Youth minister brings Jesus to Bulgaria

Published 7:35 pm Friday, October 13, 2017

Darren Walker hopped off of a nearly 15-hour flight, ready to pour Jesus into a far away place.

The youth minister at First Free Will Baptist Church just returned to Beaufort County from his ninth trip to Bulgaria — a country where only about 100 residents claim to be a protestant Christian, he said. Walker said he and a group of 10 others — one from his church, a few from Washington and Greenville, and others from neighboring states — worked endlessly to help the people of Bulgaria feel the power of Jesus.

“So, you know, when you deal with that, sometimes you can feel alone. By our presence, we are trying to encourage them, uplift them. We show them they aren’t alone in the word, they’re not the only Christians,” Walker said.

The group spent 11 days in the country working at a disabled school for adults. Walker said he spent most days out in sunny, 55-degree weather, painting a playground that hadn’t been repaired in probably more than 50 years and building a greenhouse to grow spices and herbs.

In the evenings, they performed cooking classes using recipes translated into Bulgarian. Once they prepared the food, residents were taken into a room for a “testimony process,” where a missionary asked them questions about their experiences in faith. It was all a part of the “Hanna Project,” a faith-based project that aims to bring love to those suffering from war, poverty, disease or disaster. Walker has been a part of the project for years.

Walker said after nine years of visits, he’s been able to develop connections and maintain relationships with a lot of the residents he serves. He said it was rewarding to see people he served as young children still growing in their own faith years later.

“There are kids that five years ago, I taught them in an English club and sports camp, and this time, they were coming and attending cooking class. It was neat to watch them grow and get older and to see how God has blessed them through the years,” he said.

Walker preached a sermon on his last Sunday at the church, and he said he had the opportunity to preach to some who have never heard the gospel in their entire lives. He said there were many husbands of regular churchgoers that came to hear his words, and even children who had never been to church before showed up.

“That second Sunday, you are always teary-eyed,” Walker said.

Walker said he’s learned quite a bit in Bulgaria that he will bring back to his ministry in Washington, but mainly, he’s learned a sense of urgency.

“It’s almost a sense of urgency for people who don’t know God. You want to try and share it with them. It’s also just a sense of how worshipping in Heaven will be one day… everythin