“Are you starting a new ministry? Are you opening an orphanage? What will you be doing?”
We get a lot of questions about what it is that we do in Bulgaria, and why we’re moving our family there. The simple answer is, we’re moving our family because God told us to, and we’re doing the same kinds of things that we’ve been doing for over a decade—living in the community and shining the light of the Gospel around everyone we meet. For some, it may be the first time they’ve ever encountered Jesus. For others, it may be challenging them to grow in their faith and fall more in love with Him.
Our intention is not to move across the world and start some new ministry or organization. God has simply called us to dedicate ourselves to working with the local church, continue to invest in discipling relationships with our brothers and sisters, and focus our energies on the ongoing work we have been a part of for the past 12 years. We do not walk with the attitude that we can do things better. We are simply walking in obedience to God’s calling on our lives for the people of Bulgaria. We humbly take our talents and gifts and pray that God would advance His kingdom in miraculous ways. We believe that every life matters. If He has called us to sell everything, leave all we know, and move across the world for just one person, then it is absolutely worth it. We have faith that every life has a greater purpose in God’s unfolding story (Psalm 139).
With that being said, there are some very specific things that God has allowed us to be a part of over the years, and which we have every intention of continuing in the coming months and years!
The Local Church
God created the church to do his work, and we believe that ministry should be done through the local body whenever possible. The First Evangelical Baptist Church in Sofia has been around for over a hundred years, and is doing great work in Bulgaria’s capital city and beyond. Although a small church with little financial resources, they strive to make a big impact in their community.
It is in and through this church that we will continue to serve, challenging its members to be on mission every minute of every day. Click to find out more about how we serve with the church.
The Social Center
Several years ago, the tiny Evangelical Baptist Church began pursuing a dream that only God could bring to fruition. They bought a derelict apartment building at the end of their block, and began renovating it. Nearly ten years later, without going into debt or paying a bribe, the Center will open this fall. It will include space for a free medical clinic, classrooms, shelter, food bank and other outreach ministries, as well as office space for lease and the new sanctuary for the church. We are blessed to be a part of this amazing ministry. Click here for more about the Social Center and to see a compelling video about this important ministry.
We have been blessed to be welcomed into three orphanages in two towns repeatedly for many years. We have watched children grow up before our eyes. Some have aged out of the system and gone on to attend university or find jobs. Some have disappeared into the world of crime and trafficking. Some have been adopted and scattered across the world. Sadly, some have died young. We have done our best to make sure that, wherever they go, they go knowing that God loves them and Jesus died for them. Click here for more information about how we serve the orphans.
God has continually given us opportunities to spend time with and share his love with those who are pushed to the fringes of society. In Bulgaria, this includes the Roma (Gypsy) population, who frequently live in sub-standard conditions and are treated poorly by others in the community. If you’ve never heard our story about our friend Krasi, you should ask us.
We also have a heart for the homeless in the Centre area of Sofia. Click here for more on how we serve the outcasts.
Although most Bulgarians will tell you that Bulgaria is a Christian nation, nearly 90% belong to the Orthodox Church. Most of these have never read the Bible or had the Gospel explained to them. Less than 3% are Evangelical Christians, and even among these many of the adult leaders grew up under communism and are still working out what evangelism and discipleship look like in a free society.
It is in the midst of this community that we will live, shop, walk, eat, play and serve, making the most of every opportunity to point people toward Jesus. Click here for more about how we serve in the community.
The Learning Center
Bulgarian Child, the ministry of long-time missionaries Paul and Judy Ridgway, has worked in orphan homes extensively for more than 20 years. Several years ago, they purchased an abandoned orphanage and began renovations. The Learning Center is a temporary home for young men who have aged out of the orphan system, which teaches basic life skills and job training to help the men transition into society and avoid the all-too-common trap of poverty and crime. Click here for more about the Borovtsi Learning Center.
The iSalt Program
Since 2008, through our iSalt.org ministry, we have trained nearly 100 students and adults to start seeing the world around them the way God sees it—as a mission field. After interviewing and being invited to join one of our teams, they go through four months of training, finally putting what they’ve learned into practice during a trip to serve with us in Bulgaria. Team members have gone on to serve all over the world in the mission fields God has called them to.
We will continue to train teams and bring them to Bulgaria beginning in the summer of 2016. Click here for more about iSalt and how you can be involved.
We Need You!
While we love what God has called us to do, we are only a small part of this incredible ministry. We are simply obeying what He has called our family to do, and there are many, many others who are part of this team as well. Would you pray about joining us in this awesome journey? We need prayer warriors, we need financial supporters, and we need people who will come spend some time serving with us. What will your role be? Click here for more on how you can be a part of this ministry.