In a little over a week I will going to Bulgaria for ten days on a short term mission trip, and I’m very excited.
I’ll be traveling with a team of six people from the church and we’ll be moving around the country quite a bit, guided by our ministry partners who are planting and pastoring churches in Bulgaria. We’ll be going into a refugee camp with the local pastors and visit with the people they are ministering to everyday. We will also be doing ministry in some ghettos where Gypsies live, as well as putting on a Vacation Bible School on three separate days on three separate occasions. I’ll also be doing a bit of preaching in church and at outreach events that the local church is engaged with.
Since Bulgaria is not one of those countries we hear a lot about in the news, I thought I would share a few facts about this country:
- In ancient times, Bulgaria was home to the Varna people who are thought to be the ones to invent gold-working.
- Between the 6th century BC and the 5th century AD, Bulgaria was ruled by the Thracians, Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires. The First Bulgarian Empire was founded in AD 681.
- The first Christian monastery in Europe was founded in Bulgaria by St. Athanasius in AD 344.
- Bulgaria was ruled by the Ottoman Turkish Empire from 1396 to 1878 when Russia helped the Bulgarians gain their independence.
- During World War II, Bulgaria was allied with the Axis powers but switched sides after the Communist Party seized power and was invaded by the USSR in 1944.
- From 1946 to 1989, Bulgaria was a communist country and part of the Warsaw Pact.
- Bulgaria was known as the “Silicon Valley of the Eastern Bloc” for its manufacturing of computer technology.
- Bulgaria is officially a secular state, but the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is designated the traditional state religion. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church was formed in AD 684.
- After Eastern Orthodoxy, Islam has the next highest percentage of adherents in Bulgaria
- The primary languages are Bulgarian, Turkish, and Romani.
Short term mission trips are a real privilege to participate in. They give us the opportunity to learn more about the global church and see how our brothers and sisters live out their faith. It puts things in perspective, reminding you that the Kingdom of God is bigger than your own little community or your particular culture’s version of Christianity. Yet it also shows you that we worship the same God, the same Jesus, and have been given the same Holy Spirit.