Saturday morning Biss and I met Vanya and Hristo for a hike on Vitosha. This is the mountain that lies on the edge of the city. We loved hiking there during our time in Sofia, and this trip brought back great memories. The weather was perfect and company was comfortable. After walking for a while we found ourselves at a mountain hotel/restaurant at about 5500 ft. (We didn’t climb nearly all of that.) the weather was so nice that we enjoyed a typical Bulgarian lunch at an outside table.
Following the meal, we made our way back into the a suburb of the city to visit an Egyptian family. Rafik, his wife Zhizhi, their daughters, Ruzhana and Mariam, and their son Philo are refugees because of their faith. When the tragically misnamed “Arab Spring”began to produce its noxious fruit in Egypt this godly family chose to flee as they saw more and more self-identifying Christians slaughtered for their faith.
Rafik, who had studied himself out of the Coptic faith while working to evangelize Muslims in his home country traveled with his family to the safety of Turkey. Had he been less driven to teach others, they would likely still be there and doing fine. However, he is not only tireless as a teacher, he is very successful. Before too long he had baptized between 30-40 people. For the first two years of this work he did not realize he was committing a capital crime. Upon learning this he continued to teach and baptize until a local police chief warned him to once again uproot his family. After spending a short time in Jordan, he was granted temporary refugee status and allowed to move to Bulgaria. Their status has to this point left him unable to get steady work. As he continues to grind through the paperwork, he studies via Skype with brethren in Turkey on a daily basis, is working to teach refugees in Bulgaria, and is helping out with various aspects of the church’s work. As he waits and does this work a couple of the brethren in Sofia are providing the support that is keeping food on the table. (I’ll post their pics in the next post.)