In the village of Gornoslav, Bulgaria is a beautiful unassuming church built around the year 1844. This church is named in honor of Saint Athanasius, and was built during the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan at the time gave strict instruction on how tall the building should be, where and how large each window should be placed, and various other rules to follow. From the outside, it does not look like much... however the beautiful iconography inside takes you back hundreds of years and you can't help but wonder about every person that has fervently prayed, lit candles and joined in worship in this temple over the ccenturies.
Now, in the year 2021, there is a beautiful garden outside of the church with flowers and grapes. Along the side of the building is a fellowship space for church members to share a meal together, as well as a one room building where the priest and his wife live during the summer.
This is only one of five churches that Father Ivan Todorov & his wife Presbytera Elena take care of in three separate villages. Also in Gornoslav is a small chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Like the larger church, there is an apple tree in the yard as well as other plants. All reminding you to "Taste and see that the Lord is good." (Psalm 34:8).
Nearby in the village of Cherven is the church in onor of Saint Elia. A beautiful church with a tall bell tower and fig tree, and a population of about 100 that worship faithfully. This church is in process of having gutter repairs as well as replacing and fixing the bell tower. Visiting Saint Elia was the reason why I learned of the great need that Father Ivan & Presbytera Elena had. I gathered several donations from my own church in Ohio (also named after Saint Elia), and was invited to lunch and to visit all of the villages on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
We drove from village to village, large church to small chapel and I saw the upkeep that each of these churches was receiving and was in need of. It refreshed my heart to not only see a priest and his wife take care of five churches- but to see them being made better and thriving!
We also visited the village of Dolnoslav and visited the larger church dedicated to Saint's Peter & Paul as well as a chapel dedicated to Saint Panteleimon with an incredible story of God's miraculous healing for those who partake in the water that ran under the chapel.
I could spend all day talking about this day of travelling from one holy place to another, but I won't. I will flat out say that this Priest and Presbytera need our help. It is not easy to serve in one ministry, let alone in five separate churches. The roads between the villages are awful and I can't even imagine how much wear and tear their car goes through. Supporting them with 500 Lev each month would allow them to keep their car running smoothly, as well as allow them to put money toward whichever church has the more pressing need at the time.
I hope you will consider partnering with us for this ministry. It is an opportunity to be a part of something incredible.