Bulgaria is probably not the first place you think of whenever you hear the word “persecution.” But it happens there nonetheless—more than you might think.
Like it is in many eastern European countries, worship in Bulgaria is dominated by the Russian Orthodox Church. This denomination opposes the establishment of Protestant evangelical churches, and Orthodox leaders have tremendous power to sway local, state and national governments to their whims. They pressure officials to pass laws forbidding Protestants from worshiping in homes or rented buildings…and then discourage those same officials from selling them property to build a permanent church. And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing to Trinity Church, an evangelical congregation in the city of Plovdiv.
Trinity Church started in a city cafe in 1997, and the fledgling congregation quickly grew to 200 members. Within a year, they had to leave the cafe and rent a local opera house. So many people joined that, soon, members had to sit in the foyer to hear the sermon. To accommodate everyone, the congregation had to move again to a large community center. But this explosive growth came with unwanted attention. Local Orthodox leaders attacked Trinity Church in the press, calling them a cult. They even convinced a local prosecutor to investigate Trinity Church for meeting in a rented space.
Thankfully, the city allowed them to continue worshiping. But the believers knew that having their own church home was the only way to end the persecution for good.
However, getting permission to buy land for a church proved to be even tougher. Many officials didn’t want to be seen helping a Protestant group get established in their city. Three times, they promised to let Trinity Church buy property within the city limits…and three times, they broke that promise.
It took 10 more years of applying before Trinity Church was finally allowed to buy the land they needed. Right away, they went to work building their church.
Their church is now very close to completion. Sadly, the 22-year struggle to worship drained many of their resources…and they’ve run out of funds to finish the building!
Trinity Church has asked ICM for help, and we’ve gladly answered the call. Would you like to help them, too? If so, please click below to give a gift.
Your gift will be used to help these believers finish their church. At last, they will have a place to worship freely!