Celebrating 20 Years in the Ministry

September 30, 2010 by  
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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.

BULGARIA: Chaplaincy at Last

September 25, 2010 by  
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After five years of fervent preparation, hard work and constant opposition, the Masters’ Program in Chaplaincy Ministry in Bulgaria is a fact. We set our course back in 2001 to establish a constructive environment in which men and women who have a calling on their life to serve as chaplains can obtain graduate degrees with the necessary training. Several organizations have been instrumental in this process through the years. The Church of God Chaplaincy Commission gave the initial thrust with a basic chaplaincy course we organized along ways in Sofia right after 9/11.

The Bulgarian Church of God partnered in the process as a representing member of the Alliance of Bulgarian Evangelical Churches. The Military Ministry of Agape-Bulgaria worked alongside with our team to establish the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association in 2006. We struggled through the legal problems of registering the new organization while filing in various courts across the country only to be denied our right of assembly. But it was not until interventional religious freedom watch dog, Forum 18 stepped into the picture and our case was registered in the U.S. Department of State, that we were able to receive our registration papers. Meanwhile the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in Sofia allowed us to teach our first Chaplaincy Course in October of 2006, and this event set the course for our chaplaincy educational strategy toward the (1) church (2) chaplain and (3) state.

The first ever Masters’ of Chaplaincy Ministry program in Bulgaria launched on September 13, 2010 held by the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association in partnership with the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in Sofia with guest lecturers from the International Association of Evangelical Chaplaincy. We pray that the Lord give us the same grace and provision as we prepare for the following two modules in Counseling and Theology in order to complete the Masters requirements. To all that honor is due: Thank you.


Mega Praise Service in Rouse

September 20, 2010 by  
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Ministering at Rouse Church of God

September 15, 2010 by  
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dsci0703For many years we have wanted to minister with the Rouse Church of God, but for one reason or another we were never able to do so.  Therefore, it was with grateful hearts that we were finally able to do so during the National Leadership Conference in cooperation with the Bulgarian Church of God of Prophecy.  Upon the invitation of pastor Rumen Bonchev and his family, we ministered to the church accompanied by Bishop Peter Georgev, pastor of the Rouse Church of God of Prophecy, Bishop Clayton Endecott and director of the Tomlinson Center, Dr. H.E. Cardin. It was a very prophetic time confirming a word Bishop Peter had received several years ago that the time would come when both Church of God and Church of  God of Prophecy congregations would come together again regardless of denomination and worship side by side.  After the word was delivered all gather at the altars and prayed fervently together.  Barriers were broken and spiritual walls came down that night as it was a time which will remain in the hearts of the people to never be forgotten.

National Training for Ministers in Rouse

September 10, 2010 by  
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Church of God Regional Seminar

September 5, 2010 by  
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One of the fastest growing regions within the Bulgarian Church of God has been the Central Gabrovo region led by Bishop Vasil Petrov. The mother church in Gabrovo has become a dynamic congregation, operating in the gifts of the Spirit and active evangelism with a strategy that has resulted in a regional revival. Two more congregations were established in years past in the close-by cities of Sevlievo and the Old Bulgarian capital Veliko Tarnovo. We have been privileged to be a part of this process through regular training seminars and revival services at these churches located in the very center of the country of Bulgaria.

This year our team was invited to conduct a seminar for new believers who have joined the church. Some 25 people joined us on a Saturday to participate in the seminar. Many of them have received Christ, water baptism and joined the church less than a month ago and every topic of doctrine and praxis sparks their interest. We spent the whole day in teaching and answering question after question. Such process might be overwhelming for some, but the years of training and preaching are always helpful in persevering and fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples among the nations.

Sunday after the seminar we held two services with the churches in Gabrovo and in Veliko Tarnovo. The morning service turned rather prophetic as a word for the condition of the church and the people was rightly delivered and promptly received. The afternoon service at the Charisma Church of God in Tarnovo had more of an evangelistic approach, as it also reached a world wide audience via the internet.

Overall, Bishop Vasil Petrov and his team have made great use of the limited resources in the budget, buildings and media they have in their possession to execute with great effectiveness a regional ministry that can serve as a model within our Church of God denomination. Both services were broadcasted LIVE via our websites, which brought a great deal of response from viewers in Bulgaria and abroad, and set the stage for the Tuesday night evangelism program which the Gabrovo church holds LIVE on the internet. This was their 52nd broadcast marking one year from its conception, and it was our privilege to host the program, giving an opportunity to the regular host, Bishop Vasil Petrov, to be the guest of honor.

90 Years of Bulgarian Pentecostalism

September 1, 2010 by  
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90yearsBulgarian 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.