I am Pavel Valkov, a graduate of Emanuel University – Pastoral Theology. For 17 years I have been serving as a missionary and pastor in the cities of Stara Zagora and Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. On a summer vacation, while I was a student, the Countryside mission supported me financially so that I could do my pastoral practice in Bulgaria, where my brother was a pastor. It was then that I saw how great the need for workers, missionaries, pastors, people prepared to serve and teach others is. Baptist churches in Bulgaria, even those in the city are small; elderly people predominate and mostly women.
Since 2005, when I moved here with my wife (also a graduate of Emanuel University), thanks to the Countryside mission, we have had groups of students come to us; sometimes even twice a year. In the early years, the work of clearing the field was very hard. The days spent with the students in service and prayer were like oases in the wilderness for us.
One of our dreams as a family was to reach every house in Bulgaria with the gospel. At first it seemed to be a utopian thought and we didn't know if we would live to see our dream come true. With the help of Countryside teams of students, every year we have organized evangelistic camps. The notion of camp, the students told us, may be misleading, because it usually makes us think of relaxation, fellowship and games. Our camps were work camps – the work of evangelization from house to house, from locality to locality – from early in the morning to late in the evening. We would walk around up to even 30 km a day. In September 2021, our dream became a reality: we arrived in the last locality in Bulgaria with the written message of the Gospel. We would have liked to invite all the students who have come here on a mission over the years to thank God together for this victory, but we could not organize anything because of the restrictions.
Apart from personal evangelization, the teams of students organized by Countryside were a great help in building the church up. In Bulgaria the custom of Christmas caroling doesn’t exist. However, since we came here, every year we have organized missions specifically during the winter holidays. We taught the students carols in Bulgarian and we went together on Christmas Eve only in the homes of the non-Christians: we would sing 2-3 carols, then read the history of the Jesus’ birth; we would pray, and then we would invite them to come to church the next day – on December 25th. Some of the current members of our church came to know the Lord this way: listening year after year to the Christmas messages and carols. They started coming to church regularly and God worked in their lives.
I think it is only in heaven that we will really see what a great impact these missions have had for the salvation of the Bulgarian people. We are extremely grateful to the teachers, students and all the collaborators of the Countryside mission for their contribution to the mission field in Bulgaria. May God reward you to the fullest!