A two-week trip to Eastern Europe earlier that year had changed everything for the Fillingham family – Rick, Jane and their two young sons. The Iron Curtain had fallen. New doors were open. They sensed God’s call. That same year, the family moved into a seventh floor flat in inner-city Sofia.
They only had one telephone contact in the city, a physics student called Oleg. Through Oleg, Rick met a small group of Christian students who had started meeting to the study the Bible. In March the following year, 20 students gathered to hear Rick explain the vision of a national student movement, and BCSU was born.
Rick and Jane came to love the country and its people deeply. Rick spent the next few years traveling between cities in Bulgaria, discipling students and encouraging them to form their own Bible study groups. Growth was difficult but steady. Bulgaria was still a dangerous place for local believers. For missionaries, life was full of inexplicable and difficult bureaucracy from the old regime. Rick and Jane had to leave the country every three months to renew their visa, and sometimes found getting back in not straightforward. The family came up with a system at the border: if the questioning of Rick was becoming too intense, the boys would start to cry and scream, until the officials had enough of the noise and let them continue on their way!
Today there are 60 students actively involved with BCSU Bulgaria, including 22 international students.