This June saw Bob Mullins and I drive Spearhead’s 7.5 ton truck through Europe down to Bulgaria and the three day trip went without any major problems. The border crossings were slow but much quicker than they have been in previous years ~ only four hour delays rather than the eleven hour delays we have had previously and virtually no queues at all.
At the frontier with Serbia there was a man who had set up a business clearing all the paperwork for you for a fee of ten Euros, money well spent and a lot less frustrating than our experience of previous years. So while he worked Bob and I sat and had lunch in a restaurant and relaxed a while.
We arrived in Bulgaria a whole day before the team was due to fly in to Sofia and this enabled us to sort out a few minor details and rest after our long drive.
The next day the team arrived around midday fairly tired from their journey as some of them had left home before midnight the day before to travel to Gatwick for a very early departure. And yet later some turned up to help put the tent up in the relative cool of the evening. Temperatures had been reaching 35c during the day.
As always in Gypsy areas the excitement of the tent going up in the community was at an amazing level. They are so grateful that anyone should come to their patch.
The next morning we hit the ground running; breakfast was at 7am followed by the team meeting at 8am and down to the tent for 9.30am to prepare for the children’s ministry at 10am. Children came from every direction and slowly filled the tent to take part in teaching from the Bible, puppets speaking Bulgarian, action songs, face painting and loads of fun activities for two hours every morning. The kids loved it and the team seemed to love it almost as much!
Due to conditions imposed by the local authority we were not allowed to have any activity in the tent from noon till 4pm. This gave a chance for the team to have some down time and to try out a new pool complex between the village we were working in and the town we were staying in and was greatly enjoyed by all.
4pm saw the team back at the tent to work with the youth for two hours who enjoyed fellowshipping with the team, singing songs and dancing as well as being encouraged in their faith.
6pm saw either women or men from the village and surrounding area arrive for teaching specifically for them. Kim courageously tackled the teaching for the women answering their sometimes forthright questions. Noel and I taught the men, again getting into some deep and searching questions.
During the evening different members of the team went out to minister in churches in other towns and villages while the bulk of the team stayed at the tent. Gypsy worship teams had been invited to minister in the tent each night and lead greatly differing times of worship. Members of the team shared their testimonies and the local church put on some drama. All this was followed by Noel or I presenting the gospel.
During the week over a hundred people responded to the Good News and made Jesus Lord of their lives. Praise God! At the end of every evening we prayed for the sick and we estimate that we ministered to over a thousand people during the course of the week. The meeting rarely finished before 10pm which, by the time things were shut down and we were back to the hotel, meant dinner was often after 11pm and to bed by the early hours of the morning.
The mission was once again life changing for both those being ministered to and those who were ministering. The whole of the team has expressed that they want to come again next year and in addition many from their home churches are already expressing an interest in coming as well.