First, let me thank those of you that prayed for our trip. We arrived safe and sound at our home in Bulgaria after thirty hours of travelling. This was probably the best trip that we ever had. The children did well, and no luggage was. Although it was a long trip, the time seemed to pass quickly. Meeting us in Sofia were my brother William and pastor Ahmet to drive us home. Brother Ahmet told me many testimonies of good things that happened in his churches here during our furlough. Unfortunately, I was only half awake at the time and can't remember one of them. I'll see him later and get the testimonies for future letters.
This week I've been out to several meetings and met a few of the new ones who got saved while we were gone. There was actually one place where we had tried to start a meeting a few years ago, but the struggles in starting a church in a new village almost overwhelmed them. Last summer my brother and pastor Alish went back to this village and it seems that the time was right for their harvest. Thirty people from the village ended up getting saved and baptized.
There were also two notable funerals here during our time in the states. One was the funeral of a man here in our own village. He had been saved for several years and was always faithful to attend the meetings. He was never ashamed of the Lord. Many times he would argue with the local Islamic religious leaders and the older men (his peers) in the community about his faith. The believers here all have peace about seeing him again some day. In another village there was a woman who came to church several times. She had been some kind of a fortune teller for most of her life and mixed Islamic prayers with tarot cards. In the meetings I preached to her many times, and individually I talked with her several times. Each time she professed to believe in Jesus, but also hung on to her life long faith in Islam and her fortune telling "powers". I fear that her mind was blinded and she never could see the light of the gospel. Upon hearing of her passing, not one person even mentioned seeing her again in heaven some day. Two different people with two different testimonies: "To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life". The one bright spot in the woman's story is that her granddaughter has been saved and coming to church for a couple of years, and now her daughter has started coming.
In another village we met a woman, just recently saved, and her story shows the value of being faithful to the work. Not long ago her husband passed away. After that she started coming. She said that she has wanted to come to church for a long time, but her husband never would allow it. Now that he is gone, though, she comes every week. I'm glad that we continued going to that village for years, even though at times there were only one or two people in the meeting. Had we given up and closed the meeting, this woman would not have had a church to come to and might not be saved today. My father used to close his letters to me with the one word, "Persevere." I'm glad we persevered in that village.
Feb 11 2013 Update