Over the next few weeks, Christian leaders from Eastern Europe will be sharing prayer requests with the ScholarLeaders Prayer Community. Eastern Europe is most commonly identified with nations that were once part of the Soviet Union or the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc. Despite post-communist atheism and secularism in the surrounding culture, the Eastern Orthodox Church wields significant influence in the region. Protestants, however, remain a small minority and often face opposition. Read more about Eastern Europe here.
This week, please join us in prayer for Radostin Marchev in Bulgaria.
A Balkan nation in southeastern Europe, Bulgaria is home to 6.9 million people (77% Eastern Orthodox, 10% Islam, 5% unaffiliated). Its vibrant culture reflects historic Thracian, Slavic, Bulgar, and Ottoman influences. The mountainous republic is flanked by the Danube River to the north and the Black Sea to the east. Once part of the Eastern Bloc, Bulgaria was a socialist state from 1946 until the 1989 revolutions. Today, the country struggles with government corruption and a declining population, as younger Bulgarians emigrate for opportunities elsewhere and as birth rates continue to fall. Pray for the Church in Bulgaria as it ministers in this context, proclaiming Jesus Christ and the hope found only in Him.
Radostin is pursuing a PhD in Theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands. His research examines the Virgin Mary’s place in theological dialogue between Orthodox and Protestant Christians. In Bulgaria, some misunderstanding and hostility persist between Orthodox and Protestant believers, who respectively make up 77% and 1% of the population. Through his research, Radostin seeks to foster mutual understanding and cooperation by articulating clearly where the two traditions converge and diverge theologically. His scholarship will also help strengthen Evangelical Protestants in their beliefs, especially since all the accredited theological schools in Bulgaria belong to the Orthodox Church.
In addition to his studies, Radostin serves with the Baptist Union of Bulgaria as Director of Education. Currently, the Baptist Union serves 70 students at five study centers across Bulgaria. Radostin and his wife Tzvetanka have two daughters: ten-year-old Zornitsa and seven-year-old Daria.
Radostin shares the following message:
Thank you very much for the prayer support that I am receiving from you. It is not always easy to see, but it definitely makes a difference. Here are a number of prayer needs.
Less than 1% of the population in my home country are Protestants. While the numbers have grown steadily over the last 30 years, we definitely need prayers for wider spread of the gospel and for open hearts.
During the communist regime, the access of Christians to theological education was cut off. As a result, the Protestant community in Bulgaria struggles on two levels. First, it needs well-trained leaders for its own spiritual health. Second, it equally needs public intellectuals who can speak clearly and understandably in society as Christians. Both needs can be addressed by Christian theological education.
My personal ministry involves theological education through the Baptist Union of Bulgaria. Please pray for more Christians to understand that theology is not something that only concerns professional theologians and pastors. We need well-prepared lay persons – small group leaders, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, etc. – who have solid, biblically based theology that they can share with others.
Lastly, pray for the new COVID wave that is gaining strength in Bulgaria. The combination of low vaccination rates (we are last place in the EU) and weak healthcare could be devastating.