We have witnessed first hand the persecution of Evangelical Christians at the hands of the Orthodox Church here in Bulgaria, yet the believers are still thriving and turning the hearts of the nation to accept and bless them with favor!
Dale Rhoton, the International Director of Operation Mobilization wrote the following note to me in a personal Email today: “For 7 years we lived in Austria working with a team taking Scriptures and other Christian literature into the communist world. The saddest country we visited was Bulgaria!”
Signs of the communist influence are still evident…hundreds of huge complexes of apartment “flats” are evident in every city we’ve been to…and most are painted a depressing dull gray, and many are dilapidated. There are newer areas popping up in every place we’ve been, but it seems that all construction has come to a halt because of lack of finances to build places for people to live.
Also, the Gypsies here are not looked upon favorably…even the Christian Gypsies who are doing marvelous work with their churches in their “areas” of each city and village.
I preached on Sunday at Sion Church in Varna, and there was a wonderful response of people coming forward for prayer and rededication. It is humbling to pray for these people who have so little but give all they have to the Lord! The pastor of Sion Church had been persecuted during communism (less that 20 years ago) and was even tortured and imprisoned for the cause of Christ. In fact, he spent 3 months in solitary confinement in a cell about the size of an old phone booth! Now, God is blessing him with a growing church and even the finances to buy the building where they are worshipping! AMAZING!
We were in Shumen leading 2 conferences over 2 days at EPC Church with Pastor Plamen Vassilev, and worship leader (and interpreter) Ivo Gorchev. The church is filled with talented musicians and singers and they worshipped the Lord with great confidence, ability, and in the power of God…it was another remarkable experience! Pastor Plamen was a leader in the communist youth party until he accepted Christ and then dedicated his life to full-time pastoring.
After the Seminar, the attendees asked to hear Brenda sing, so she sang the wedding song that David wrote called “You Will Be” (which many of you have heard). When Brenda read the words to the song, a young newlywed couple were looking at each other and smiling…then, when she started singing, they got up and went to the back of the hall and started dancing in a Christ honoring way between husband and wife! Since the words are Christ-centered it was actually a beautiful and moving experience watching them!
We then went to Shalom Church in Sevlievo and to Sion Church in Veliko-Tarnovo and the people overwhelmed us with their spirits and heart for worship! In fact, every church to which we’ve been we’ve seen a remarkable outpouring of the Lord!