SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgarians set aside religious and political differences on Friday at the start of three days of prayer, as President Rosen Plevneliev sought to heal rifts following protests over poverty and the deaths of four men who set themselves on fire. The country has been rocked by demonstrations which brought down the center-right government in February and in particular by the self-immolations highlighting low living standards and suspected corruption among the political elite.
The prayer initiative, which drew more worshippers than normal to mosques on the Muslim day of prayer on Friday, came after Plevneliev met leaders of the dominant Orthodox Christian church and minority Muslim, Jewish and Catholic communities. Orthodox Christianity accounts for more than 80 percent of the 7.3-million population of Bulgaria, a country where 45 years of Communist rule undermined its influence.
“We need to have more hope and believe that we can pull through,” Plevneliev told reporters at his presidential offices. “As we face up to the challenges, we should draw lessons and believe more. ”We need solidarity – personal, human, fraternal solidarity,” Plevneliev added. “Let us look after the sick, give a hand to a neighbor who is in distress. Let us not leave people alone.”
Special prayers will be held at mosques across the country, the synagogue in the capital Sofia and all Bulgarian Orthodox and protestant (evangelical) churches over the next three days. The Armenian church will also hold prayers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Widespread protests over low incomes and a political elite accused of maintaining a corrupt system since the collapse of communism in 1989 forced the resignation of the cabinet led by Boiko Borisov. New elections are set for May 12, and, although Borisov’s center-right GERB party is leading in the polls, it is unlikely to command a majority and will have to try and form a coalition.
Church of God General Overseer Mark Williams has urged Church of God congregations to consider joining the interdenominational prayer effort, “40 Days of Prayer to Change the Heart of a Nation!” The forty-day prayer emphasis takes place from September 28 to November 6, 2012. Tens of thousands of other congregations will participate in the joint prayer venture.
Williams noted, “While there is an obvious urgency for prayer here in the United States, this theme can be applied to any nation! And yet, our situation is particularly acute, and it affects the globe – financial crisis, the lack of repentance, unchecked sin and greed, national disunity, a disregard for all things sacred. We need a ‘great awakening.” Materials to assist with the ’40 Days of Prayer’ beginning on September 28, can be downloaded at www.40daysofprayer.net, and www.40daystosaveamerica.com.
Doug Small, coordinator of Prayer Ministries for the Church of God, noted that this effort is being led by the National Prayer Committee and the National Day of Prayer leadership team. A prayer guide is available on-line. In addition, both Dave Butts and Greg Frizzell have produced excellent resources. The first is available at www.prayershop.org and the second, through David Gosnell’s office, who leads Church of God Men’s Discipleship Ministries.
Here are some ways congregations can be involved in the 40 Days of Prayer effort:
1. Observe the Great Day of Prayer, early in the 40 day period – October, 7.
2. Plan additional corporate prayer meetings.
3. During this period, forgo the typical topics of prayer and focus on the nation.
4. Pick a day or week in which you will do a prayer-chain, 24-7 prayer, one day, as a minimum, to pray 24 hours. Or, for one 7 day period, engage in a concentrated season of prayer.
5. Set a room aside at the Church where people can come and pray. Better yet, open the sanctuary. Turn on the music. Dim the lights. Make it reflective and prayerful. Keep it accessible. Establish prayer stations. Lay out prayer helps with a focus on the nation.
6. Create a chart, divide the day into 24 one-hour or 48 thirty minute segments. Keep someone in the sanctuary praying for a day – or a week.
7. Do a fasting chain. Have people sign up to fast one meal, and another the next – until you fill up a week. People are then asked to pray at that time and around that period.
8. Join with other churches your community. Set up a schedule so that one church prays this week – and it is open, and another the next week. Unity and prayer must be partners. Seven churches can cover the period of prayer, one per week. And 40 churches, can each take a day.
The first ‘Great Day of Prayer,’ on October 7, will be a part of this solemn call to pray for the nation, beginning with our own need for repentance and re-dedication to God. Church of God Prayer Ministries has produced support materials for this Sunday. They can be downloaded at www.praycog.org.
July 18, 2012 – Bourgas, BULGARIA
At least seven people are dead and dozens are injured after a suicide bombing targeting Israeli tourists vacationing in Bulgaria. The bus was carrying mostly Israeli youth when it exploded on Wednesday July 18, 2012, police and hospital officials say. Two pregnant women and an 11 year old child are among the injured.
The blast occurred shortly after someone boarded the vehicle transporting Israeli tourist from Tel Aviv around 5:00 PM local Bulgarian time. A total of 146 adults and 8 children were traveling with “Air Via” charter flight 392.
According to BBC News, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed “All the signs lead to Iran” and “Israel will respond forcefully to Iranian terror. Iran has made no public comments to the Israeli accusations.” Russian InterFax published an immediate denial of the accusation on behalf of right wing Shi’a Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah.
This terrorist attack is unprecedented for any country member of the European Union. The targeted location at the Black Sea, and not the capital Sofia, is the closest possible border point between Europe and the Middle East. For the Bulgarian people, this attack is as traumatic as the 9/11 attack was for the American people.
Meanwhile, the United States condemned the deadly attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, as White House press secretary Jay Carney said Carney declared that the US stands with the Israeli people and the people of Bulgaria.
In January, 2012 there were reports that Israel had asked Bulgaria to tighten security for Israeli tourists traveling by bus. This followed a reported discovery of a suspicious package found on a bus with Israeli tourists traveling from Turkey to Bulgaria. CIA Director Petraeus also visited Bulgaria on unannounced trip in June of this year.
Currently, the Bourgas airport has been closed and flights are being diverted to Varna. All airports, bus and train stations remain under a close watch after Bulgaria’s capital mayor called for tightened security measures.
Bourgas is a Black Sea port city just over an hour drive from our base location of Yambol, Bulgaria. The First Pentecostal church on the Balkans was founded in Bourgas in 1920 by Assemblies of God missionaries, Donisey Zaplishny and Ivan Voronaev and consecutively lead to the establishment of the Bulgarian Church of God in 1928.
Netanyahu Vows ‘Forceful Response to Iranian Terror’: All signs are that Iran and Hizbullah are behind blast, on the 18th anniversary of the AMIA attack in Argentina that killed 85.
The TIMES: Israeli tourists killed in bus bombing
Novinite.com: Israeli Tourists’ Bus Blast in Bulgaria Terrorist Attack
The Jerusalem Post: 3 dead in suicide bombing on Israeli bus in Bulgaria
Financial Times: Bulgaria bus blast kills Israeli tourists
U.S. Department of State: Statement by Secretary of State on the Attacks in Bulgaria
Corrie Ten Boon: “A man is powerful on his knees.” [Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)]
Martin Luther: “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.”
Charles Spurgeon: “He who lives without prayer, he who lives with little prayer, he who seldom reads the Word, and he who seldom looks up to heaven for a fresh influence from on high — he will be the man whose heart will become dry and barren.”
Mother Teresa: “More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”
Mary Queen of Scots said she was more afraid of the prayers of John Knox than of an army of ten thousand men. The word of Knox’s prayer were: “Give me Scotland or I die…”
John Wesley: “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth. God does nothing but in answer to prayer.”
One man at the Azusa Street Revival said, “I would have rather lived six months at that time than fifty years of ordinary life. I have stopped more than once within two blocks of the place and prayed for strength before I dared go on. The presence of the Lord was so real.”
Cup & Cross Ministries International in association with Bibliata.com, Studio 865 and Mission Restoration – Bulgaria will be broadcasting the Global Day of Prayer from the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria beginning 10 AM ET on Sunday, May 23, 2010 .
Watch the event LIVE via http://bibliata.com
Some 200 people from over a dozen regional churches gathered in the village of Malomir on Saturday at a regional prayer conference. Several ministers and representatives from the Bourgas, Stara Zagora, Haskovo and Sliven regions attended as well. This is the third of four prayer meetings held each year in the area to encourage the village churches, gather the people together for time of rejuvenation and set quarterly goals for each season of the year.
The churches that gathered were congregations with which our teams have worked and ministered with for some 15 years now. Many of the congregations were started and registered during this term of ministry, while others continued their operation having gone through the trials and tribulation of Communism. Unfortunately, the last 20 years of economical, political and social crises in Bulgaria have left their scar on the both the people and the churches. The villages, once flourishing and prospering, are now left to the elderly as the young generation has moved in search for a better life in the big city or in many cases in a foreign land. Thus, the evangelical churches in the Bulgarian villages remain one of the few strongholds of moral encouragement, family values and life as we know it.
The answer to such a great spiritual need is rooted in deep prayer and personal piety, which is exactly what our teams have been trying to accomplish through these quarterly prayer conferences. As the attendance in years past has gradually grown, the Lord has called these people to the ministry and they have faithfully helped our teams in the progress of the work. Therefore, they were all encouraged to gather once again while we shared the Word in several sessions throughout the day. Our message focused on the subject of personal prayer and its leading role within the life of the local church. The efforts of all were well rewarded by a powerful move of the Spirit during the time of prayer, after which people were encouraged by the announcement of one more regional prayer conference for this year, which will probably take place during the holiday season.