Area: 110,912 sq km
Balkan state adjoining Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Romania.
Population: 7,497,282 Annual Growth: -0.63%
Official language: Bulgarian Languages: 16 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
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Ethnic minorities suffered severely at times at the hands of the Bulgarian majority. Bulgarias straddling of a Balkan, Slavic and Turkish cultural fault line has generated trouble for centuries. Considerable discrimination continues, and both Turks and Gypsies have formed political parties to press for their rights. Pray specifically for:
a) The Rumelian Turks in the east who deeply resent the attempts of the Communist regime to forcibly Bulgarize them in the 1980s. Their language, religion and culture are now fully recognized. Barely 150 evangelical believers are known among them. Specific long-term church planting ministry is a recent development. Pray for the trickle of conversions to become a flood.
b) The Millet, an oppressed Turkish-speaking Gypsy minority, experienced a people movement to Christ among them during the 1990s. Of the up to 15,000 believers, as many as 80% were women and children, most coming to faith by way of dreams, visions and healings. This group of believers has since shrunk to less than half that number. Pray for the conversion of men also, largely unemployed and bound by alcohol. Pray too for Christians with knowledge of Turkish who seek to disciple these groups of largely leaderless believers (Ichthus Fellowship and Bulgarian national groups).
c) The Romani, with widespread illiteracy, are generally despised and at the bottom of the social order. The Orthodox/Muslim ratio among them is about 60/40. Many are deeply involved in the occult, crime and gambling, but major church growth has occurred amidst them as well more than 20,000 have turned to the Lord, mainly through the Pentecostals, Baptists and the Church of God. The Romani NT and Romani-language radio ministry are valuable.
d) Bulgarian-speaking Muslims in the south have an identity crisis rejected both by Bulgarians (religion) and Turks (language); a specific ministry is needed to reach them. Only a handful of congregations exist among them, but Bulgarian workers have increased focused prayer and church planting work among this group in recent years.
Foreign missions have traditionally found Bulgaria a tricky place in which to minister, yet missionaries and tentmakers who will learn the culture and language are still needed and can play a valuable role. Pray for:
a) More workers for the field. There are increasingly open doors and opportunities to serve the Church in Bulgaria through training, teaching and serving. Partnering with nationals to reach the unreached minorities is also a need.
b) Missions and money. A sudden and disproportional injection of foreign funds in the 1990s created dependent churches and a negative bias against evangelicals who buy converts. A focus on humanitarian work further painted evangelicals with the brush that the gospel is only for the poor and illiterate. Every infusion of money is both extremely useful and potentially damaging. Pray for great wisdom in the use of funds, and against overdependence upon such resources.
For an additional 9 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Bulgaria.