Photo Source: Hashim Abdullah - Pixabay
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|Primary Language:||Arabic, North Levantine Spoken|
|Christian Adherents:||5.00 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|People Cluster:||Arab, Arabian|
|Affinity Bloc:||Arab World|
Bulgaria is a Southeastern European country. It became a member of the European Union and NATO in the early 2000s. From the 15th to the 19th century, Bulgaria was part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. With the aid of Russia, Bulgaria freed itself from the Turks in 1878. The Bulgarian Communist Party lost it dominance in the nation in 1989. It was not until the early 21th century that the economy began to prosper and grow. The Slavic language of Bulgarian is the national tongue. About one tenth speak Turkish. Levantine Arabic is the primary family language of the Arabs residing in Bulgaria. Only portions of the Bible are available in Levantine Arabic. In recent times more Arabs are coming to Bulgaria as refugees escaping the turmoil in the home countries.
The first Arab people living in Bulgaria were college students who started to arrive in the 1960s. Some chose to stay in the country rather than return to Lebanon, Syria, Palestine or Iraq. They took jobs in teaching and the professions once they had mastered Bulgarian. These Arab families today are established in the Bulgarian middle class. They tend to live in urban settings. The more recent Arab arrivals fall into the lower classes. They must find housing, employment and learn Bulgarian. Arab men take any job they can find to support their families. Arab children quickly learn Bulgarian in the public schools. Some go on to universities and find professional careers upon graduation. Arabs living in Bulgaria are trying to find a balance between maintaining their native language, religion and culture and becoming Bulgarian citizens. Arab parents want their children to marry within their own people and religion. They encourage their children to pursue a higher education. The father is the head of the family. Arab women are gaining more status as they become college educated and work outside the home. Arabs living in Bulgaria have more children than their Slavic neighbors. Having children, especially sons, is seen as a blessing from Allah.
Bulgarian Arabs are mostly Sunni, the largest branch of Islam. They try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Muhammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. As far as we know, there are few if any followers of Christ among Bulgarian Arabs.
The Arabs who come are refugees to Bulgaria have many pressing needs such as finding housing and employment. Bulgarian believers can help meet those needs. Most of all the Arabs must come to understand that Isa or Jesus is much more than a human prophet as he is portrayed in the Koran. Jesus is their only hope for the forgiveness of sins.
Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of Bulgarian Arabs towards the good news. Ask the Lord to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Arabs of Bulgaria in this decade. Pray that Arab parents in Bulgaria would be able to meet the needs of their children. Pray that Bulgarian believers would reach out and build redemptive relationships with the Muslim Arab neighbors.