This Sunday morning I woke up with the plan to spend a leisurely morning listening to a sermon from my church in Chicago and walking along the river. I haven’t figured out yet what I’m doing for church here. I know from my Sofia friends that there are a couple evangelical churches in Vidin, but I haven’t yet gotten the details about them. So I popped my headphones in, prepping for solo church with worship music from my church in California. (These albums were my go-to last summer when I was feeling lonely in Sofia. The music is beautiful, and they have been so instructive in pointing me toward the Lord rather than getting mired in thoughts.)
I had barely made it to the end of the block when I heard another song drifting through an open window. A roomful of people were singing in Bulgarian, and even though I couldn’t get most of the words, the music had that worshippy sound about it. Major key, guitar, emotion, happening on Sunday morning — it all clicked. I crossed the street and stood under the window, catching a few of the church words in my vocabulary. At best, I thought, I have stumbled across a small Bible-believing church, and at worst, it’s a cult that meets in a small room with only one exit. Figuring small-town Bulgaria probably wasn’t a hotbed of cultish activity and that the scary cults probably meet at a more conspicuous time than 10 a.m. on Sunday, I opened the door and walked in.
Inside was a church of about 30 people, some young and some old. I sat in an empty spot in the back, and a young boy in front of me turned around every few minutes to size me up as the newcomer. Without translation for the sermon, I was able to glean that the pastor was speaking about the greatness of God. (Admittedly, this realization was helped by his playing a YouTube clip of “How Great Is Our God” in the middle of the message.) After the service, I met an American woman (from California!) who, with her husband, helps run some of the church’s ministries. As I have found with most Bulgarians and Bulgarian Christians especially, they were automatically welcoming and offering their help for anything I needed. The morning had turned out to be a surprise blessing.
I still might check out the other churches in the area, but it was so encouraging to happen upon a Christian community within sight of my apartment. Who knows what other surprises Vidin has.