This Week In Bulgaria: Sports Project, Government

News from Bulgaria

Welcome back to the Global Impact Network blog! We have an update to share about the Integration Through Sports Project, as well as a sobering story on a new law proposal in Bulgaria. To start, here is the fun news from Pastor Anatoli.

Pastor Anatoli is taking some of his judo students to a big turnir (tournament) this weekend. This is an especially significant event. Not only will there be attendees from all over Bulgaria,  but also from Romania! It is being held in northeast Bulgaria in the city of Ruse (roo-say). Especially excited to attend are the young ones of their group. This will be the first time they travel outside of their home city. Pastor Anatoli is expecting to bring between twenty to twenty-five students, which is larger than normal for him. Most turniri (tournaments) are for more restricted age groups, whereas any age between seven to eighteen are allowed this weekend. It will be all day Sunday.

Please join us in praying for their trip! While everyone is excited, there are a few potential obstacles for Pastor Anatoli’s group. They’ve already had to deal with a last-minute cancellation on transportation by the government. Now they are facing extra expenses to get there and back, on top of the basics to enter the tournament and feed the students. The weather may also pose a challenge. The forecast includes potential snow, which would make things anywhere from difficult to  impossible. Pastor Anatoli also asked for prayer support over their students. He wants the kids to have safe matches; that they would play fair and have fair opponents. He also shared a very heartfelt desire for parental wisdom, as he told me they love the kids as if they were his and his wife’s own children.

Grappling practice
Largo government building

We also want to share an issue that has struck very close to home for GIN in regards to our current and future involvement in Bulgaria. There is a law being reviewed by the Bulgarian parliament that could give the government power to interfere in religious freedom in the country. “Literally no religious community has expressed agreement with the proposed changes.” This is what Pastor Rumen Bordjiev of the Bulgarian Evangelical Association (BEA) said in a letter to the European Evangelical Association (EEA) Board. This law is a serious threat to all religious communities, as it restricts liturgical activity to only those approved by the government, restricts all congregations under three hundred members, and forbids any kind of religious practices outside of religious buildings.

Please pray with us for Pastor Anatoli and his students, and for the whole country of Bulgaria. If you can also take a few minutes to help spread the word about the law, please post on social media and tell your friends. The press release below from the EEA shares some practical advice on contacting the Bulgarian Embassy and a link to write to Bulgarian politicians. If you have it on your heart to help financially with Pastor Anatoli’s Sports project, you can do so through our donate link.

Thank you for taking the time to be a part of our story! Enjoy your next week and be blessed wherever you find yourself: at home, travelling, with family or without.

UPDATE, 12/7/18:

Congratulations to Pastor Anatoli and his students! They had a very successful trip. In total they brought home six medals. The boys and girls compete separately, and they tied! The girls got one silver medal and two bronze medals, and the boys got the same one silver and two bronze.

Written by: Isaac Ahlfield on November 17th, 2018. Updated on November 30th, 2018, and December 7th, 2018.

Resources

Press release on the legislation by the EEA.

Letter to the EEA by Pastor Rumen Bordjiev