Short Term Mission: Bulgaria

By Rob Sutton - 5 July 2021

My love for Bulgaria started when I was invited in May of 2015 to join a team that were going out to do a week’s mission work under the supervision of our Elder at Christchurch, Andy Johnston. What I didn’t realise back then is that this would start a deep hunger in my heart for this country and its people.

During this trip we worked alongside George who was a man after God’s heart and had church planted in a town called Mezdra about 1.5 miles from Sofia, the small congregation had believed in God’s provision and built a church building on a plot of land. We as a team were excited to be the first to see the “astro turf” football pitch that Christchurch had funded and sent out.

We stayed in a 3-storey building that the church had also purchased in a local town Bodenets. Throughout the week we travelled around the area doing open air style meetings in town marketplaces. The team also visited the Gypsy communities with footballs, premier league team football tops and of course English Chocolate!

The open air meetings consisted of worship times, testimonies and many funny acted out parables, these were always great times and the team felt a real sense of God’s Holy Spirit and power.

However, as none of us could speak Bulgarian we shared our stories through various interpreters, one being a young man after God’s heart called Tsvetozar (Tetsi), who later in the times of me going back became the elder of the church in Mezdra. Tetsi has a great sense of humour and I think the only person able to cut down one of Andy Johnston’s’ sermons to 20 minutes!

Very quickly in my first two trips I found my heart bonding with Annie and Ivan who led the worship at Shalom church, Mezdra. Being a worship leader myself we bonded from the start as Annie and her team wanted to see more of God’s presence. Those times of worship at the church have left me with a deeper hunger to seek God’s heart in worship.

George’s hunger to see God move even more grew and he moved very quickly to Veratsa a town 20 minutes away in the base of the mountains to church plant into that town. Various families and musicians joined him in this and in 2020 they saw the completion of their own church building, which again is a major testimony to what God is doing in that region of Bulgaria.

My friendship with Annie and Ivan has grown and my aim is to go back as much as I can to support them and just do life together. We often send each other songs, and when I find a song that works well at ChristChurch I record it and send it out to her team and they translate the song into Bulgarian if they can.

Over the five years that I have been back, I have seen many people from our church go out and serve God and come back different people

My challenge for you reading this is, if it’s on your heart to seek God through missionary work, come on one of the next mission trips and sow into all that God is doing out in that country, and I promise you that your life will never be the same again.