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….


The Istanbul Convention introduces a 3rd Social Gender

May 20, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

Yesterday, the European Parliament supported the Istanbul Convention. From the Bulgarian Socialist Party, in the 4th consecutive National Assembly, we are introducing a Law on Combating Domestic Violence, but behind the scene of this noble cause, the Istanbul Convention introduces a third social gender, different from the biological male or female, into European legislation.” said BSP leader Kornelia Ninova from the parliamentary rostrum.

According to her, the EP ratified the convention, which means that it becomes a Union obligation and European law, which stands above national law.

The Court of the EU in 2021 confirmed that the EU can ratify the convention without the member states having confirmed it unanimously. 6 countries are against it. The EU Council asked the EP to accept the decision and yesterday it was accepted by an overwhelming majority. Yesterday, Bulgarian MEPs from all parliamentary groups voted ‘for’. Yesterday Sergey Stanishev and Elena Yoncheva voted ‘for’, and the other colleagues from BSP were silent. For these people, ours and yours, there is no Constitution of Bulgaria and decisions of the Constitutional Court. It does not matter to them the opinion of 80% of Bulgarian citizens and religions. There is no national sovereignty,” added Kornelia Ninova.

She called for support for the referendum on banning gender ideology in schools. “Your signature today is an investment in the life and future of the children and of Bulgaria“, emphasized Ninova.

Tomorrow, Stanishev is organizing a conference on the modern left. This is not a modern left. This is their left-gender ideology. For us, the modern left is something else – workers’ rights, ecology, a healthy lifestyle. For us, these are progressive topics. For them gender is progressive left. And that is why this is an attack on BSP. And this fight is part of BSP‘s downfall during elections. You don’t know how strong is this external pressure. BSP is the only party which is against this, from start to finish, for 6 years, but this is not a party issue, but a national cause, the future of our children,” said Kornelia Ninova.

Day 500 of the invasion on Ukraine

May 15, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

Day 500 of the invasion on Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • ISW: Exhausted squads and ineptitude fail the Russians at Bakhmut
  • Ukrainian forces announced that they destroyed a Russian military unit near Bakhmut
  • Zelensky vowed to regain the entire territory of Ukraine
  • “We need more time”: Zelensky postpones the counteroffensive
  • The Kremlin has acknowledged difficulties in the war in Ukraine
  • NATO does not view China as a military threat, but does Russia and terrorists
  • The New York Times: Putin has no plan B for the war in Ukraine and has set himself up for a trap
  • Assets of the oligarch Malofeev are directed to rebuild Ukraine

ISW: Exhausted squads and ineptitude fail the Russians at Bakhmut

Russia is sending depleted troop groups to the Bakhmut front, which, combined with apparent gaps in command and control, are likely to prevent Russian forces in the area from conducting credible defensive operations.” This is the assessment of a new analysis by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The Russian 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, which was destroyed near Bakhmut in September last year, had previously suffered losses in the Kharkiv region during the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian armed forces, and in October 2022 its surviving elements were defeated in the Mykolaiv region, the military said experts.

On August 7 last year, the ISW announced that the formation of the 72nd Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade in Russia‘s Orenburg Region had begun.

The Russians have been trying to capture Bakhmut for months now, but they are getting a decent rebuff from the defenders of Ukraine and suffering huge losses.

On May 9, Ukrainian soldiers routed the enemy’s 72nd Brigade.

The commander of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel-General Oleksandr Sirsky, said that in some parts of the front near Bakhmut, the Russians retreated under the pressure of the Ukrainian army by up to two kilometers.

The commander of “Azov” Andriy Biletsky stated that as a result of the offensive, the Ukrainian soldiers almost completely destroyed several regiments of the 72nd ODVMV.

Ukrainian forces announced that they destroyed a Russian military unit near Bakhmut

Ukrainian forces said they destroyed a Russian military unit near the eastern city of Bakhmut. The latest developments confirm Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s statement that Moscow is facing a “very difficult” military operation.

In an interview with Bosnian television, the Kremlin spokesman said that the Russian military operation in Ukraine is very difficult, but will continue. He added that Russian forces have managed to inflict serious damage on the Ukrainian army, that they will not stop and that with the help of high-precision missiles, the Russian side has managed to destroy military production and stockpiles of Ukrainian weapons.

Yesterday, however, the commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, Oleksandr Syrsky, said that the Ukrainians were carrying out successful counterattacks in the Bakhmut region and had managed to push the Russians out of some sections of the front, which was confirmed earlier by the head of the Russian private military company “Wagner” Yevgeny Prigozhin . According to him, in the battle in question, the Russians ceded territory with an area of three square kilometers, for which 500 victims were given.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that a fundamentally new concept of Ukrainian security is being developed and that Kyiv is actively working with its international partners on new defense packages for the country.

In his evening video address, Zelensky vowed to regain every bit of the territory occupied by Russia.

Let us not forget for a minute that every day of the presence of the occupier on our land is a temptation for him to think that he will succeed. He will not succeed! We must bring freedom, security and Europe back to all Ukrainian land – to all European land. We will do it! We will not leave one bit of our land to the enemy – tyranny will not rule anywhere.”

Zelensky vowed to regain the entire territory of Ukraine

Ukraine‘s President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed last night to regain every bit of territory occupied by Russia, at a time when his fighters on the front are said to have made territorial progress near the contested city of Bakhmut, DPA reported, BTA broadcasts.

We will not leave a single piece of our land to the enemy – tyranny will not rule anywhere,” Zelensky said in his evening video address. “We must bring freedom, security and Europe back to all Ukrainian land,” he added.

His address came hours after Ukrainian forces, who are waging heavy fighting for control of eastern Donetsk region, said they had pushed Russian forces to within 2 km in some places near Bakhmut.

We are conducting effective counterattacks there,” Ukrainian ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrsky said on Telegram on Wednesday night.

Sirsky said units of the Russian Wagner mercenary force stationed at Bakhmut had been replaced in some sectors by regular Russian units. These less well-prepared combat units have now been routed, the commander said, adding that “the battle for Bakhmut continues“.

Andriy Biletsky, founder of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion, reported on Telegram that the territory was completely cleared of Russian soldiers and at least two Russian brigades were destroyed and prisoners of war were taken.

As the fighting continued, Wagner’s commander, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said he feared his unit could be surrounded in the Battle of Bakhmut. “In view of the lack of ammunition, the ‘meat grinder’ is now threatening to turn in the opposite direction,” Prigozhin wrote on Telegram yesterday.

Due to the large losses in manpower, “Wagner” was forced to leave the protection of the flank to regular units of the Russian army, which were pushed back to a depth of up to 2 km.

There is now a serious danger of Wagner being encircled because of the collapse of the flanks. And the flanks are already showing cracks and disintegration,” wrote Prigozhin.

Meanwhile, Russia has called up its reservists for annual exercises. A document to this effect, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, was published yesterday in the State Gazette.

According to the decree, the Ministry of Defense can issue the relevant instructions to the military districts, which will then call up the reservists for the exercise, TASS reported. In view of the war in Ukraine, however, many reservists may question whether they have been called up for training or could be sent to the front.

According to foreign estimates, Russia has about 2 million reservists, of which up to 150,000 are said to have been sent to Ukraine. In the recent mobilization, many young men chose to flee abroad.

For weeks, there have been expectations of a large-scale counteroffensive by the Ukrainian army. However, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned against expecting too much from a possible spring offensive by Ukrainian forces. “Don’t see this counteroffensive as the last one, because we don’t know what will come of it,” Kuleba told Germany’s Bild newspaper, adding: “To win the war, you need weapons, weapons and more weapons.”

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic provided Ukraine with two Soviet 2K12 “Kub” anti-aircraft systems. The delivery also included a “relatively large number of missiles,” Czech President Petr Pavel said in a radio interview yesterday.

“We need more time”: Zelensky postpones the counteroffensive

Ukraine‘s President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country needs more time to launch a long-awaited counter-offensive against Russia as the military still needs promised help from the West, the BBC reported on Thursday.

The expected attack could be decisive in the war, redrawing front lines that have remained unchanged for months.

With (what we have) we can go forward and be successful. But we will lose a lot of people. I think this is unacceptable,” he said in an interview with public broadcasters which are Eurovision members, including the BBC.

So we have to wait. We need some more time though.

The president described the combat brigades, some of which are trained by NATO countries, as “ready“, but said the army still needed “some things“, including armored vehicles which were “coming in batches“.

When and where the Ukrainian counteroffensive will begin is a secret. Russian forces have strengthened their defenses along a 1,450 km long front line that runs from the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk to Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south.

In recent weeks, Ukrainian authorities have tried to play down expectations of a breakthrough, both publicly and in private talks, the BBC reports.

A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the country’s leaders “understand that (they) have to succeed” but that the attack should not be seen as a panacea in a war that is now in its 15th month.

However, the president expressed confidence that the Ukrainian army could mount an offensive, warning of the risks of a “frozen conflict” that he said Russia was “relying on“.

The negotiations

For Kyiv, any outcome seen as disappointing to the West could mean a reduction in military support and pressure for negotiations with Russia, writes the BBC.

Since almost a fifth of Ukraine‘s territory is under Russian control and President Vladimir Putin has announced the annexation of four regions that his forces partially occupy (Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson), this will likely mean that the talks will also include the issue of settlement of the territorial dispute over them.

Everyone has ideas, but they cannot pressure Ukraine to hand over territories. Why should any country in the world give Putin its territory?“, the president asked rhetorically.

The allies

However, Zelensky dismissed fears of losing US support if President Joe Biden, who has pledged to support Ukraine as long as necessary, is not re-elected in 2024.

Ukraine, he said, still enjoys bipartisan support in the US Congress. “Who knows where we will be (when the election comes). I believe we will win by then.”

For now, peace talks are not seen as a realistic prospect, as both sides say they will fight for victory.

President Zelensky proposed a 10-point peace proposal calling for the return of all invaded territories, the payment of reparations for war-related damages and the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes, a plan that Moscow has strongly rejected.

The sanctions

Western sanctions, the president said, were affecting Russia‘s defense industry, citing depleted missile stocks and artillery shortages.

They still have a lot in their stockpiles, but … we are already seeing that they have reduced the shelling per day in some areas,” he told media.

However, Moscow has found ways to circumvent some of the measures, he said, and urged countries to target those helping Russia circumvent the bans.

The EU is already discussing new sanctions, which include trade bans on third countries that resell to Russia goods bought by them from the EU and which are on the Union’s sanctions lists.

Drones over the Kremlin

Zelensky again rejected Russia‘s accusation that Ukraine was behind last week’s alleged drone attack on the Kremlin, which Moscow described as an attempt to assassinate President Putin.

According to him, it was organized by Russia itself to use it as an “excuse” for attacks against Ukraine.

They are constantly looking for something that sounds like a justification, saying: ‘You do this to us, so we do that to you,’” said President Zelensky.

However, according to him, the tactic failed even among Kremlin propagandists, “because it looked very, very artificial.”


The president spoke against the backdrop of the Eurovision Song Contest being held in the English city of Liverpool, which was chosen to host on behalf of Ukraine, the winner of last year’s contest.

He said he would prefer to see the competition in a neighboring country “where our people can travel and be very close” but that he has “a lot of respect” for Britain, an “amazing country“.

The main thing is that the competition is taking place,” he said. “Let people show their talent.

The Kremlin has acknowledged difficulties in the war in Ukraine

Russia‘s military operation against Ukraine is “very difficult” but will continue, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Bosnia’s ATV TV on Wednesday, as quoted by state news agency TASS.

Russia has managed to inflict serious damage on the Ukrainian military machine and that work will continue, he added in a lengthy interview during which he repeated many of Moscow’s talking points about the conflict, Reuters reported.

Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February 2022 in what Moscow called a “special military operation” and initially seized significant territory, some of which Ukraine retook in the fall. Kyiv is now planning a new counteroffensive.

According to Western calculations, Russia has lost more than 200,000 soldiers – killed or wounded.

The special military operation continues. This is a very difficult operation and, of course, certain goals were achieved in one year,” said Peskov, quoted by TASS.

According to him, Russia has so far managed to partially achieve the goals of its military operation.

You see that the shelling with rocket salvo systems continues, the bombing of Donetsk and other populated areas. Therefore, of course, the enemy must be moved to a considerable distance, and therefore the operation will continue,” the spokesman added.

He stated that Moscow was continuing its efforts to seize Bakhmut and then hold it.

We managed to cripple the Ukrainian military machine,” Peskov said, noting that Russia has launched countless missile strikes against what he says are military targets across Ukraine.

This work will continue,” he assures.

Ukraine accuses Russia of targeting mainly civilian targets to break Ukrainians’ loyalty to the government in Kyiv. Moscow denies it, insisting it is only shelling military targets.

Peskov explains the slow progress of the Russian units with concern for the local infrastructure.

We are not waging a war, if it were a war, it would be something else – complete destruction of infrastructure and cities. We are not doing this. We are trying to preserve the infrastructure. And secondly, to preserve people’s lives,” the spokesman said.

NATO does not view China as a military threat, but does Russia and terrorists

NATO’s military command does not consider China a military threat and does not develop plans in the event of a conflict. This was stated by Admiral Rob Bauer, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, after a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

We do not qualify China as a threat, but as a challenge (…). And we do not develop military plans related to China,” he said.

Bauer explained that the alliance considers Russia and international terrorism a threat. Therefore, the military command is developing plans specifically for a possible confrontation with Moscow and with terrorist groups, including international terrorist groups.

Bauer added that this position of the alliance does not mean that the command of the armed forces of individual member countries does not engage in strategic planning in the event of an armed conflict with China.

The war in Ukraine

Bauer commented that Russian forces in Ukraine are in an increasingly difficult position:

Russia is in the 15th month of a war that it thought it would win in three days,” said Bauer, quoted by DPA.

Goliath languished as David showed great toughness and tactical genius, which was supported by 50 countries around the world,” said the head of NATO’s military committee.

According to him, in the coming months, Moscow can be expected to resort to increasingly old equipment and to more untrained soldiers.

The New York Times: Putin has no plan B for the war in Ukraine and has set himself up for a trap

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin dreamed of a blitzkrieg in Ukraine and really believed in capturing Kyiv in a few days. He didn’t have a plan B, and that got him into a trap.

This is what analyst Thomas Friedman wrote in a commentary for The New York Times, stressing that the dictator can neither lose this war nor stop it. At the same time, his army is unable to conquer new territories. Cessation of hostilities will mean acceptance of defeat.

Putin’s lack of a Plan B confirms that the Russian occupiers have resorted to indiscriminate shelling of the civilian infrastructure of peaceful Ukrainian cities. Perhaps now the Kremlin hopes to start a war of attrition that will break the Ukrainian resistance and weaken the West’s aid to Ukraine, commented Friedman, quoted by UNIAN.

Today, Putin’s Plan B is to mask the collapse of Plan A to take over all of Ukraine at lightning speed. The journalist quipped that the Russians should have called the war not a “special military operation” but operation “Save My Face”.

What makes this war one of the most painful and senseless wars of modern times is that the leader destroys the civilian infrastructure of another country to cover up the fact that he was a big fool,” Friedman argued.

According to the analyst, Putin is still trying to find at least some justification for the failures of the “second army of the world” in Ukraine.

Friedman is convinced that now Putin is struggling to find a plan B, but there are many problems – they need to explain the failures, losses and isolation in which Russia has found itself.

It is impossible to get inside Putin’s head and predict his next move… His actions show that he is aware of the failure of Plan A. And now he will do anything to create a Plan B to justify the terrible losses for the country where defeated leaders do not resign peacefully,” Friedman wrote.

Assets of the oligarch Malofeev are directed to rebuild Ukraine

Confiscated assets of sanctioned Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev have been directed to a fund to rebuild Ukraine by US Attorney General Merrick Garland, Reuters reported.

This is the first US-approved transfer of seized Russian assets for use in Ukraine.

The US Justice Department last year accused Malofeev of violating sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. The oligarch was sanctioned for funding Russians promoting separatism in Crimea.

Garland reported that “the confiscation of millions of dollars from an account at a US financial institution traceable to Malofeev’s sanctions violations” was then ordered.

In February, the US attorney general said he had approved the transfer of those funds for use in Ukraine.

This represents the first US transfer of seized Russian assets for the recovery of Ukraine,” Garland said, adding that “it won’t be the last.

The European Union has been discussing such a step for months, but the work to find a legal way to transfer Russian state and private assets seized under the sanctions, which cannot be attacked by Moscow, is not yet finished.

According to the current rules, frozen and confiscated funds and property must be returned to their owners after the sanctions are lifted.

According to World Bank data from March, almost half a trillion dollars will be needed to rebuild Ukraine after the war.

The 300 CHURCH

May 5, 2023 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

160,000 Pentecostals in Bulgaria Reported by the NEW Encyclopedia of Global Pentecostalism

April 25, 2023 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Publication, Research

The Forgotten Azusa Street Mission: The Place where the First Pentecostals Met

April 20, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

By Cecil M. Robeck, Jr.

For years, the building on Azusa Street has also been an enigma. Most people are familiar with the same three or four photographs that have been published and republished through the years. They show a rectangular, boxy, wood frame structure that was 40 feet by 60 feet and desperately in need of repair. Seymour began his meetings in the Mission on April 15, 1906. A work crew set up a pulpit made from a wooden box used for shipping shoes from the manufacturer to stores. The pulpit sat in the center of the room. A piece of cotton cloth covered its top. Osterberg built an altar with donated lumber that ran between two chairs. Space was left open for seekers. Bartleman sketched seating as nothing more than a few long planks set on nail kegs and a ragtag collection of old chairs.

What the new sources have revealed about the Mission, however, is fascinating. The people worshiped on the ground level — a dirt floor, on which straw and sawdust were scattered. The walls were never finished, but the people whitewashed the rough-cut lumber. Near the door hung a mailbox into which tithes and offerings were placed since they did not take offerings at the Mission. A sign greeted visitors with vivid green letters. It read “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” (Daniel 5:25, kjv), with its Ns written backwards and its Ss upside down. Men hung their hats on exposed overhead rafters where a single row of incandescent lights ran the length of the room.

These sources also reveal that the atmosphere within this crude building — without insulation or air conditioning, and teeming with perspiring bodies — was rank at best. As one writer put it, “It was necessary to stick one’s nose under the benches to get a breath of air.”
Several announced that the meetings were plagued by flies. “Swarms of flies,” wrote one reporter, “attracted by the vitiated atmosphere, buzzed throughout the room, and it was a continual fight for protection.”

A series of maps drawn by the Sanborn Insurance Company give a clear picture of the neighborhood. The 1888 map discloses that Azusa Street was originally Old Second Street. The street was never more than one block in length. It ended at a street paving company with piles of coal, along with heavy equipment. A small house, marked on the map by a “D” for domicile, sat on the front of the property with the address of 87. (See highlighted section.) A marble works business specializing in tombstones stood on the southeast corner of Azusa Street and San Pedro. Orange and grapefruit orchards surrounded the property. On the right of the map a Southern Pacific railroad spur is clearly visible. The City Directory indicates that the neighborhood was predominantly Jewish, though other names were mixed among them.

A second map of the property was published in 1894. Old Second Street had become Azusa Street, and the address had been changed to 312. The house had been moved further back on the property where it served as a parsonage. The dominant building at 312 Azusa Street was the Stevens African Methodist Episcopal Church. At the front of the building a series of tiny parallel lines on the map mark a staircase that stood at the north end of the building providing entry to the second floor, the original sanctuary.

The only known photograph of the church from this period shows three interesting features. First, it shows the original staircase. Second, and less obvious, the original roofline had a steep pitch. Third, three gothic style windows with tracery lines adorned the front wall.

By 1894, the citrus groves had largely disappeared. On the southern side they were replaced by lawn. The smell of orange blossoms and the serenity of the orchard were rapidly being replaced by the banging of railroad cars and the smell of new lumber. A growing number of boarding houses and small businesses, including canneries and laundries, were moving into the immediate area by this time. The property marked “YARD” on the map is the beginning of the lumberyard that soon came to dominate the area. The City Directory reveals fewer Jewish names, and more racial and ethnic diversity in the neighborhood, including African Americans, Germans, Scandinavians, and Japanese.

Stevens AME Church occupied the building at 312 Azusa Street until February 1904 when the congregation dedicated a new brick facility at the corner of 8th and Towne and changed their name to First AME Church. Before the congregation could decide what to do with the property on Azusa Street, however, an arsonist set the vacant church building on fire. The structure was greatly weakened, and the roof was completely destroyed. The congregation decided to turn the building into a tenement house. They subdivided the former second-floor sanctuary into several rooms separated by a long hallway that ran the length of the building. The stairs were removed from the front of the building and a rear stairwell was constructed, leaving the original entry hanging in space. The lower level was used to house horses and to store building supplies, including lumber and nails.

In 1906, a new Sanborn Map was published. (See 1906 map.) The building was marked with the words “Lodgings 2nd, Hall 1st, CHEAP.” The transition of the neighborhood had continued. The marble work still occupied the southeast corner of Azusa Street and San Pedro, but a livery and feed supply store now dominated the northeast corner. A growing lumberyard to the south and east of the property now replaced the once sprawling lawn. A Southern Pacific railroad spur curved through the lumberyard to service this business.

The Apostolic Faith, the newspaper of the Azusa Street Mission between September 1906 and June 1908, later referred to the nearby Russian community. Many of these recent immigrants were employed in the lumberyard. They were not Russian Orthodox Christians as one might guess; they were Molokans — “Milk drinkers.” This group had been influenced by some of the 16th-century Reformers. They did not accept the dairy fasts of the Orthodox Church. They were Trinitarians who strongly believed in the ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit. Demos Shakarian, grandfather of the founder of Full Gospel Business Men’s International, was among these immigrants who were led to Los Angeles through a prophetic word given in 1855.

Henry McGowan, later an Assemblies of God pastor in Pasadena, was a member of the Holiness Church at the time. He was employed as a teamster. He timed his arrival at the nearby lumberyard so he could visit the Mission during its afternoon services.

This map suggests why some viewed the Mission as being in a slum. A better description would be an area of developing light industry.

In April 1906, when the people who had been meeting at the house at 214 North Bonnie Brae Street were forced to move, they found the building at 312 Azusa Street was for sale. The photograph below taken about the time that the congregation chose to move into the building shows the “For Sale” sign posted high on the east wall of the building, as well as the rear of the tombstone shop. Seymour, pastor of the Azusa Street Mission, and a few trusted friends met with the pastor of First AME Church and negotiated a lease for $8 a month.

An early photograph reveals what the 1906 version of the map indicates. The pitched roof had not been replaced. The building had a flat roof. The staircase that had stood at the front of the building had been removed.

In a sense, this building suited the Azusa Street faithful. They were not accustomed to luxury. They were willing to meet in the stable portion of the building. The upstairs could be used for prayer rooms, church offices, and a home for Pastor Seymour.

Articles of incorporation were filed with the state of California on March 9, 1907, and amended May 19, 1914. The church negotiated the purchase of the property for $15,000 with $4,000 down. It was given the necessary cash to retire the mortgage in 1908. The sale was recorded by the County of Los Angeles on April 12, 1908.

1888_MapA 1894 map 1906 map

Toward a Pentecostal Strategy for the City

March 30, 2023 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Publication, Research

Toward a Pentecostal Strategy for the City

One of the questions that seems to come up in this course discussion is how to change the world around us with a more positive and effective approach toward using the Gospel of Salvation. In this particular module, the difficulty addressed is ethnocentricity. The particularity of our search then arrives at the more detailed question, how can we change the culture (respectively subcultures) of our church congregations? This is a drastic move from a closed circle toward an outreach community that many congregations are unable to accomplish. How do we then empower such congregations to be transformed into cultural reach-outs to a single ethnos or multiple ethnic groups? 


The problem in the first quarter of the 21st century has been incongruity of our church strategy with the times we live in and the mindset they occupy. We’ve been preparing the church for the multicultural battle, all and while we should have been equipping the saints how to rebuild the walls since the battle has been lost.

We’ve been equipping leaders for the ministry while the church ship has been sinking only to end up with well trained captains of a sunken fleet. And in a doomed attempt to reconcile the reality of the ministry with their training, they have turned to wave walkers who briefly surface for breaths of fresh air during Sunday worship only to return to the deep blue walk of their daily ministry never finding their lost piece of eight.

For the battle was lost long ago before the present generation of ministers ever came to existence. They know not the battle. They’ve only seen the ruins that were left within the broken walls of the church. And they have been struggling to reconcile the incomputable of what church eldership has been teaching them to battle against with the Nehemiah calling for restoration, which God has placed upon them. For the answer has never been in building a New Jerusalem for a fresh start, but restoring the old Jerusalem and its former glory to a new state that reclaims our history and heritage.



Recent analysis of migrant churches in the United States reveals that the predominant majority of them are located in cities which have a high influxation and concentration of immigrants. Such localities are called “gateway cities”. Immigrants typically enter the United States through one of these cities and settle there. These areas contain over half of the foreign-born population in the United States as follows:

  1. New York, NY – Foreign born population 18.7%
  2. Los Angeles, CA – Foreign born population 27.1%
  3. Houston, TX – Foreign born population 12.3%
  4. Washington, DC – Foreign born population 8.6%
  5. Miami, FL – Foreign born population 33.6%
  6. Chicago, IL – Foreign born population 11.1%
  7. San Francisco, CA – Foreign born population 20.0%


Asking the right questions is important, but the answers cannot be generic for all ethnic groups or cultural settings. There is a strong need to be flexible and observe changes in culture, but not to change the message of the Gospel or compromise our witness. Several common things are noted in any cultural setting where our ministry is involved:

First and foremost, people of all cultures prefer to be personal with a purpose, rather than being project driven. No one longs to be part of someone else’s project. Yet, our very existence demands personal purpose, which could serve as a great cultural catalyst in a church ministry.

Secondly, cross cultural ministry is not done merely on relationships, but on being real in the relationships. The greatest halt of ministry work is when people realize the relationship with the church has not been a real one, but merely a part of a program or a paradigm.

Finally, our cross cultural model for ministry should not be just salvation oriented, but soul oriented. There is a great difference between writing down the number of saved every Sunday and actually caring for the eternal well-being of the saved souls. In fact, this is so fundamentally determinative that it should be the goal in mind of every new church plant.

Greek-Bulgarian Interlinear of the New Testament in Wal-Mart

March 25, 2023 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, Missions, News

Greek-Bulgarian Interlinear of the New Testament (Critical Edition with Apparatus) (Paperback)

Greek-Bulgarian Interlinear of the New Testament (Critical Edition with Apparatus) (Paperback)


This new translation took several years to refine through multiple revisions, re-readings, and new re-translate where needed in order to produce an interlinear with priority advantages and distinctive features as follows:

  1. The text is arranged in three lines – Greek original, literal translation and for the first time in a Bulgarian publication, an analytical apparatus with detailed morphology of the words.
  2. A brand-new word for word translation, not phrase for phrase or simple imposed text on an already existing translation, challenges the reader into a deeper understanding of the Word.
  3. Unnecessary text markers and explanations have been avoided because the parallel stylistics between Greek and Bulgarian are much more similar than other languages even when accompanied with Strong’s numbering.
  4. The literal meaning of the text is shown without the dynamic equivalent characteristic of other interlinear editions.
  5. All participles/predicates are literally translated avoiding the superimposition of like, as, which, etc., when they are not in the original text.
  6. All definite articles are given as in the Greek before the word (not at the end part of the word as it is done in Bulgarian) even in the tradition of Nomina Sacra.
  7. Enforced literalism on understandable New Testament terminology such as Lord/Master, church/ecclesia/congregation/gathering/assembly, baptism, etc. is avoided.
  8. The literal word for word translation preserves case and gender as possible in over 90% of the New Testament text.
  9. The applied critical apparatus in addition to the analytical morphology, includes designation of all verses and passages of critical difference with the Nestle-Aland GNT.
  10. Hitherto missing morphology now provided, not only shows why a given word is translated in the chosen way, but enables the reader to navigate through more complex grammatical structures of the Greek language and understand them.

The 2023 CHURCH

March 20, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

  1. Christian America died. And the leaders who kept looking back never moved forward.

The pastors who kept looking back imagined a culture governed by Christian values and refused to see the world for what it was increasingly becoming.

Over the last decade, Christian America died.

As much as some Supreme Court decisions in the early 2020s made religious conservatives think they were winning the culture wars, any sense of victory was short-lived.

The overwhelming identification of Generation Z and Generation Alpha as having no religious affiliation transformed America into a thoroughly post-Christian culture.

All of this put Christian church leaders into one of two camps: Leaders who wanted to move forward and leaders who wanted to look back.

The pastors who kept looking back imagined a culture governed by Christian values and refused to see the world for what it was increasingly becoming. Churches led by those leaders saw a decline.

And the culture wars of the early to mid-2020s that conservative Christians believed they were winning by ensuring their candidates ran for Congress and Governor positions proved only to momentarily shore up a dying worldview. Power and coercion couldn’t reverse the tide.

In the process, that faction in the church alienated the next generation of unreached people from Christianity even more deeply.

The leaders who looked forward acknowledged they were in a post-Christian culture and decided to advance a decidedly alt-Kingdom centered around the Gospel. They saw renewal and growth.

Bottom line? The leaders who kept looking back never moved forward.

2. Growing churches are now digital organizations with physical locations

In the last decade, dying churches saw digital church as an obstacle. Growing churches realized it was an opportunity.

As little as 15 years ago, most growing churches were primarily physical organizations with a nominal or underdeveloped digital strategy.

Throughout the 2020s and early 2030s, the dual trend of declining church attendance and decentralized attendance changed everything for growing churches.

Growing churches stopped treating church online as an afterthought, realizing that since everyone they’re trying to reach is online, becoming a digital-first church made them more effective.

The paradox, of course, is that the more leaders built community online as a church, the more it resulted in growth in their physical locations.

Ironically, churches that focus primarily on physical attendance only saw declining attendance. Churches that focused on digital connection saw the opposite.

Over the last decade, dying churches saw digital church as an obstacle. Growing churches realized it was an opportunity.

  1. The majority of church attendees are no longer in the room.

Dying churches confined ministry to their buildings. Growing churches didn’t.

As the digital revolution exploded over the last ten years, almost everything shifted out of central locations.

Everything from work, to shopping, to food, fitness, and entertainment shifted to digital and distributed access (i.e., accessed by people when they wanted and where they wanted.)

Dying churches confined ministry to their buildings. Growing churches didn’t.

Pastors of expanding ministries long ago made peace with the idea that the number of people not in the building on Sunday now greatly outnumbers the number of people who are inside the building.

They got over their insecurity about smaller in-person crowds and saw the expansive potential of reaching people wherever they were and connecting them with each other.

Pastors of growing churches long ago realized that full rooms never guaranteed a fulfilled mission.

Another shift happened regarding how church leaders think about church buildings:

Pastors of dying churches kept using church online to get people into the building.

Pastors of growing churches used their buildings to reach people online.

  1. On-demand access now greatly surpasses live events.

On-demand sermon access reaches people when they’re ready, not when you’re ready.

Live events still have a great role in the life of a vibrant church, but they’ve long since been eclipsed by people who access content and schedule gatherings on demand.

Leaders who released control of a centralized calendar to allow people to figure out for themselves when they wanted to meet saw a far greater impact than leaders who didn’t.

And when centralized gatherings happen, leaders of growing churches quickly got over the fact that, despite a full room, far more people accessed their ministry at other times. And as a result, their mission kept growing.

Pastors of growing ministries quickly understood two underlying realities behind on-demand access.

First, they knew that on-demand access reaches people when they’re ready, not when you’re ready.

Second, when it comes to accessing messages and ministry content, they realized people don’t care if a message is new nearly as much as they care if a message is great. Hence, access to their message archive continued to grow, and they positioned it for that.

  1. Growing churches shifted their focus from gathering to connecting.

In the 2020s, churches that gathered people kept falling behind, while churches that connected people continued to grow.

In the 2020s, churches that gathered people kept falling behind, while churches that connected people continued to grow.

The shift wasn’t that hard once the pastors of effective churches realized that for years, the culture had increasingly relied on services that leveraged existing infrastructure.

For example, what small groups accomplished for churches in the 1990s and 2000s changed how churches approached gathering people mid-week. Essentially, a decade before Airbnb and ride-share services like Uber and Lyft emerged on the scene, innovative church leaders stopped building massive Christian education buildings and started ‘Airbnbing’ people’s homes for community.

The home-based small group model morphed into micro-gatherings and home-based gatherings for worship and other church events.

Leaders of growing churches never felt threatened by the fact that they couldn’t ‘see’ the people they were ministering to. They built the structures and systems that led to the church being ‘one’ wherever it met, much like multi-site churches have done for decades.

Connecting people eclipsed gathering people for the same reasons that on-demand content eclipsed live content. You gather people when they’re ready, not when you’re ready.

Insecure leaders, operating out of power and control and needing to ‘see’ the results of their ministry, could never make this transition. Healthy leaders did.

  1. Community and connection matter more than content.

Growing churches made community and connection the goal of their ministry, not content consumption.

Growing churches made community and connection the goal of their ministry, not content consumption.

In a world that started drowning in content in the 2010s, adept church leaders realized that great content was no longer the compelling advantage it used to be. Sure, bad preaching could kill a church. But great preaching alone no longer guaranteed its growth.

Here’s what astute leaders realized in the 2020s. Scarcity drives value. The more scarce something is, the more value it has.

When something is scarce, it has enough value to make people change their patterns (physical, financial, or time patterns, to name a few). Conversely, mass availability drives down prices and perceived value.

For centuries, attending a local church was the only place most people could access a sermon. The 21st century changed that forever.

What became increasingly scarce were community and connection. So among growing churches, all of their content drove people to community and toward connection.

Growing churches made community and connection the goal, not content consumption. Declining churches continued to make in-person and online content consumption their main goal (Watch this!!! Don’t miss this!!!) and paid the accompanying price.

  1. Growing churches staffed for digital

Make the goal of all staffing (digital or in-person) community and connection.

Because, after all, that’s far more at the heart of what the Christian church is all about than content consumption ever was.

A final but important point.

Dying churches kept staffing for a world that no longer existed. Obsessed with getting people into a building, they continued to make digital ministry an afterthought.

Growing churches didn’t abandon physical gatherings. They continued to make their in-person services deeply personal and meaningful and staffed accordingly.

But they also doubled down on digital, realizing that everyone they wanted to reach was online and that many they would reach wouldn’t live near a campus or, if they did, would be willing to drive to one.

So pastors of growing churches followed Craig Groeschel’s advice back in 2020: They went 100% in on digital ministry and 100% in on physical ministry.

Then they went a step further: They made the goal of all staffing (digital or in-person) community and connection.

Because, after all, that’s far more at the heart of what the Christian church is all about than content consumption ever was.

Change, Critics, and Coaches

The leaders we criticize today will be the leaders who coach us tomorrow.

Snap back to today. Will all of this happen? Who knows. But if even parts of this are remotely true, it’s clear that the next decade will involve massive change.

Change also comes with a lot of criticism. But as the wiser leaders realized, the leaders we criticize today will be the leaders who coach us tomorrow.

The sooner you start to change, the brighter the future becomes, and the more effective your ministry will be. Change is hard, but irrelevance is even harder.


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