Pentecostal denominations have already raised awareness to the issue with a call for a “Christian assimilation.” Frankly, “assimilation” as an anthropological term is outdated even in the most assimilative cultures in the world. In the United States, once a melting pot of ethnos and cultures, modern day emigration takes terms in creating subcultures. In such cultural setting, assimilation is fairly hard to achieve and quite imperialistic as an approach. It is also not a religious term – the proper faith language being “proselytizing.” Even the Bible states that at the end “every tongue shall confess” picturing a multitude of ethnoses, not merely one assimilated culture. With all this, a call for cultural assimilation on part of Christianity borders a call for crusades, even the thought of which is inapplicable in 21st century’s society.

On the part of Islam, a Muslim subculture allowing assimilation without conflict and resistance will be practically impossible to achieve. And how exactly do you convert with words in a culture that allows speaking only to men? We all know of ministries or missions that have done successful work among Muslims, but what is observed in today’s context of ministry among Muslim migrants is unfamiliar to even experienced missionaries. A Muslim subculture is being created so fast, so vast and so unified throughout European Union countries, that it threatens to assimilate the Christian local host-culture before being assimilated or culturized within Western Christendom. Pentecostal churches throughout Europe are simply not prepared for such challenge, as confirm leaders of “Maranatha Ministries,” the largest Pentecostal church in the Netherlands.

The single greatest challenge is perhaps that the Islamic culture is not like any of the known subcultures in the Western World. While Hispanics focus on their language and Asians accent on their heritage and predecessors, the Islamic subcultures are being centralized around the Sharia Law. The newly forming subculture then is not simply ethnic or heritage oriented, but a legal precedent – often in direct contradiction with the law of the land. How do we engage the Sharia Law mindset with the law of Grace to effectively penetrate with the Message of Salvation such closely guarded culture, will be the answer to this current dilemma of ministry. Although not a complete solution, the following practical steps are much more Christ like and suitable to the situation than a theoretical assimilation, which may prove to be nothing more than a 21st century crusade:

  1. Fast from your daily Starbucks (Costa, or coffee brand of your choice) for a month. With the money you can sponsor one refugee child out of starvation. The cost is the same, but saving a child tastes much better than java
  2. Team up with a Pentecostal church in Europe, which is directly working within the refugee camps. It will not be hard to find one as only a few Pentecostal churches in Western Europe are involved in refugee work
  3. Prayerfully consider going to Europe yourself and contribute your time and resources toward a refugee camp.

Bulgaria Axes Finance Minister

February 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, News

bulgariaJOE PARKINSON, The Wall Street Journal

SOFIA—Bulgaria sacked its finance minister on Monday after a weekend of demonstrations over electricity prices brought tens of thousands onto the streets, raising pressure on a government that had until recently defied political gravity by retaining popularity in the teeth of an austerity drive.

Simeon Djankov, a former World Bank official who won the respect of financial markets for undertaking painful reforms but courted controversy in Bulgaria as a fiscal hawk, was relieved from his duties as finance minister by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on Monday, the government said in a statement. The prime minister proposed Tomislav Donchev, the minister responsible for European Union funds, for the post, the statement said.

The news, which took analysts by surprise, comes as Mr. Borisov’s ruling center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, or GERB, is facing mounting pressure after a series of antiausterity protests and corruption scandals have dramatically eroded popular support for its policies.

Sunday saw Bulgaria’s largest demonstration for more than a decade as tens of thousands of protesters gathered in more than a dozen regions, paralyzing city centers and blocking highways. Venting their anger against high electricity bills, the protesters demanded the resignation of the cabinet and the re-nationalization of power distributors. Electricity prices are politically sensitive in the EU’s poorest member state, where power bills bite off a large chunk of monthly incomes, especially during the winter.

Hewing to a tight fiscal policy and navigating the financial crisis without taking a foreign bailout, Bulgaria has stood as one of the EU’s fiscal brightspots, comparing favorably to regional economies Hungary and Romania, which have been plagued by steeper recessions and political turmoil.

But analysts warned that the removal of Mr. Djankov, the government’s most high-profile technocrat, would likely foreshadow a shift toward more populist economic policies ahead of national elections tabled for July.

“Djankov was the figure who symbolized fiscal and financial discipline. The whole economic policy was based on these priorities,” said Daniel Smilov, program director at the Center for Liberal Strategies, a Sofia-based think tank. “Now there is an expectation that some change in economic course is imminent and that may make some people nervous.”

There were signs that Czech power company CEZ AS, BAACEZ.PR -0.44% which has been the focus of popular anger at rising energy prices, could be in the cross hairs of a more populist policy. Bulgaria’s Energy Economy and Tourism Ministry said on its website on Sunday that the national energy regulator was considering whether to revoke CEZ’s license due to allegations the company violated public-procurement rules. CEZ, which insists it hasn’t breached regulations, had 9.9 % of its 2011 revenue from Bulgaria, making it the company’s second-largest market after the Czech Republic.

Bulgaria’s opposition leaders on Monday sought to build pressure on Mr. Borisov, stressing that the removal of Mr. Djankov would not alleviate public anger.

“This move means Borisov is panicking…The change is not enough, we need a new government and new rules,” said Ivan Kostov, former Prime Minister and leader of the rightist Democrats for Strong Bulgaria party was quoted as saying by Bulgarian state media.

On the periphery of the euro zone, but overwhelmingly dependent on the bloc’s larger economies for growth, Bulgaria won admiration from Brussels by reducing its budget deficit to 0.5% of gross domestic product last year from 2% in 2011. The economy managed a 0.5% expansion in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, marking its 10th successive quarter of growth

But opinion polls in recent months showed a precipitous decline in the ruling party’s ratings after three years of austerity policies, corruption scandals snaring cabinet ministers and a lack of significant results in fighting crime and graft.

A lead of 15 percentage points last year has evaporated in recent months, placing GERB level with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, according to recent polling. Analysts say that electoral arithmetic would make it very difficult for Mr. Borisov to form a single-party government at national elections and could prompt the Prime Minister to call a snap poll in the Spring. On the streets of Sofia on Monday, residents appeared polarized about the news.

Boiana Stoyanov, a 34-year old hotel manager said Mr. Djankov had been made a “scapegoat” and his ouster showed the coming election campaign “will be dirty.” Tsvetan Tcherneva, a pensioner who demonstrated in Sofia on Sunday said he was surprised Mr. Djankov lasted so long. “He brought American ideas and took an ax to pensions and to state wages. The government is in serious trouble now,” he said.

Services at Dupnitsa: Building in the Times of Crises

December 5, 2008 by  
Filed under News

The snowstorm in Sofia slowed us down a bit, but it certainly could not stop us from holding yet another exciting ministry event in the town of Dupnitsa. In the past few years, the town has received much attention being a major point on the interstate connecting Greece and Macedonia with the Balkan Peninsula and the countries of the European Union. This has given the local Church of God a unique opportunity to minister to various ethnic groups and it was then that the need for a ministry building was recognized. The church has now finished the foundations of a very nice and solid church building project with a strategic location in the cities center by the river. The main work will be completed by the spring, which will empower the Dupnitsa Church of God for a new level of ministry. Our team was able to travel to the city with several fellow ministers and deliver a timely message to the people whom gathered in the cold winter eve. We enjoyed a warm spirit filled service which renewed and encouraged. After the service, we met with pastors who work with Bulgarian communities in Spain and England and discussed the possibilities for a short ministry trip to their churches in the near future.