Traveling during winter conditions in Bulgaria has never been easy. But it’s getting worse every year as temperatures drop lower and lower with record negative recordings. But ministry must continue regardless of the weather conditions. And there is a story in pictures of our ministry this past Sunday in blizzard conditions through the covered with snow Bulgaria:
7:30 AM: Early departure by dawn, defrosting the engine and heading out of town.
7:45 AM: A few minutes later still trying to leave Yambol, Bulgaria on our way to Sliven (25 miles north) to reach the Tricia Interstate. We stop to ask a southbound traveler of the road conditions ahead. The report is that while the roads are being cleaned they are simultaneously being recovered with snow.
8:00 AM: Heading out of Sliven west toward the city of Nova Zagora
8:15 AM: A few miles before the city Nova Zagora barely seeing the road ahead with falling snow and increasing fog.
9:00 AM: Reaching the interstate just pass the city of Stara Zagora where we were stopped by Police who inquired about road conditions and asked which direction we were traveling to ensure our safety.
9:20 AM: On the somewhat clean interstate attempting to make up for the lost time.
9:45 AM: Reaching the second largest Bulgarian city of Plovdiv also frozen under the snow to minister to some 150 members of the Apostolic Church of Bulgaria.
9:55 AM: Almost at the Apostolic Church of Bulgaria in Plovdiv, Bulgaria following our host to the church location.
3:00 PM: Heading back east after a long service and great fellowship afterwards in a hurry to our next ministry location in Sliven, Bulgaria.
3:30 PM: Not much improvement on the interstate, but thanks to the temperatures the snow is melting. We are very grateful. For Bulgaria this is normally the time in which the snow begins to freeze over after being melted by the noon time sun when temperatures permit.
4:00 PM: Passing Stara Zagora for a second time in one day.
4:15 PM: Quickly going through Nova Zagora as evening traffic begins to pick up.
4:30 PM: Passing the turn to our home office in Yambol to reach our ministry location in Sliven, Bulgaria.
4:55 PM: Entering Sliven under severe winter conditions, perhaps the worst we have seen all day, just in time for the evening service. The church is located in somewhat secluded back streets of the town which had not been cleaned all day.
6:15 PM: Altar call at the Antioch Project Church of Sliven, Bulgaria – worth every effort we have made for the ministry all day long.
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.
In the course of this work, we were able to witness a dramatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit during a ministry event with the participation of the team of our longtime ministry partner and personal friend Pastor Vasil Petrov from the Gabrovo Church of God. This particular service began at 6 PM on Sunday and continued until 10 PM that night as some 100 hundred people were prayed for at a two hour long alter service, which followed the message. We are still receiving reports of various healings and miracles that occurred that night, among which are:
(1) A lady of the worship team, who has played the violin in church all her life, scheduled for surgery that same week due to a bone-ligament condition was instantly healed during the prayer.
(2) Deliverance of multiple cases of headache, migraines and sinus were reported at the end of the alter service.
(3) As the church continued in several hours of prayer, around 9 PM a lady threw herself on the floor with screams and convulsions and was delivered from a demon.
(4) An elderly gentleman with a chronic condition in his vestibular apparatus due to a foot injury reported instant improvement and ran joyfully through the church.
(5) Several people reported improvement in their eyesight and hearing.
(6) Instant disappearing of pain and discomfort in bones, muscles, ligaments and chronicle conditions in back, hip and neck areas were reported during the prayer.
(7) A lady with a broken arm, who was watching the service live on the internet, later reported that her pain disappeared during the course of the service.
(8) Several people, who were brought to service from the local Dialysis Treatment Center, also reported instant relief. We are now waiting for doctoral reports as confirmation for the healings.
The Yambol ministry team on location, which we have worked with for many years now, continues a fruitful ministry among the village churches in the region despite the several economic crises in Bulgaria. Although many of the young people leave the Bulgarian villages in exchange for larger towns or even foreign countries where they can find better jobs, the village churches are growing.
At the recent regional ministry conference, where the Yambol, Sliven, Bourgas and Nova Zagora regions were represented, many reported exciting ministry results in various locations. Revivals broke in the villages of Kamenetz and Malomir, spontaneous prayer meetings arise often, while healings and various miracles are reported almost weekly. A water baptismal service for new believers is scheduled for the beginning in August at the Thundja River. In the midst of severe poverty and political unrest, the move of God has become a life answer for many.
This is why Sunday morning was a special morning for us, as we were able to rejoin the local Pentecostal Church team for an exciting day of ministry in five village churches nearby. Our day began at 8:30 am with prayer and then at 9:00 am we traveled together to the first church and had service at 10:00 am.
The village churches have anywhere from five to 25 people. Some are in actually church buildings while others are in homes or in small cleared out garages. Those, whom gathered, although small in numbers, are great in heart and dedication.
It is personally challenging when you see the weather and earth beaten hands of the man worshiping beside you and you witness the widow giving her last mite. Then when service is over you notice how the frail elderly ladies cover their heads with a white cloth so that the sun does not beat on their heads during their walk home. So to say that we spent our day ministering to those of the village churches is an understatement because it is those of the village churches whom ministered to us. Our last service ended in the afternoon and it was truly a special day.
There is also a new encouraging ministry opportunity on the horizon for English speaking services, as each village has become home to at least half of dozen Englishmen, who leave their native Great Britain and now live in Bulgaria enjoying the fine climate, friendly neighbors and peaceful environment. Please be praying with us for this opportunity to become a reality.
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.
From the largest evangelical church in Bulgaria, we traveled to five small regional village congregations. The change was the least to say drastic. We left behind the large, two million people metropolis of Sofia and quickly moved East crossing almost the entire country of Bulgaria on its long side. Moving at a fast pace, we arrived to our destination three hours later and began preparing for a day of ministry.
The day started about 7 a.m. with prayer. The team assembled around 9:30 a.m. and began the daylong trip. The five churches on our schedule were located in a circle rout with 15-30 minutes of traveling between them. They were much smaller than the Central Church of God congregation, which has close to 1,000 members. Nevertheless, the people received us with the same joy and the services began.
Some of the congregations rent small auditoriums from the villages and others meet at a designated home with varying number of attendees. Many of the regular members have been pressed to leave Bulgaria and work in another country. One lady had just returned from such trip to Italy and attended one of the services. Read more
We returned from yet another exciting trip to Sofia where we ministered at the Central Church of God with pastor Pavel Ignatov. After a six year building program, the church is now equipped with a new multifunctional center. Although this is not our first service there, we were amazed again how the new building enhances the ministry of the church through its multiple ministry applications.
To begin with, the location of the new worship center is close to downtown Sofia. This is important because as the capital of Bulgaria, the city has experienced an escalated growth in the past ten years reaching a population of over two million. The Central Church of God is conveniently located at the very heart of the metropolis as at the same time it is close to the main roads, which can easily lead to the city loop and out of the city.
The convenient setting provides for a multitude of ministries. For example, the social center in the new building daily provides lunch for a large number of elderly people whose pensions of a limited amount are not sufficient for all expenses of a life in the big city. The food is delivered to them fresh at the same time every day and is free of charge.
The church’s center is also used for a number of conferences and church leadership meetings. Just in the past several weeks along with the regular services, they have completed a revival, Christian Advocates conference, youth rally, ministerial training course, national advisory meetings and a great number of weddings (normal for this time of the year in Bulgaria). The congregation is currently planning a nationwide evangelization meeting for the beginning of November.
The service we held at the Central Church of God was encouraging for us. At first, the large auditorium with over 1,000 seats looked a bit empty due to Sofia’s main streets being blocked for a city marathon. Yet, soon after the worship team began, the auditorium filled up as people continued to arrive until the end of the sermon. At the end of the service, we asked the congregation to join us at the altar and pray with us a special prayer for the unity of Bulgarian Pentecostals. The final benediction urged the church that revival must go on, but this would only happened if the people of God stand as one.
We just returned from Samokov, which is one of the oldest industrial towns in Sofia. Almost 200 years ago the first protestant missionaries to Bulgaria discovered its strategic location and used it as a halfway point between Europe and Asia in their mission trips. Soon a modern American school opened its’ doors and some of the brightest minds of the Bulgarian Renaissance were educated there. We visited with one of the Roma (Gipsy) churches in town and held a Sunday service plus two youth rallies. These services were part of our national ministry and support to the Roma people of Bulgaria.