As many of you know, in the late 80’s, and early 90’s, the “yoke of communism” was broken in many eastern European countries. As the walls of communism began to fall, many Christians in America sensed that God was opening the doors to send missionaries to these countries.
In April of 1991, the Lord burdened Pastor Potter’s heart that He had a work for Brookside Baptist Church and Charity Baptist Mission to do in eastern Europe. Pastor Potter called Brother Ralph Cheatwood, in Istanbul, Turkey, and asked him to make a trip north towards Russia to see what the Lord had for us to do in that region. Brother Cheatwood agreed to go up towards Russia, but mentioned that he would have to go through Bulgaria to get there. Pastor Potter told him, “Just stop off in Bulgaria first, because that could be where the Lord wants us to start.”
On Brother Cheatwood’s second trip into Bulgaria, he met Brother Bedros, a Bulgarian preacher that had been praying for ten years for God to send them someone to help evangelize their country. Brother Ralph (The director of operations there) found that what few Christians there are in Bulgaria, they were burdened about the spiritual condition of their country. He also found that the people of Bulgaria are very receptive to the Gospel. He said, "There is a hunger for the Word of God in this country like I have never seen in my 17 years of missionary service." God began to open great doors in Bulgaria, and by January of 1995, Charity Baptist Mission had seven missionary families laboring in Bulgaria. During this time we had seen the Lord birth over 30 new Bulgarian, Turkish, and Gypsy churches in different areas of Bulgaria, and also call and prepare eight Bulgarian and Turkish nationals to help pastor the churches.
Once the work was started Brother Ralph found out that the Bibles they had were shredded under the communist rule. So for 40 years the people of Bulgaria had been without a Bible. They were burdened to receive the Word of God. So again, Brother Cheatwood felt led to get them a copy of the King James Version 1611 translation in their language. Weeks later He and his wife Sandy, moved from Turkey to Bulgaria. Later, Brother Ralph met up with a young Christian man. He started working on the translation of the New Testament in the Bulgarian language while Brother Ralph was translating the Bible into the Turkish language.
In 2009, we had 12 national pastors working in Bulgaria and 72 churches were established. In addition, we had 22 feeding centers in Bulgaria as well. Over these years the Brookside Bible Society had also printed hundreds of thousands of gospels and hymn books in the Bulgarian and Turkish languages and distributed them in Bulgaria. God gave a great harvest of souls in Bulgaria, and we praise His Name that the churches, the national pastors, and the work are still going strong today!