When I was a little kid in Sunday School, we mostly talked about two people. Jesus, of course, and the Apostle Paul. Jesus is our savior and the Apostle Paul walked all over the ancient world by himself starting churches. This was my early years impression of the Bible and church planting. Then, one day, I read Romans 16 and realized that the Apostle Paul had a lot of people helping him along the way. Paul mentions twenty-eight people by name and several “households” of people who were part of this church planting movement. Today, I want you to hear from someone else who has helped with the work. I wanted you to read from part of an interview I did with Sarah, who has been on a short-term internship with us for the past few months. I hope you are encouraged to see God working in Bulgaria and that you or someone in your church will be inspired to follow in the footsteps of Sarah through a Bulgarian internship.
Sarah is from Guymon, Oklahoma. She came to Bulgaria this year with The Hanna Project and stayed on in Svishtov to do a three-month internship with the IM Bulgaria team. She shares with us why she came and a little about life in Bulgaria.
So why did you come to Bulgaria?
I came for the first time in 2019 for The Hanna Project and I left with a lot of regrets. During that project I missed out on a lot of opportunities because I was scared to try new things. I said that I would do it next year. Then COVID hit and there was no “next year” and then no “next year” after that and I came to the realization that “next year” is not guaranteed. When the opportunity came up to return to Bulgaria with The Hanna Project in 2022, I decided that I wanted to stay on longer after the project as an intern.
What has been the best thing about your life in Bulgaria over the past few months?
The people. I was able to meet a lot of people on the IM team and cultivate good relationships with many of the young people in the youth group at the church here in Svishtov.
What has been difficult for you in Bulgaria over the past few months?
I think that the most difficult thing for me was the drastic change from my life in the USA to Bulgaria. I have never been away from my home for this long or in a place where I didn’t speak the language, so that was difficult for me.
What surprised you positively or negatively about life in Bulgaria?
The lack of personal space was a negative surprise for me. I was standing in line at the supermarket and the lady behind me was just standing way too close to me. I kept wanting to ask her if she would just step back a bit and give me some space, but I didn’t know how. On the positive side, people are really patient and helpful to me when I don’t know the language. If I don’t know how much something is they will show me the receipt and are nice to me.
What are your impressions about the spiritual climate in Bulgaria?
It’s strange. I grew up in a place where going to church was normal, but here it’s not. Where I grew up everyone goes to church, and everyone knows about Jesus. Here there are two or three churches in the whole city. Some of the young people from church are teased by their classmates because they are accused of being part of a cult for going to church. I have heard about these things, but it’s different to see it for yourself.
How do you feel then living in a society that has forgotten God?
It makes me feel sad. There is a huge beautiful Orthodox church in the center of town, and it is empty. It is like the Bulgarian people are so close, and, yet, so far from God.