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4th April 2014
My husband Steve and I were on our way to Bulgaria for a holiday in the early 1990s. After we had booked, we met a young Bulgarian man who was looking for a lively church in Hastings. In conversation he told us he'd had to leave his home because of his Christian beliefs. He had been to a Bible college in Scandanavia, but after communism collapsed, he had returned to his home to see his parents and to Burghas where he had been a member of a evangelical church, which had just reopened.
This man had come to England to improve his English. As we talked, he realised we were going to be staying just three kilometres from his parents – he asked if we would visit them, so we said we would be happy to meet them. He then told us of the plight of his church – all of their Bibles had been confiscated when the communists took over the country and now they were very scarce and materials for children's work were non-existent. So we decided to try to help them. We contacted a company called No Frontiers that translated Bibles and other Christian materials in every language and we bought a supply of Bibles and children's material to take with us.
So here we were on our way, the flight was delayed, but we eventually boarded just before midnight. The plane was very antiquated, it looked like it had been hand-painted! Our seats were at the back, I looked under the seat for the life jacket but there wasn't one there, my husband had one and I just hoped they would have spares if we needed them! Hopefully we wouldn't.
At about 1am they put a plank across the aisle and said the bar is now open: all they were serving was spirits and vodka mostly; all I wanted at that time was a cup of tea! So I declined and tried to sleep. We eventually landed in Bulgaria. We had to pay for visas to get in the country. Then I noticed people were in a queue with their luggage and as I watched I saw they were scanning people's luggage before they were allowed into the country – at that time we had never experienced that before.
We joined the queue apprehensively. We weren't sure about our case full of literature – I rather felt we would be in trouble! I looked at my husband and could see he was worried too, but we just had to bluff it out; I started praying desperately for a miracle. I came out in a cold sweat and started shaking, my husband held my hand to hide our nervousness.
Our cases were just approaching the scanner when suddenly there was a tremendous argument going on: a Bulgarian lady was screaming and shouting at one of the passport control officers, she was waving her arms and everybody stopped to watch, including the officer in charge of the scanner. Our cases passed through the scanner without anyone watching what was in them! When the shouting stopped the officer didn't seem to realise our cases had not been examined, he smiled at us and we were through. I have no idea what the commotion was about but I know the timing was of the Lord's, he was looking after us and His Word!
The church was very grateful for the literature, which made it all worth it. We went on to enjoy our holiday and meeting the parents of the young Bulgarian. His mother and sister later became Christians and we remained friends with his mother – she came to stay with us when he later married an English girl. We will always remember our first experience of Bulgaria!
The original version of this story appears on Heather's blog.
Image: 'Bibles' by GeoWombat.
Posted by Heather Benn