How a Small Ocoee Flower Shares a Big Story

July 10, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, News

by Kathryn DONEV

With VBS season upon us, we are always looking for inventive ways of sharing the Gospel with our little ones. We are internally motivated by the Biblical mandate of Proverbs 22:6.  When we start children off on the way they should go, even when they are old they will not turn from it. So this summer let us shift focus from the Corona Virus to the Corona Filaments of a small plant that tells a big story.

When Spanish Christian missionaries arrived in the jungle of Brazil in the 16th century, they discovered a plant with such beauty and distinctiveness unlike any they had seen before. These explores were encouraged feeling it was a good sign for their mission.  After closely observing the structure of the plant’s bloom, they called it the passion flower because to them it symbolized the passion or death of Christ.

This exotic flower (Passiflora Incarnata) grows wild in South America and the southern United States as well. Beginning around June is when you first see the vine emerge from the grown after laying dominate all winter. It is the official state wildflower of Tennessee and is sometimes know as the maypop (term given by the Powhatan Indians), wild apricot, Holy Trinity flower and the ocoee. The Cherokee were the ones to referred to the passion vine as “u-wa-go-hi” or “ocoee”. The root “oco” refers to the plant and “ee” describes location. The word “ocoee” literally means the apricot vine place. The passion flower was considered to be the most beautiful of all flowers among the Cherokee and to this day it is a revered piece of their heritage.

Here’s how a small flower turned to be the center stage of the story of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.

The passion flower is a strong plant that is resistant to pulling and bending as was Christ who endured the horrific pain of a crucifixion. The radial corona filaments of the flower represent the woven crown of thorns which mocked Christ’s claim of authority.  This corona rests upon a cup-shaped structure that reminds of the cup of suffering and the Last Supper. The spiraled tendons of the plant are symbols of the lashes Christ endured and  the flower’s trailing tendrils are like the whips.  The central flower column receptacle is symbolic of the pillar of Christ’s scourging. The three stigmas are symbols of the nails used in the crucifixion as well as the Holy Trinity. The five anthers remind us of the five piercing wounds Christ suffered.  Together the five petals and five sepals refer to the ten disciples who did not betray or deny Jesus. The palmate leaves depict the hands of His persecutors or the Holy lance that pierced Christ’s side.  The fragrance of the flower helps us recall the spices used in the burial cloth for the body of Christ. The purple color is symbolic of royalty, the white is for purity.  The shape of its fruit is symbolic of the world that Christ saved through his suffering. Finally, because the passion flower is a vine it points to Heaven and will compete with surrounding trees to see the light.  

THE STEFAN BANKOV STORY

October 25, 2021 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News, Publication

One of them was Dr. Stefan Bankov, perhaps the immigrant with greatest influence for the Bulgarian Protestant scholasticism. Immigrating to the United States in 1969 after being severely persecuted in Bulgaria, Bankov earned a doctoral degree in theology and dedicated his life to one great purpose, namely the preparation of the first concordance of the Bulgarian Bible. The concordance was completed in 1986 before the era of the personal computer. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Bankov returned to Bulgaria to work with his home church of Bourgas. He is the founder and president of East-West Christian Solidarity, a nonprofit religious organization based in California which aims to provide Christ-centered evangelism, preaching, teaching, and humanitarian for Bulgaria.

Christmas: A story about a Middle Eastern family seeking refuge

December 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, News

PentecostalTheology.com

The Story of the Bulgarian Bible (video)

June 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Video

The (un)Forgotten: The Story of Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s Children

June 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, Missions, News

51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]The (un)Forgotten: Story of the Voronaev Children
Missions & Intercultural Studies
Dony K. Donev, D. Min.
Cup & Cross Ministries International
Presented at the 40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Our presentation at the 2010 SPS meeting in Minneapolis opened a door for discussion of early missionaries to Eastern Europe with a special focus on Rev. Ivan Voronaev. But the story and ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev cannot be separated from his main supporter and partner in the ministry – his wife and children.

During the time of original research, it became obvious that Ivan Voronaev was successful in the ministry both in the United States and Europe only through the obedience of his family. They followed his call for missions, leaving behind the comfort of life in America. The Voronaevs sacrificed the future of their children for the unknown reality of Russia’s greatest depression. The strive for survival followed the imprisonment of both parents along with the virtually impossible task to re-immigrate from Russia and reunite in the United States, and the constant struggle to save their parents from certain death in Stalin’s consecration camps even when all hope was lost.

The Voronaevs’ story presents an early historical case study on Pentecostal missionaries and their children, not only as second generation believers, but as second generation Pentecostal immigrants as well. This example is particularly interesting since it combines both mission and immigration, as integral parts of the Pentecostal identity at the dawn of the movement. To add to this there is the relationship between missionary families and the mission-sending agency, on this occasion being the Missions Department of the Assemblies of God and in part the Russian Evangelical Diaspora.

In this context, the research on the Voronaev family has three distinct parts: (1) life in Russia and the imprisonment of the parents, Ivan and Katherine Voronaev, (2) back to America under the care of Assemblies of God Missions’ Department and (3) and the after years, with a special focus on the life and ministry of the oldest of the Voronaev’s children, Paul.

The research will utilize the available archive information at the Assemblies of God archives in Springfield, MO, as well as some Russian library material from Moscow and Kiev, which have become available after the presentation of our 2010 Voronaev paper. Special attention will be given to Paul Voronaev’s personal correspondence after his return to the United States and subsequent papers, relative to the story of the Voronaev’s children, published by him in later years. As Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s personal end is yet unknown, it is our hope that story of the Voronaev children, will provide a much needed closure to the life and ministry of one of the earliest Eastern European missionaries in Pentecostal history.

San Francisco Springs: A Story of Two Churches

May 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

san-franciscoSeveral years ago, while visiting San Francisco on our way to preach at the Bulgarian church in Las Vegas, we were completing our research on Ivan Voronaev’s biography at Berkeley, who studied there after his arrival to the States in the 1912.

While there, we decided to call a high school friend who lives and works in the area. He had moved to the States in 1998 while I was working in D.C. We tried to keep in touch since then, but I had not seen him for years. And with all our travels it had never worked out to cross paths.

So early one morning that same week, we were having coffee at Starbucks near San Rafael. He shared some of his experience as an immigrant, about his family spread thin between here and Bulgaria and about his brother who had just moved for work to Phoenix.

I’ve already written about these events with more detail in “Finding Friends in Phoenix or the Story of an Arizona State Quarter”. In short, this is how the idea for twin Bulgarian churches in San Francisco and Phoenix was born in the spring of 2009.

Today, when this dream of two churches is so close to become a reality, I look at this rather incidental and spontaneous meeting and wonder. If God can bring two old friends to start two new churches, what else does He have stored for us in the future?

New Voices from the Past: The Untold Story of the Life and Ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev

April 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, Missions, News

51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]New Voices from the Past: The Untold Story of the Life and Ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev
Missions & Intercultural Studies
Dony K. Donev, D. Min.
Cup & Cross Ministries International
Presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

The name Ivan Efimovich Voronaev is of a central importance for the development of Pentecostalism in Communist Russia and its Eastern European satellites. Voronaev was saved in his early life in Russia and then became a powerful Baptist minister, but after being persecuted for preaching the Gospel, in 1912 he immigrated with his family through Japan to the United States. Voronaev’s ministry touched both Baptist and Pentecostal churches from California and Washington to New York and Connecticut, before he undertook the difficult journey across the Atlantic, through Constantinople and Bulgaria to reach his native land. Voronaev established Pentecostal churches along the way laying the foundation of Pentecostalism in Eastern Europe. Although his story has been told many times, very little has been documented about his early ministry before he converted to Pentecostalism and launched what would become an international Pentecostal campaign reaching people from Seattle to Siberia (going eastbound). This present study reviews Voronaev’s ministry based on documents from the early period of his life, examining his connections with Baptist and Assemblies of God denominations in the United States. It then presents information about his mission trip to Eastern Europe, with a special focus on his stay in Bulgaria and the foundation of his work in Russia. But long before finding his place in the ministry, the story of Ivan Voronaev begins with his personal quest for identity in ministry, beginning with a search for a name…

(un)Forgotten Story of the Voronaev Children

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, News

For if history indeed forms our identity, we are left without identity once we forget our history. Yes, we still have feature ahead of us, but it is disconnected from our past and from our experience. It is disconnected from our identity and from our story. We still have a future when we forget our history, but it is not our future – it is someone else’s. It is the future someone else wants us to have…

The (un)Forgotten: The Story of Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s Children

July 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

voronaev_california1Our presentation at the 2010 SPS meeting in Minneapolis opened a door for discussion of early missionaries to Eastern Europe with a special focus on Rev. Ivan Voronaev. But the story and ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev cannot be separated from his main supporter and partner in the ministry – his wife and children.

During the time of original research, it became obvious that Ivan Voronaev was successful in the ministry both in the United States and Europe only through the obedience of his family. They followed his call for missions, leaving behind the comfort of life in America. The Voronaevs sacrificed the future of their children for the unknown reality of Russia’s greatest depression. The strive for survival followed the imprisonment of both parents along with the virtually impossible task to re-immigrate from Russia and reunite in the United States, and the constant struggle to save their parents from certain death in Stalin’s consecration camps even when all hope was lost.

The Voronaevs’ story presents an early historical case study on Pentecostal missionaries and their children, not only as second generation believers, but as second generation Pentecostal immigrants as well. This example is particularly interesting since it combines both mission and immigration, as integral parts of the Pentecostal identity at the dawn of the movement. To add to this there is the relationship between missionary families and the mission-sending agency, on this occasion being the Missions Department of the Assemblies of God and in part the Russian Evangelical Diaspora.

In this context, the research on the Voronaev family has three distinct parts: (1) life in Russia and the imprisonment of the parents, Ivan and Katherine Voronaev, (2) back to America under the care of Assemblies of God Missions’ Department and (3) and the after years, with a special focus on the life and ministry of the oldest of the Voronaev’s children, Paul.

The research will utilize the available archive information at the Assemblies of God archives in Springfield, MO, as well as some Russian library material from Moscow and Kiev, which have become available after the presentation of our 2010 Voronaev paper. Special attention will be given to Paul Voronaev’s personal correspondence after his return to the United States and subsequent papers, relative to the story of the Voronaev’s children, published by him in later years. As Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s personal end is yet unknown, it is our hope that story of the Voronaev children, will provide a much needed closure to the life and ministry of one of the earliest Eastern European missionaries in Pentecostal history.

The Story of the Bulgarian Bible

September 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Video