Guidelines has partnered with Missionary Associates “Ben and Sveta” in Bulgaria since 2001.
Ben and Sveta
Ben and Sveta are a young couple who met at Donetsk Christian University, in Donetsk, Ukraine, where Harold and Darlene Sala have often been guest lecturers. Ben and Sveta’s work among Bulgaria’s Muslim population has exposed them to personal risk and thus, they do not use their actual names in publication. Ben and Sveta primarily work with Turkish-speaking gypsy peoples; this group has been largely marginalized by the Bulgarian church. Their work is difficult and is exacerbated by economic crisis.
In addition to pastoring a small church, the couple invites young people into their home for English clubs, as the young will not generally go to church. In the summer, their church conducts camps for youth in conjunction with other churches from their denomination in Bulgaria. On spring and summer weekends, Ben, Sveta and their children travel to Muslim villages of the Pomak people group, to work a small strawberry farm. The farm allows them to cultivate strawberries for income but more importantly, to develop missional relationships within the villagers.
Government: Parliamentary Democracy
Population: 6,925,000 – Bulgarian 76.9%, Turkish 8%, Roma 4.4%, other 0.7% (including Russian, Armenian, and Vlach), other (unknown) 10% (2011 est.)
Language: Bulgarian (official) 76.8%, Turkish 8.2%, Roma 3.8%, other 0.7%, unspecified 10.5% (2011 est.)
Religion: Eastern Orthodox 59.4%, Muslim 7.8%, other (including Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox, and Jewish) 1.7%, none 3.7%, unspecified 27.4% (2011 est.)
Death Rate: 6th highest in the world – 14.3 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)