Mission Bulgaria Week 23

January 27, 2002 by  
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NEWS – Week 23 – January 21-27, 2002 – Sofia, BULGARIA

The pope will also visit Bulgaria in May, a week after he turns 82. That trip will be part of his efforts to improve relations with Orthodox Christians, a visit the Vatican hopes will pave the way for a hoped-for trip to Russia. Church officials are also discussing possible trips this year to Belarus and Croatia and a possible stop in the summer in John Paul’s native Poland. Italian press reports suggested that the pope has expressed a desire to visit Ground Zero, the site of the September 11 terrorist attack against the World Trade Center in New York. The Vatican, however, said such a stop was not under consideration.

On Sunday, the Bulgarian Church of God called its ordained ministers in Sofia city and the area. More than 30 churches were represented by their pastors and deacons. Seven of them are newly started. A total membership of 4, 594 was reported for the churches from the denomination in the Sofia area which has an approximate population of 1,5 million people. Compared to the past 5 years, the membership in the Sofia area has doubled and it now represents almost 27% of the membership of the Bulgarian Church of God nationwide. Only 4 of these churches have their own building, while the rest are renting auditoriums in all regions of the city. A decision was taken to begin crusade meetings on Saturday afternoon for evangelization purposes.

Mission Bulgaria Week 22

January 20, 2002 by  
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NEWS – Week 22 – January 13-20, 2002 – Sofia, BULGARIA

Greetings form Bulgaria:

Just wanted to report with a great joy a few new developments in the ministry here in Sofia. On Mondays we have a home group that meats in a suburb of Sofia and studies Pentecostal events and practices in the Bible. On Tuesday we started an English speaking service for foreign students and immigrants who go to our church, but needed some special pastoral care in a language they could understand without any problems.

After finishing the expository series on the book of Revelations, I started a new one on Galatians on Wednesday. The series contain 6 lessons, one on each chapter.

On Thursday nights as well as Sunday afternoons, I have been traveling to the town of Pravetz, where I am now pastoring the local church since the leave of the pastor last December. Pravetz has been on my heart as the town where I preached my first sermon and received my first assignment with the Church of God as a youth pastor in 1990-1993. The church experienced revival in the spring of 1991 and more than 200 young people were saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately after 1995 the revival quieted down as many of the students graduated and left town.

This past Sunday Pastor Pavel Ignatov and myself traveled to Pravetz together for a coordinating meeting with pastors and members from the area. In the small upper room 64 were present not only from Pravetz but also from the towns of Botevegrad, Yablanitza, Etropole and I brought a short message on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, after which we had prayer for healing. People were coming to the front crying and kneeling wherever they found a place to receive prayer by the pastors. There was hardly any room to walk around the pulpit, as God poured out His Spirit and many were touched.

The Sunday School Pilot program is also continuing and increasing its influence. We have reached the number of 15 thematic Bible lessons, as more than 28,000 individual copies have been distributed. Beside in the more than 50 local churches, the lessons are now taught also in the Sunday morning service at the Central Prison in Sofia. This past week, I turned the lessons in for editing and publication as a book. Meanwhile, some of them have been reprinted in different magazines.

In March, I will be teaching three seminars in the Systematic Theology class at the Bulgarian Theological Evangelical Institute in Sofia. The seminars will be on the topics of Ecclesiology, Pneumatology and Eschatology. This coming Friday morning, I am also giving a brief lecture on Preservation of Pentecostal Primitivism.

Finally, an article, which I wrote in 1999 about the first Bulgarian graduate from Harvard University, will be published in the February/March issue of the “Bulgarian Theology” scholarly magazine.

For all of the above I praise the Lord with all my heart. I thank you for your continuous support, Please pray for us.

Mission Bulgaria Week 21

January 12, 2002 by  
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NEWS – Week 21 – January 7-12, 2002 – Sofia, BULGARIA

This is Kathryn Barton reporting from Bulgaria on behalf of my fiancée, Dony K. Donev and Cup and Cross Ministries International.

Due to the weather conditions here in Bulgaria my flight has been delayed a day and I will be leaving after the Sunday morning church service tomorrow. Dony has finished teaching his Sunday School Lessons on the 14 articles of the Declaration of Faith and this Sunday he will start a new series of lessons beginning with a lesson on fasting and prayer.

This week has been very successful one for the Bulgaria Church of God, because a new outreach ministry has been started. As of now, every Tuesday an English speaking service will be held at 5:00 p.m. which will minister among foreign students studying in Bulgaria, English speaking missionaries and visitors. This Tuesday Dony and I were privileged to participate in the first meeting where 19 were present.

On Wednesday night Dony finished teaching from Revelation. Now, he is planning to begin another series on Galatians. Also, Dony has been working on organizing a Chaplaincy course, which will be held in Sofia at the end of February.

Mission Bulgaria Week 20

January 6, 2002 by  
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Week 20 – December 31, 2001 – January 6, 2002 – Sofia, BULGARIA

Monday we celebrated New Years Eve with an address by the former President of Bulgaria, Peter Stoyanov and with firework displays all through out the capital. Then on Tuesday morning, the first day of the New Year, it is a tradition to “surovak” people. A “surovaknitza ” is a decorated branch used on New Years day to bring health and luck to the receiver of a pat on the back with it.

Wednesday night Dony preached on Revelation 21, a sermon entitled “A Place Called Heaven”. He spoke on how scripture tells us that there will be 12 gates in Heaven and he depicted the picture of 12 equal segments, which visually represents a clock and the center of all is God, the light source. Then on Sunday we moved to a different auditorium in the National Palace of Cultures and Dony’s Sunday School Lesson was on Tithing and Giving.

Some areas in Bulgaria have up to 10 feet of snow and it is extremely difficult to travel. The Danube River, which borders Bulgaria and Romania, is completely frozen and ships cannot travel freely. And because of the excess cold, the student holiday break will be increased by one week.

Dony has been invited to teach three seminars respectively on Pentecostal Ecclesiology, Pneumotology, and Eschatology at the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute (B.E.T.I.) in Sofia. He has also submitted an article to a local Christian magazine called “Bulgarian Theology” in a dialog between different Christian formations in Bulgaria. The magazine will come out in February. We are also preparing to publish in Bulgarian a 14-lesson Sunday School commentary on the Declaration of Faith.

Mission Bulgaria Week 19

December 30, 2001 by  
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NEWS – Week 19 – December 25-30, 2001 – Sofia, BULGARIA

Merry Christmas and happy New Year from Bulgaria:

This is Kathryn Barton reporting on behalf of my fiancée, Dony K. Donev and Cup and Cross Ministries International.

On Monday night, which was Christmas Eve, we celebrated Christmas with a traditional Bulgarian dinner with Banitza, which is a baked strudel like pastry filled with egg and cheese (for the Banitza Recipe click here ). Then for desert we had Baklava with walnuts. The weather permitted for a perfectly white Christmas. Dony said he has not seen so much snow in his whole life. The temperatures were constantly –17C (5F), which is the coldest it has been for the past 30 years here in Bulgaria.

On Tuesday morning we attended a Christmas service, which was held by Rumen Ivanov, the brother of the Overseer of the Bulgarian Church of God, Pavel Ignatov. The service was opened with a skit performed by the youth of the church and afterwards Dony greeted the church, Rumen Ignatov preached and there was a time of testimonials and singing of Christmas chorals.

On Wednesday night Dony preached on Revelation chapter 20. Then on Thursday we where able to go and minister to the Church of God Congregation in Pravetz, where Dony preached a sermon entitled “Christ in Christmas”. Then while in the area we were also able to visit Yablanitza, which is about a 30-minute drive from Pravetz. Here we saw the new building of the Church of God. Dony pastored the Yablanitza church in 1991-1993. Now, one of the former members of Dony’s youth group in Pravetz serves there as a pastor.

On the weekend we went site seeing around Sofia. We visited the Alexander Nevski Cathedral which is also called the Golden Church because of its Golden dome roof. We also saw Sofia University “Clement Ohridsky,” the National Library “Ivan Vazov,” and the Bulgarian Parliament with the monument of “Tzar Osvoboditel” (The Deliverer Czar (King)).

On Sunday morning Dony taught his Sunday School Lesson in the National Palace of Cultures on “Foot Washing”. Afterwards we had dinner with the overseer’s family.

Mission Bulgaria Week 18

December 24, 2001 by  
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NEWS – Week 18 – December 17-24, 2001 – Sofia, BULGARIA

Greeting from Bulgaria:

This is Kathryn Barton reporting on behalf of my fiancée, Dony K. Donev and Cup and Cross Ministries International.

What a true joy it has been to be a guest in the Country of Bulgaria. The people are extremely nice and welcome me with open arms.

On Tuesday Dony registered me with the Bulgarian police department with no problems. In Bulgaria this is the only requirement for visitors without a visa and registering has to be done within forty-eight hours of entering the country.

On Wednesday night Dony preached on Revelations chapters 18 and 19 on a lesson entitled “Behold the Bride Cometh”. About 60 people came to the alters for prayer. Then after the service we enjoyed a traditional Christmas pastry desert called banitza, which one of the ladies in church had prepared.

Dony and his family have been introducing me to many different foods. Some are very interesting, but for the most part I have found them to be very good. Most of the meat here in Bulgaria during the winter season is smoked and therefore do not have to be cooked and a meal would not be complete with out bread.

On Saturday we traveled to Pravetz were Dony showed me the town where he went to school and served as a youth pastor for 3 ½ years in the local Church of God. The temperature has risen 10 degrees since I have been here. The snow is beginning to melt and the roads are clearing. So on Sunday, after church we were able to travel to Borovetz. Borovetz is a ski resort about a two-hour drive southeast of Sofia. The resort has hosted tournaments of Alpine World Cup Championship and its biathlon course is among the best in the world.

Service Sunday morning was absolutely wonderful. Dony began the service with his Sunday School Lesson on the Christmas Story and more than 400 Sunday School pamphlets were handed out. Tedy, Dony’s sister, translated for me during the service, but for most of the service no translation was needed. I could see God moving in the lives of about 50 individuals who came to the altars to receive Christ as their personal Savior. Then after the service, Christmas shoeboxes were distributed to all the children present. It was absolutely wonderful to see the Children’s faces as they received their gifts.

Mission Bulgaria Week 17

December 16, 2001 by  
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NEWS – Week 17 – December 8-16, 2001 – Sofia, BULGARIA

Greeting from Bulgaria:

This is Kathryn Barton reporting on behalf of my fiancée, Dony K. Donev and Cup and Cross Ministries International.

I left on the 15th of December for Bulgaria to be with Dony and his family for the holidays. I had a very pleasant flight and made it through custom without any problems. For Americans, Bulgarian borders are open and no visas are required for a stay under 30 days. When arriving at the Sofia airport, snow covered the ground. The temperature at my arrival was –16 C. The Black Sea is frozen and this is a record temperature since 1929. Today we even made snow ice cream. Though I have only been here for a day, I have adjusted quite well to the 7-hour time change and am having a wonderful time in the country of Bulgaria.

This past week Dony traveled to the town of Samokov to organize a special Christmas program. The Bulgarian Church of God there has a local congregation of more than 1,500 members. This is the largest Gipsy Church on the Balkan Peninsula. Sunday night they had a Christmas service for homeless Gipsy children and orphans where more than 200 Christmas shoebox gifts where given to the children present. Two hundred more gifts where given to children in the capital Sofia under the ministry of the Central Church of God, which is also organizing a Christmas lunch for elderly people who do not have families. This lunch will be held on Tuesday.

The Bulgarian Church of God is organizing other similar Christmas social programs in each region of the country. Their effect is very prominent especially in the Northwest part of the country, where 47 new congregations have been established in the past 3½ years under the leadership of the regional supervisor, pastor Emil Petrov from the town of Lom.

Mission Bulgaria Week 16

December 8, 2001 by  
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NEWS – Week 16 – December 1-8, 2001 – Sofia, BULGARIA

Greetings from Bulgaria: I just returned from the country of Romania, a northern neighbor of Bulgaria. We traveled in a heavy snowstorm, which covered both Romania and Bulgaria, yet the trip was more than successful. We visited the Church of God in Bucharest at the dedication of their new church building in northern part of town. We were kindly received by Pastor Bolgar and his team. After the meeting we had an opportunity to speak with a number of church officials from Cleveland, as well as the local pastors and leaders. As an overall my impressions is that Romania is a beautiful country. Like Bulgaria, it is going through heavy economical crises. The Church of God there is the largest one in Europe, and this gives the local churches security and a good name. In Bulgaria, there have been some new developments on the building project, which the Central Church of God has been working on for the past two years.

Our ministry has been going with the same good speed and success, and we are all preparing for the upcoming holidays. Several thousand shoeboxes have been prepared for the homeless children and children of prisoners, whom we minister to. In my teachings I am at the end of the Book of Revelation. I am expecting to finish it on December 26. In the beginning of the New Year, I am planning to do a study on the Letter to the Galatians. This week I have been meeting with the representatives of the Chaplains Ministries (hospital, army and prison) in Bulgaria to discuss an upcoming Chaplaincy Training Seminar. Our committee also arranged the distribution of several thousand of Christmas shoeboxes to the children of the prisoners at a Christian concert in the Central Prison in Sofia next Tuesday. This is a holiday event, which we have been holding for the past three years.

Mission Bulgaria Week 15

December 1, 2001 by  
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Mission: BULGARIA – Week 15 – November 25 – December 1, 2001

This past Wednesday night (November 28) we had the best church service since I have come back. About 150 were present and I preached on Revelation chapters 14 and 15. The text finished with the passage about the glory of God. Then God touched us. At the altars people were crying everywhere, kneeling and falling on their faces. Four were healed – one from headache, one from pain in the kidneys, one from heart problems and one from pain in the lower back. I praise the Lord for all these and expect even more reports.

The General Council of Elders met on Friday and Saturday. More than 320 pastors, evangelists and ministers from churches all over Bulgaria belonging to the Church of God denomination came to the meeting. We had a good time in the Lord together as many important decisions for the future of the church were made. I was given the opportunity to present to everyone the Sunday School Pilot Program. A set of 9 lessons (all of the lessons we have prepared so far) was given to each minister present. This means that in the next 9 weeks, each Sunday, a lesson will be taught to more than 20,000 people belonging to the membership of the Bulgarian Church of God.

Mission Bulgaria Week 14

November 24, 2001 by  
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Week 14 – November 17-24, 2001 – Sofia, BULGARIA

TRAVEL: I had to take a trip to my hometown Yambol this week to check on the ministry of the mission team there and to renew my driver’s license. As I had reported in my previous email the ten churches in the Yambol region are well taken care of by the team who travels almost daily to different destinations to hold regular services. In the village of Polyana we have an opportunity to buy the building, which the church rents for their meetings. The price will be about $900.

TESTIMONY: On the way back to Sofia on Friday, we stopped at a town called Sliven nearby Yambol. As mother and I walked in the street a lady in her mid 40s stopped us and asked if we recognized her. I did not, but mother did and even remembered her name, Maria. Maria attended the church in Yambol a few years ago when I served as an associate pastor there. She had a large tumor-like mass in her back and the doctors urged her to let them operate. In one on the services, she said, I prayed for her and the Lord healed her. As she went back to the doctors a few weeks later, they could not find even a trace of a tumor or cancer formation. Unfortunately, I do not remember any of this, but I still give God the glory for all He has done.

WEATHER: As we got to Sofia we were surprised by the snow, which had covered the ground everywhere. By the end of the evening many towns and villages in South Bulgaria suffered power cuts caused by the snowfall, sources from Civil Protection reported. Among the worst hit municipalities are Asenovgrad, Pakovski, Haskovo, Smolyan, Dimitrovgrad. The normal traffic between Sunny Beach resort and Obzor was restored, but the road between Varna and Burgas is still closed. Sofia Airport reported that all planes are arriving and departing as scheduled. The streets and thoroughfares in Sofia are clean and passable.

CHURCH: The Council of Elders is meeting this coming Friday and Saturday. We expect about 500 pastors and ministers from the country to attend. I will give each of them a set of the 9 Sunday School lessons written so far. This means that about 4,500 more lessons will be given freely and will go toward the Bible and doctrinal education of the 380 local congregations of the Bulgaria Church of God. The lessons in each church will be multiplied according to the needs of the local congregation, which will increase their number in a geometric progression. I feel blessed to be abele to invest in this project.

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