1998 Missionary Report

April 30, 2007 by  
Filed under News

In January of 1998 the Bulgarian Government released statistics about the current economic situation for the nation. The following results were published: 93% of the population of Bulgaria earns income well below the poverty level. Approximately 5% of the population is very wealthy, and the remaining 2% of the population are of relatively (lower) middle class. It takes approximately $200 USD per month to survive in Bulgaria. The average income for a middle class worker is $139 USD. The cheapest rental for a one-bedroom apartment in Bulgaria is between $150-200 USD.

Such income is barely enough to take care of rent alone. That also leaves most people without enough money to have electricity, water, or even food. For this reason the soup kitchen, which was opened in 1991, operates five days a week. It is located in the headquarters of the Bulgarian Church of God and is the oldest social center in Bulgaria.

Since the economical inflation is now over 400%, the number of people which the soup kitchen feeds have been steadily increasing monthly. Most of them are intelligent people, and mostly retired people whose Social Security is not enough to even pay their monthly rent. While in September of 1997, the amount of people the soup kitchen fed was approximately 250-275 people per day. As of January 1998 it feeds more than 400 people per day.

Religious Freedom: Despite the fact that the Great Wall of Communism has fallen, and the Cold War is over, Evangelical Christians in Bulgaria continue in their own Cold War and must still worry for their lives and the lives of their families. Last year a number of Church of God congregations suffered extended persecution ranging from demonstrations (including vandalism) to pastors being beaten; from churches being confiscated by the government to attempts to burn down churches with the congregation still in them.

Along with this is the abuse from the media is constant. The most recent attack was an article that was printed about a Church of God in the town of Kiustendeel. It was falsely reported that they receive a donation in the amount of $30,000,000.

This article along with many others caused much tension between the Government and the churches. Because of this tension, the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance (BEA), of which the Bulgarian Church of God is a very active member, decided to have a nation-wide conference, which dealt with these issues.

The conference took place in Hall #3 of the National Palace of Culture (NDK), on January 31, 1998. On January 30, there was a press conference, in which it was announced that this conference would take place. Literally hundreds of preachers, pastors, and leaders from all Evangelical denominations attended the conference. The main topics dealt with human rights and freedom of religions. There were many testimonies from the preachers about the persecutions they had suffered, in results of which an official Declaration was drawn up, and an official letter was written that would be delivered to both the Parliament and the Bulgarian Government.