During the course of the work here in Bulgaria we have experienced many shifts and changes. Since starting work with CWI fifteen years ago, I have had many opportunities to share the gospel but have faced my share of disappointments as well.
Back in 1997 I began to travel the country, preaching in different churches and stirring up prayers for the Jewish people. A number of groups were founded that faithfully supported the work in prayer. The intention back then was to equip these Christians to share the gospel among Jewish communities in their own towns and cities. This strategy was effective for some years but, particularly after 9/11, there was a noticeable shift in people’s focus away from the Jews and towards Muslims. The churches began to inform me that the Muslim communities in Bulgaria were more responsive to the gospel and they would be putting their efforts into working with them.
Soon after this we relocated to Sofia, which has the largest Jewish community in Bulgaria. It was here that I experienced the blessing of working personally with Jewish people, meeting their physical needs and sharing the gospel with them. CWI provided me with a vehicle to enable me to carry out my humanitarian aid work.
Due to the fact that most of the Jewish community in Bulgaria are very old, my contacts are mainly elderly people. I used the car to drive them to different institutions and give them lifts to hospital. While we sat in traffic I would often take the opportunity to speak to them about the Lord!
It is through this means that I have seen a number of Jewish people come to faith in Christ; to be precise, five over the course of seven years. The humanitarian aid I distribute and the meeting of the community’s medical needs (with the assistance of Medical Missionary News) is one of the main paths to open doors for me and I believe that this will be the shape of my future ministry among the Jewish community here in Bulgaria.
Many of the first contacts I made when I arrived in Sofia have passed on and are now either with or, sadly, without the Lord. I have the privilege of working with some of their children, many of whom are from my parents’ generation. They were born right after the Second World War and know nothing but Communism. It is not easy to work with such people; they don’t know anything about Judaism, but are still Jewish. They do not believe in anything, but are still members of the synagogue. Some of them hold good positions in society but most are very poor, unemployed and addicted to alcohol. I need much wisdom to know how to deal with them and would value your continued prayers.
Furthermore, Jewish people from my generation often suffer from psychiatric problems. The empty void remaining after the communist era has left them without any values or hope. Some of these Jewish folk may welcome me today, but tomorrow may ask me to not contact them anymore. It can be a challenge to persevere and still take care of their needs.
Over the last fifteen years it has also been my desire to reach young Jewish people. A few months ago I started a web site to monitor information in the Bulgarian press regarding Israel and the situation in the Middle East. Through this site, I hope to establish contacts with young Bulgarian Jews who are living in the Diaspora and in Israel. It is estimated that there are over 30,000 Bulgarian Jews living in Israel at the moment. They emigrated there following the war but their children and grandchildren still visit Bulgaria. The web site, which is currently under construction, can be found at www.israel-bg.com. Please pray that I may be able to establish new contacts through this means.
I truly believe that there is a great future for ministry among the Bulgarian Jewish community. This is not down to the fact that I am here reaching out to them but because the Lord has promised that ‘all Israel will be saved’. I count it as a privilege to be called to this ministry. Please also count it a privilege to pray for the Jewish people here in Bulgaria!