The church buildings were open officially, but there were spies reporting everything that happened, so people were afraid to go to church. Bulgaria was one of the first communist countries in which Christian pastors were put on trial. The first trial was in 1947-1948 when almost all evangelical pastors and leaders were arrested and sentenced for many years in prison as agents of the foreign intelligence. Later Catholic and Orthodox ministers were arrested as well.
Believers were forbidden from sharing their faith openly, but evangelism was carried out quietly and secretly. Bible study groups gathered in homes. Secret translations of Christian books and booklets were made and distributed among faithful believers. Later, summer camps for families and young people were organised, again secretly in the mountains. There were foreigners who risked their freedom by smuggling Bibles, New Testaments and other Christian literature into Bulgaria. Mission Without Borders, at the time called Underground Evangelism, was one of them.
The years of communism were a time when the Christians had to be creative and manage with what was available. Due to the hardships and the persecution, dedicated servants, pastors and leaders were raised up who were a good example of faith and perseverance. When this regime fell, new opportunities opened up. What the Mission is doing nowadays with local churches means the salvation of many souls and their survival in this life, and for that I am truly thankful.
Bishop Nikolay, former President of the European Evangelical Alliance
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