We write this report only to give thanks for what God is doing through faithful servants. For over a decade now Cup and Cross Ministries has worked closely with the efforts of the Bulgarian Missionary Network (BMN) and over the last several years its founder has been tirelessly promoting a project to build a school in India. The Lord led us to partner with this project on a personal level and we are thankful to see the results of the many hours of travel and hard labor which has been invested.
As our Mobile Bible School demands constant upgrade and the addition of various new modules, we have been able to implement three complete Bible training schools available in the Bulgarian vernacular within our program. They are presented as media resources to the students and now we have been successful in posting them online to a larger audience, which has interest in them. This include church pastors and independent churches, lay ministers and ministry teams, all the way to the common folk who want to learn about the Bible. These three programs have been historically present in Bulgaria since the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and it is our hope that with their internet presentation they will continue to serve for the purpose of ministry training. They are:
1. Oasis of Love Bible School which was taught in Bulgaria by American missionary Keith de Mayo and his colleagues in 1990-1994. After the Fall of the Berlin wall, Oasis of Love became the first major ministry training center on a national level in the capital Sofia. Several hundred ministry students finished the school and entered the ministry by 1994. We were blessed to be able to gather the recordings of the lessons and publish them online. (icon)
2. The School of Christ International directed by Rev. B.H. Clendennen (May 22, 1922 – December 13, 2009) was introduced in Bulgaria around 2000-2001 and for a brief time received great attention, especially among the Roma Gipsy churches of Southwestern Bulgaria. It introduced a new approach to Bible training through media resources, which were flexible to present and easy to replicate in the local church, thus becoming an important training device for the ministry in the Bulgarian context. (icon)
3. International School of Ministry (ISOM) is a largely recognized training tool for churches around the globe. It comprises the teachings of leading ministers and renowned theologians, who have gathered together in one team to impart to a next generation what they have learned about the ministry. The chosen theme series covers virtually every aspect of Christian ministry and are invaluable training tools for both ministers and members within the local church (icon)
In the past six months in which we have implemented the mobile Bible school into the Bulgarian context of ministry, our team has added three more courses which will be included in our 2010 class program. They are:
1. Systematic Theology. This is a course that we developed back in 2001 to respond to the need for Bulgarian contextualized studies in systematic theology from a Pentecostal perspective. After teaching the course at the Pentecostal Department of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute, we published a small Sunday school series on the subject, which have since then been used for congregational Bible studies within the Bulgarian Church of God. We are planning to reprint this publication in 2010 and present the course not only to the students who study Bible doctrine, but also as a practical model for teaching Systematic Theology from a Pentecostal perspective in the context of the local church.
2. The Christian Chaplaincy course was first presented within the context of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in 2006 as part of the educational program of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association. It purposes to introduce students to the ministry of the chaplain and help ministers recognize a calling to chaplaincy ministry they may have in their lives and set them forth to a higher level of education on the subject. The course has been taught several times in the past five years in various locations across Bulgaria and has been instrumental in the development of the Master’s Program in Chaplaincy, which we will begin teaching in September of 2010 in partnership with the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute.
3. Demons, Disease and Deliverance is the latest class developed along with two Church of God pastors. Vasil Petrov and Plamen Petrov who have served with the Bulgarian Church of God for over two decades now. Their healing and deliverance ministries have extended beyond the borders of Bulgaria, as they are frequent guests to Bulgarian emigrant communities in Europe and the United States. Plamen Petrov is currently serving with the Bulgarian church in Malaga, Spain, while Vasil Petrov is a regional overseer for the Gabrovo Church of God region. They both hold weekly online programs on the subject of healing and deliverance and were instrumental in the developing of this class as practical training which the Mobile Bible School now offers as an online training course for ministers and lay leaders.
We are just returning from a powerful weekend of teaching in Sofia. With temperatures below zero and snow covering the larger part of Bulgaria, we travelled to the capital city to minister at the Mission Church there. The church is only a couple of years old, but we have worked with the pastor and the leadership team for over a decade now as part of our Church of God ministry and the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association as well.
Since April, 2009 the Mission Church has had services in the heart of the Sofia metropolitan of some 2.5 million people living in it. The church started with a handful of folks and now has some 120 members in their regular meetings, a Bible school, home group program, arts program and a very powerful praise team and choir that have held several successful concerts already.
Our visit was connected with a series of lectures on New Testament interpretation at their Bible school and ministering in their Sunday service. Although the school has only 30 students, we felt a powerful presence during the lectures and were able to extend the material and connect on a more personal level with the students. Naturally, the Sunday service became a great continuation of what we had already completed with the students. During the first song of worship, a demon possessed man ran to the altars screaming and rolled on the ground, only to be delivered a few minutes later. Then, the preaching took the attention of the people in the congregation, followed by an alter service in which many rededicated their lives praying to God to bring them to a new spiritual level in their Christian walk. Along with the pastor and his family, we were blessed to observe the Word working within the people and changing their lives forever.
Regardless of the severe freezing weather, our Mobile Bible School traveled to Gabrovo during the month of January for a special seminar on “Demons, Disease and Deliverance” committed to the excellence of education and discipleship. With almost fully blinding fog, it took us a while to cross the Shipka pass of the Balkans that separates Northern and Southern Bulgaria. When we arrived in Gabrovo, more difficulties were waiting for us. A power serge caused by the weather had damaged electrical devices in the sanctuary we were meeting at including the heating system and the power point projector.
And there we were ready to teach and be taught with temperatures outside already bellow zero. So, we prayed and classes began with Church of God regional overseer Vasil Petrov presenting three powerful modules on the subject at hand. About the middle of the second period, while talking about dealing with demon possessed people in church, he felt lead to begin singing a song and invited the worship team to join him. As soon as we reached the course of the song with the words “Come Holy Spirit”, we heard the heating system beginning its warming cycle and by the time we were done with worship, the whole sanctuary was warm.
Teaching continued all day and we finished the seminar with a great altar call service, in which many were prayed for, several were delivered and healed, and one man received the baptism with the Holy Spirit after we laid hands on him. Late in the afternoon, many departed to return to their respective locations. Our team stayed behind for the service next morning. We had a great time of fellowship and prayer, strategizing for the time ahead of us and the strategic course of action we felt lead to take in 2010 as a church. When Sunday morning came, we headed up to the sanctuary only to discover that the power point projector and screens were fully working again without anyone trying to fix them. And we all rejoiced during the service, as the Holy Spirit delivered a prophetic message for 2010 while we witnessed miracles happening before our very eyes.
The response from this particular module of the Mobile Bible School had a great connotation not only through the churches and regions represented during the classes, but also among the hundreds of people who watched it online via our ministry website. We are already planning a second part of the module that is intended as an advanced level course on the subject of “Demons, Disease and Deliverance.”
Our Bible School initiative for the Bulgarian Church of God has dedicated the month of December for a special time of praise and worship. We have compiled teachings from lead Bulgarian praise and worship teams to be presented in the School of Worship on topics of personal experience with God and teaching others how to use music in the ministry. Four modules were selected for weekly presentation during the month of December as follows:
1. Pastor Iliya Panov teaching at the Life Church of God in Sofia, which he pastors
2. Rev. Daniel Tanev teaching at the DOVE Christian Center in Sliven
3. Missionary Keith de Majo teaching at the Oasis of Love Bible School in Sofia
4. Leadership Conference for Praise and Worship Teams
It is Missions week in Bulgaria following Thanksgiving. A time to meet with Bulgarian missionaries who travel abroad, discuss their needs and pray for the success of their respective ministries. Our Thanksgiving weekend involved a ministry team retreat in the Balkan Mountains as part of the education program initiated several months ago by our Bible School initiative for the Bulgarian Church of God. As usual, this event was dedicated to training young ministers and their teams and this time the focus of our meeting was missions. Ministry teams represented the Plovdiv, Yambol and Sliven regions. A missionary from Spain was also present for the training.
Keynote speaker of the event was the president of the Bulgarian Missionary Network (BMN), Rev. Ivo Shatrovsky, who shared his calling from God for missions and a personal vision for Bulgarian missions abroad. In his address, he presented several valuable lessons he has learned in his own missionary experience in the West Indies. Two workshops on the topics of Conflict Resolution and Structuring for Growth were further presented by our team. And while various activities were taking place in the midst of extensive discussions, sharing on the part of the missionaries and strategic planning for the future of the represented regions, the time of fellowship turned to a prayerful reflection on God’s calling upon our own lives.
For the mission of the church cannot exist apart from God. It is a calling, not merely a career. It is a cost, not simply a concern. It is a burden, not just a belief. Its focus is care and compassion. And yes, even in the 21st century, it still remains a Holy Ghost uttering, through which one remains blind for the world around until obeying to the vision of heaven (Acts 26:19) and begins seeing the world through the eyes of the Savior.
Through the years, the team of Cup & Cross Ministries International has published reports about various educational courses we have taught across the country of Bulgaria. The ministry context, which comprises this need, is a complex combination of political, economical, religious, ethnical and even legal factors. But above all, education through discipleship programs for church congregations as well as for the training of ministry teams is becoming a very essential and growing need in Bulgaria.
This year, we have been pressed by this need to organize a practical Bible School for ministry teams which being mobile itself and combing modern technology has been able to serve hundreds of ministers across the country. Just this year, our team has been able to hold ministry team training events for the Church of God congregations within the Dupnitsa, Sofia, Yambol, Samokov, Gabrovo, Veliko Tarnovo, and Sliven regions. Additionally, we have gathered ministers in regional training events in the Northwest (Sofia), Northeast (Varna), Central (Gabrovo), Southeast (Yambol) and Southwest (Dupnitsa, Samokov, Bansko) regions.
These teaching events and ongoing ministry training have proven to be a great aid for ministers nationwide. For example, in the month of September, we were able to team with the Church of God of Prophecy in a nationwide, week-long course on church leadership involving the topics of conflict resolution, team formation, ministry training, use of new technologies in ministry and many other important topics. We held two similar seminars in the cities of Yambol (September 16-19, 2009) and Sliven (September 29, 2009).
During the month of October alone, we led ministry training events in the following schedule:
October 3-5, 2009 Dupnitza Church of God
October 6, 2009 Seminar on internal motivation for Yambol & Sliven
October 13, 2009 Conflict management styles for Yambol & Sliven
October 14, 2009 Bible study on the Epistle to Philemon
October 17, 2009 Regional conference for the Yambol & Sliven regions with some 200 delegates from over 20 various locations.
October 20, 2009 Ministry team formation and leadership for Yambol & Sliven
October 21, 2009 Starting a new Bible book study on the Gospel of Matthew
Our team is continuing teaching and training in the same tempo in various locations in Bulgaria for the remaining of the school year. Overall, we have been able to prepare and offer to the churches and their leaders 12 complete training courses as follows:
1. History of the Bible: Paleography (beginners), Translation Theories (intermediate) and Manuscript Analyses (advanced)
2. Internal Motivation and Stress Management
3. Ministry on the Internet for Pastors and Ministers
4. Parenting Course (various contextualized topics)
5. Practical Church Leadership for the 21st Century (two levels)
6. Sunday School – Doctrinal teachings on the articles of the Church of God Declaration of Faith
7. The Book of Nehemiah (a verse by verse Bible study for church builders)
8. The Book of Revelation (a verse by verse Bible study)
9. The Complete Johanine Writings: Gospel, Epistles and Apocalypse (a practical course for Bible translators)
10. The Epistle to the Galatians (a verse by verse Bible study)
11. The Gospel of Mark (a verse by verse Bible study)
12. The Pastoral Epistles (a verse by verse Bible study)