Servant Life is excited for a new partnership with Mission: Bulgaria, a group of believers with a heart for the country and people of Bulgaria. Co-founder Ben Nelson answers a few questions for us about what it’s like to serve in Bulgaria.
Obviously there are great physical and spiritual needs all over the world. What led you to specifically be involved in Bulgaria?
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
Bulgaria holds a special place in my heart. In 2009, my community and I went to lead worship for a week in the Roma villages of Bulgaria. Soon after we arrived we realized we were taking part in the early stages of an amazing spiritual Reformation – a Reformation that was producing evangelical leaders from all areas of Bulgaria, working together to make a difference for the kingdom in their nation. The Bulgarian culture has been stripped of biblical principles after decades of socialist and communist rule. Communism fell in 1989 but the oppression of the Roma (Gypsy) people has not.
Every day we must ask ourselves “What is the good news for our community?” and then we must know that the gospel covers it. The good news for Bulgaria and the Roma people is “Hope”. THE GOSPEL COVERS THAT! In the midst of poverty, persecution, hunger, and segregation GOD IS WITH YOU.
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5
WE LEVERAGE EVERYTHING IN ORDER TO GIVE THEM HOPE!
What kind of ministry have you been able to engage in with short-term teams?
One of my favorite things about Mission Bulgaria is that when you go on a short-term trip you become a part of a year-round family. Once you’ve made your impact that week you become an extension of what God is doing in the country through our missionaries year round. Mission Bulgaria is not just a one week out of the year mission but a year round partnership to see lives shaped and changed by the gospel for the kingdom.
Mission Bulgaria focuses on these 3 main areas: PRAY. LOVE. UNITE.
PRAY: TOGETHER WE PRAY. WE PRAY THAT GOD WOULD POUR HIS LOVE AND FAVOR OUT ON BULGARIA AND THE ROMANIES.
LOVE: WE GO. WE GO AND LOVE. JAMES 2:19 SAYS THAT FAITH WITHOUT ACTION IS DEAD! WE ACT ON OUR PRAYERS.
UNITE: IN ALL THESE THINGS WE HOPE TO HELP UNITE THE BULGARIANS AND THE ROMANIES WITH CHRIST AND EACH OTHER.
What we do:
Food distribution, church planting, children’s festivals, orphan care, worship services, mission trips, Christmas shoeboxes, Prayers over homes and families, English lessons, food stations and much more.
Ministry in a foreign context is almost impossible without establishing trust among native people. How have you done this?
Have you ever met someone and instantly know they would become one of your closest friends? When I met Dinko, a missionary from Bulgaria, I knew that God had aligned our hearts. After meeting Dinko, his family, and his team we knew that we needed to partner with their existing ministry in Bulgaria. In 2009 we partnered with “Care for All” ministries. In the past 12 years “Care for All” has:
-Planted over 43 churches
-Provided funding for 23 medical operations for Roma children
-Built 17 church buildings
-Established 5 feeding stations,
-Conducted 100’s of training seminars for Ministers
-Taught countless English and computer courses
-Provided daily ministry counseling
-Facilitated ministry expansion into Siberia, Turkey and Chicago
What long-term impact do you hope to accomplish with short-term teams?
No one goes on a “short-term” mission trip with Mission Bulgaria. A week spent in Bulgaria truly has a lasting impact. A short-term mission trip becomes a catalyst for the year round ministries in Bulgaria. Churches are planted, leaders are encouraged, non- believers come to hear good news, children are loved, orphans are held, and lives truly are changed forever. A short-term trip with Mission Bulgaria provides an opportunity, for both those going and those receiving, to witness the love and fellowship of believers with in a different culture and context. It allows us the chance to see how God’s power and might crosses all borders, and it is proof that the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. (Rom 1:16)
Once you have gone on a week-long trip with Mission Bulgaria, you are a part of the family. This family provides for missions in Bulgaria year round.
Do you have any favorite moments from your time in Bulgaria?
I have a few. One if my favorite moments is always the orphanages. We partner with an organization called “Create a Smile” which provides medical surgeries for children who cannot afford them. Because of this partnership we are one of the few religious organizations allowed into the orphanages. Each year we spend time with these children. We held a HUGE children’s festival with cotton candy, popcorn, toys, music and more. Each trip we watch these children grow up, we know that each short-term missionary is having a huge impact on the lives of these orphans.
Another one of my favorite moments is when we were in a village doing an outside worship service. As we taught the gospel and encouraged the believers we saw a group of men sitting across the street in a mule drawn buggy. You could tell they were listening to what we were saying. Afterwards they approached one of our missionaries, Stefko, and started asking questions. I asked Stefko, “What are they saying?”. He said, “ They want to know who this Jesus guy is and if he’s coming next week?”… They had never heard the name Jesus at all. My heart was broken and delighted at the same time. God is doing something HUGE and I am just grateful to help play a small part.
Servant Life is sending short-term teams to serve in Bulgaria starting summer 2016. Cost is $799 and includes:
Pre, During, and Post-trip Devotionals
Click here for more information and a list of trip dates.