Mission in Varna
The fourth student evangelistic week was held in Varna, Bulgaria from April 4th to 6th. The theme of this year’s mission was "Who will you be?". Each day after a time of prayer, two groups of BCSU students, led discussions with students from three different universities in Varna using four panels.
Discussions began (on the first panel) by talking about celebrities and their nicknames and why these celebrities decide to change their identity. Then the students stuck stickers on another panel with their nicknames or with things that they are known for. The students found this to be a lot of fun and it helped develop quick friendships with us. On the third panel, the students voted for the characteristics, which they wanted to have more and less of in their lives. This led to a discussion on a contemporary version of the parable of the prodigal son. In the last panel, students took on the role of the son or father and gave their opinion about what would happen. Many of them were amazed at the real end of the story and what Jesus was teaching the people. Like the prodigal son, the students asked the questions: "Who will I be?" and "Now what?" After great conversations and many funny moments, we invited those we shared with to different evening events during the three days of the mission.
On the first evening, the speaker was Dr. Svetoslav Aleksandrov – a volunteer of BCSU. He made a very interesting presentation on the theme "The identity of God in a world of suffering" with the aim of thinking about whether we can have faith that God is good. After the first day, filled with great and meaningful conversations we all felt hopeful that our colleagues would come to the event in the evening. To our surprise, however, only one student came – a girl from the Medical University.
During the second evening we projected the film "The Intouchables" and led a discussion afterwards. 13 students came to this event. All who came seemed to greatly enjoy the film and participated in an interesting discussion on identity. After the discussion, we had a time for playing games together until late in the evening with those who wanted to stay.
The event on the third evening shared the title of the week: "Who will you be?". In a very interactive, engaging and fun way, speaker Liz Howald, a staff worker with BCSU, managed to interweave the Biblical parable of the prodigal son, her personal testimony and the movie "Kung Fu Panda." 15 students came to this event. All who came had a great time together, made new friends and played board games until late evening.
In the feedback from the three events, some of the students gave us ways to contact them and others wrote things like: "It was very interesting. I felt it was a little difficult to discuss (I was embarrassed), but it was definitely worth it." "It was something new for me. I really liked it! ","It was a good idea. There were many interesting people. The message was great. Keep doing things like this.” After many conversations during the days, our students shared with us that they appreciated what we do and that they would explore our site and follow us on Facebook.
The mission’s biggest effect was actually on the Christians. While this mission was organized for the unbelievers, it lead to a great change in us. Many of us carry with us a fear that at the moment we mention that we are Christians, that we will be rejected. But this did not happen during these three days. To our surprise, many of the students at our universities encouraged us, befriended us, asked us questions. For three days we met and talked to over 600 students about God, Christ, and the identity we have in Him. Although only 25 students attended our evening events, we know that God is at work in the lives of these students.
After these three days, we continue to meet informally with the students who came to our events – we played volleyball with some and with others we went to a literary club together. We continue to invest in these friendships and we pray for the people God puts in our path. We believe that this mission helped us to get out of our comfort zone and the Christian "bubble", in which we often find ourselves, and to become open to the people around us who need the gospel, just as much as we do.