Special Campaign in Bulgaria Has Success
“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”—MATT. 9:37, 38.
HOW those words of Jesus fit the situation in Bulgaria, a beautiful Balkan country in southeastern Europe! A real need exists for more workers to bring the good news to the more than seven million inhabitants. There are some 1,700 publishers in Bulgaria, but they are not able to cover the entire territory. Accordingly, the Governing Body gave approval to invite Bulgarian-speaking Witnesses from several European countries to come and share in a special campaign in 2009. The campaign was scheduled for seven weeks during the summer, culminating in the “Keep on the Watch!” District Convention in Sofia, August 14-16, 2009.
An Overwhelming Response
The brothers at the branch office in Sofia wondered how many from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, and Spain would respond. It would mean traveling to Bulgaria at one’s own expense and spending vacation time preaching. How exciting it was as week by week the number of applicants grew, until it reached 292! With such a large response, it would be possible to assign these volunteers to three different Bulgarian cities: Kazanlak, Sandanski, and Silistra. Circuit overseers in Bulgaria invited local pioneers and publishers to support the campaign too. Eventually, 382 volunteers were zealously preaching in territories that had seldom been reached with the good news.
Brothers from nearby congregations were sent out in advance to arrange for accommodations. They rented apartments and booked inexpensive hotels. These local brothers worked tirelessly to help the arriving volunteers to get settled and then to care for their needs. In all three cities, places to meet were rented. Arrangements were made for the congregation meetings to be conducted by the visiting brothers. It was exciting to see that in places where not even one Witness lived, 50 publishers were meeting to praise Jehovah.
The zeal of those who came from other countries for the campaign was overwhelming. During the summer season, the temperature in Bulgaria can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit [40°C]. However, nothing could stop these zealous brothers and sisters. Silistra, a city on the Danube River with more than 50,000 inhabitants, was given a thorough witness within the first three weeks. Consequently, the brothers extended their efforts to nearby villages, even reaching Tutrakan, 35 miles [55 km] west of Silistra. They usually began their ministry by 9:30 a.m. After a lunch break, they often continued until 7:00 p.m. or later. Similarly, because of the overwhelming zeal of these volunteers, the campaign in Kazanlak and Sandanski extended into neighboring villages and cities.
What Was Achieved?
An outstanding witness was given during these seven weeks. As was said in the days of the apostles, the inhabitants of these cities could say, ‘You have filled our city with your teaching.’ (Acts 5:28) The participating Witnesses placed some 50,000 magazines and started 482 Bible studies. Happily, as of September 1, 2009, a congregation was formed in Silistra, and there are groups in Kazanlak and in Sandanski. It is heartwarming to see individuals who heard the good news for the first time during this campaign making fine spiritual progress.
In the first week of the campaign, a Bulgarian-speaking special pioneer sister from Spain preached to Karina, a lady in Silistra who was selling newspapers on the street. Karina showed interest and came to a meeting. She readily agreed to a Bible study. Her husband is an atheist, so she asked to have the Bible study held in a park. The Bible study included her two daughters. The older, Daniela, showed exceptional appreciation for Bible truth. She read the Bible Teach book in a week and immediately applied what the Bible says about not using images in worship. Then she started sharing the truth with her friends. Only three weeks after she had attended her first congregation meeting, she said to the sister conducting the study: “I feel like one of you. What do I have to do so that I too can start preaching?” Daniela continues to make good progress, along with her mother and her younger sister.
In Kazanlak, a Bulgarian brother named Orlin, who had come from Italy for the campaign, was walking back to his accommodations after field service. On his way, Orlin witnessed to two young men sitting on a park bench. He placed a copy of the Bible Teach book with them and arranged for a return visit the next day. On that visit, Orlin started a Bible study with Svetomir that was continued the very next day. In nine days, Orlin studied with Svetomir eight times. Svetomir commented: “Two days before I met you, I prayed to God for help to get to know him. And I promised that if he would help me, I would dedicate my life to him.” After Orlin returned to Italy, the local brothers continued to study with Svetomir, and he is making the truth his own.
Rich Blessings for Those Making Sacrifices
How do those who generously used their vacation and traveled at their own expense to another country to preach the good news feel? An elder serving in Spain wrote: “The campaign brought the brothers in the Bulgarian field in Spain closer together. It had a big effect on the brothers who shared in it.” One couple from Italy wrote: “This was the most wonderful month in our life!” They added: “The campaign changed our life! Now we are different people.” This couple started thinking seriously about the possibility of moving to Bulgaria permanently to serve where the need is greater. Carina is a single regular pioneer sister from Spain who supported the campaign in Silistra. Thereafter she quit her job in Spain and moved to Bulgaria to support the new congregation in that city. She had saved enough money to live in Bulgaria for a year. Carina says about her decision: “I am so happy that Jehovah allows me to serve here in Bulgaria, and I hope that I will be able to remain here for a long time. I already have five Bible studies, and three of them are attending the meetings.”
An Italian sister wanted to join the campaign, but having just started a new job, she did not have any vacation days. Undeterred, she asked for one month of unpaid leave and was ready to resign from her job if her request was not granted. To her surprise, her employer said: “OK, but under one condition: You have to send me a postcard from Bulgaria.” The sister certainly felt that Jehovah had answered her prayers.
Stanislava, a young sister from the Bulgarian city of Varna who was working full-time at a well-paid job, took a leave to share in the campaign in Silistra. When she saw the happiness of the many pioneers who had come so far to preach the good news in her country, she was moved to tears. She started to think about what she was doing with her life, pursuing a secular career. When she returned home after two weeks, she quit her job and became a regular pioneer. Now she feels really happy, remembering her Creator in her youth.—Eccl. 12:1.
What a blessing it is to be active in Jehovah’s service. You can do nothing better than give of your time and strength in the important work of teaching and preaching the good news. Are there ways that you personally can expand your share in this lifesaving ministry? There may be areas in your own country where the need is greater. Can you relocate to such an area? Or you may consider learning another language to help people in your country who are thirsting for Bible truth. Whatever adjustments you can make to expand your share in the ministry, you can be assured that Jehovah will richly bless you.—Prov. 10:22.
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A Memorable Day
Many of those who came from other European countries to support the special campaign in Bulgaria planned to attend the “Keep on the Watch!” District Convention in Sofia. It was most encouraging for the local brothers and sisters to meet so many visitors from different countries. How excited the 2,039 in attendance were when Brother Geoffrey Jackson of the Governing Body released the complete New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in the Bulgarian language! All in attendance that Friday expressed their heartfelt appreciation with enthusiastic and prolonged applause. Many even shed tears of joy. This accurate translation in easy-to-understand language will help sincere Bulgarians to get to know Jehovah.
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An outstanding witness was given during those seven weeks