Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Bulgaria: A Bankrupt Country With No Hope

Written by The Pikkerts
Since this letter was received (October) the Pikkerts plan to leave Bulgaria because of government restrictions on mission work. Do not write them because they are no longer in Bulgaria
Bulgaria was one of the first countries to shake off communism and it is the first to elect a new Communist government in a few weeks. The results are already known, although the elections have not been held. The new government already shows its muscles by bringing in more troops into the capital of Sofia. More cars are pulled over and more I.D.Õs have to be shown. The country is getting poorer and poorer every day and many people fear for the coming winter. Missionaries are trying to set up soup kitchens, but the government is very reluctant to cooperate with these projects because it shows their failure. The older generation, who have to live off their meagre pensions of about $25 per month could die from starvation, but the government is hesitant to ask for help from the West. There is already a huge debt to the West, and little is done to improve the economy. What happened to all the money?

Let me give a practical example of the way things are. The hot water in the radiator heating of the houses is supplied by the government. Big pumps pump this hot water to apartment buildings and then you have to pay for this heat. At this moment 20,000 people have already asked the government to stop the hot water supply (which hasnÕt even started yet) for this winter. The people will have to sit in the cold this coming winter because they cannot afford to pay for the hot water.

Having been under the communist regime for so long, has had a negative impact on the people. During the communist regime one out of ten people was an informer, and you could not trust anyone. That mentality still prevails. Only the most necessary words are used in conversationÑand then still very carefully.

The streets, roads, trams, buses, cars and houses are in a very poor condition. Yesterday we met a Dutch missionary from Amsterdam, who started a Christian bookstore here in Sofia. He also drives a book van to the different villages. A nice man, whose wife and children had to go back to Holland for the education of their children. His sales lady told us this afternoon that the amount of book sales they have is a miracle, even though it will give the people less money to spend on food. There seems to be a real hunger for spiritual food in these tough times.

Today I had a day off from school because it could be dangerous downtown because they are expecting possible riots. However, it seems to be quiet at the moment.

The city of Sofia is surrounded by mountains which are snow covered all winter, and many people from Western European countries come here to ski. Yesterday our minister took us for a ride into one of those mountains. The scenery was gorgeous. It was a pleasure to be out of the city for a while and not see all the misery. There are many orphanages near us; one of them has many children who are mentally or physically handicapped due to the atomic disaster in Chernobyl some years ago. That accident was never made known in Bulgaria because the Russians thought it better not to inform the people rather than help them. It only became known to the Bulgarians in 1989 when they got rid of the communist regime. Having no money to help these children, they just wait until they die from their suffering. As Westerners, we are not allowed into the orphanages, neither can we set up news ones. We can only help with money to buy food. It is a very sad situation.

Dear friends, we hope that this letter shows you a country that should not be forgotten in your prayers. The communists have told them that God does not exist, yet for many decades there still have been Christians who always followed Him, whatever the cost. Now that we have access to this country, we should do whatever we can to show them our love in prayer, but also in deed. Some missionaries do not know how to get a load of Òsowing seedÓ from Canada to the farmers who badly need it. They have to pay $800 for the import taxÑmoney which these people donÕt have.

This is one of the problems with the government here, which tries to prevent all outside help, especially if it is from Christians. (We hope to keep you informed about the situation here. Mail cannot be trustedÑat the post office they peel the Bulgarian stamps off, throw the letter into the garbage and resell the stamps. Mail coming in to us is OK.)

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