1. You lose excessive weight you don’t need
2. You lose treasures/gold you thought you needed
3. You go on God’s diet
4. You learn your true friends/brothers and sisters
5. You learn to trust God daily
6. You learn to keep walking
7. You see your enemies defeated by God
8. Walking in the desert takes you to the top of God’s mountain where you meet God
9. Your children receive the Promise Land
10. There is a generational genetic cleansing of unfaithfulness. When the faith of a generation grows, the faith of the nation increases
11. You learn to walk in unity or you get lost and die alone
12. You begin to appreciate the small things in life (like bread and water)
One of our websites, which we use daily in our ministry, Bibliata.com is now 15 years old. Through these years it has become an icon of one generation and we celebrated its birthday with a great mega youth rally for the southeastern region of Bulgaria.
We are thankful to all who supported us in this ministry endeavor through the years and the ones who came to celebrate this spiritual birthday with us at the New Generation Church in the city of Dimitrovgrad. Among them were longtime Bulgarian friends and partners in the ministry from the churches in Sofia, Haskovo, Sliven, Plovdiv and Yambol.
During the month of September, our ministry is celebrating 20 years in the ministry. I was saved in my hometown of Yambol Bulgaria on August 9, 1990 and baptized with the Holy Spirit seven days later. In two weeks time God called me to preach and I preached my first sermon one September Friday at the Church of God in the small mountain town of Pravetz, Bulgaria. Fourteen were present at the meeting. The Bulgarian Church of God was still underground. Little I knew that only a few months later, the youth group of the church would count over 100 strong and growing, the Berlin Wall would have had fallen and revival would’ve been on the way. That night in Pravetz Bulgaria I just preached a sermon from the Word. That same Word, which God still claims cannot return void. For Revival must go on …
Our story has a humble beginning working with small Pentecostal-holiness groups in the Bulgarian mountains and growing the Pravetz Church of God youth group to over 300 members in a city of 5,000. And thus our ministry moved forward: from the storefront churches of Bulgaria to establishing the Bulgarian congregation of Chicago; from the backwoods Bulgarian villages to postgraduate level research; from the old red back hymnal to the latest technological invention; from hitchhiking to the charter flights and using any transportation necessary to get to the Sunday morning service and minister. We have done whatever needed to be done for the ministry to go on in Bulgaria and abroad. But we never forgot where we came from and we have faithfully kept on returning to minister to our humble beginnings…
At age 20 a ministry is not an old veteran, but just starting in its prime. We are both convinced and committed toward a new level of ministry in 2010 in a new spiritual realm. With this vision in mind, we have present the Bulgarian Church of God a dynamic strategy for the next five years of its development and ministry. We invite you to partner with us in payer and fasting for this endeavor.
Bulgarian Pentecostal believers celebrate 90 years of ministry and history. The Bulgarian Pentecostal movement is rooted in the Azusa street holiness Pentecostal revival which began in April of 1906. The revival then spread through the United States and less than a decade later, large Pentecostal denominations as the Church of God and the Assemblies of God were formed embracing the vision to send missionaries to foreign lands.
After establishing contact with the World Missions Department of the Assemblies of God at the end of 1919, Cossack born immigrant, who later took on Ukrainian citizenship, Ivan Voronaev received a calling to return to his motherland and preach the message of Pentecost there. Alongside him traveled the family of Ukrainian immigrant Dionissey Zaplishny and his Bulgarian born wife Olga, who like Voronaev left the church they pastored in the United States to obey the call to missions.
On March 10, 1920, Assemblies of God issued Voronaev a certificate as a “pastor and evangelist in Bulgaria” valid till September 1, 1921 and on June 22, 1920 Voronaev notified them his plans to set sail for Russia with his family on July 13, 1920. On the said date, the Voronaev, Koltovitch and Zaplishny’s families set sail on the “Madonna” steamboat from New York to Constantinople. Along with them traveled a group of Kavkaz believers among which was Bulgarian Boris Klibok.
After arriving to Constantinople, they had to wait for visas to enter Russia. Voronaev immediately began meeting with the Russian community in town recognizing the lack of Russian Bibles and Pentecostal churches. He wrote on August 15, 1920: „ ….with the help of God opened Russian mission here [Constantinople], and God our work blessed;” and on August 30, 1920: „…. we had first baptism with water in river. I baptized one lady wife of a Russian office. Glory to Jesus!”
After waiting for three months in Constantinople, Voronaev arrived in the Bulgarian port city of Bourgas along with Bulgarian Boris Klibok. The Zaplishny family had already established their ministry there through Olga’s Congregational home church. What followed next was a revival that made history.
March 5, 1921: The Pentecostal Evangel published Voronaev’s report from Bulgaria where he has been holding Russian-Bulgarian revival services in various churches in the cities of Sliven, Yambol, Varna and Sofia. Seven received the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
April 16, 1921: The Pentecostal Evangel published Voronaev’s second report from Bulgaria about services in Sliven, Bourgas, Plovdiv and the Baptist Church in Stara Zagora where the daughter of the Baptist pastor from Kazanlak received the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
May 14, 1921: Services in the Congregational Church in Plovdiv and baptismal service in the Martiza River.
June 11, 1921: „In Bourgas, Bulgaria the Lord baptized with the Holy Spirit about fourteen souls. We have about twenty candidates for baptism with water, and about thousand Bulgarians and Russian were there and were much interested.”
July, 1921: The Latter Rain Evangel published an article under the title “Pentecost in Bulgaria” in which Voronaev wrote about new Pentecostal believers in seven Bulgarian cities, his relocation in Varna to work with the local Methodist church and his plan to move to Odessa. The Pentecostal Evangel from the same month wrote, “God called Brother J.W. Voronaeff, who had charge of a Russian Pentecostal Assembly in New York City, to Russia.”
The early Bulgarian Pentecostals spoke in other tongues, embraced the gifts of the Spirit, practiced foot washing and conservative holiness, and received the Bible as their rule of life almost to the point of ritualistic ascetism. It was their prayer, preaching and serving before the Lord that ensured the future of the movement. Many of them would be forced underground when the Pentecostal Union is registered with the Bulgarian State in 1928. Others will be persecuted even unto death during the Communist Regime after WWII. The more conservative group split right down the middle by two strong leaders, Tinchevists and Borisovtsi would protect the faith to the best of their abilities. Many modern religious formations, among which the Bulgarian Church of God, would spring out from these grassroots of these holiness seeking Pentecostal Puritans. By 1990, after the Berlin Wall had fallen, this group of people will go through the largest evangelistic revival in Bulgaria since the Christianization of Bulgaria in 861AD.
Military Ministry in Bulgaria is celebrating 10 years. The special events will be held in the Black Sea town of Varna, Bulgaria. Chaplains from around the country, as well as international colleagues and friends, are invited for a time of reunion and inspiration. Special speakers of the event are Paul Pettyjohn and Chaplain Bernie Windmiller from the International Association of Evangelical Chaplains.
After serving the military in Bulgaria for a decade, the ministry is strategizing the legalization of chaplaincy and pastoral care in the Bulgarian professional army and police. Today, this difficult task seems closer than ever before, as ministers, pastors and caregivers are excited about the opening of such doors and the new opportunities which it will present for Bulgaria.
Thirteen years after graduating from high school I was able to return to Pravetz again for a reunion of the Church of God youth group there. As many of us traveled from various parts of the world to attend the meeting, it was only natural to recall what the Lord had done for us in this small mountain town.
The Church of God in Pravetz was founded as an outreach ministry of the close-by Etropole church. For many years, the Etropole Church of God was known as an underground evangelical congregation that served many in prayer and preaching regardless of limitations set by local and national authorities.
When the church in Pravetz began regular services in the early 1980s none of the secular observers suspected that it would have any influence on the town. Pravetz was the birthplace of the Bulgarian communist prime minister who ruled the nation for over 30 years. In the 1980s, Pravetz was known as a “privileged” city where the Communist Regime had build its own ideological stronghold. Yet, the Church of God in Pravetz survived the Regime and after much prayer and anticipation the church officially opened its’ doors after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
This was also the time of my affiliation with the church. Just having been saved in my hometown Yambol, I returned to Pravetz at the beginning of the school year in 1990 and begun attending the Church of God there. The church had a small group of young people who sought the Lord. In less than a year, their prayers were answered as a great multitude of young people begun attending the church. I remember one of the meetings where over 170 young people were present in the small military cafeteria adapted for church services. Having gathered at the recent meeting, we concluded again that for the period of 1990-1995, over 300 young people where saved in the city of Pravetz. Their stories remain forever recorded as part of the history of the Pravetz Church of God.
These were the events that we remembered at the gathering on June 24, 2006 in Pravetz. Many shared their stories since graduating from the school and beginning a carrier in various professional fields. Pastor Ivan Sabotinov, who has served in the church almost from its beginning, greeted the audience and reminded everyone of God’s love and grace that has remained the same through all these years. We were also given the opportunity to share from the Word and speak about the First Love. The message urged the remembrance of God’s miraculous power and assured those present that although we might have lost our first love, we are never lost from the first love of God. In addition, we were able to hold three more services on Sunday, June 25th at 8:00 a.m. in Pravetz, 10:00 a.m. in Etropole and 12:00 p.m. in Yablanitza.
We returned to the town of Pravetz for a weekend of ministry, restoration and celebration. Pravetz was the place where the Bulgarian communist prime minister of thirty years was born and raised. Ironically, it was also the place where the Lord raised one of the largest youth groups in the history of the Bulgarian Church of God in the early 1990s. Pravetz was the place where I began ministering and the visit there marked fifteen years since these humble beginnings. Regardless of the fact that both the town and the church have changed, the anointing for ministry which God placed there is still strong. We were able to visit both Pravetz and Yablanitza where we met with old friends and coworkers. Thus, the visit to Pravetz was more than just another weekend of ministry, but rather a place of reclaiming lost heritage and re-envisioning of a new future. Because even if a man reaches the highest peaks of life, crosses the larges oceans of success or completes the most unimaginable acts of heroism, he must never forget where he has come from …
We are excited this month, as we are honored to celebrate ten years in the ministry for His Kingdom. Although the beginning of our ministry is a humble one, today we praise the Lord, because He was both willing and able to save, deliver and call for ministry the sixteen-year-old Bulgarian boy ten years ago. We praise Him because in the hard journey of the ministry, we have never felt lonely, as He has been true to His word, “I will never leave you nor forsake you …” (Heb. 13:5).