For some time I and those who have travelled with me have seen the need to teach believers in the Bulgarian churches the foundational truths of our faith in God so that they might press on to maturity as outlined by Hebrews 6:1-3.
In many gypsy churches there is not much grace in evidence, in fact significant degrees of legalism are common leading to fear which keeps the believers from having the relationship that God really wants with them.
This was brought home to me during a recent trip when a lady who ministers regularly in her home church shared that she sometimes only attended church meetings out of fear of what God might do to her or her family if she did not turn up! To me this revealed something of the way she saw God; not as a loving Father but rather as a vengeful master, a view which would always limit her relationship with Him.
Now I believe that meeting together as the church is important, but our motivation is to be one of love for God and for His people and a desire to spend time with both, encouraging each other and worshipping Him. The Bible tells us that ‘perfect love casts out fear’ 1 John 4:18. God loves us as sons and daughters and we don’t need to fear Him or coming into His presence.
So having talked with many of the pastors we work with we felt that it was right to draw together those in ministry and those emergent ministries and seek to teach them the basic truths of the Christian faith. Our heart is to equip them and see them move on to become mature in their faith and encourage others to do the same. Paul writes to the Colossians in Col 1:28, ‘we proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone complete in Christ.’
So in October with much excitement from the fifty or so attending we came together for a weekend. The delegates represented around eight or nine churches from the Plovdiv area and we set ourselves to study and discuss the Word of God looking specifically at the tenets of our faith. We were also joined by a team from Bulgarian Christian TV who recorded and filmed the weekend so that those attending could review the teaching at a later date and pass it on to members of their churches. Many of the gypsies don’t read or write too well so simply giving out notes is of limited use although all materials were translated and we did make notes available for each session along with the audio and video recordings.
Mostly it was a great weekend where we had fun and learned together. Sadly there were a few ‘friends of friends’ who had come along with a misunderstanding of what the time together was about and as the weekend progressed took their leave. Overall it was a profitable time together and the feed back has been positive so we will go ahead and meet together again next month when we will be looking at the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Please pray for us that we will have God’s wisdom in this time together as we continue to seek to lay Biblical foundations in the believers’ lives.