Bulgarian Church of God in Cyprus

For the past three years the community of Bulgarian immigrants on the island of Cyprus has been swept by a Holy Ghost revival much similar to the revival which brought freedom in Bulgaria some 20 years ago after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Similar phenomenon was observed in the mid 90s in the Chicago Metro area, where several Bulgarian churches spurred up into a revival and as surveys showed years later, this has become the main characteristic of the establishment of Bulgarian immigrant churches across the world.

But the similarities with the Chicagoland revival of the 90s do not stop here. Just like in Chicago, some 65,000 Bulgarians live and work on the island of Cyprus. And this is the number of only the registered ones. But while the Bulgarians in Chicagoland are spread across only 220 sq.m. of the city, the island area of Cyprus has 3,500 sq.m., which makes their networking and communication much harder.

Pentecostal ministry among the Bulgarian Diaspora began somewhere around 2005 with small groups that reached 30-40 people. In this context of ministry, in the spring of 2008, the first Bulgarian Church of God congregation was formed in the city of Nicosia (Levkusia) with Bulgarian trained Church of God minister Rumen Metodiev as the pastor, under the supervision of Bishop Michael Charalambous, overseer of the Cyprus Church of God of Prophecy.

After a series of deliverance revival meetings, the growth of the congregation exploded and within a few months reached some 200 people. When special services are held once or twice a month over 300 people show up, making it impossible for the congregation to meet in their current location. Bulgarians from other parts of the island reached out to the new church and soon a new Bulgarian congregation was started in Limassol, a Mediterranean resort an hour way from the capital Nicosia. And then another Bulgarian Church of God was started only a few months ago in the city of Paphos and already numbers some 55 parishioners.

As the network of Bulgarian churches in Cyprus is growing, congregations are facing important decisions that demand immediate answers in the areas of leadership training, finances and cultural contextualization. After successfully recovering from some initial dilemmas through the establishment of a strong leadership team, the congregation in Limassol is already looking for a new larger building to rent in order to accommodate their growing attendance. The congregation in Nicosia is at a point where they need to acquire their own building for their meetings, but with their rapid growth, such may be difficult to find on the small island.

Our purpose in visiting with the Bulgarian churches in Cyprus was to hold a two week revival and to train leadership teams to assist the local pastors. We had a total of 14 services with the Bulgarian congregations and one with the Greek Church of God of Prophecy congregation in Nicosia. Our team held over 20 training sessions covering the areas of Bible study, the ministry of preaching, types of ministry, team building and church leadership. Pastor Iliya Panov joined us during the second week of training and covered the topic of praise and worship as well as provided a powerful presence of worship during our time together.

During the course of the revival, a Bulgarian pastor from Paralimni attended the meetings. Upon their invitation, we held an evangelization meeting on Saturday night, which brought many new souls to Christ and strengthened the faith of this new congregation.

Now, after having our annual “X” youth events in Bulgaria for four years in Sofia (2006), Bourgas (2007), Uzana in the Balkan Mountains near Gabrovo (8.8.2008) and the city of Samokov (9.9.2009) we are anticipating this new level of global ministry on 10.10.2010 in Cyprus, when “X” will be held for the first time outside of Bulgaria. The event will be hosted in partnership at the Cyprus Church of Prophecy in cooperation with all Bulgarian congregations on the island.