Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back Home But Still Much To Do

The team has now been home for a week and as everyone's jet lag winds down, the question is often asked... "What now?" Good question. I'm glad you asked!

We have always approached our ministry to Bulgaria, and now Macedonia, as a relationship-based ministry of encouragement and support to the Body of Christ there. Furthermore, we view that ministry as a 52-week ministry, not two weeks. We do a lot of work while we are in Bulgaria. We get our hands dirty in construction, we help with a kids' camp, we teach in churches, we share Christ out in public... but let's be honest, the work that we do is minor in the big scheme of things. We are not going to impact a nation in only two weeks a year. And we don't need to. That's why God has raised up His Church there. We have Christian brothers and sisters in Bulgaria and Macedonia who God is working through to establish His kingdom in those countries. Unless the Lord sends me to live and serve there full-time, I will never be able to serve the way that my family there does.

However, God has called us to serve those who are building the Kingdom there. The most important thing we do in our time overseas is to build and strengthen the relationships that we have with our Church family there. We meet people, we pray together, we share our lives, and we serve side-by-side for the short time that we have together. Then, we go back home and spend the rest of the year building on those relationships. Much has been said about the negative impact of Facebook and other social networking media on this generation's ability to build real relationships. However, I want to note that when a real relationship has already been established, the internet can be a powerful tool to maintain that relationship over long distances. I am able to stay in regular contact with the Body of Christ overseas, praying for the needs that arise, offering support when needed, even sharing God's word and wise counsel for situations that a brother may be facing.

I can genuinely say that not a day goes by all year when I am not thinking and praying about Bulgaria and my friends and family there. The heart God has given to me and others on the team is a genuine burden that cannot be laid down when I desire. It weighs upon me and demands my constant attention. Even if I were unable to travel to Bulgaria every summer, my heart and service to that country would remain untouched.

I am blessed that the Lord has expanded our reach this year. Our time spent in Fakulteta was not about construction or kids ministry, but about beginning to build a new relationship with a part of the Body that was previously unknown to us. Our visit to Macedonia opened our eyes to a great need in the Body of Christ for encouragement in a nation where the Church is small and struggling, but filled with the Lord's grace and love. We look forward to building on these new relationships in the coming years and seeing how the Lord will use us to support His work in these places.

And, of course, we are already looking ahead to next summer. If anyone is interested in traveling with us next year as a part of our team, please get ahold of me soon. I don't need a commitment at this stage, I just want to know who's interested so I can begin to pray for direction. We'll also start fundraising soon for next year. We'll hold our first yard sale in September with four more every two months after. Anyone that wants to donate or has ideas for fundraising should contact me as well.

Above all else, we will be praying... praying... and praying! God is doing a good thing in Bulgaria and Macedonia and the prayers of the saints around the world are needed to come alongside what He is doing. God is good!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Camp Experience

Now that we are here at the Black Sea for a weeklong kids camp, I thought I'd take just a minute to share with you what our daily schedule looks like. :-)
 6:30am Wake up and grab a quick cup of coffee
6:45am Meet with Bulgarian leaders to discuss the day
7:30am Wake up all the kids
7:45am Physical fitness with Brittany and Raya
8:00am Breakfast
9:00am Small group prayer
9:15am Beach time (3 hours)... We watch out for the children's safety and play with them.
1:00pm Lunch
2:00pm Naptime (1 hr & 45 min!) But... not for us. We take this time to plan our afternoon and visit town for supplies.
4:00pm Daily bible lessons... Our group is responsible for 2 days of teaching.
4:45pm Group projects
5:30pm Game / craft rotation (30 min. each and switch)... Our group is responsible for this.
6:30pm Daily recap... using dramas and group discussion to go over bible lesson of the day. I lead this discussion.
7:30pm Dinner
8:15pm Evening service... Our group is responsible for 3 nights of teaching.

 After 9:00pm, we stay up for a few hours with the teenagers, then put everyone to bed. Afterward, we hide toys all over the camp for the morning and handle any last minute crafts, etc. We usually get to bed after midnight, sometimes much later! So that's our schedule. Its exhausting but fulfilling... God is doing mighty things! Keep us in prayer...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Back at the Black Sea

After a 6 hour drive across the country today, the team has arrived at the Black Sea for a week long kids camp. We are working with the Blaga Vest church from Sofia to hold the camp for about 60 kids from ages 5 to 18 in the town of Chernomoretz near Burgas.

The theme of the camp is "Go Tell It On The Mountain," and uses five mountaintop experiences to relate spiritual truths.

  1. Mount Sinai - God is with his people.
  2. Mount Carmel - The Lord shows that He is the One True God.
  3. Mount of Transfiguration - Jesus is God's Son.
  4. Golgotha - Jesus Saves Us All.
  5. (Unnamed Mountain) - Jesus says, "Go to all!"
We will be relating these spiritual truths through teaching lessons, games and crafts, activities and nightly messages. We spend several hours a day with the kids in the Black sea in addition to plenty of other opportunities to hang out and fellowship. Each of the team members will have ministry responsibilities throughout the week so keep us all in prayer.

Also, we're running a little low on energy right now and a few have been fighting off colds. Please pray for our strength and health. We know that when we are weak, He is strong! God is good and we look forward to sharing the amazing things He is going to do this week at camp. In the meantime, here's a link to some pictures of our time in Macedonia over the weekend.

Pictures of Macedonia

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Answering the Macedonian Call

Mite & Krasimira Goshevi
Greetings to our family and friends from Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. We arrived here yesterday afternoon after driving across the border from Sofia, Bulgaria. We are here as guests of Pastor Mite Goshev and his family. His daughters, Lydia and Ani, have attended summer camps at the Black Sea with us for years and, through them, we began to develop an interest to visit the Church here. The Goshevi family have been gracious hosts and Mite's wife, Krasimira, prepared a wonderful Macedonian meal for us yesterday evening!

The Body of Christ here needs our prayers. The Orthodox Church is the dominant presence in this country but, while it offers a strong moral and cultural presence, it lacks spiritual force among the people. National identity is closely linked to Orthodox membership so many are Orthodox Christians simply because they are Macedonians and that's what Macedonians do. At the same time, the other ethnic groups have led to a strong Islamic presence. Mosques are everywhere! As we drove down into Skopje, the first thing that caught our eye was a HUGE mosque with a gold dome and towering minarets. We viewed the scene with a heaviness on our hearts until we lifted up our eyes and looked across the city. There, high on a mountain, was a giant cross overlooking the valley. We learned later that the Millennium Cross was placed there to celebrate two thousand years of Christianity in the region and stands over 200 feet high!

The non-Orthodox evangelical church here, though, is quite small. In a nation of about 2 million people, the Protestant church is estimated to be around 2,000 people. Pastor Mite shared with me that in Skopje, a city of over 700,000, when all the churches get together for an event, there are about 500 people. Small does not mean weak, however. We spent yesterday evening with a group of young people from several churches in the city and were touched by their love for the Lord and genuine desire to live for Him. As God continues to raise up believers like them, the Church has a bright future. Relationship and discipleship will be the key to building the Kingdom in Macedonia. People's hearts are hardened toward the Lord in this post-Communist culture, and they do not respond well to traditional evangelism. The walls must be torn down through personal relationship in order to pave the way for the gospel to do its work.

Please be praying for God's work here. The body of Christ in Macedonia faces numerous obstacles, but with God all things are possible! We can offer our love and support, and they can offer us an example of how to serve the Lord with grace and persistence. God bless!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pics and Videos - 1st two days

Fakulteta - The "Revelation" Church

Wednesday Service - "Blaga Vest"

Pastor Mike teaches in Blaga Vest

Worship in Blaga Vest Church


Our First Day

Greetings to our family and friends back in America! We are wrapping up our first day here in the beautiful land of Bulgaria and there is so much to share.

We had a few hiccups getting here. We were delayed over an hour in boarding our flight in Chicago because of an instrument malfunction. Once we got on, we taxied to the runway, then rode back to the gate because of an engine problem. We had to leave the plane and wait two more hours for a replacement! Of course, that made us late arriving in Frankfurt, Germany so we had to catch an alternate flight to Vienna, Austria and from there into Sofia. For all that, we were only about 5 hours later than originally planned!

After a good night's rest, we woke this morning and ventured into Fakulteta. This area is the country's second largest mahala or Romani (gypsy) community. Over 40,000 people live in a couple of square miles. We returned to a church that we visited last year... the Revelation Church pastored by Naiden Borisov. The church building was damaged by heavy snow 2 winters ago and, in the process of repairing, the Lord spoke to them about expanding. They have added a courtyard to the front of the church and are building a kitchen and dining area for their food ministry in which they feed approximately 50 kids daily. Today, we invested in some supplies for the construction and spent the afternoon digging footers for the two walls of the new kitchen.

In the meantime, the ladies on our team spent the day ministering to the children of the church. They acted out bible stories, did crafts and games, and painted faces. Morgan Crampton, the only new member of our team, felt right at home surrounded by loving children! Everyone on the team pitched in and worked hard today and the Roma congregation was truly blessed by our visit.

However, I'd have to say we were just as ministered to as they were. We were warmly embraced and accepted, and the people of the church went out of their way to help us and get to know us in spite of the language barrier. English-speaking Romani are somewhat rare and none were present today. I want to give a shout-out to our girl Simona, one of the Bulgarian young people we have known for years who came along today to serve with us and translate. Her language skills really helped to break down barriers and establish meaningful relationship.

The last hour of the day was spent in fellowship with the church members and their leaders. Pastor Borisov discussed his vision for reaching the Romani people in Bulgaria. He has divided the nation into twelve regions and has begun sending out teams to minister in each region and work with other churches. In the past couple of years, he has planted six of these works and continues to raise up others to send. We were blown away by their heart for their people and their vision for sharing God's word and discipling followers of Christ. For many of us, the highlight of the experience was spending time in prayer with these brothers and sisters in the Lord who were so passionate about Him. We prayed for them and they laid hands on each of our team and lifted us up. Several people ministered with various gifts of the Spirit to the edification of all in a beautiful way.

In the evening, we joined the Blaga Vest congregation downstairs in their new sanctuary for the evening service. What a joy for us to be a part of our first service ever in the new space! Its always a blessing to sing along with songs that we know well, even if the words are completely different. I was given the privilege of teaching the message and shared with the body from Luke 15 (the parable of the Lost Sheep and Coin). Afterwards, we listened and prayed along as members of the congregation voiced their requests to the Lord in a time of prayer.

Finally, we capped off the evening with a sweet time of fellowship with another group of young people from America. A missions group of teens from the Dove Church in Pennsylvania stayed here tonight before flying home tomorrow after a week of ministry here in the country. We shared stories and prayer into the wee hours before kicking everybody off to bed!

Today was an incredible and Spirit-led day of fellowship and ministry and its only the first day. I can't wait to see what else God has in store! Tomorrow, we're going to spend some time in the word as the various team members finish up the lessons they'll be teaching at the Black Sea camp next week. Then we're off to Stolnik, a Roma village, for their evening church service.

Keep us in prayer and stay tuned for more! Слава на Бога (Glory to God)!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Final Countdown!

Its been a busy week for everyone on the team as most of us were involved in Vacation Bible School at our church all week... but VBS wrapped up last night and now we turn our full attention to our impending departure!

Tomorrow, the team will meet after church to pack all of the supplies and other stuff we're bringing. We've got food for a BBQ at the Black Sea camp, Sunday School supplies for one of the churches, crafts and games, gifts for some of the people we know, and much more. Everybody gives up half a suitcase for the group stuff, then we go home and pack our own clothes and personal items in whatever room is left.

Our flight details
Our flight leaves at 6 am on Monday morning from Las Vegas, so we'll meet up around 1:30 am to load up and pray as a team, then head out by 2 to get to the airport by 4. If all goes well, we should be landing in Sofia at 1 pm on Tuesday afternoon (which will 3 am Tuesday morning here in Bullhead City).

Keep us in prayer and follow this blog for continuous updates with photos and video. Слава на Бога!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Three Weeks and Counting...

21 days to go, but who's counting? Oh wait, all of us! Excitement is building among the entire team as time winds down to our departure. This will be my fifth visit to Bulgaria, but I'm as expectant as the first time. Not a day goes by throughout the year that I don't think about and pray for the nation and its people... my friends and family there.

We are still putting the final pieces into place, but our general schedule is going to look something like this:

Monday, June 24........... Depart & travel all day
Tuesday, June 25.......... Arrive in afternoon. Rest and fellowship in evening.
Wednesday, June 26.... Work day at Revelation Church in Fakulteta / Blaga Vest service
Thursday, June 27........ ??? / Stolnik Service
Friday, June 28.............. ??? / Elin Pelin Service
Saturday, June 29........ Drive to Macedonia / Youth Event in evening
Sunday, June 30.......... Macedonia / Dobra Vest service
Monday, July 1............. Drive to Sofia
Tues-Tues, July 2-9....  Black Sea Camp
Wednesday, July 10... Visit historical/cultural location. Blaga Vest service
Thursday, July 11....... Depart and travel all day

The question marks on Thursday and Friday indicate space we haven't yet filled. We're trying to work out an opportunity to minister in a Sofia orphanage or to the homeless downtown on one of those days.

Worshipping in Fakulteta 
On Wednesday, June 26, we'll be spending a day with the Revelation Church in Fakulteta. This area of Sofia is a separate community of Roma (gypsy) people known as a mahala. The mahalas are literally ghettos where the Romani live segregated from the surrounding Bulgarian communities. Fakulteta is the second largest mahala in Bulgaria, with about 40,000 Roma living within a few square miles... all within the borders of the nation's capital city, Sofia.

Linzi befriends a Roma child
The ladies on our team will be ministering to a group of Roma children for the day. They are planning a day camp with a circus theme and sharing God's word through crafts, dramas, games and activities. At the same time, the men will be helping the congregation with construction work they are doing on their church building. They are in the process of expanding their facility to provide a regular food ministry and to accommodate other ministry to their community as well. We will be pouring concrete, laying brick, and whatever else is needed.

Continue to pray for us as the time draws closer. There are still many organizational details and preparations to be made. Pray for time to accomplish everything and for our hearts and minds to be fixed on God's work, not our own. Above all, pray for the direction and power of the Holy Spirit to soak everything that we do!

Слава на Бога! (Glory to God)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pastor Chuck and Lynda Return

After an amazing three weeks in Bulgaria, and a long 30-hour journey back home, Pastor Chuck and Lynda have finally returned home to Bullhead City. They arrived in Las Vegas Friday evening, where they were met and driven home by their children, CJ and Johnna.

Pastor Ludmil translates for Pastor Chuck
They ended their time in Bulgaria by celebrating Easter for their second time this year. The religious calendar in Eastern Europe is defined by the Orthodox Church, which places the celebration of Christ's resurrection later than the western Church. As a result, the Kellys were able to enjoy the Easter celebration with the Blaga Vest congregation in their new building in Sofia. Pastor Chuck was given the opportunity to share in the service, which took place this past Sunday, May 5.

That evening, Sunday morning for us, they joined with our local congregation at Calvary Chapel Bullhead City in a Skype video chat. They made the call while celebrating the resurrection at dinner with the Ludmil Yatanski (pastor of Blaga Vest) and his family. Our body got to meet the Yatanskis and received a praise report from the Kellys on their trip.

Chuck with Pastor Niki at Veliko Turnovo
During their last week in Bulgaria, they also got to spend some quality time with the Vasilevs. Pastor Niki and his wife Tsveta lead the Bozhia Sila ("Power of God") church in Elin Pelin along with gyspy churches in Elin Pelin and nearby Stolnik. The Vasilevs and Kellys enjoyed a trip to an historic castle in the town of Veliko Turnovo. Fellowship with the church leadership in Bulgaria is an important part of the ministry the Lord has called our pastor to. The relationships he and Lynda have formed over the years are a real source of strength and encouragement for many there.

Kellys catch up with friends in Elin Pelin
Of course, that fellowship goes beyond just the pastors and their families. The relationships we have formed with all of the believers over there are at the core of our church's ministry in that nation. We understood many years ago that the Lord was sending us, not to evangelize the lost, but to serve and encourage the Church that He is building there. While we do not neglect opportunities to share Christ with unbelievers, we recognize that God has called the Church in Bulgaria to reach their nation with the gospel and God has sent us to come alongside and help them.

We are thankful to have our pastor and his wife back home with us, but even more grateful for all that the Lord did through them in Bulgaria. What a joy to be able to send them and see the work God does with them there!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

TEAM... Check! TICKETS... Check!

The team for this year's trip is finally set and the airline tickets have been purchased. We're now locked in with only 61 days to go!

After praying and discussing together, we decided on two last minute additions before buying tickets. Roy Garrett, who has been with us for the last two years, has recommitted to coming this year. Also, Morgan Crampton, a teenage girl in our church, has asked to be a part of this year's team. Soooo.....
The full team is:

  • Morgan Crampton
  • Linzi Drew
  • Roy Garrett
  • Vernon Garrett
  • Brittany Hogle
  • Mike Kern
  • Joey Leslie
  • Brijon Ortiz
  • Barbi Robnett

Be praying for this year's team as we spend the next two months planning and preparing. God bless!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pastor Chuck and Lynda in BG

Its been almost a week since Pastor Chuck and Lynda returned to Bulgaria after almost two years absence. If you have either, or both, of them on Facebook make sure to follow along as they share almost daily of what the Lord is doing there.

Pastor Chuck wasn't able to make the trip last year because of the accident that took him out of commission for several months and over a year to heal. The return this year is especially sweet as they will be celebrating the Orthodox Easter holiday with the Blaga Vest church in Sofia.

They were greeted at the airport by Pastor Ludmil Yatanski of Blaga Vest in a heartfelt reunion. Pastor Ludmil has been a key part of the work we do in Bulgaria, providing opportunities for ministry both in Sofia and at the Black Sea children's camp every year, and also providing housing while we are in Sofia. Our two congregations are connected by the ties of fellowship between many of our members who have formed strong relationships over the years.

We have watched for about seven years now as the Blaga Vest church has been constructing a new church facility. They have been meeting in a rented theater in downtown Sofia, while their new facility is being built in Lyulin, a densely populated neighborhood on the northwest side of the city. With apartments for visiting missionaries others traveling through for ministry, along with classrooms and church offices, the new building has been in use for several years but had not yet begun to hold regular services in the main sanctuary. While they had been holding the Wednesday evening service in a smaller room upstairs, they are planning to use the main sanctuary for their Easter service although there is still work remaining to be completed. We were blessed to send an offering to help with the construction and look forward to its completion.

Another congregation that is dear to our hearts in Bulgaria is the Boje Cila church in nearby Elin Pelin. The small town is about 30 minutes away from Sofia and the church is led by Pastor Niki Vasilev. The town and the church are small, but their hearts are not! We have been blessed by this congregation and their love for us every time we visit. Pastor Chuck and Lynda visited for service several days ago and the pastor's wife, Tsveta, translated as Chuck shared the word of God with the congregation.

Last year, the church assembled a full worship team with several church members, including some of their youth. This was the first time for Chuck and Lynda to hear them sing and they were blessed! The congregation always demonstrates a real heart for the Lord in their worship and its always a pleasure to sing along with them as best as we can. Fortunately, many of the songs they sing are songs we know as well, just translated into their own language. The sound of a church full of people singing a worship song together in two languages is beautiful!!

Lynda took the opportunity to love on some of the girls in the church. Many of those who attend are Romani (gypsies), who usually do not find a welcome anywhere else in the Bulgarian culture. What a joy it is to know that the Body of Christ has room for everyone!

Speaking of the Roma people, Pastor Niki not only pastors the church in Elin Pelin, but also travels to the nearby gypsy village of Stolnik to minister to a congregation there. Pastor Chuck and Lynda went along and shared the Lord with them. Chuck noted that God gave him a completely different message than the one he'd prepared but it was truly the leading of the Holy Spirit and ministered to the body. He was also given a word to share with a woman there who had walked away from the Lord for several years.

The church building in Stolnik is a recent addition, and a major improvement over the small trailer they used to meet in. Last year, the team had the opportunity to paint a beautiful mural on one wall of the church depicting four of the miracles that Jesus performed, along with scripture references in Bulgarian. The Stolnik church is truly reaching out to a community that desperately needs the love of Jesus and its a blessing to be even a small part of the work God is doing there.

Continue to pray for Pastor Chuck and Lynda as they still have two more weeks in Bulgaria. Lynda is getting several opportunities to share with the woman there and Chuck is teaching 3 to 5 times a week in various churches and bible studies. We can't wait to hear all that God is doing on this trip!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Macedonian Call

Looks like we're going to Macedonia this year! We made plans last week to spend a couple of days during our trip visiting with a church in Macedonia, which is due west of Bulgaria. We're so excited about this new opportunity to serve and encourage the Body of Christ in Eastern Europe.

The Blaga Vest ("Good News" in Bulgarian) church in Sofia has planted several other churches around Bulgaria and one in Macedonia as well. The Dobra Vest ("Good News" in Macedonian) church is led by Pastor Mite Goshev. For many years, we have been blessed by the opportunity to spend time with him and his family, along with teenagers from his church at the Black Sea camp we help with. We have always rejoiced in the sweet, gentle spirit of the teenagers from the Macedonian church and have spoken at length about the challenges they face in reaching their country with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian Church in Macedonia is encountering serious opposition, not only from the government, but also from a strong and growing Islamic presence. In fact, just last year, five young Christian men were killed on the eve of Good Friday by Islamic jihadis in Skopje (the capital city where the Dobra Vest church is located). Resulting arrests led to demonstrations in the streets with thousands of Muslims chanting "Death to Christians" and "Jihad". Yet, the Macedonian Christians we know have always set an example for us of gentle joyfulness!

We look forward to the opportunity to visit and encourage our brothers and sisters in their struggle. We also know that we will be encouraged as well as they minister to us with their example of grace under fire. We often take for granted our freedom and favor as Christians here in America, but their experiences remind us that persecution, not favor, has always been the mark of the Christian experience. We too may one day find ourselves struggling to bear the message of the cross in a culture that violently opposes it. I hope that when that day comes, we will follow the example of those who have endured before us!

Pray for the Body of Christ in Macedonia and ask God to show us clearly how we can bless and encourage our family there. God bless!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Summer Camp at the Black Sea

The team for this year has begun to meet regularly and one of the first items up for discussion is the summer camp at the Black Sea. This year, we will be responsible for organizing the entire camp experience which takes place every year in the town of Chernomorets, near Burgas. 50-60 kids come every year for a weeklong experience meant to draw them closer to the Lord. The camp will take place during the first week of July.
Joey Leslie brings years of experience planning the Vacation Bible Schools at Calvary Bullhead to play as he leads the team in this area. After much prayer, he's selected a VBS theme that we will develop to work with the Bulgarian camp.
The theme we are going to work from is called Tell It On The Mountain. Each day of the camp will focus on a specific mountaintop experience from scripture. For instance, on Day One, we will examine the story of Moses meeting with God on Mount Sinai to teach that God is with us in a personal way. Each day will feature a separate biblical story, along with a main idea about God and His relationship to us, and a specific memory verse for the kids to learn. The lesson will be reinforced throughout the day using teaching, activities, crafts and games, and more.
Our next step as a team is to re-design the schedule for the daily camp routine. We have to plan around the camp mealtimes to schedule bible teaching, beach time, activities, prayer time, and more. Our plan is to get the schedule to our friends in the Blaga Vest Church in Sofia by the beginning of March. We will then begin planning out the specific activities, games and crafts along with other details and have a full plan for the camp in place by sometime in April.
Please be praying for the camp. Pray for God's direction as we work out all the details and, above all, pray for the children who will be attending that the Lord would speak to them and change them during the week at the sea. God bless!

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year, Renewed Vision

2013 is upon us and that means only six more months until we return to Bulgaria. We recently held our first meeting for those in our church interested in joining our team this year and I'm encouraged by the heart of our body to serve. Most of those who traveled with us last year are planning to go back, and we have a number of new people considering the trip as well.
Ministering in Fakulteta
As we  begin to assemble the new team, we are also considering several new opportunities for ministry this year. The Elin Pelin church recently purchased property for the construction of a new church. We are excited for the congregation there and looking forward to being able to help in any way we can. Also, after our initial visit to Fakulteta (a large Roma ghetto in Sofia) last year, we are excited about returning to serve the churches and people there. Also, we are looking into spending a few days with the Church in Macedonia.
Of course, we will still be serving at the children's camp at the Black Sea and visiting with the Blaga Vest church in Sofia and the churches in Elin Pelin and Stolnik. We are also looking to return to the orphanage we visited last year to minister to the children there.
More important than our plans though, is our vision... our understanding of what God has called us to do and why He is sending us to Bulgaria. It is so easy to get locked into repetitive, comfortable ministry that simply follows the pattern of what we've always done... even on the mission field. We can be so busy with the What of ministry that we forget the Why. We also sometimes overlook that, while God is the same yesterday, today and forever, He is constantly doing a new and fresh work in His Church and individual lives. We must be sensitive to His direction so that He can use us to carry out His plans and purposes, not our own.
American and Bulgarian teens hanging out at the mall
With that in mind, we have felt the Lord leading us to be more active in the areas of discipleship and evangelism. Our primary mission continues to be to encourage and serve the Body of Christ in Bulgaria, but we also want to come alongside and help them reach the lost of their nation for Jesus. Also, we have been blessed with a unique connection with many of the teenagers in the Bulgarian Church as God has developed strong friendships between them and members of our team. We have a responsibility to work within these relationships to help disciple these young men and women who are the future of the Bulgarian Church.
What it comes down to is this... God is doing a great work in Bulgaria and we are blessed that He has called us to be a small part of it. We have a responsibility to learn how God wants to use us and then be faithful to obey and serve where He leads.
I can't wait to see what He has in store!