Tuesday 30 June 2020

From dream to reality – The Salvation Army in Bulgaria

I believe that God speaks to us through his word such as we find it in the Bible. I also believe that his Word became flesh and that He speaks to us in and through the life of Jesus Christ. Further, I believe that Jesus did not leave us as orphans when he ascended to heaven, because he promised to send us the Spirit of truth (1). He fulfilled that promise on the Day of Pentecost. Therefore, I also believe that God speaks to us through The Holy Spirit. By using the prophecy from Joel, Peter described what was happening before the eyes of a large and amazed audience. Men and women, young and old should share prophecies, visions and dreams…

Even though I had experienced God speaking to, in and through me in different ways, I had served him for many years without having dreamt any dream that I believed God had given me. In fact, I hardly remember any dream, and if I remembered a sequence, it was definitely not something worth remembering. On occasions, God has woken me up when I was sleeping reminding me about a person who needed prayers.

However, I was not so worried about the lack of dreams, because Peter said that it is old men who will dream dreams (2). Well, if this is to be taken literally, I became old at the age of 58.

Our appointment back to Eastern Europe Territory (EET) was announced on the 1st of April 2015. This was the day when Magna and I arrived at the venue for our divisional Easter Camp for youth in beautiful snowy ‘Easter-mountains’. Of course, we had quite a few conversation about the ‘news’ during the afternoon and evening. Naturally, we went to sleep with many thoughts and emotions – excited about the new challenges and sad about leaving wonderful people - like all the young people we had come to give spiritual encouragement and counselling.

That night I dreamt. It was a dream about Bulgaria, I saw The Salvation Army coming there to open work. To my surprise I even saw a visiting Brass Band. It was so vivid, and the dream seemed to go on for a long time – almost on repeat. When I woke up in the morning, I was puzzled and confused. I had never been to Bulgaria and my knowledge about the country was next to nothing. At the same time, I felt that this was not a coincident. I had dreamt, and I remembered the dream. The country was neighbouring Romania, which is one of the existing countries in EET, and I knew that God sometimes speaks to people in a dream even though I had not experienced it before.

I shared it with Magna, and I shared it with some of the people at the camp, and I asked myself the question: "Does God want us to open The Salvation Army’s mission in Bulgaria?" 

When we arrived in EET few months later, the challenges of the ministry and the establishing of a new THQ in Chisinau (Moldova) after the move from Moscow took all our attention. There was no time to think about new openings and the dream faded into the background.

So, I believe God needed to give me a reminder. On 17th of November 2015 I received a phone-call from a man who presented himself a colleague of my brother. He had spoken to my brother the night before and my brother had told him to call me, since he was in Chisinau on a short visit: “Could we meet?”

I did not feel that I had the time, but something urged me to accept. One hour later, we were having a deep conversation in a restaurant where we shared a small part of our life-stories. When I told about him about TSA’s work, he asked:

- “Do you have any plans of extending the work to other countries in the area?”.
- “There are several options, but the most likely one is probably Bulgaria”, I replied.
- “Well, if you want to open there, I have properties in the country and I am registered living there. If ever you want to open work, I am ready to assist with knowledge and contacts!” (3)

God had pulled me back on the Bulgaria-track, and when I shared the dream and the conversation with the territorial leaders at the time, Colonels Rodney and Wendy Walters, they straight away said that we should investigate the possibilities further.

From that moment, we started to make plans and pray about this, and repeatedly God has confirmed that he is behind this. Of course, there has been obstacles and setbacks. The process has also taken a long time because we wanted to have a proper legal registration for The Salvation Army in Bulgaria before we start up the work. When we received the registration one year ago, we could put all the other pieces together.

We are now ready to go in with a team of four great officers who share the dream and vision of God’s presence in Bulgaria through the ministry of The Salvation Army. Captains Inna and Eduard Lebedev and Captains Kathleen and Erik Johansson have their own testimonies about their faith-journeys that will bring them to Bulgaria, hopefully in near future.

This is just a brief account of the journey from dream to reality. Much more could and should be written about God’s finger in the preparation-phase, however, that will happen later.

Thank you for your support in prayers for this new step in faith!
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.”
Psalm 127:1a
(1) John 14:15-18
(2) Acts 2:17-18
(3) He e.g. assisted us with the contact with an excellent lawyer in Sofia, who helped with the registration.

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