Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing one of our newest CAN members, bestselling nonfiction author Ceitci Demirkova. Raised under communism in Bulgaria, Ceitci has turned a background of hardship into a life of service that I know you’ll find inspirational.
Welcome, Ceitci! Please tell us about your book, Exposed to Hope.
In Roma ghettos, on city streets, in shattered homes . . . countless children across Bulgaria live in the shadows of brokenness and fear, bearing the scars of living without hope. Yet through the powerful love of Jesus, lives are being transformed one by one, and God’s light is coming to a dark and despairing world.
We invite you to enter into these children’s stories and share in the joy and hope of lives touched by the power of the Gospel brought to them through our organization Changing a Generation.
That sounds like a beautiful book. What inspired you to write it?
This year my organization Changing a Generation celebrates 25 years since I founded it while still a teenager. Over the many years we have grown from ministering and supporting one orphan to reaching over 1500 kids each month in Bulgaria. We have 27 outreach locations in the country where we conduct outreach and run our programs.
The stories of the kids who have come through our programs are very touching and they need to be told. Thus, I asked one of the girls who has worked with me for several year to come to Bulgaria and to spend some time getting to know the kids. I wanted her to help me write the stories of the children from the perspective of a person who has been raised in a country like America and can observe things that we usually would accept as ‘normal’ because we are too close to the lives of the kids and often cannot see from the eyes of a foreigner. After spending several weeks in Bulgaria working with our kids she wrote over 20 stories that represented the varieties of children that we work with across the country. It was a combined effort in putting the book together, as we included poems, quotes, prayers, pictures, drawings and information about the country.
Why did you write this book?
In 1998 and 1999 I had an opportunity to live and minister to young girls at the Red Light District in Amsterdam, Holland. To my surprise I found many orphaned Bulgarian girls, ages 8 and up sold into prostitution. They were begging me for help. I was still in my early 20s, didn’t have much money nor connections, and was overwhelmed by the needs of these kids. However, I left Holland determined to find a way to help these children and others like them who are sold against their will into a nightmare they never wished to experience.
To this day many people are unaware of the horrific injustices done to those who have been sold into human trafficking.
The book has a two-fold goal:
- To bring awareness to what is happening in other nations like Bulgaria, and to stir people’s hearts to fight for truth and justice. I also wanted people to see that above all Christ is able to take a life of brokenness and bring healing and restoration.
- To inspire more people to get involved in our work in Bulgaria, so they can become hope givers.
I hope your book opens a lot of eyes and hearts! What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
The lack of statistical information on trafficking of children in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe. There are not a lot of reliable resources, and others are reporting incorrect statistical data. For example, Bulgaria and Romania are the top two countries in the EU who export the most trafficked victims into Western Europe. However, there is no reliable source to confirm this, and therefore we couldn’t include that type of information in the book. From the stories, however, and the fight for these kids’ lives, I believe the reader can gain a perspective and draw their own conclusions.
Despite the many injustices in this world, the love of God is always available and He is present to heal and restore. I would hope that as readers see the full-color pictures, poems, the creativity we put into the book, that they will see the theme HOPE displayed on each page—HOPE that comes from Christ alone and dispels the darkness in this world.
So very true! With such dark stories, what was the hardest part to write?
Some of these stories are filled with a lot of pain. There are still children we have not been able to find and rescue after they have been sold into trafficking. We personally know the stories of the kids; for some readers they will remain just that—a story, but for us they are the lives we battle for every day, and it’s an honor for us to fight with them for their freedom and salvation.
What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
My themes are definitely connected to faith in a supernatural God: Christ who is greater than any dictatorship system, turning our challenges and negative circumstances into stepping stones by recognizing them as invisible mentors, and perseverance and resilience in the face of impossibilities.
Great themes! What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?
Ideal place would be a beachfront property, with a balcony and windows facing the ocean; feeling the ocean breeze coming through and hearing the waves crashing onto the rocks. Current place – small apartment in the Midwest, no ocean nearby, no pretty view, except my computer screen has a beach background.
Why do you love writing?
Growing up under communism, I was told on daily basis that I was stupid and that writing was not one of my gifts. Upon arriving in the USA at age 19 with $100 in my pocket and learning English in just three months, I discovered that what the communist teachers and party had told me was a complete lie. I became confident that if I have God, He speaks all languages and He expands our abilities. The lies that the enemy whispers to us about our gifts and talents are the actual weapons God has placed in our hands to destroy the devil. Each time I write an article, a blog, a newsletter, or a new book, I give the devil a black eye. I do it because I believe in the power of God’s work in my life. Christ has done hundreds of miracles in my life, and those stories and testimonies must be told so others might believe in Him and in His ability to heal, provide, empower, and restore.
With a passion for your message like that, you must be hearing back from your readers. Tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.
I’ve had many readers whose eyes have been opened to better understand the injustices done to humanity, especially in former socialist/communist nations like Bulgaria. People who used to believe that socialism was great, after reading two of my books wrote me to share how much they were impacted by my personal stories and have changed their minds. My bestselling book, Motivated by the Impossible, was read by thousands of people whose lives were changed and who understood that no matter what we may go through, when we have God on our side, we are well able to overcome all that comes our way. It gave them courage, hope, and faith.
Do you have an unfulfilled dream?
Many dreams that I am still expecting to come to pass, but one of them is to see 1 million children (that’s how many are in Bulgaria) come to know Jesus through our programs and our nonprofit.
What a lovely dream. Please tell us about the ministry you founded to accomplish that dream.
I am the founder and CEO of a nonprofit organization Changing a Generation (changingageneration.net) with primary focus and work in Bulgaria and secondary focus in East Africa. I am also a full-time evangelist and motivational speaker, as well as a personal coach for churches, small businesses, and individuals.
Everyone struggles with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?
This one comes easy for me, probably because I grew up under communism. In that type of environment, you are controlled through fear, and discipline is one thing you learn from a young age. But that is a forced (coerced) discipline.
After studying behavioral psychology, I have discovered that we as human beings respond to value and threat. Thus, I need to adjust my mindset to see the value in my ‘to do list.’ I give each of my tasks a personal value (what’s in there for me, how is this benefiting me or my family) in order for my mind to switch from “I have to do this because…” (this implies threat and fear and you will become resistant toward your goal/task) to “I want to do this because…” When value is attached, you exercise your freewill and your creativity flows much faster. Always remember, when we adjust our beliefs toward a task, our will backs it up, because our beliefs (positive or negative) are always stronger than our will and they will eventually prevail.
Such a great advice to keep in mind! What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?
I love art (painting, drawing, designing) and I love traveling and preaching.
How fun! So what’s next for you? Tell us about your next project.
Working on a new book that I hope to release in the Spring of 2021 called: My Childhood Memoirs: Life Under Communism.
Sounds fascinating! Those stories need to be told. Thank you for sharing with us!
Writing for Him,