The Bulgarian Rose

Yesterday the team of intercessors with Operation Capitals of Europe (OCE) arrived in Sofia to pray for the city and the country.  Yesterday the government also resigned.  Often when we pray in a capital, there will be physical consequences.  Like one time we prayed at one city’s walls, praying specifically into the foundation of the city, and a week later the whole area was cordoned-off and excavation began into the city’s foundation.  But the government’s resignation is the first time that a physical consequence occurred before team prayer began.

Today started with breakfast at a café owned by a man from the local church.  Breakfast was followed by worship at the church.  This church is both hosting strategic prayer and worship sessions and collaborating with us to pray for their city.  There was about 40 or 50 people who joined us for this first session.  Having such a big crowd right from the start was very encouraging because it is always better the more locals who join us.  Sometimes the team has outnumbered the local intercessors, and it has become quite a challenge because as OCE becomes known, more people have joined with us from all over Europe.  The evening session had an even bigger crowd, as the young people and the working people joined us.

Between the two sessions we had two hours of free time, so we went into the city center.  We saw the big golden statue of Sofia, goddess of wisdom.  There is a drinking fountain near her where in order to drink, you have to bow your head to the statue.  Standing in front of the statue, you can see an Orthodox church, a Mosque, and just the other side of the Mosque is a Synagogue.  This idol is an example of a place that is likely to be chosen to pray at.

Then we went down into the subway station.  When they were digging the subway tunnels, they came across the ruins of old Sofia dating to the time when this was part of the Roman Empire.  The ruins were preserved within the subway station.  Part of the ruins in the subway is the original Eastern Gate to the city.  City gates are also places that are likely to be chosen to pray at.

While in the subway we found several souvenir shops, and many of us, being foreigners, wanted to look for keepsakes and gifts.  One shop had all sorts of rose products.  The rose is the symbol of Bulgaria, so a rose product like soap or perfume is also likely to be used in prayer as an object to show prayers for Bulgaria.

I keep saying “likely” because it all depends on the leading of the Holy Spirit, and He is unpredictable, even when you’re very well acquainted with Him and His ways.

The evening session included members of the OCE team praying for the local people who came forward for prayers.  The language barrier made things a bit challenging, but there were a few people there who could be found to interpret.  I prayed for a couple who are pastors asked for prayer together.  After praying for them I told them (through an interpreter) that I felt like they were mother and father to their church, and that the people go to mother for comfort and to father for wisdom; and that they have lots of spiritual children.  They told the interpreter to tell me that they were never able to have children, so this was a wonderful word from God.

Another woman I prayed for was very elderly.  As I prayed for her I saw a beautiful green field with a river running through it.  By the river was a big tree and the tree was full of fruit.  I told her (through an interpreter) that although she is old, God says that she will continue to bear fruit for the Kingdom for as long as she wants to do so.  Her response was not interpreted for me, but mostly it was just hugs and kisses.  At the end of the evening, she came to me to hug and kiss me some more.

Then on the way back to the hostel I saw that one of my teammates seemed troubled.  She talked out her problem, and then we prayed.  I told her that I really value her contribution to the team, and that it seemed like it was mostly a conflict of personal styles.  After prayer she was able to understand that she really is a valued member of the team.  I think part of the reason why she was feeling troubled by this now is because another teammate who has a ministry and style similar to hers became very badly ill just before the trip and had to cancel.

Please pray for missionaries!  We are on the frontline of battle.  The enemy was able to sideline our teammate, and then tried to make another doubt her value to the team.  He would love to stop what we are doing because we are winning back territory that has been his for centuries.  For those of you who are praying, thank you and God bless you!  Please know that you are a vital member of our team, even if you’re not here with us.  Your prayers are making a difference!

Buckaroo

Greetings from Bulgaria!

As my plane was landing, I could see that Sofia is a beautiful city, and seeing it on the ground confirmed what I had seen from the air.  I am staying with Buck and Nadia, pastors who God had led to leave their church and town to move three hours away to Sofia, but not to start another church.  What they had always done is church planting, but here God is calling out of their comfort zone.  While they are wondering what to do, Nadia has been working prostitutes and other trafficked people.

I met Nadia at a conference in Estonia in October, and we had hit it off.  So when Operation Capitals of Europe set Sofia as their next capital, I contacted Nadia.  She invited me to come for a few days before the start of OCE.  I think this was divine timing.

Last night Buck and Nadia had some friends over and invited me to a Christian musical that had been locally written and produced.  The friends are a couple: Anya is Bulgarian and Sasha (which is a male name) is Russian, and they are both dancers.  The conversation was mostly in Bulgarian.  My ears grasped at a few familiar sounding words, but mostly it sounded very much like Russian.  Buck ordered pizza from Domino’s, and I saw pretty much everyone put ketchup or mustard on their pizza—even my fellow Texan!  I tried mustard on mine, and it was really good!  I would never put mustard on an Italian pizza, but it’s good on American pizza.

Seeing that my plate was empty, Buck asked me if I wanted another slice, to which I responded, “No, I’m good.”  He laughed about how funny it is to say “I’m good” when refusing seconds.  I told him about trying to explain the Texanism “fixin to” to non-Texans, and how I had had to train myself to use the more universally understood “I’m getting ready to.”  He laughed.  He could relate.  Now I keep hearing myself saying “I’m good,” when I had always said it unconsciously.  But as I thought about it, it’s kind of a nice affirmation to say about myself several times a day.  I am good!

The musical was called “John, Son of Thunder.”  Of course, it was all in Bulgarian, and set in modern times, but it wasn’t hard to follow along, since I have read the Gospels.  The music and dancing were really great, and the set design was imaginative.  The audience was most of the spectrum of Sofia’s Christian community, and they pretty much all know each other.  I commented on how nice it was to see Christians of all denominations coming together like this—it’s only really happened in Milan with the March for Jesus.

This morning I woke up to snow falling, but it hasn’t stuck.  For me, snowfall is always a miracle from Heaven.  Who know what God has in store for us today?  But I know this:  He’s good, and whatever He has for us will be good, too.  I’ll say it again: God is good!