READY TO SERVE – Bro. Scott and Sandy Chadwick of Martin recently made the decision to leave the pulpit at New Home Baptist Church and set up household in the country of Bulgaria. The Chadwicks will serve in the International Baptist Church in the capitol city of Sofia and with the orphan ministries.
Sometimes when life is headed smoothly in one direction, an unforeseen opportunity comes along that may completely turn life upside down, but that will have a much happier and much more fulfilling end result.
Just a few weeks ago, Bro. Scott Chadwick, a five-year pastor of New Home Baptist Church, announced to his congregation that he would be resigning his position and moving to take the pulpit of a church in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Chadwick and his wife, Sandy, visited the Eastern European country before and found a soft spot in their hearts for its orphans and its international English-speaking church.
“Sandy and I served 20 days in the international church in Sofia,” Chadwick explained. “Their pastor, Ray Smith, speaks English and is from Charleston, S.C. They needed an interim pastor so he could come home on a furlough, so we hooked up and assisted.”
Recently, however, Smith entertained the idea of retirement. At 78 years old, the pastor is ready to turn over the pulpit, but he wouldn’t even consider it until he found the right family to take over and continue the ministry. The Chadwicks were a perfect fit. As soon as they receive their permits and visas from Washington and the Bulgarian Embassy sends an official invitation, the Chadwicks along with son Tanner who will serve as a missionary and youth minister, will be off for the land of the Thracians. They will encounter a land filled with diverse cultures, a patchwork of nationalities and an abundance of poverty – a fertile land just wanting to be cultivated by the hands of a caring church family.
“There’s a great spiritual need there. Less than one percent of the population is Christian. We’re being led there to minister to people from all over the world. Thirty-five different nations are represented at this church, the International Baptist Church in Sofia which belongs to the International Baptist Association. We’re also getting involved with the orphan ministries. There are about 300 orphanages in Sofia, a city with a population of about two million people,” Scott Chadwick remarked.
Bulgaria, a former Communist nation, has only been “out of the red” for about five years. Sandy Chadwick describes it as “oppressed and difficult, but beautiful,” “full of hardships and very often forgotten.” Roughly the size of the state of Tennessee, the major religion is Bulgarian Orthodox, an Eastern Orthodox religion that allows its priests to marry.
“Sofia is a very big city and our church is the only church in it that is an English-speaking church,” Sandy Chadwick admitted.
“People from all over the world move to Sofia and the commonality of English and Christianity unites them. Here in America, we’re so segregated in our worship. Over at the church in Bulgaria, we have a hodgepodge of cultures from places such as Iran, Iraq, Zambia, South Africa, Ireland, Iceland, Korea, Alabama, Illinois and Texas just to name a few. There’s an array of people from all over and their belief in the Lord unites them.”
The church meets in Interpred, the World Trade Center of Sofia, a large building with several stories that more closely resembles an office than a church. A room is rented weekly for the services. The Chadwicks will also have a fully-furnished apartment with a car. When Sandy opens up a large poster board revealing several pictures of the orphans in the area and goes over each story one by one, it’s easy to see why the Chadwicks are anxious for the move. Their hearts lie in Tennessee, but as a retired Air Force family, they’re used to moving and have the utmost confidence that they’re now headed where God is leading them.
“In our congregation, there are street dwellers and there are homeless people, but there are also ambassadors. The ambassador to Indonesia goes to the church. When I see this church, I see more of a clearer picture of what a church is supposed to look like. What heaven will look like. There will be diverse backgrounds,” Scott Chadwick explained.
“It’s been hard. We have so many friends and family here. We’ve been at New Home since 2005. Our daughter, Jessica Coleman, will be giving birth in May,” Sandy Chadwick continued. “As the time is passing, it’s getting harder, but the Lord has called us and we know this is where we’re supposed to be.” To find out more about the International Baptist Church in Sofia, log on to www.ibcsworld.org or email email@example.com The church supports several foundations which donate funds to the local orphanages including the Lora Foundation and Bulgarian Child. The websites for these foundations are http://www.lorafoundation.co.za and http://bulgarianchild.org.