Growing up in "The Great State of Alabama" you know about different cultures, especially concerning college football. At an early age you had to choose between Auburn or Alabama an embrace one of their cultures. Each culture has its differences and each culture has its strengths and weaknesses, but they do have things in common. Differences in culture can be how we talk. I live 20 miles from Macedonia where they speak Macedonian and 20 miles from Serbia where they speak Serbian. These two languages are very similar to Bulgarian but still different in their sounds and even their Alphabets. Since working with a lot of ministries from the United Kingdom, I've learned that I really have no idea how to speak English. The best way to say this is I speak Southern Americish, not English. Lord knows with my southern drawl, I am not even close to a lot of English words. I know you are asking, what does this have to do with mission work in Bulgaria? Well, I'm glad you asked,,. We live in Eastern Europe and the culture is very different from Western Europe. Minimum wage in Bulgaria is currently 310 BGN a month ($218 a month). To put it into terms for us Southern Americish speakers, that is a little over $8 a day or $1 dollar an hour (40 hour work week). Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia and several other Eastern European countries live in poverty. Their buildings and roads are in serious need of repair. Bulgaria is the size of the state of Tennessee and every country around it has a different language and very different culture. But, I have noticed a great strength in all these different cultures, they care about family and friends. They bond together to work through any problems together. They eat and live together no matter what the circumstances are surrounding them. They are not too busy in their lives to make sacrifices for each other on daily, monthly or even yearly commitments to each other. I started off this blog by saying each culture has its strengths and weaknesses but they do have things in common. Even though we all may speak different languages and live in different parts of the world. Whether we live in poverty or have riches...stop today...and think about your family and friends. Is there anything you can do to make their day a better day? Wake up tomorrow and do the same thing again and again and again or make a difference in your family and friend's lives today.
Almost twenty years ago Dee Dee and I started dreaming about travels we would be doing as a couple during our marriage. We would share with each other different places from all around the world and most of the places were different except for one place, Scotland. Being a Galloway whose family came to the United States in the late 1700’s from Scotland, we have documented history of a Galloway dying in Scotland around 1100 in Edinburgh. We also discovered early in our marriage that the Dee River ran through the region of Galloway in Scotland. Dee Dee started making the statement that one day she would stand on the Dee River in Galloway and take a picture. After many children and lots of financial losses through the years it seemed we would never see this event ever happen in our lifetime. This did not stop Dee Dee from saying that one day she was going to take a picture on the Dee River in Galloway. After becoming missionaries in Bulgaria I never imagined that Dee Dee’s dream would ever come true. Then by a miracle, from a grant to attend a minister’s conference in Birmingham, England, Dee Dee got to experience her dream. I now recall that she keep saying I’m going to have my picture taken on the Dee river in Galloway and I started picturing her standing beside the river taking a picture. When I snapped the picture this week of her at the river, God did it better than I had imagined, Dee Dee was standing the Dee bridge on top of the Dee River in Galloway.So what is this simple lesson, Hebrews 11:1now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I want to focus on the word hope, without hope, faith could not be the substance. Hope is the ability to imagine or visualize something in your mind, like the picture of Dee Dee standing by the Dee River. After years of confessing and believing, with hope, this dream finally came true. It did not just happen, it was first hoped for, then a picture was formed in her mind twenty years ago, and then God did more than we could have imagined. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Ps. 37:4
We just spent a week with the Christ Community Church mission team in Kyustendil, Bulgaria. I think it would be impossible to describe all that happened in such a short period of time. I could start with the two Sunday services we attended or the 160 Roma children that learned Bible lessons, sports and songs for five days. I could describe working with the orphans, elderly or street evangelism, but I want to talk about is the uniqueness of our God. I am reminded of the scripture:
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NCV)
22 The Lord's love never ends;
His mercies never stop.
23 They are new every morning;
Lord, Your loyalty is great.
Definition of New
1. Having been made or come into being only a short time ago; recent: 2. Still fresh 3. Not previously experiencedor encountered; novel or unfamiliar:
I wanted to share about how God surprised us this week, which was new or not previously experienced. We laughed about how these surprises brought us encouragement and even joked how we (Chance and Dee Dee) had arranged all these strange consequences. I thought of the movie “Funny Farm” when Andy (Chevy Chase) and Elizabeth Farmer had compensated the town in order to sell their house. As a prospective buyer looked out the window of Andy’s house he said, “Que the deer!” and the deer ran across the yard in order to impress the buyers. We, as a team, could never have arranged all the unique experiences God had in store for our group. I know by now you want to know what happened, so here we go:
1. One member of the group was baptized in a cold river on Mt. Osogovo during our end of the week picnic.
2. A shepherd walked up with his sheep during this picnic and explained about his sheep and goats.
3. A missionary from South Africa came and gave his testimony about his daughter and their work with orphans in Bulgaria.
4. The Pastors of a church in Kyustendil came by and delivered ice cream for the mission team.
5. A local pastor’s wife gave a testimony about Bulgarian churches during Communist times.
6. A former Bulgarian solider testified about Communist times and how the church was tested.
7. We got to experience the Roman baths.
8. How God moved on the hearts of the Roma people while we were praying during street evangelism.
9. Americans singing “How He Loves” to the Roma during street evangelism.
10. While in Sofiia on our last day, a Bulgarian always showed up right on time to show us around town which was not scheduled AT ALL.
11.Washing the feet of the Roma that served us lunch all week was more than words can express.
We as a grouped cried…. And… cried during all the happenings during this week. We are thankful for God’s love and grace during this trip and we know that without organization you cannot have the power of the Holy Spirit. Even if the same group came next year and we planned things exactly the same, because of God’s uniqueness or new mercies it would be completely different. I am reminded as a member of the Body of Jesus Christ we desire the same, but we need to embrace His unique new mercies everyday and experience His love and grace.
Daniel Chance Galloway