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And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

 

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him. James 1:12

In July 1994 I was engaged in a case involving a Baptist church in Bulgaria. The Baptists had bought, from the local municipality in Sofia, the legal right to build an orphanage on land—property of the Sofia municipality.

In 1992, the Capital Municipality Council, as a supreme organ of the municipality of Sofia, took action authorizing the building of the orphanage. The same year, the Council for Architecture and Building in Sofia (CAB) assigned certain municipality land of Sofia for the church to build the orphanage. The local “Vitosha”—Mayor—concluded the contract and in 1993 the city received $45,000 and gave the land for the orphanage. After receiving the special permission, the Baptist spent $500,000 putting a fence on the land, constructing the necessary earthworks, and building the foundations of the future building and supplying the premises.

After a year and half, in June 1994, the CAB began creating problems for the claimants and advised them that they had to execute another contract with the Mayor of Sofia for the land and the right to build. After a couple of meetings the church groups understood that something was going on under the surface.

The church representatives visited me, we wrote an official letter to the Mayor requesting any necessary contract to be executed but no answer was received. To reserve the legal rights of my clients, I wrote a claim on their behalf in the Supreme Administrative Court. Meanwhile, a new person had been elected Mayor of Sofia. We met him and asked for help resolving the case. He was agreeable, but action didn’t follow. He was the only one with authority to implement the decision of the CMC from 1992, which according to the law is the superior agency to make decisions on real estate issues with the Sofia city property.

The Bulgarian Union of the Baptist Churches (BUBC) and the Good Samaritan Foundation (FGS), initiated through me a case before the Supreme Administrative Court in Sofia, against the silent refusal of the mayor of Sofia to issue an order and to execute the contract. The Sofia District Court and the Supreme Court refused to take action, arguing that this was a civil matter and the Court cannot dictate to the Mayor what he can and cannot do with the city property.

The leaders of the BUBC were in despair because they had already spent over half a million dollars. The Baptist leaders wanted to destroy the premises and stop construction. My advice to them was not to be discouraged but to continue negotiations with the Mayor.

I knew the Sofia city probably did not take its land back because in such a case the city would have to pay to the Baptist Union the money spent, and so I advised the Mayor of Sofia of all the sums involved. In June 1999, the Mayor of Sofia wrote a letter offering to sign the contract, but he wanted an additional $72,000 based on his experts’ advice about the value of the land. My advice to the Baptists was to accept the suggestion. In April 2000, the contact for the orphanage was finally signed.

It took eight years to completely resolve the problem, and having the first Evangelical orphanage in Bulgaria took six years of my involvement. It was a period of the lax rule of law, often a refusal to do justice, and constant legal changes and reforms. During these years the only confidence and motivation I had was the conviction that Jesus would not miss the change to give his justice in such a complicate field. There was also the Godly money of more than half a million dollars, and the faith and belief of more than 50,000 Baptist believers in Bulgaria. The case was one of the longest in my 20 years of experience. My lesson and moral from this case is that when you are standing on a right, Christian and professional position and persevering, a Christian lawyer can see the fruits of his labor, though he faces obstacles. The Bible verses on which I stand in prayer were those noted above, the promise of Romans 8:28.

Latcho Popov
Bulgaria

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.

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