Tuesday, July 10, 2012

God is Faithful in Fakulteta

A shy gypsy girl watches us from the doorway
Today, we spent several hours in Fakulteta. The Roma (gypsy) people account for 10-15% of the population of Bulgaria but are considered an unwelcome minority within the culture and treated as such. The majority of them live in isolated villages or, within the cities, in large ghettos known as mahalas. Fakulteta, located here in the capital city of Sofia, is the second largest mahala in Bulgaria and holds at least 40,000 Roma in an area of several square miles.

Please consider reading my post from last year that offers a more in-depth look at the Roma culture within Bulgaria and the struggles they face here. Also, a photojournalist named Cinzia Dambrosi offers an incredible visual look at the culture in his photo blog.

I believe the gypsies of Bulgaria offer the greatest possibility for revival in this country. They are unloved and uneducated, with little hope for their lives apart from Christ. Sin has corrupted their culture, leading to rampant alcoholism and drug use, crime, and prostitution. For all that, they are ripe for the message of the gospel and power of God to change lives and cultures. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound!

Roy and Brijon walk past a home
Today was more exploratory than anything. We had no concrete plans or expectations but have known that the Lord was calling us to this place for some time. We came with a handful of tracts outlining the gospel message, a bagful of candy, a guitar, our bibles and lots of prayer. As we turned the corner and entered Fakulteta, the change was remarkable. We left behind a modern city of concrete and glass and entered a third-world ghetto that reminded me of the worst neighborhoods in Mexico. It was eerie to walk their streets while still hearing the Sofia traffic only blocks away and seeing jets fly low overhead toward the airport.

Praying together in a Fakulteta church
Simona sharing in Bulgarian
From the first moment, God had His hand on today. We brought along three Bulgarian friends: Simona and Teddy (sisters) and Emi. None of them had ever done anything like this before and, although nervous, were excited to come along and be used by God. As we exited our vehicles parked just outside the area, Simona began to ask some of the residents about any churches in Fakulteta. After talking with two others unsucessfully, a woman walked up to her smiling and introduced herself as Lilia. She was a Christian and walked us into the community and down a street to her church... named Jehovah Jireh. The pastor was away, but we were greeted by his son, Assen, and welcomed into their church building where we talked for some time. Afterward, we prayed with several women from the congregation that came to see the Americans and continued on our journey.

Roy leads worship
Linzi shares candy and love with kids
We began handing out candy to children and the gospel message to the adults we encountered. Before long, our Bulgarian friends began stepping out on their own, sharing the love of Christ with strangers... gypsies. What a blessing for us to see them taking a step that is quite radical in their culture! One crowd, after hearing that we were Christians brought several children, including a newborn baby boy, to be prayed over by us. They were believers as well and we embraced as brothers and sisters in Christ. Further down the street, Roy used his guitar to lead our entire group in a worship song that drew a small group of people to share with.

Three cultures join in prayer
We continued to pray for the Lord's leading and several streets later found ourselves in front of an even smaller church than the first one. The pastor, Nayden Borisov, was out front with a small group of people and eagerly welcomed us into his church building after hearing who we were. After hearing about their ministry with neglected children and sharing our desire to serve the Bulgarian gypsies, we joined hands together and prayed. Then, Roy played another worship song accompanied by one of the Romani on a drum as we all sang together. When we finished, the church exploded into a worship song of their own. The gypsy music and singing style was completely different than the worship we have experienced in the Bulgarian churches. The presence of the Lord filled the place as we blended our two cultures together in worship!

Impromptu worship service
We came with no plan, but the Lord had one for us. We shared Christ with a people in need, we contacted and encouraged two Roma pastors, and we were able to demonstrate practical evangelism to several Bulgarian teens and see them grow spiritually today. God is truly good!

Please keep the Roma people of Bulgaria in prayer. They need to experience true revival borne out of repentance that will change their culture from within. God wants to heal their brokenness and we are so blessed to be a part of His work among them.


  1. Impressive story of a place where you think God is mostly neded. I cannot find the Fakultate place. Where in Sofia is it exactly?
    Peter van Beek, Netherlands

  2. Fakulteta is near the western edge of Sofia just south of Zapaden Park. Here is a link to the location on Google Maps: