Orwell, Zamyatin and the 2020 Church of God in Bulgaria

Even if Orwell took the idea for “1984” from Russian novel “Us” by E.I. Zamyatin (1924-New York), neither of them ever imagined it in 2020 Bulgaria.

Palm Sunday 2020 a small gathering of 200 in the yard of the largest Gipsy church on the Balkans (regularly 1200-1500 members) was anonymously reported to the police for breaking the quarantine. As seen on the video recording, the members were seated in a properly disinfected area outside, six feet apart and wearing masks. The gathering was properly coordinated with the city mayor and the authorities as essential for the large ghetto in Samokov. Our people simply wanted to gather and pray.

Nevertheless, state attorney opened investigation immediately Monday morning identifying the individuals present from a video of their live stream service. Over 30 believers were charged for breaking the quarantine and fined $200 a person the same day, though there is no official banning of church gatherings in Bulgaria. Yet! The situation resembles another Pentecostal gathering in the city of Rousse on April 1st that was raided by the police and dismissed. And these are not just isolated cases. And not only pandemic related…

Those persecuted, prosecuted and discriminated against for holding religious services in Bulgaria are not some unknown people in remote locations. We grew up with many of them, have ministered with most of them and have invested for the Kingdom with now 30 years of full-time ministry. Specifically in Samokov, I ministered for the first time in 1993, preached there several hundred times since and provided training for many church leaders with seminars for sharpening the vision and making efficient the network of the churches in the area. All of these people are happy to pay the fine in order to have a Palm Sunday service. The Church of God in Bulgaria has paid much more for doing ministry in the last full century – even under Communism. We know well how to survive such times and fear not to do it again if needed. Even if Orwell and Zamyatin did not envision the Church of God in 2020 Bulgaria, we are still here. For we were called to preach and serve in times as these. And nothing else matters!