Toly – Bulgaria / UK:
Every time we visit Bulgaria, our love for it rekindles.
We’ve lived in the UK for over four years, and we love it. This is where we weathered the pandemic, had our daughter, went through a major surgery and overcame a disability. All with support from a wonderful church community who welcomed us, prayed for us, cared for us, and even brought us food for a few weeks.
But Bulgaria remains in our hearts. On every visit, we experience another explosion of life.
The mountains fill you with awe. Summer is truly summer, smelling of linden trees, with proper thunderstorms that actually cool the air, and evening breezes that cool you after a scorching hot day. The food is full of flavour. Vegetables grow in your relative’s garden. Coffee is for friends and is savoured slowly, while you share soul on soul, with people you’ve known for ages, as well as with people you are yet to know so well.
Who cares that waiters don’t always smile, that if you do small talk you’re then probably a foreigner, and that the pavement is like an obstacle course because of the parked cars and that the tarmac is in disrepair. We are home!
And we feel the pleasure of God over Bulgaria.
However, with every visit there was one thing that bothered me. I loved the country and the old friends, but I realised that my heart was numb towards the church in Bulgaria…you see, there is a history.
I was in full time ministry in Bulgaria for over a decade. I gave it my all, got burned out, was betrayed, and then I exited. I took seven years to recover.
I’ve forgiven and forgiven, again and again.
But on this visit, I felt God inviting me to purge any dregs of bitterness. God took the initiative and opened a door into complete freedom. It’s not a door I could open myself, nor did I realise that I needed it, or even how to to walk through it. I can’t remember the sermon, but I will not forget the feeling of complete freedom when I walked through that door of forgiveness.
At the end of a church service, I walked over to the people who betrayed me, and gave them a big, warm, Bulgarian hug. I could genuinely say, “I love you, my friend”.
And God smiled.
PS: If you are reading this and you feel God’s pleasure over Bulgaria, please get in touch at email@example.com