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A Wedding, A Reunion, and a Reminder of Impact in Bulgaria

On a winter night, in a beautiful candlelit sanctuary, with family and friends anticipating, the wedding party processed down the aisle to the music of “Crown Him with many crowns! The Lamb upon His throne!” My Bulgaria teammates, Katherine Long and Taylor Dix, deliberately, solemnly, and emotionally gave their marriage vows to love each other, promising never to divorce each other and to live as one until death parted this covenant they were making. What a party followed as Taylor’s family from the Memphis area, Katherine’s family from the Birmingham area, and their Bulgarian team family from everywhere, came together on New Year’s Eve 2018 to witness and celebrate the union of two very loved and appreciated individuals!

Immediately after the ceremony, my husband, Dal, who had the honor of officiating this marriage, asked the three “families” to stay behind from the reception for a few minutes for pictures. I watched as first the Long family gathered around the newlyweds and then the Dix family went up onto the platform steps. Two families coming together in this young couple.

And then, our Bulgaria team family was asked to join Katherine and Taylor. All of us who were able to attend the wedding, who have been and are serving with the MTW church-planting team and who have known these two, began to pour out of our seats and huddle around them.

In a time-lapse moment, I watched myself and the family and friends we have all invested in and grown to love dearly, joyfully surround Katherine and Taylor. I was deeply awestruck and moved by the impact that our team has had on each and every one. It hit me as a subtle “by-product,” since our focus as a church-planting team in Bulgaria is obviously our Bulgarian friends and colleagues. As I glanced around, I treasured what I saw: a bunch of American missionaries including The Well interns, short-termers, long-termers (every category of “termers” that MTW has!), volunteers, and children, who have had the honor and privilege of serving the Lord in Bulgaria. We have come, one or two at a time, at different times, to live, to serve, and God has turned us into a family of relationships that continue.

Bulgaria gathering

The wedding reception party was a family affair as we celebrated joyfully together, even welcoming in the New Year of 2019 with party hats and horns and sparklers. The next morning after the wedding, those of us MTW Bulgaria-ers who could, met at a Cracker Barrel for brunch (reservations for 30!), and simply continued a team family reunion with new family members meeting older family members (those who had been to Bulgaria before them). Catching up, eating together, chatting together, playing checkers together­—and no one wanted to leave!

We often tend to focus on the impact of the gospel in the country where we serve, but in those moments, I caught a glimpse of the impact of our lives as missionaries on the lives of other American teammate/missionaries. And I listened in awe to the chatter, to the reconnecting, to the introductions of new babies, new boyfriends, new spouses, all newly connected because of serving Jesus in Bulgaria. Yeah, I guess it’s still impacting me! 

Beth Stanton serves with MTW in Sofia, Bulgaria.

 

Beth Stanton, Plovdiv Sofia Bulgaria Feb 28, 2019
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Give thanks for the many lives impacted by and among missionaries in Sofia, Bulgaria. Pray for the ministry to continue to multiply.

Pray for Bulgarians who are building friendships with missionaries to become interested in the gospel and drawn to Christ.

Pray for the Daughters of Bulgaria ministry and for women trapped in a life of sexual exploitation to discover the hope of Christ.

Pray for the women and children of Bulgaria caught in the dark world of trafficking and exploitation, and for the Daughters of Bulgaria minstry shining the light of Christ.

Pray for the MTW team in Bulgaria and for those they serve.

Pray for those in Sofia, Bulgaria, who will be exposed to the gospel through our sports ministry. Pray that many would be drawn to Christ as a result of relationships built with believers.

Pray for those coming to faith in Bulgaria. And for those who can't yet believe due to a background deeply rooted in communism and atheism.

Pray for Bulgaria, whose population is considered to be 95% "Orthodox atheist" (Orthodox in name only). Praise God for Bulgarians who are coming to faith and helping to plant churches!

Pray for college students in Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria, to grasp God's deep love for them and surrender their lives to Him.

Pray for the young Bulgarian women who are introduced to Christ through small group discussions, Bible studies, and English language classes. 

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