Stefan was born and raised in communist Bulgaria where he had a first-hand experience of living under an atheist dictatorship. Although his family did not suffer directly from the oppression of the regime, at an early school age Stefan had challenging encounters with the communist giant. Several times he was sent back home from school because he was wearing jeans with the explanation that these were “the working clothes of the American imperialists.” On other occasions he and some of his classmates were suspended for having a slightly longer hair. When he spoke up against the favoritism in the school system that promoted the children of communist functionaries, he was censored and denied promotion in the student body.
In 1991, when he was only 14, he was invited by a family friend to attend a mass evangelism event in a big cinema hall. Later, he visited a local Evangelical church that had just been restored after the fall of communism. A week later, at the end of a youth service he responded to an altar call and gave his life to Christ. From the beginning of his new journey as a Christian he quickly got involved in the ministry of his home church by participating in worship teams, children’s work, orphanage visitations and open air evangelism. In the following years, while serving the Lord in different capacities, he started sensing a special call from God to pursue seminary education.
Stefan is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary–Charlotte, North Carolina with a Master of Divinity degree (Magna cum Laude) and a Master of Arts in Christian Counseling degree. Stefan also holds a Master of Arts in French Language and Literature degree from the “St. Kliment Ohridski” University of Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria and prior to his seminary studies he has worked as a private language tutor. Currently Stefan is working on his doctoral studies in the area of outreach and discipleship. He is a founding member of Holy Trinity Bulgarian Free Church in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Among Stefan’s most favorite authors are Robert Coleman, Jeff Niehaus, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen and Eugene Peterson. He enjoys listening to Acappella, Glad, Take 6, and ONE. In his free time Stefan likes playing music, reading, Olympic weightlifting, cooking, and traveling. Stefan loves spending time with his wife and son and enjoying the company of good friends. Stefan’s passion is teaching and preaching the Word of God and making disciples of Jesus.
Ellie was born and grew up in Bulgaria while the country was still under communism. At the break of a new political era for most countries oppressed by the communist regime, a surprising work of God brought a countrywide spiritual awakening that filled up churches everyday for years in a row. It was then when Ellie’s parents were invited by a colleague to attend a church service, and the time which marked the beginning of her family’s journey with God. And what a journey it has been! God brought miraculous healings and set apart Ellie and her family for his ministry and purpose. Ellie’s parents became some of the first full-time missionaries with Campus Crusade for Christ International in Bulgaria – a ministry they have been working with for more than twenty years now. Ellie’s point of actual conversion came at a winter children’s camp organized by Child Evangelism Fellowship where she gave her life to Christ at the age of 9. Ellie got quickly involved in the life of her new home church by helping in the Sunday School and later with youth ministry. But her favorite time was spent at her father’s side when he traveled extensively throughout the country to show the Jesus Film, evangelize and preach. Ellie became a natural witness of Christ to people around her as the life and work of a missionary were already deeply ingrained in her spiritual identity.
Ellie holds a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies degree (Cum Laude) and a Master of Arts in Christian Counseling degree (Cum Laude) from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary-Charlotte, North Carolina.
Ellie enjoys traveling, photography, writing, cooking, reading biographies and theology books, and doing any sort of creative work. She likes listening to jazz, chill out and ethno music, and to the truly unique Bulgarian folklore. She has a special heart for evangelism, discipleship, counseling, and the persecuted underground church around the world.
Ellie and Stefan have been married since 2007 and have a baby boy named after his father.