Guest Post: I am moving to Bulgaria

July 8th, 2015

NOTE from Susanna:  The following was written by Grace Kauk, the young woman who generously offered to come and live with our family as a helper without pay last spring, when we were in the thick of it with Tommy’s needs.  We joke now, somewhat ruefully, “we said ‘no’ to grace…”

When I received the following email, we were on our way to the airport, and I wasn’t able to read it aloud to Joe without choking up. 

Read on…




Dearest Susanna,

Last spring, we considered my coming to live with your family, but God had other plans for us both. I’m writing now because I want to share something with you. You have been part of my story, and I want you to know how God is writing its next chapter. I hope that God will encourage you. You have been an encouragement to me.

Eleven years ago, a couple named Steve and Tanja Pankratz answered the call of God to be missionaries in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since only 1.9% of the Bulgarian population is evangelically Christian, the presence of missionaries may be the only way most Bulgarians will ever hear the gospel. The Pankratzes became involved in church planting, theological teaching, and creative outreach.

In 2009, their third child, Jaden, was born with Down Syndrome. Although there are extra challenges to raising a special needs child in Bulgaria because of societal stigma and lack of resources, Steve and Tanja did not leave the field. They stayed. In fact, they soon realized that not only was Jaden a profound blessing to their family, but God was using Jaden to open for them doors for ministry that they had never imagined, to the special needs families in Bulgaria who have chosen to keep their children instead of putting them in an orphanage. They are also beginning to open up doors for ministry inside some of the orphanages in Sofia.

Steve and Tanja want to keep walking this road alongside the Bulgarian special needs community. But as Jaden grows older, the lack of educational resources for special needs has left them with an acute need. Tanja writes, “We have felt a big vacuum and have found it difficult to juggle ministry, family, and homeschooling our older children when Jaden does not have someone to work with him. We have been praying that if God wills, he would send us … a teacher for Jaden to implement his neurodevelopmental program.”

When I heard this story, it resonated with me because I am a pastor’s kid and my younger sister, Mary, has Down syndrome. I remember what it was like for my parents to do ministry while homeschooling and while implementing Mary’s 3-4 hr/day neurodevelopmental program. Galatians 6:10 tells me to serve everyone, but “especially those who are of the household of faith.” God has been gracious to be very clear in his leading to me. It is my joy and privilege to come alongside Steve and Tanja in the work they’re doing by meeting their need for Jaden, and to participate in their ministry to the special needs community in Bulgaria. I hope to leave in September (in order to arrive for the beginning of the school year) and serve Jaden and his parents for at least one year, after which we will see how God leads.

May I invite you to join me in this, if God stirs your heart to do so? By the end of August, I need to raise monthly support of about $1500/month. That is not a lot of time to raise support! I am asking my Christian community to consider supporting me in three ways.

Would you be willing to receive my newsletter and pray for me? Pray that I will navigate this process of raising support without doing damage to any relationships. Pray that God who has called me to this work will supply my needs. Pray for me as I take time to seek God and prepare my heart before I leave.

Would you pray about supporting me financially on a monthly basis? Here is my online page at SEND International: Grace Kauk

Please give only as you purpose in your own heart, only if God is prompting you to do so. There is no burden or compulsion here. Since God has called me to this work, it is up to Him to call those He would have to support me.

Would you pray about sharing my need with others you know?

I almost did not write these final paragraphs. You are dear to me, and I truly am happy for you to just know how God has continued our story. I don’t want to burden you in any way. You are ALREADY a part of this ministry, since you are part of my story and part of Bulgaria’s story. But I felt it was right to give you the same invitation I am giving others, and let the Holy Spirit decide whether he would lead you to say yes or no at this time. Please know that I am content just to share with you what God is doing, and I expect nothing from you.

Love, your sister,

Grace Kauk



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6 Responses to “Guest Post: I am moving to Bulgaria”

  1. Sandi - bbcooker says:

    Wow! Praise the Lord! This is such a neat encouragement to read. It’s so encouraging to see how God is working things together, years in advance, weaving history together for his purposes!!! Susanna, thank you so much for sharing. I pray Grace receives full funding.

  2. Jo Moseley says:

    Oh, the Greatness of Our God! I live in Southern Minnesota and just tonight, I had dinner with Steve Pankratz’ Mother, Lois! I know all about sweet Jaden. They are a precious family! And, while that is amazing, I know that Steve actually went to the hospital there in B and held either Katie or Adeye Salem’s daughter, Hasya. There are NO coincidences! We are all one big part of the Family of God.
    Susanna, do you remember when I emailed you a couple of years ago about sending some gifts to Toni? Well, Lois Pankratz was traveling to Sofia to visit Steve and Tanya and she was the person who was going to get the package to Toni.
    Grace, I will check out the link you put here. And, I will pray for you as you prepare to travel. You are going to be so loved by this family…and, they will be so Blessed to have someone to love & teach their darling son. Much love in your new Journey.
    Jo Moseley

  3. MamaV says:

    Hooray! This is so exciting!

  4. Laurie says:

    such a blessing to watch God work out his plan!

  5. Angie says:

    Yes! I will pray for Grace. And if God provides a way, I will support her too. I am so encouraged to read of her faith. You can fairly feel the fire in her to serve God with her whole heart.

  6. Cassandra says:

    I can only imagine how proud her parents feel, to have raised such a godly daughter with a heart on fire for the Lord. That is my heart’s desire, to see my children serve and love the Lord. It’s a guaranteed road to a life filled with peace, not an easy life per se., but a life that carries meaning.

    Grace, you’ve encouraged me today. Thank you.

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