Last week I attended a church planting learning community hosted by the Bible League of Bulgaria. Based on a concept developed by the Leadership Network, the learning community brought together church planters from around the Balkans, including Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and even Hungary:
Some of the highlights were learning about ways that these communities are facing significant resistance from local churches and pastors, who the typical church planter is and the struggles they face, and also how different countries are reproducing some successes from other fields.
Please pray that God would bless the work being done by these planters and open up opportunities for them, even in the face of significant discouragement.
Do you enjoy board games? Do you play or want to learn to play Carcassonne or Dominion or other popular games?
Do you enjoy coffee, refreshments, and meeting new people?
Do you enjoy interesting discussion about a variety of topics?
Do you enjoy free events?
We would love for you to join us Saturday evenings at the centrally located Moreto and Caffeto Hostel for Castles, Coffee, and Conversation.
How does each event work?
1. Play Carcassonne, Dominion, and other fun games.
2. Enjoy free coffee and refreshments.
3. Share in a time of friendly discussion about a selected topic.
Join the Facebook group to stay up to date on events!
Starting a Home Fellowship Group in Sofia
After a couple months getting to know the spiritual situation in Sofia, we have decided to start a weekly home fellowship.Our first meeting will be next Sunday with several couples who became Christian after the fall of communism, but have since left the church. This is a very common story here – America’s not the only place with a growing “dechurched” population!
Please pray that we would be able to reach people who have stepped away from the church and are questioning what they were taught about the faith. In addition to those couples, there will also be an interested unbeliever attending.
At first we will do a partial and informal translation for use in our discipleship group, but we are exploring a way to officially translate the book and make it available here in Bulgaria.
Ten Basic Facts About the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize
Since this is a pretty common area of attack against Christianity today, each fact links to a more in-depth post backing up the claim. I would highly encourage you to check out the link!
Thank you for your continued love and encouragement.
We are looking for recent high school grads or college students/grads who want to pursue a ministry internship with us in Sofia, Bulgaria from October 2016 – June 2017.
You will serve alongside us as we endeavor to share the gospel in Sofia and around Bulgaria. Additionally, there is the possibility of making a ministry trip to Pskov, Russia during the year.
Within this mission there are numerous ways to serve, including a church plant in Sofia, partnering with the Bulgarian Christian Student Union, and ministry in a transitional home.
No previous language training is necessary, you will take regular Bulgarian lessons during the week and have plenty of opportunity for practice!
We are located in a neighborhood of Sofia near the Vitosha mountain, within walking distance of the New Bulgarian University and easy public transportation to downtown.
You will need to raise approximately $1,500 in monthly support, though that may vary slightly depending on the person. We will work with you to develop a budget and support-raising plan.
Bulgaria is located in the South-East of Europe, bordered by Turkey, Greece, Romania, Serbia, and Macedonia.
There are also some low-cost airlines that operate flights into Western Europe if you would like to travel after the internship.
Please contact us using the form below if you are interested in this opportunity!
A conversation with our landlady in Pskov illustrates the challenges of evangelism in a Slavic, Orthodox context. Click below to listen:
Some highlights from the conversation:
- “They’re not Christians, they sing!”
- “The Pechersky Monastery is the most unholy place on earth. People come from all over the world to hang their sins there.”
- “We’re Christians, we paid to have all our apartments blessed.”
Read about another conversation, “I don’t read the Bible, I’m Orthodox!“
O my God,
Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admired, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee
in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it,
though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding,
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love thee above the powers of language
for what thou art to thy creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time
(The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers)
Lots of news that affects our ministry and our near return to Pskov, Russia!
When we hear the word ministry, we often think of professionals – staff at churches or Christian organizations. Do you have a ministry?
The Apostle Paul writes that God, through Christ, has reconciled us to himself and given us the ministry of reconciliation. We are God’s agents – God’s ambassadors to his enemies, offering terms of surrender.
God works with individuals and through individuals. Join us as we consider God’s call on the life of the Christian in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians 5:14-21.
Listen or download here:
“I don’t read the Bible, I’m Orthodox.”
You don’t expect to actually hear those words. Everyone knows it’s true, but it’s never said. Certainly not as a means of identification.
On the bus home from a seminar the other day, Nansi had a Russian study Bible on her lap. The man sitting across from her, a Jehovah’s Witness, engaged with us – easy enough when someone is carrying a Bible! You can read the story of that encounter here.
There had been four of us sitting in tight quarters, like a restaurant booth without the table. Sitting next to the Jehovah’s Witness was a woman, who I initially thought was with him. After he left the bus, since she had heard the entire conversation, I asked if she read the Bible. Immediately she answered, “I don’t read the Bible, I’m Orthodox.”
[“Я Библию не читаю, я Православная.”]
In response I asked, “Are Orthodox not allowed to read the Bible?”
After an awkward pause, ignoring the question, she said “that guy’s not normal,” referring to the Jehovah’s Witness.
Below is the rest of our conversation:
“I come from a different branch of Christianity, and I don’t really understand Orthodoxy. What is most important in Orthodoxy?”
“To be a good person.”
“That’s only possible with God’s strength.”
“Sometimes I feel that way.”
“I know you might think that I’m also from a cult, we work with the Baptists. We can’t be good people on our own. You can’t be a good person. I can’t be a good person. My natural self does not seek the things of God. It’s only when God resurrects me, though Jesus Christ, that I can live.”
“Why are you here, in Pskov?”
“My wife and I moved here because we want to help people. We have some friends from the area who recommended it.”
“My priest told me not to help people unless they want to be helped. I’m old, I’m in my 60s, I’m tired of people, I don’t want to spend any time with them. People don’t have the same values today, they’re only interested in money.”
“Were you a Christian in the Soviet times?”
“I never thought of it that way. I sang in the choir at church. I was a schoolteacher and they threatened to fire me because of my church going.”
A standard, nominal Orthodox Christian, who never goes to church, would also say it’s important to be a good person. It’s enlightening, however, to hear that from someone who is a regular part of the church’s life.
She thinks the Jehovah’s Witness is in a cult, and he thinks she’s an unbeliever, but both of them are trying to earn their salvation. I hope she gives up. I hope she stops trying to rely on her own strength.
She knows who we are, and she knows where we meet, but the cultural baggage against Protestants is so strong that very few self-identified Orthodox are willing to engage.
Less than 10% of Russians have any connection to any church. Most Russians are Orthodox only by ethnic identification. To them all Protestants are “Baptists,” and they’ve been taught that Baptists are Western traitors who practice child sacrifice. Seriously. Most believe the first accusation, and some the second.
This is one of our greatest strengths as foreign missionaries in Russia. We’re not Russian. It’s ok for us to be Protestant – I’m not a traitor for being one. Russians can engage with us as a cross-cultural dialogue, not a negotiation with an enemy. The problem is, we don’t even have the Bible as a common foundation.
Do you have any experience in theological communication with Orthodox? Let me know in the comments!
Read part 1: Evangelism on a City Bus – Jehovah’s Witness