Thursday, October 19, 2006

bulgarian christian student union
october 2006

Dear friends,

After a busy summer we have started the new academic year with renewed strength and hope to see God at work in the hearts of many students. Now we would like to take you back through the events of last summer and to share God’s work among students with you.

Our Summer Project 2006 was made up of two components. The first component was a new experience for the Bulgarian Christian Student Union. We invited students from BXCC to participate in the service project that the American team organized in Stara Zagora. From July 11th - 19th, 6 students and one staff member joined the American team to serve among the poor near Stara Zagora. The second component of this year’s summer project was BXCC’s annual English camp. Together with 7 American and 7 British student teachers, 35 Bulgarian students participated in a 10 day language and cultural exchange in Sozopol.

Stara Zagora
The purpose of our time in Stara Zagora was to expose students to issues of poverty and prejudice in Bulgaria, to begin talking about the Biblical response to these issues as well as to give examples of Christians working to bring God’s kingdom to places where poverty and prejudice exist, and to give students a chance to serve among the poor and outcast. The program differed each day in specific but the general schedule was similar. In the mornings (usually around 10am) we met for a time of prayer and devotion as well as to prepare ourselves logistically for the coming day. After our devotions, we split up into different service groups: including building the foundation for a Roma church, serving at a puppet ministry, helping serve at a soup kitchen, home visits among the poor and elderly, and other miscellaneous tasks. In the afternoons we had time to rest. In the evenings we went to various villages to participate in church services or in children’s ministries – where we shared testimonies, songs, and often preached. Also, included in the schedule was time to learn about the ministries of the Bible college of Stara Zagora, to hear stories and testimonies of different Roma Christians, a prayer walk throughout the city of Stara Zagora, and a day to rest.

Here are a couple of the Bulgarian student comments at the end of the project:

“Although it was difficult, it was a highlight for me to see how the Roma in the Sliven area actually lived – I was blind to the fact that there was such depth of poverty in Bulgaria. This experience also reminded me of the beauty of Jesus’ incarnation among us.”

“I enjoyed spending time in the village churches and with the children. The hospitality and kindness of the Christians we met in the villages left me with many deep impressions.” (This comment was made by our one non-Christian student who came on the trip. Also, during this week our staff worker was able to have some good conversations with her, and she has a deep desire to follow Jesus.)

During the project in Sozopol we wanted to expose unchurched students to the good news of Jesus and to challenge them to take a next step in their faith walk. Our hope was to give our believing students a place to bring their friends to safely hear about Jesus. We also hope that our believing students would become deeper partners in sharing this good news with their friends and colleagues.

The program differed each day in the specifics but the general schedule was similar. In the mornings we had English lessons (both for beginners and advanced), followed by discussions based on the gospel of Luke in small groups. The afternoons were usually free to spend time at the beach or to rest. Each of the evenings we had scheduled events – including film, cultural presentations, and parties. Also during the week we had a volleyball and football competition. We took two excursions – a half day excursion to Bourgas and a full day excursion to Nessebar. For the first time we had a project long competition among the small groups – with various events throughout the 10 days.

We also tried for the first time something called “the Point” at our English camp. “The Point” took place at both the beginning and end of the camp with the purpose of introducing the topic of investigating the claims of Jesus and challenging students to take a next step in their faith journey. There was time for music, drama, video clips, and response.

Again by God’s grace there were many successes in our time in Sozopol. God did some great things in the lives of students and many heard the gospel of Jesus. Students were challenged to take next steps in their faith journey. And many of our believing students gained experience in sharing with their friends about Jesus and became fuller partners with us in the ministry.

When we turn to the events we have planned for the winter semester, we really hope that you will join us in praying for:

- the start of the academic year in various cities

- the new members on our staff – Violeta (the new office administrator) and Petar (regional coordinator for Plovdiv) – for smooth transition and adjustment to the team

- the evangelistic training and preparation for the Breakthrough project, led by Craig

Warm Christian greetings,
the BCSU team