People meeting outdoors

Tazha

Bulgaria

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OUR COMMUNITY

The name Tazha comes from the word for "sorrow". We want to bring HIS joy to the residents of Tazha - whether Roma (Gypsy) or Bulgarian, whether poor or well-off, whether young or old, regardless of whether they come from an Orthodox, Muslim or atheist background. Tazha is located in central Bulgaria, at the foothills of the Balkan Mountain Range.  Its 1500 residents are evenly divided between the Bulgarian and Roma ethnic groups. Most people earn their livelihood via agriculture - mostly raspberries, lavender and oil-bearing roses.

Tazha has its own kindergarten and primary school, but the Bulgarian population send their children to a neighboring town for school and so Tazha's school is small and has only Gypsy pupils. The town has little or no spiritual presence - the Orthodox church only works on holidays or for special occasions, the small number of Muslims have no mosque and the single small, evangelical church is located in the ghetto neighborhood, where most people don't want to step foot.

In the warmer months much of the village sits outside on benches in front of their yards, visit a cafe or congregate in the square in the middle of the village; it is a perfect opportunity to meet people on a regular basis.

 

 

OUR WORK

Located in a small, rural community in the corner of Europe, it is understandable if the residents of Tazha feel forgotten. We want them to know that God has not forgotten them! We will support the existing evangelical church and its leader while following steps to plant a new congregation, where everyone can feel at home.

We plan to begin an After-School Program, focusing on 6-7th-grade girls at first. These girls often will be "protected" by their relatives, so they are not "kidnapped" by and married off to an undesirable family. This will allow those who want to learn to have a challenging and helpful atmosphere in which they can continue their studies. 

Soccer is the number one sport in the world and Tazha, Bulgaria is no different. I have been playing with the teen boys on a regular basis and it has been a wonderful means to build deeper friendships with them. It can also be a means to bridge the ethnic divide!

The post office, library, mayor's office and bus stop are all located on the main square. A storefront on this main square will be a great location for a community center/church service. This space is large enough to accommodate a thrift shop and a classroom - each being an advertisement for the other! The rent is a reasonable, but it will need extensive renovations to be a multi-purpose space.

We plan to use the Alpha Course as the basis for a seekers', discussion-oriented small group. We also foresee an "open house" ministry during colder months so people will not be isolated in their homes, but rather still be able to come, talk, have a cup of tea/coffee, play a game of chess or cards. 

 

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