Bulgaria – Outreach to Roma
Bulgarian national pastor, Iliyan Itsov, leads a ministry to gypsies (or Roma) called “Outreach to Roma.” Himself a gypsy, Itsov is able to share the gospel in these communities that tend to be isolated as they seek to maintain their unique culture. He uses his home congregation in the Romani village of Dunavtsi as his base as he reaches out to gypsy populations throughout Bulgaria. Currently, there are four preaching stations. A total of 110 people of gypsy heritage are worshiping regularly. Many have been baptized and confirmed. Congregations have hosted well-attended Vacation Bible School programs, and gypsy youth groups are thriving.
Itsov partners with WELS Christian Aid and Relief to distribute essential food items in the poor villages at both Christmas and Easter. Helping the poor in the community has helped the reputation and legitimacy of these young churches, and has led to opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus. WELS continues to provide encouragement and assistance through the Europe Administrative Committee and the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) as well as some financial support.