Bulgaria is located in what is known as the Balkans region of Europe. Its people are descended from Slavs who arrived in the region in the 500s AD, Bulgars who came in the 600s and Turkish immigrants – who make up only about ten percent of the population. Bulgaria fought two Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913, and participated in World Wars I and II. In each war, Bulgaria lost territory and prestige and became one of the most impoverished countries in Europe. The Communist Party took control in 1946 and quickly outlawed much of the people’s social and religious freedoms. The Communist Party began to industrialize the country and much of its rural population moved into the cities to find work. Communist rule ended in December of 1989 when the government passed sweeping reforms. Today, the party of once-exiled King Simeon governs Bulgaria.
Nearly 90 percent of Bulgaria holds membership in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, although most of them aren’t faithful church attendees. Many Bulgarians suffer from a broken spirit because of the failed enterprises of democracy and strict atheistic Communism. Assemblies of God missionary Nikolai Nikolov, a native Bulgarian, organized the Pentecostal movement in Bulgaria in 1926. Nikolov had to flee Bulgaria when the communists took over, but his work planting churches and strengthening the fellowship helped the church endure 50 years of communist rule.
The Movement Today
Bulgaria is on the verge of a spiritual awakening. In the decade following Communist rule, 35 churches multiplied to over 500. The Assemblies of God again sent missionaries to Bulgaria in 1992 to continue Nikolov’s work of spreading the Gospel. Since then, over 300 ministers have graduated from Bulgaria’s first Pentecostal Bible School since the Communist occupation, Sofia Pentecostal Bible College. The Pentecostal Assemblies of Bulgaria reports the following statistics: 550 churches and outstations, over 50,000 members and adherents, 150 national pastors, one Bible School with 23 enrolled students, and an extension program training 150 students.
Additional Facts About Bulgaria
- Capital: Sofia
- Area: 42,823 square miles
- Population: 7.4 million
- Agriculture: Wheat, corn, barley, sugar beets, grapes, tobacco and milk
- Industry: Machinery, processed foods, metal products and textiles
- Mining: Salt, sulfur, lead, kaolin and copper
- Language: Bulgarian