Mission Bulgaria Week 19

December 30, 2001 by  
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NEWS – Week 19 – December 25-30, 2001 – Sofia, BULGARIA

Merry Christmas and happy New Year from Bulgaria:

This is Kathryn Barton reporting on behalf of my fiancée, Dony K. Donev and Cup and Cross Ministries International.

On Monday night, which was Christmas Eve, we celebrated Christmas with a traditional Bulgarian dinner with Banitza, which is a baked strudel like pastry filled with egg and cheese (for the Banitza Recipe click here ). Then for desert we had Baklava with walnuts. The weather permitted for a perfectly white Christmas. Dony said he has not seen so much snow in his whole life. The temperatures were constantly –17C (5F), which is the coldest it has been for the past 30 years here in Bulgaria.

On Tuesday morning we attended a Christmas service, which was held by Rumen Ivanov, the brother of the Overseer of the Bulgarian Church of God, Pavel Ignatov. The service was opened with a skit performed by the youth of the church and afterwards Dony greeted the church, Rumen Ignatov preached and there was a time of testimonials and singing of Christmas chorals.

On Wednesday night Dony preached on Revelation chapter 20. Then on Thursday we where able to go and minister to the Church of God Congregation in Pravetz, where Dony preached a sermon entitled “Christ in Christmas”. Then while in the area we were also able to visit Yablanitza, which is about a 30-minute drive from Pravetz. Here we saw the new building of the Church of God. Dony pastored the Yablanitza church in 1991-1993. Now, one of the former members of Dony’s youth group in Pravetz serves there as a pastor.

On the weekend we went site seeing around Sofia. We visited the Alexander Nevski Cathedral which is also called the Golden Church because of its Golden dome roof. We also saw Sofia University “Clement Ohridsky,” the National Library “Ivan Vazov,” and the Bulgarian Parliament with the monument of “Tzar Osvoboditel” (The Deliverer Czar (King)).

On Sunday morning Dony taught his Sunday School Lesson in the National Palace of Cultures on “Foot Washing”. Afterwards we had dinner with the overseer’s family.

Mission Bulgaria Week 18

December 24, 2001 by  
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NEWS – Week 18 – December 17-24, 2001 – Sofia, BULGARIA

Greeting from Bulgaria:

This is Kathryn Barton reporting on behalf of my fiancée, Dony K. Donev and Cup and Cross Ministries International.

What a true joy it has been to be a guest in the Country of Bulgaria. The people are extremely nice and welcome me with open arms.

On Tuesday Dony registered me with the Bulgarian police department with no problems. In Bulgaria this is the only requirement for visitors without a visa and registering has to be done within forty-eight hours of entering the country.

On Wednesday night Dony preached on Revelations chapters 18 and 19 on a lesson entitled “Behold the Bride Cometh”. About 60 people came to the alters for prayer. Then after the service we enjoyed a traditional Christmas pastry desert called banitza, which one of the ladies in church had prepared.

Dony and his family have been introducing me to many different foods. Some are very interesting, but for the most part I have found them to be very good. Most of the meat here in Bulgaria during the winter season is smoked and therefore do not have to be cooked and a meal would not be complete with out bread.

On Saturday we traveled to Pravetz were Dony showed me the town where he went to school and served as a youth pastor for 3 ½ years in the local Church of God. The temperature has risen 10 degrees since I have been here. The snow is beginning to melt and the roads are clearing. So on Sunday, after church we were able to travel to Borovetz. Borovetz is a ski resort about a two-hour drive southeast of Sofia. The resort has hosted tournaments of Alpine World Cup Championship and its biathlon course is among the best in the world.

Service Sunday morning was absolutely wonderful. Dony began the service with his Sunday School Lesson on the Christmas Story and more than 400 Sunday School pamphlets were handed out. Tedy, Dony’s sister, translated for me during the service, but for most of the service no translation was needed. I could see God moving in the lives of about 50 individuals who came to the altars to receive Christ as their personal Savior. Then after the service, Christmas shoeboxes were distributed to all the children present. It was absolutely wonderful to see the Children’s faces as they received their gifts.

Mission Bulgaria Week 17

December 16, 2001 by  
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NEWS – Week 17 – December 8-16, 2001 – Sofia, BULGARIA

Greeting from Bulgaria:

This is Kathryn Barton reporting on behalf of my fiancée, Dony K. Donev and Cup and Cross Ministries International.

I left on the 15th of December for Bulgaria to be with Dony and his family for the holidays. I had a very pleasant flight and made it through custom without any problems. For Americans, Bulgarian borders are open and no visas are required for a stay under 30 days. When arriving at the Sofia airport, snow covered the ground. The temperature at my arrival was –16 C. The Black Sea is frozen and this is a record temperature since 1929. Today we even made snow ice cream. Though I have only been here for a day, I have adjusted quite well to the 7-hour time change and am having a wonderful time in the country of Bulgaria.

This past week Dony traveled to the town of Samokov to organize a special Christmas program. The Bulgarian Church of God there has a local congregation of more than 1,500 members. This is the largest Gipsy Church on the Balkan Peninsula. Sunday night they had a Christmas service for homeless Gipsy children and orphans where more than 200 Christmas shoebox gifts where given to the children present. Two hundred more gifts where given to children in the capital Sofia under the ministry of the Central Church of God, which is also organizing a Christmas lunch for elderly people who do not have families. This lunch will be held on Tuesday.

The Bulgarian Church of God is organizing other similar Christmas social programs in each region of the country. Their effect is very prominent especially in the Northwest part of the country, where 47 new congregations have been established in the past 3½ years under the leadership of the regional supervisor, pastor Emil Petrov from the town of Lom.

Mission Bulgaria Week 16

December 8, 2001 by  
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NEWS – Week 16 – December 1-8, 2001 – Sofia, BULGARIA

Greetings from Bulgaria: I just returned from the country of Romania, a northern neighbor of Bulgaria. We traveled in a heavy snowstorm, which covered both Romania and Bulgaria, yet the trip was more than successful. We visited the Church of God in Bucharest at the dedication of their new church building in northern part of town. We were kindly received by Pastor Bolgar and his team. After the meeting we had an opportunity to speak with a number of church officials from Cleveland, as well as the local pastors and leaders. As an overall my impressions is that Romania is a beautiful country. Like Bulgaria, it is going through heavy economical crises. The Church of God there is the largest one in Europe, and this gives the local churches security and a good name. In Bulgaria, there have been some new developments on the building project, which the Central Church of God has been working on for the past two years.

Our ministry has been going with the same good speed and success, and we are all preparing for the upcoming holidays. Several thousand shoeboxes have been prepared for the homeless children and children of prisoners, whom we minister to. In my teachings I am at the end of the Book of Revelation. I am expecting to finish it on December 26. In the beginning of the New Year, I am planning to do a study on the Letter to the Galatians. This week I have been meeting with the representatives of the Chaplains Ministries (hospital, army and prison) in Bulgaria to discuss an upcoming Chaplaincy Training Seminar. Our committee also arranged the distribution of several thousand of Christmas shoeboxes to the children of the prisoners at a Christian concert in the Central Prison in Sofia next Tuesday. This is a holiday event, which we have been holding for the past three years.

Mission Bulgaria Week 15

December 1, 2001 by  
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Mission: BULGARIA – Week 15 – November 25 – December 1, 2001

This past Wednesday night (November 28) we had the best church service since I have come back. About 150 were present and I preached on Revelation chapters 14 and 15. The text finished with the passage about the glory of God. Then God touched us. At the altars people were crying everywhere, kneeling and falling on their faces. Four were healed – one from headache, one from pain in the kidneys, one from heart problems and one from pain in the lower back. I praise the Lord for all these and expect even more reports.

The General Council of Elders met on Friday and Saturday. More than 320 pastors, evangelists and ministers from churches all over Bulgaria belonging to the Church of God denomination came to the meeting. We had a good time in the Lord together as many important decisions for the future of the church were made. I was given the opportunity to present to everyone the Sunday School Pilot Program. A set of 9 lessons (all of the lessons we have prepared so far) was given to each minister present. This means that in the next 9 weeks, each Sunday, a lesson will be taught to more than 20,000 people belonging to the membership of the Bulgarian Church of God.