The Awtreys are pioneering a Free Will Baptist church planting movement in Bulgaria. They work with other members of the Bulgaria team to establish a healthy network of Free Will Baptist churches throughout Bulgaria. The IM Bulgarian team is the only church planting network in Northern Bulgaria. In the last ten years, we have planted four churches. The Awtreys do everything we can to meet people, build relationships and show people that the church is the salt and light they need. They are also actively involved in English classes, programs for children with disabilities, “at-risk” families, a retirement home, etc.
Tim grew up in a Free Will Baptist home and church in California, where he dedicated his life to Christ at an early age. His early biblical training came through his father and grandfather, both of whom were Sunday school teachers. Much of his later growth came through his involvement with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as an undergraduate student at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Lydia grew up in Bulgaria within the confines of Communism. Neither she nor her parents had the opportunity to hear the Good News under Communist oppression. It was in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall that Lydia, at the age of 18, first had the opportunity to hear about Jesus and to read the Bible. The dramatic change brought about by the truth of the gospel in the lives of her friends led to her to attend a small, Christian church in Bulgaria and give her life to Christ.
Lydia and Tim met in Bulgaria while both were involved in Christian college ministry through the Bulgarian Christian Student Union. Lydia led several small group Bible studies with believers and evangelistic Bible studies with non-believers in Svishtov. Tim traveled throughout the country helping pioneer new student groups in various towns. Their work highlighted the desperate need for healthy churches in Bulgaria. Tim and Lydia returned to the United States in 1998 to receive biblical training in church planting. Tim graduated from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary with an M. Div. and a Th.M. in Biblical Studies. Meanwhile, Lydia had a much more difficult challenge—raising their two children, Yanna and Alex.
Lydia and Tim have two children:Yanna and Alex.
Last Update August 15, 2019
- Pray that during this time of quarantine that we will find creative ways to reach out to people in the community.
- Please pray that when the order forbidding gatherings is lifted that many new people, who we have been reaching online, will start to attend church regularly.
- Please pray that God would grant us faithful people to serve Him wholeheartedly. We have several individuals and couples who expressed interest in the gospel and who started to attend church, but quickly give up because of pressure from friends and relatives.
- Leadership – Please pray that God will raise up a faithful person to pastor the New Life Church in Svishtov and evangelists who will start new churches throughout northern Bulgaria.
- Pray that God would send more missionaries and raise up Bulgarians to serve in the church. There are several towns in northern Bulgaria without a healthy church.
- Please pray for continued maturity and faithfulness as many are new believers.
- Pray for the economic situation in Svishtov. Due to a lack of jobs many people are leaving town to find work elsewhere. We have already had several families leave the church because they are going elsewhere for employment.
- Pray that we can make a breakthrough with reaching out to men in the community. Many women are attending church, but their husbands do not. Pray that we can find a way to reach out to me in Svishtov.
- There are several individuals and families that want to attend church, but because of pressure from relatives they have stopped attending. Pray that God would give them the courage to choose Jesus over the opinions of family members.
- Ask God to prepare the spiritual soil of the hearts of people in Svishtov. Pray words of hope and forgiveness will ring true.
updated May 1, 2020