Sunday, 30 November 2008

Bulgaria summer camp reunion - and spreading the gospel [the news of Jesus]

Recently I caught up with the team I was part of that went out from the UK to Bulgaria in July. There’s something about shared experiences that can bring you together, isn’t there? Jim and I felt it was only about two weeks since we were together there playing cards and Mafia with the Bulgarians, learning to hurry our hops and steps to keep in time with the dances, eating soups and Shopska salad and bread and noodles, attempting to teach English through the use of animal noises, trying to emphasise the importance of the idea of sin and the fact that Jesus is the only Saviour in the Bible study times, chatting the Americans about Little Britain, and wandering around the mountainous landscape surrounding our hotel on someone’s misguided idea of a “hike”.

For those reading this who pray, do pray for more freedom for Bulgarian students to speak about God on their campuses. The Christian student groups are unable to hold their events in the university or even advertise on campus, which means they really can only reach those they are close to. Having seen the situation first-hand, I would love to see the gospel explode across the country, bringing light to all those who are following dead religion – superstitious ideas not based on the historical gospel – or to those caught in poverty there. Also, the movement would benefit from having a staff worker in the South, where there are no student groups.

Life has moved on for me since the trip. But the students we met are continuing in their journey of deciding where to put their trust. It is great to hear that most students from the camp are now attending churches in their cities in the North. Almost all are still in touch with the Christian student groups. May our generous God do what he has done for me and bring them
all from spiritual death, through his cross of forgiveness, to true and everlasting life!

In the UK, of course the challenge continues to keep on doing the uncomfortable thing and reaching out, and, together with that, to fight complacency in our own hearts and resist the pursuit of comfort that is such a big cause of stress here (just try asking a middle-aged mum whether she is ready for Christmas!) Isn’t it funny how unimportant things can take over without us ever noticing? While we pray for the Bulgarians we should also pray that the church here continues to find ways of getting the gospel out there to non-Christians, and doesn’t settle for merely supporting those within the church. Let’s not lose our sense of mission and the pull on our hearts of Jesus’ command to go to all the world with the gospel (including our work colleagues and old school or uni friends)!

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