Frank Bartleman: God Was in the Earthquake

February 1, 2024 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Media, Missions, News

Frank Bartleman was greatly used as a vessel of the Lord in intercession, and as a writer both before and during the Azusa Street Revival which began in 1906. The very same month and year that the revival began, the great San Francisco earthquake occurred. Frank Bartleman saw this as being the hand of God and quickly wrote a tract which was widely distributed.

By Frank Bartleman

“I found the earthquake had opened many hearts. I was distributing especially my last tract, The Last Call. It seemed very appropriate after the earthquake. Sunday, April 22, I took 10,000 of these to the New Testament Church. The workers seized them eagerly and scattered them quickly throughout the city.

Nearly every pulpit in the land was working overtime to prove that God had nothing to do with earthquakes and thus allay the fears of the people. The Spirit was striving to knock at hearts with conviction, through this judgment. I felt indignation that the preachers should be used of Satan to drown out His voice. Just as he later used them to stir up hatred and murder, during the great war. Even the teachers in the schools labored hard to convince the children that God was not in earthquakes. The devil put on a big propaganda on this line.

I had been much in prayer since the earthquake, and had slept little. After the shock in Los Angeles the Lord told me definitely He had a message for me for the people. On the Saturday after, He gave me a part of it. On Monday the rest was given. I finished writing it at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, ready for the printer. I kneeled before the Lord and He met me in a powerful way, a powerful witness that the message was from Him. I was to have it printed in the morning. From that time until 4 a.m., I was wonderfully taken up in the spirit of intercession. I seemed to feel the wrath of God against the people and to withstand it in prayer. He showed me He was terribly grieved at their obstinacy in the face of His judgment on sin. San Francisco was a terribly wicked city.

He showed me all hell was being moved to drown out His voice in the earthquake, if possible. The message He had given me was to counteract this influence. Men had been denying His presence in the earthquake. Now He would speak. It was a terrific message He had given me. I was to argue the question with no man, but simply give them the message. They would answer to Him. I felt all hell against me in this, and so it proved. I went to bed at 4 o’clock, arose at 7, and hurried with the message to the printer.

The question in almost every heart was, Did God do that? But instinct taught men on the spot that He had. Even the wicked were conscious of the fact. The tract was set up quickly. The same day it was on the press, and the next noon I had my first consignment of the tract. I was impressed I must hasten and get them to the people as quickly as possible. I was reminded that the ten days I was called by the Lord to prayer was up the very day I received the first of the tracts. I understood it all now, clearly.

I distributed the message speedily in the missions, churches, saloons, business houses, and in fact everywhere, both in Los Angeles and Pasadena. Besides I mailed thousands to workers in nearby towns for distribution.

Many raved at the message. A man followed me on the street raving like a maniac. He followed me into a business house, to do me violence. But the Lord protected. He then tore my tract up publicly at the curb, to show his hate. Many threw the message down in a rage, only to pick it up again and read it. It seemed God held them to it.

Everyone was curious for the tract, though it burned the most of them like fire. Sometimes they would get so excited on the street cars they would get off before they reached their street. My very presence seemed to convict many. The message struck consternation to thousands of souls. I have never written a tract that had so much influence.

Sunday, May 11, I had finished my Earthquake tract distribution. Then the burden suddenly left me. My work was done, Seventy-five thousand had been published and distributed in Los Angeles and Southern California, in less than three weeks time. At Oakland, Brother Manley, of his own volition, had printed and distributed 50,000 more, in the Bay Cities and ’round about, in about the same space of time. The following are some extracts from the Earthquake tract:

But what had God to do with earthquakes? When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:9). Which removeth the mountains, when He overturneth them in His anger, which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble (Job 9:5-6). The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt; and the earth is upheaved at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken asunder by Him (Nahum 1:5-6). And I will punish the world for their evil. Therefore I will make the heavens to tremble, and the earth shall be shaken our of her place, in the day of His fierce anger (Isaiah 13:11, 13).

Then the earth shook and trembled, the foundations also of the mountains moved, and were shaken because He was wroth. There went up a smoke in His wrath, and fire out of His mouth devoured. The Lord thundered from Heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice. Then the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were laid bare, by the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of His anger (Psalm 18).

Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and turneth it upside down (perverteth the face thereof), and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. The foundations of the earth do shake, the earth is utterly broken, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall stagger like a drunken man, and shall be moved to and fro. The transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it. (Isaiah 24:1, 18, 20). Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of Hosts with earthquakes, and great noise, and the flame of a devouring fire. (Isaiah 29:6). Men shall go into the caves of the rocks, from before the terror of the Lord, when he arises to shake terribly the earth (Isaiah 2:19). And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air and there was a great earthquake (Revelation 16:17,18).

And will you claim there is no God in earthquakes? John Wesley has said, Of all the judgments which the righteous God inflicts on sinners here, the most dreadful and destructive is an earthquake. From Earthquake Tract, April 1906.

Another denomination splits from the Bulgarian Church of God

June 5, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

One more denomination has split from the Bulgarian Church of God. After a year of struggles and dilemmas, the annual report indexing the state of the church shows a new denomination registered with the municipality court in the capital Sofia. The new Philadelphia church has emerged from an association of Romani pastors with a similar name that has existed and operated for almost 15 years. This is the 11th officially registered fraction leaving the denomination since the split of 2005. Two more churches, Mostar and Rebirth, too seem to have ceased meetings within the last year after the sale of the Bulgarian Ministry Center in the capital Sofia. The Center which broke ground in 2001 and was dedicated in 2011, hosted a number of strategic Church of God congregations during its decade of operation. Since 2005, most older Romani congregations exist with dual registration alongside the national alliance of Church of God-United (unitarian). With the current split, the total number of fractions separating from the original denomination now exceeds 13 (if not 14):

  1. Bulgarian Church of God (27.12.1990)
  2. Church of God in Bulgaria (23.01.2006)
  3. God’s Church (13938/2006: 07.02.2007)
  4. Church of God-12 (Sofia, Rodostono)
  5. New Generation Church of God (05.04.2000)
  6. Bethesda Church of God (27.12.2010)
  7. BulLiv Church of God (15.01.2000)
  8. New Life Church of God (06.11.2000)
  9. Bulgarian Church of God – Sofia (4996/2003 Sredetz, E.Georgiev Bul. 2, apt. 4)
  10. Bridge Church of God (50/2013)

God as to Water: The Musing Continues

June 1, 2023 by  
Filed under News, Publication, Research

by Kathryn Donev, LPC-MHSP, NCC

               and His voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory – Ezek 43:1-7

In the beginning of 2011, thoughts began flooding my awareness about “God as to Water”.  Scripture after the next along with revelation came in one instant supported by many questions from loved ones during this period while on the territory of Eastern Europe.  Overwhelmed by the ruminations, on July 5, 2011 the topic was dismissed along with written works.  In 2022 on July 5, while in North America, the ponderings proceeded.  I begin looking for the article which I convinced myself was written over a decade ago, but to no avail. Only disjointed insights were jotted down on paper. The following attempts to expand on something that is far beyond comprehension.

If in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, then God or the Word was always in existence and all things came from this.  Everything was made from Him.  He, God, giving of Himself, created the Heavens and the Earth.  But this “Earth” was formless, but deep, empty and dark.  All while God’s Spirit hovered over the waters, plural. One could imagine this as an omnipresent being floating ever connectedly to the essence of wholeness.  Then, division came, but it came only from that which was in the beginning – the Word, God.

Separation of entities occurred; light from darkness for us to see the vault that separated water from water?  Splitting water from itself? Electrolysis that happen with an energy input so great that perhaps came with a sound of a mighty rushing wind or sonic boom?  With this endothermic reaction, hydrogen stands alone.

Everything in the Universe is made up of matter and energy. Einstein said that “Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another.” The world depends on energy to provide for all humankind activities.  Hydrogen is the base element of our physical universe. All elements and matter can be created from or broken down to hydrogen.  That which came from water. The atom in water that is surrounded by hydrogen is oxygen; the element of breath needed to support all flesh on the earth just as God supports all life by His Spirit. The water on our Earth today is the same water that it has always been. No new water has been created.  Water is the only element that exists on our planet in a solid, liquid and gaseous aggregate state reminding of the Trinity. The molecules of water are self-attractive. They are drawn to each other to support things. This characteristic of water assists in capillary action.

If it was only God in the beginning then could God perhaps be energetic water; formless, but with infinite depth. Being ever presents in everything. There are over 700 references to water in the Bible and many of these refer to God, in some way as that water.  At times He is even referred to a cloud or mist attempting to label His Glory.

                    and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory. – Ezek 10:4

In Genesis chapter six, God chose to use water as the means of destroying a sin-cursed world. Thus water became a “dividing line” between the cleansed and the uncleansed. When God delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, he led them to the Red Sea. They were immersed in cloud and sea and there was freedom (1 Cor. 10:1-f). When Jesus healed the man born blind (John:1-f) he used water in the form of saliva as the “dividing line” between blindness and sight. Water is a universal solvent having the ability to cleanse. It can dissolve even gas and can recycle chemicals. There is life in water, without is death. It is mention in every chapter of the 4th Gospel.

                “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

                                                                                              -John 4:13-14

And the musings continue….

 

God as to Water: The Musing Continues

October 15, 2022 by  
Filed under News, Publication, Research

by Kathryn Donev, LPC-MHSP, NCC

               and His voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory – Ezek 43:1-7

In the beginning of 2011, thoughts began flooding my awareness about “God as to Water”.  Scripture after the next along with revelation came in one instant supported by many questions from loved ones during this period while on the territory of Eastern Europe.  Overwhelmed by the ruminations, on July 5, 2011 the topic was dismissed along with written works.  In 2022 on July 5, while in North America, the ponderings proceeded.  I begin looking for the article which I convinced myself was written over a decade ago, but to no avail. Only disjointed insights were jotted down on paper. The following attempts to expand on something that is far beyond comprehension.

If in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, then God or the Word was always in existence and all things came from this.  Everything was made from Him.  He, God, giving of Himself, created the Heavens and the Earth.  But this “Earth” was formless, but deep, empty and dark.  All while God’s Spirit hovered over the waters, plural. One could imagine this as an omnipresent being floating ever connectedly to the essence of wholeness.  Then, division came, but it came only from that which was in the beginning – the Word, God.

Separation of entities occurred; light from darkness for us to see the vault that separated water from water?  Splitting water from itself? Electrolysis that happen with an energy input so great that perhaps came with a sound of a mighty rushing wind or sonic boom?  With this endothermic reaction, hydrogen stands alone.

Everything in the Universe is made up of matter and energy. Einstein said that “Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another.” The world depends on energy to provide for all humankind activities.  Hydrogen is the base element of our physical universe. All elements and matter can be created from or broken down to hydrogen.  That which came from water. The atom in water that is surrounded by hydrogen is oxygen; the element of breath needed to support all flesh on the earth just as God supports all life by His Spirit. The water on our Earth today is the same water that it has always been. No new water has been created.  Water is the only element that exists on our planet in a solid, liquid and gaseous aggregate state reminding of the Trinity. The molecules of water are self-attractive. They are drawn to each other to support things. This characteristic of water assists in capillary action.

If it was only God in the beginning then could God perhaps be energetic water; formless, but with infinite depth. Being ever presents in everything. There are over 700 references to water in the Bible and many of these refer to God, in some way as that water.  At times He is even referred to a cloud or mist attempting to label His Glory.

                    and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory. – Ezek 10:4

In Genesis chapter six, God chose to use water as the means of destroying a sin-cursed world. Thus water became a “dividing line” between the cleansed and the uncleansed. When God delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, he led them to the Red Sea. They were immersed in cloud and sea and there was freedom (1 Cor. 10:1-f). When Jesus healed the man born blind (John:1-f) he used water in the form of saliva as the “dividing line” between blindness and sight. Water is a universal solvent having the ability to cleanse. It can dissolve even gas and can recycle chemicals. There is life in water, without is death. It is mention in every chapter of the 4th Gospel.

                “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

                                                                                              -John 4:13-14

And the musings continue….

 

InJOY Church of God Leadership Study 20 Years Later

July 25, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Source: COG Leadership Development: The Consultant’s View
Dated: 7/12/2002

For the past two years, the Church of God has benefited from an association with INJOY denominational consultants Dr. Conrad Lowe and Dr. Ron McManus. Recently they presented a comprehensive report with the Church of God Executive Council, which is shared here with COG News readers. John Maxwell Denominational Partnerships wishes to thank God and the leaders of the Church of God for the privilege of working closely together in the leadership development initiative. This endeavor has been a highlight of our ministry.
During Phase I, we witnessed this great vision cast across the entire Church of God in North America. Visionary leadership was modeled by the Executive Committee and the Executive Council. State overseers have invested in extensive training. Approximately 2,000 pastors and lay leaders have been trained in various ministry skills. Mentoring groups have begun in most states. Many growing churches have begun to grow, and many declining churches have accelerated, many plateaud churches have begun to grow, and many declining churches have stabilized. Finances, conversions and membership have increased. Church health and “excellence” have also improved for many churches.
The future goal is that additional pastors and churches will be added as we move to more intensive leadership training. In addition, the leadership development initiative will add leadership “coaching” to the mentoring strategy.
One of our tasks as consultants is to bring awareness of potential barriers to the vision of the Church of God. At this juncture in the process, we suggest there are five areas that should be addressed by the Church of God.
Church of God DNA
From our observation, the Church of God has at least three prominent formative influences—holiness, Pentecostal experience and a predominant rural culture.
· The holiness lifestyle defines your character.
· The Pentecostal experience empowers you through the Holy Spirit.
· The rural culture gives you your mental model of ministry.
The dangers we envision are as follows: (1) the importance of holiness may not be passed to the next generation; (2) the Pentecostal experience may lead you to focus on the gifts and neglect the disciplines of ministry; (3) a rural model of ministry is not readily transferable to other cultures, including ethnically diverse, suburban and urban cultures.
RECOMMENDATIONS
1. A plan of education in your heritage holiness must heavily influence your next generation. It may take place in institutions, distance learning, books, tapes, seminars, and so forth. At this point, we observe many Church of God pastors receiving their theology from external sources rather than their denomination.
2. Focus on you Pentecostal experience as your distinctive relationship with God, but add the disciplines of ministry to your gifts. For example, the training offered by the International Executive Committee during the spring and fall events focused primarily on ministry disciplines such as evangelism, assimilation and change management, along with others. Eventually, Church of God leaders will excel in the exercise of the gifts and the disciplines of ministry.
3. Learn how to plan and grow churches in diverse cultures.
Leadership Rotation
It appears that you believe you can “lead by taking turns.” The theory is based on the belief that every leader who is voted into offices next is as productive and skilled as the one being replaced. This organizational model works only if all leaders are equally capable. That theory is never true. This system always produces a roller-coaster effect of good and bad leadership. There is never time for the accomplishment of a vision; instead, each new leader is determined to leave his personal mark. The new leaders then feel free to change everything every time there is an election. If any group is lead by a great leader, they should do everything possible to keep the same leadership in place for sustained success. If not, the quality of leadership in the Church of God will always be “peaks and valleys” depending on whose “turn it is this year.”
Imagine any local Church of God. If they get a great leader and the church is prospering, they would do anything to keep that leader because they know one thing from experience—we have fine leader, but if he leaves, the next one may not be as good. We encourage the Church of God to rethink this underlying assumption about how your denomination is led. Major ministries are led by (1) great leaders and (2) those leaders stay long enough to build something that lasts. For great leaders, the longer they lead, the better the organization will become.
RECOMMENDATION
Focus on productivity instead of “taking turns leading.” As John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” The local Church of God churches will “rise and fall” on the quality of the leadership in your pulpits, your state and regional offices, and the international offices. The future of your movement depends on your ability to attract and keep our most gifted and productive leaders in your positions of influence.
Leadership Skills
The present system of choosing leadership in the Church of God encourages “political skills” instead of “leadership skill.” The regular votes for leaders (state, national and international levels) express the will of the minority. This is true because the majority do not vote in most political systems.
RECOMMENDATION
Hold the elected leaders accountable for the improved ministry of the churches they serve instead of “popularity votes.” Choose the best leaders among you. Then give them the resources to do the job. Support them with prayer and cooperation. Finally, hold each leader accountable for the results of their leadership and measure how well the churches are doing under their leadership.
We encourage the Church of God to continue its dependence upon the leadership of the Holy Spirit in making decisions which improve the church. As consultants, we find few people who are purely political, but we raise a major warning that the present system encourages “patronage.”
Structure
The Church of God is historically structured as a “hierarchy.” It can be visualized as a pyramid with pastors and churches at the bottom, state overseers in the middle, and international executive leaders at the top. As one moves upward in the pyramid, renown, finances and power increase. Under the leadership of Dr. Lamar Vest, the pyramid is being inverted. The principle is Biblical “servant leadership.” The international executive leaders serve as a resource for the state overseers, while the state overseers serve as a resource for the local pastors and churches.
We encourage the Church of God to “stay the course” moving in the direction of servant leadership. Jesus said, “He who would be greatest among you, let him become the least among you.” In the body of Christ, we must focus attention and resources on those who labor in the fields of the Lord’s vineyard.
RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Focus on the right group. Every successful structure must align the members to achieve the ultimate goal. The goal of the Church of God is to reach the lost and to train fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. In most organizations, the structure evolves to benefit the people who make the policies. Improvement occurs when they focus on the right people, the lost and those being involved in ministry.
2. Make decisions at the level closest to the work. The correct consulting term for this is empowerment. The Church of God must organize the denomination to develop the potential in every church. Ephesians 4 clearly describes the congregation of the church as “ministers,” not “spectators.” The Bible then says those lay ministers should choose laypeople to lead their ministry. The task of the pastor and staff is to equip the people in the congregation to build a great ministry. Structure the future to develop strong lay ministries with everyone else serving as a resource for that local ministry.
3. Make the structure flexible enough to meet current challenges. The foundation of the Church of God is its holiness, Pentecostal experience and Biblical authority. They are the bedrock principles that should remain the same. Structure, however, is temporary and changes as the organization grows and faces new challenges. A denomination plateaus or declines when it treats structure as if it were a foundational principle. You cannot confuse structures with foundational principles. You improve the Church of God when the structures serve the people instead of the people being saddled with an outdated structure.
4. Form Follows Function in Structure. The Church of God must find what God is blessing and then structure itself to join Him. Most denominations begin to decline and decay when they retain their present forms even if they can no longer be successful within those forms. It is time to simplify structure, increase flexibility to encourage innovation, and form your structures to fit your functions.
State/Regional Overseer Productivity
After consulting with the Church of God for almost two years, it is our conclusion that the key to transformation for the future rests primarily in the leadership of the state/regional overseers. They are the denomination’s primary influence on the field of ministry. If the state/regional overseer provides resources; models visionary leadership; and implements the strategies of “mentoring, coaching, consulting, modeling and teaching churches,” that state or region will experience health and growth.
RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Choose only your best leaders in the Church of God as state/regional overseers. They should have sterling character, be holy in their reputation, and have a “track record” of successful leadership; and train them to move from “doing” to “coaching”
2. Evaluate state/regional overseers solely on their ability to move their churches to new levels of quality and quantity.
3. Increase the training for state/regional overseers with one goal: our most productive leaders are overseers.
4. Leave them in place long enough to make a major, positive difference in their state or region. Instead of inheriting a stronger state or region, require the state/regional overseer to build a better state or region.
Leadership Trust
It appears that some Church of God policies have been established as a reaction to leadership failures in the past. Large organizations are notoriously slow to personally address misbehavior. When they do, they often make a general policy that punishes everyone rather than addressing the specific leader involved. The result is “leadership suspicion.” Those within the organization begin to mistrust all leaders and make broad defensive policies. The result is tragic—leadership for the organization is diminished.
RECOMMENDATION
Elect and appoint leaders who meet Biblical standards and who are recognized as people of Christian integrity. Then take the risk to trust and honor them as Scripture requires.
CONCLUSION
We believe the Church of God must address these issues in order to move boldly into the leadership role God has offered you. We do not offer detailed solutions at this point. It is simply our duty to help you recognize some of the issues that will determine the future.
We believe that you must minister as if your dreams are bigger than your memories. Your past has been glorious, but it is no place to live now. Your leaders are being endowed with vision fro God for your denomination, every state or region, and every local church. We encourage you to grow into those visions and resist being defined by the past.
Most important, we believe the church is poised for an unprecedented time of spiritual harvest. The great news is the issues you must address are all issues of growth, not of decline. The difficult news is, you must give serious consideration to some strategies changes. We believe every denomination in America needs to see one leadership group experience miraculous reformation. The rest will gladly follow. We are praying that you—the Church of God—are the group willing to learn enough, work enough, receive enough and pray enough to respond to God’s great promise—that your ministry will multiply “like the sands of the sea and the stars of the sky.”

Bulgarian Church of God splits in 10

July 1, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

The Bulgarian Church of God has split in no less than 10 since the early 2000s as following:

  1. Bulgarian Church of God (27.12.1990)
  2. Church of God in Bulgaria (23.01.2006)
  3. God’s Church (13938/2006: 07.02.2007)
  4. Church of God-12 (Sofia, Rodostono)
  5. New Generation Church of God (05.04.2000)
  6. Bethesda Church of God (27.12.2010)
  7. BulLiv Church of God (15.01.2000)
  8. New Life Church of God (06.11.2000)
  9. Bulgarian Church of God – Sofia (4996/2003 Sredetz, E.Georgiev Bul. 2, apt. 4)
  10. Bridge Church of God (50/2013)

Bulgarian Church of God Membership 20 Years Later

May 5, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Bulgarian Church of God Membership 20 Years Ago

March 30, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, News

The Central Church of God Ministry Center in Sofia (Bulgaria) Today

December 30, 2021 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

At the end of each year, we have made it a tradition to share the projects completed in the past months of hard work and labor for the Kingdom. But as we are approaching now 20 years of ministering and teaching with the Church of God denomination together, we have decided to recall some more long-term projects.

Exactly 20 years ago, my wife landed in Sofia, Bulgaria for the first time on a snowy December day. In fact, it was so cold that my mother worrying she would be coming from a much warmer subtropical climate, bought the biggest winter jacket she could find, so we could wrap her with it on the way from the airport. Not the most glorious meeting or welcome party as I recall it today.

I was eager to show her my Church, the Bulgarian Church of God, then second to none in the country with 32,000 membership strong and 400 congregations. Many of them newly started and 28 of them in the two-million people capital alone. The Central Church of God in Sofia, where I preached and ministered in 2001-02, had almost 1,200 people at that time. Its main meeting place was the multifaceted Church of God Ministry Center in a prime location in the growing European capital – a project we had undertaken in 1998 with the faithful will and support of some two dozen Church of God congregations from Florida. The documents from my personal archives tell the story best:

December 2, 2001 – I had just returned from Romania bringing with me World Missions Director Lovell Carry and Field Director (Central/Eastern EU/CIS) Dieter Knospe. They were in Bulgaria on a special visit to transfer the new building to the ownership and operation of the Central Church of God in Sofia per the contract signed with our overseer in the Spring of 2001.

The days of Ministry Weeks 17-19 that followed in December, 2001 and which my wife recorded here: https://cupandcross.com/2001/12/ are excruciating to even remember today. Sunday service with Sunday School and preaching, then again on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then special Saturday services in Pravetz and many other places. Similar schedule plus the traditional celebration services in the following Christmas week. Repeat again for the New Year’s week. And all of these done in extremely cold weather and tons of snow on the ground – so much that my wife was delayed for days leaving for the States mid-January with all flights out of Sofia cancelled as the ice never melted enough to clear the runway and defrost the airplanes.

And all through this, the building never stopped. Regardless of all difficulties, we were all working eagerly and anticipating greater results. The multifaceted Church of God Center in downtown Sofia was to encapsulate all our ministries and many more, giving our young freedom generation the opportunity of a lifetime to make a difference for the Kingdom…

Today, when the building of our Ministry Center is being sold and it will be used for something the will of the donors never intended it to be, our Church of God denomination in Bulgaria is split to no less than 12 fractions all registered since 2005. All of them still carry a variant of the Church of God name and consist of the same people I grew up with under the Communist Regime of Bulgaria.  We were promised a democratic leadership formed by indigenous people, but instead ended up with mini-bosses, regional micromanaging oversight, multiple splits and everything that characterizes a very typical colonial type of missions.

With the church organizations split time and again until torn into pieces, many of my peers chose alternative paths. Some left the ministry, others were hurt or divorced, a few even died and many simply gave up and moved on. With the rest, I have an appointment at the End of the World!

But none of this gives any pleasure or satisfaction to share. Especially when reminded that the dreams we all once dreamed are now hang on the willow trees by the rivers of Babylon. When reaching those waters of deeply troubled cross-cultural crises of faith and conviction, all bridges to people have sunken with no hope to recover again. God’s Kingdom has no gain in any of this!

Our prayer has hence turned into a prophetic protest for a new reality – not merely for a new mission paradigm, but one of a whole new mission… A Spirit-led ministry that forgoes all man-made politics and business-like models, but instead aims to build a New Church that is nothing less than the very cross-road where we encounter God and others in the Spirit of Pentecost.

 

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.
~Kingdom
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)

9/11 REVERSAL: Prophetic Restoration of a Nation and the Glory of God

September 10, 2021 by  
Filed under Featured, News

In 1994, as a prophetic warning to the nation some seven years before the 9/11 attacks, Dr. David Franklin wrote “A Call to Righteousness: Impending Judgment.” Drawing conclusions from Ezekiel’s chapter 12 desolation, destruction, dispersion, despair and prophetic hope in chapter 14, he warns that:

(1)   When a nation persists in violence, the Sovereign Lord confronts and holds responsible
(2)   When a nation forgets God, He allows for times of repentance
(3)   If repentance is ignored, God will expose and execute judgment on an unfaithful nation.

The book continues with a call for international righteousness (p. 10) and a critique of the debt-free myth proclaiming a time of economic shift (p. 11-12). Remember, this warning was written two decades before anyone in America had mentioned foreclosure, crises or global economic crises. But my favorite chapter still is the interpretation of Ezekiel’s vision of the departure of the Glory of God (p. 20-21).

I read this book back in 1999 and frankly had forgotten about it until 2011 when, at a young ministers training camp in the mountains of Bulgaria, we experienced what we consider the most genuine appearance of the Glory of God in our whole ministry. We wrote about it then and presented our observation at the 2012 Missions Conference at the Good Shepherd Church of God inPahokee,FL. The four points of our observation carry a tremendous prophetic resemblance to what Dr. David Franklin had proclaimed in his book 18 years ago:

(1) Every time God renews His covenant with His people, He shows His presence.

(2) We know that God is present in the covenant, because He shows His glory. It happened to Moses and his generation. And it also happened to Solomon several hundred years later.

(3) When a generation looses the vision of the Glory of God, God begins renewing His covenant again with a new generation.

(4) God is not satisfied with a people who know the signs and the blessings of the covenant. He rests not until He is revealed as the God of the covenant.

 

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