"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should." (Colossians 4:24)My Honey just returned from a mission trip to Bulgaria. While he was there, this verse in Colossians was on my soul. Now, it is even more so as I have heard the story.
A group of about 10 people from our church left for Bulgaria a couple weeks ago. Their first stop was Stara Zagora, where they stayed with one of our church member's family. The people were so kind and genuine. While they were there, they visited a small local church and a disabled home. Spiritually speaking, Bulgaria is barren. The country was oppressed for many years by Turks, Muslims, and Communists. Bulgaria is a relatively new democracy, and it stills bears the painful scars of tyranny. Religious freedom is new to them, but many are wary of religion at all. Bulgarians are a people of tradition and God is not personal to them. The church that meets in Stara Zagora needs the support of our prayers. Pastor Pavel's work there is a lonely one but it is fueled by love. He labors not for recognition or praise, but as a servant to the gospel. Please keep him and his wife, Monica, who is three months pregnant and already bedridden, in your prayers.
There is a missionary woman from Mississippi who is in Stara Zagora as well, but she has to be discreet about her work because Bulgarians look down on missionaries. She teaches English and shows Christian movies to her students in an effort to open up discussions about Christ. Again, it is a lonely road that she is traveling, but her eyes are fixed on the finish line, where she will see her Savior face to face, and she prays it will be hand in hand with others she will bring.
Visiting a village. Most villagers main method of transportation is this cart and mule. My honey is "driving" and I'm sure he broke the speed limit. ^_^
I just love this room. It's so colorful and warm.
The scenery was beautiful with the backdrop of the Baltic Mountains. My Honey said that every yard near this village boasted flowers and vegetable gardens.
Their next stop was a visit to a YWAM missionary, Rodko, in Sliven. Sliven has the largest population of Gypsies in Bulgaria. The Gypsies there live in extreme poverty. Gypsies are known as tramps and thieves in Bulgaria and suffer from much prejudice and discrimination. Their culture is rife with oppression and darkness. It is here, though, in Sliven, that God is doing a mighty work (and I am typing this in faith even as I write it). Brother Rodko's heart for his people is the heart of Christ. He labors with all the love of Jesus, and with the mighty energy of the Holy Spirit. He has vision for these families. He has vision for the one gypsy who would turn to Christ and be saved. And fifteen were saved the week before our team arrived!
He asked for prayer that these new Christians would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit because many of them must still live in homes that are filled with depravity, and to pray also that more would be saved! EVERY DAY Rodko meets with others in the church to pray for the gypsies. EVERY DAY. There are ten families in desperate need (in a situation of life or death) that this small church has "adopted". Although the church itself is poor, out of their own pockets they provide food for these families! Amazing. And what a true picture of what the church is supposed to look like! Rodko's main prayer is that more workers would come. They need more laborers in this harvest field.
My heart goes out to Bulgaria--to all her people. Now that I have become so aware of their need for Jesus, I will not stop praying for them! My heart goes out to Bulgaria and my prayers go up to my Father and I know that my prayers accomplish much. God hears them. Every one.