30 Years of Miracles: 2021

The NEW Pentecostal NORMAL

The NEW NORMAL hit Pentecostals in Bulgaria right for their first centennial anniversary. With COVID cases climbing, Bulgaria underwent over 200 days of total lock-down well into the summer of 2020. At the start of 2021, right at the national elections in Bulgaria, most EU countries renewed their quarantines measures as well. Regardless of hundreds of thousands of vaccines administered, in the first quarter of 2021, Bulgaria had most COVID cases in whole Europe and was the second country in the world with most COVID cases per capita.

Flying from the United States to Bulgaria is also becoming more difficult. Amsterdam, which used to be a good mid-way point has been among the most COVID-affected locations in the European Union making it risky for flight transfers. The route via Paris has virtually shut down with France in another long total lock-down. Flying via London was obstructed not only by their multiple lock-downs, but also the mandatory two-week long quarantine for all foreigners passing through the country, especially the ones from Eastern Europe and the United States.

Fortunately, after almost two decades of not having a direct flight to and from Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, a new airline opened a non-transfer line from JFK and provided a much needed ease for missionary work in the country. Our ministry continued especially in the area of first respondents and chaplains we have been training with our nationally recognized program in Bulgaria since 2009. At the same time, we were blessed to present two research papers at SPS and EPTA, and move toward publishing our book on the 100th anniversary of Pentecostalism in Bulgaria.

All this did not come with multiple challenges for the ministry. The shaky political situation in the country with yet another national election (16 in count since 2005) did not help keep the pandemic numbers down. As COVID cases in Bulgaria were climbing, the government moved to establish a new “vaccine passport” agency. Travelling to and from Bulgaria is now virtually impossible without vaccination accompanied with the proper international certification of their validity.

This book should have been published seven years ago in 2013. Its original subtitle was going to read “7 Years in Bulgaria.” Instead, it took seven years to finish it with all documents, research archives and new cases. Now, it is finally here and it finally reads like a story – not just choppy interviews, deposition documented testimonies or court records, but a story of struggle, strength and solitude. A story of life and a story of us.

1995-96 The establishing of the first Bulgarian Church of God in Chicago and its first split

2000-01 The contracted building of the ministry center for the Central Church of God in Sofia

2002-03 The church split in Southaven and what followed next

2005-06 The post-communist split of the Bulgarian Church of God and consecutive sub-denominations

2010-13 The social media network that cost us millions (of souls)

2016 The vote that forced to kill a church

2019-20 The sale of the ministry center for the Central Church of God in Bulgaria

READ: CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher

CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher

To Mark Alan
We know not why good people have to die,
but we do know we must tell their story…

Chapter I: Beyond the Church and into God

Be without fear in the face of your enemies.
Be brave and upright that God may love thee.
Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death.
Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong.
That is your oath.
of Heaven (2005)


Separation of church from politics of false religiosity

The phone rang heavy and long. It was 4 AM in Bulgaria, but I was already up. A friend on the other end of the line was calling from South Carolina with a warning of some bad situation. The following morning, I was going to be contacted by the Director questioning why we were ministering in churches outside of our denomination.

The truth was we had ministered in some 300 local churches across the Balkan country of Bulgaria crossing all denominational boundaries and gathering youth from just about every confession. God had used us not only to reach and minister and to lead, but to step into an untouched spiritual realm, to undertake an unfamiliar ministry paradigm and to approach a brand new dimension of reality where He was to be the center of it all. And we had obeyed without questions. Now it was time to pay the price!

* * *

Our denomination, the one to which I remain both critically loyal and loyally critical, spreads over some five generations. Through its century old existence, the struggles and tension between theology and praxis has been in the center. And there, in the very essence of Pentecostalism itself, while some are always celebrating and being celebrated in the office or temple, others are always pushed in the periphery of normal life, hidden from the world behind closed doors and seeking a much deeper experience with God.

These modern day mystics are not only forgotten, but often forbidden. For their riot for righteousness cannot be conceived, contained and controlled by the religious norms of organized officiality. They speak as prophets to a world they so fervently try to escape from, about a reality that does not exist in the normal believer’s mindset. A stage of spirituality that cannot be preached without being lived in the social existence. And a relationship of God that goes far beyond common relationism and into God himself. That God, Who does not abide in offices and temples, but on the cross outside of the city walls…

But I knew nothing of this until that cold winter morning when the phone rang through darkness of the night. Knowing what is coming, rarely changes what we have done to get here.

7 Years in Bulgaria: CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher
by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.
Upcoming Releases for United States (October, 2020)