Humble Acts Conquer Mountains, Melt Fearful Hearts
The door to the tiny home opened. The visitor missionaries entered and immediately felt welcomed. An older woman sat in a chair, her face beaming with contentment. Her protective yet trusting husband stood behind her as the rest of the household flew into hospitality mode, slicing bread and making coffee.
A Necessary Tool
More than an hour earlier, native missionaries Hari and Penka Atanasov began the journey up the narrow, rocky road into the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria to this Muslim family. They brought visiting friends from Ireland who had come to see their ministry to the villages.
The distance was only 16 miles, but the steep grade caused their ailing vehicle to overheat several times. The speedometer barely lifted as they crept over the pot-holed surface. Hari had told his Irish friends that the house was just off the town square. When they eventually took a right-hand turn and came to a wooden bench, Hari announced, “This is the ‘square.’”
Since none of the villagers have transportation, Hari and Penka travel to them in hopes of developing relationships. This makes a dependable vehicle a necessity.
One million Muslims live in these Bulgarian mountains. Their acceptance of Christian missionaries Hari and Penka has taken decades. The couple conducts children’s art camps in villages during the summer and brings Christmas boxes during the holidays. This opens many doors, and the Muslim residents now trust them. As a result of Hari and Penka’s gentle approach, some have even put their trust in Jesus and have formed small house churches.
How God Saw and Used
As everyone gathered for fellowship with this Muslim family of grandma, grandpa, daughter-in-law, and an 18-year-old granddaughter, missionary Hari asked Lisa, one of the Irish visitors, to share her testimony. Lisa immediately began telling everyone about her struggles as a teenager.
“I suffered with deep anxiety and fear. I couldn’t sleep. My mother would tell me the Lord Jesus was a strong tower and that I could run to Him and be safe.”
As the daughter-in-law and granddaughter sat on the floor listening, they stared at one another in shock, “Same here in Bulgaria,” they whispered.
Lisa continued sharing how God saw, loved, and restored her through the years. She looked at the granddaughter and said, “God never let me go and was always beside me watching over me, like your mother and grandmother do.” Grandma’s smile grew even more. There was not a dry eye in the house.
Lisa marveled, “The Lord saw this young girl’s need and brought me all the way from Ireland, up this crazy dirt road in a decrepit vehicle to a village and a girl I didn’t even know existed.”
She was not the only one who marveled. Grandpa shook his head and questioned, “Does God see everything?” The answer was obvious.
No clever plans, just the sharing of a simple testimony. Seeds planted in open hearts. Lives touched by realizing how much God cares. His love experienced in tangible ways. Indeed, God sees and knows. Everything.
Everyone Has a Part to Play
A dependable vehicle for this ministry and many others is crucial. Hari and Penka must travel and carry their art supplies and the Christmas boxes to remote, hard-to-access locations. Generous ANM donors contributed funds to help them buy a newer, reliable vehicle for missionaries. Now they can continue to develop relationships in these mountainous regions and lead generations of Muslims to Christ.