Campus Ministry

Sofia, Bulgaria March 2011

Spring Break Mission Trip to Sofia, Bulgaria March 2011

Here is a group shot of the 2011 Mission Team to Bulgaria

Campus Minister Ben Gates does some painting in a food kitchen in Sofia

Ethan and Mallory Leatherman pose with Tony Chinkov and his wife in Bulgaria

Campus Ministry Associate Melissa Cormany shares in a Roma church in Bulgaria

Melissa Cormany and Mallory Leatherman get a hug from Dimitar Zlatarov

Ever since we visited Berlin in the spring of 2003, we had wanted to return to Eastern Europe--a very needy part of the world spiritually.  The opportunity presented itself in March of 2011 to visit Sofia, Bulgaria, so we took it.  We really didn't know our hosts too well at all, but initial contact with Emmanuel Totev encouraged us to make the trip.  We spent most of the week working with Dinko Zlatarov of Care For All Ministries and his friend, Tony Chinkov.  We learned after we arrived that Dinko and Tony have a heart for ministering to the Roma, or gypsy, people in Bulgaria.  In fact, Tony himself is Roma.  Dinko is pictured kneeling next to Campus Minister Ben Gates in the team picture shown in the first image.  The team is standing outside of a ministry center run by Care For All in downtown Sofia.  One of the ministry visions for Care For All is to provide a food kitchen for the poor in both Sofia and Stara Zagora, another city in Bulgaria.  In the second picture, Campus Minister Ben Gates is down on the floor painting a part of the food kitchen, located in the ministry center, that is hard to reach.  He really does work on these trips!  In the third image, team members Ethan and Mallory Leatherman (not married at the time of the trip) are pictured with Tony Chinkov and his fiancee' (now wife).  Tony is a law student at a local university.  While we were in Sofia, both Ben Gates, an IPFW history professor, and Jeff Nowak, an IPFW education professor, gave lectures in university classes.  We were trying to help Tony and some of his friends start a campus ministry at his Bulgarian university.  Another ministry opportunity we were privileged to enjoy in Sofia was to share our faith in different Roma church services.  In the fourth picture above, Campus Ministry Associate Melissa Cormany is speaking at one of these services and Dinko Zlatarov is translating for her.  This church service featured a wonderful dance group composed of some of the young people in the church.  Finally, in the last picture, Dinko's father, Dimitar, shared a hug with Melissa Cormany and Mallory Leatherman at our going away party the night before we flew back to the United States.  Dimitar and his wife were strong Christians even during the darkest days of the communist regime in Bulgaria during the Cold War.  Both of their sons, Dinko and Stefko, are now pastors in Bulgaria.  Our hearts were truly wedded to our dear friends in Bulgaria and we were counting the days until we could make a return trip to see them again and serve the Lord Jesus Christ with them!