The Lord has been so faithful to us and our ministry this past year and we want to take a little bit of time to share with you all the wondrous works He has done in Bulgaria.
"Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!"
When COVID hit in 2020 we weren’t sure what would happen with our ministry in Bulgaria. However, God used that time to help us focus in on what was most important, discipleship and evangelism. We are excited to share that in 2021 God allowed us to do more discipleship programs than any year previously and He gave us many opportunities to share the gospel. In this post we have included some short blurbs (in no particular order) about some different areas of our ministry. We pray that you are blessed by reading about the Lord’s work in Bulgaria!
The Truth and Hope Foundation celebrated their 20th anniversary in Bulgaria!! We cannot be more overjoyed at what God has done through the Truth and Hope Foundation over the past 20 years and it has been the biggest blessing for Matt and I to be a part of it. We were blessed to host a BBQ with friends and family to celebrate the anniversary.
DISCIPLESHIP Through 2021 Matt was able to complete the 15 week discipleship program at 4 different churches throughout Bulgaria. Almost 30 men completed the program with Matt and were able to learn how to walk deeper with the Lord, give their deep heart hurts over to Him, and continue to disciple other men with the gospel. In a few of the cities the discipleship program ended but the men wanted to continue and they developed their own weekly men’s Bible studies. We also have open doors to continue another program in 2022.
I (Jessica) have been meeting weekly with a young woman for discipleship and it is exciting to see her relationship with the Lord grow and flourish.
Weekly men’s Bible study: As mentioned earlier, new men’s Bible studies developed out of these discipleship programs and they continue to go strong, being lead by Bulgarian nationals who are learning to raise up, encourage and support their own men in the church.
Women’s ministry: The women’s ministry at Troyan church has been flourishing under the leadership of Marina, the pastors wife. Cherie, Jessica’s mom, has done women’s ministry in Bulgaria for the past 20 years but with them now phasing out of ministry in Bulgaira, we were able to donate all of our women’s ministry supplies and crafts to the church and it is so exciting to see Marina and her leadership team take on this ministry on their own.
Children’s ministry: In addition to Matt and I teaching in our local church’s children’s ministry, we had the privilege again of hosting VBS for the church. Last year we had to cancel VBS and all of our summer activities due to COVID so everyone was so excited to be able to enjoy it this year. In the past we have lead it and they have supported us but through the years the roles have changed and we were so blessed this year to see the nationals do all the planning and leading and we were just there for support and to teach a few lessons! We had some unsaved boys from the village attend and we know they heard the gospel more than once and we continue to pray that their lives are forever impacted from that one week of VBS.
Men’s and Sons: This has become such a great way of discipleship between the fathers and sons and has built a great community for fathers to reach out to one another. Throughout 2021 Matt was able to continue this ministry in Sofia and Troyan for each of the churches. Although it hasn’t really grown this year, we can see God’s hand in the ministry and we are excited to see some of the fathers stepping up into leadership roles.
The goal this year was to finish door to door evangelism in Shipka and it has been completed! Matt and Niki have now knocked on every door in the town of Shipka! Praise the Lord! They had many conversations with the locals about the gospel and although we haven’t seen the fruit of our labors yet, we know the seeds were planted!
FAMILY LIFE and FUN FACTS
We wanted to throw in some fun tidbits from our year since life is also about living.
We have been on a much needed furlough in the States for a few months, enjoying weddings, holidays and vacations with family and also much needed times of fellowship with the church and our church community. It has been such a blessing and we are now refreshed and ready to head back to Bulgaria on January 10.
This year we learned how to grow a garden from the ground up! We had lots of help from friends and neighbors who are much more experienced than us! Praise God for a bountiful harvest and lots to share with friends!
Baba Donka, our beloved neighbor, taught us how to make some of our favorite Bulgarian pastries and also how to can our vegetables. (The last picture is us having a conversation while canning our vegetables in the middle of the street!)
The boys learned to snowboard and we were able to have a few fun family days out on the beautiful slopes of Bulgaria.
The boys are now in 5th, 3rd and 1st and I am still homeschooling them. They are growing faster and already eating more than me at times. They love playing basketball and soccer and enjoy being on a sports team in Troyan. Pray for us as we try to raise them in the ways of the Lord!
That’s about all for now. Thank you for taking the time to read just a small portion of what God is doing in Bulgaria. We are honored that He has chosen us to be His hands and feet. We hope to have an update of what’s to come in 2022 soon so stay tuned!