Bulgaria is a mountainous country which is bordered by Romania to the north, the Black Sea to the east, Turkey and Greece to the south, and Macedonia and Serbia to the west. Because of this, Bulgaria controls significant land routes between the rest of Europe and the Middle East and Asia.
Bulgaria's 7.5 million inhabitants are facing a number of challenges. Families are being stretched, stressed, and redefined by an aging population, declining birthrates, urbanization, and a growing focus on consumerism. Meanwhile, overbuilding, emigration, and long-standing corruption are standing between most Bulgarians and economic stability. Finally, the shadow and mind-set of communism remains in Bulgaria, impacting social and economic trends.
Both Orthodox Christianity and Islam have long histories in Bulgaria - Bulgaria adopted Orthodoxy in 865, and Islam came to Bulgaria in 1393. The practice of both religions, however, is influenced by animism and the occult. Protestant Christianity has a much shorter history (just over 100 years), and has been shaped by 50 years of communism and public perception that it is a cult. Eighty-five percent of the population identifies with – but seldom participates in – the Orthodox Church, 12% identifies with Islam, and just over 1% identifies with Protestant Christianity.
The purpose of OC's team in Bulgaria is to research, innovate and facilitate the planting and reproduction of healthy churches. The focus of our ministry is the urban, youth and Muslim populations of Bulgaria and Macedonia.