n the early mornings, while it is still dark, flour and water meet. They rise with yeast and are shoved in an oven to be transformed by heat. The aroma fills the air, sending an irresistible invitation to mouth-watering delights.

One by one, people come to order, to socialize and laugh. Every day, people of all ages and different ethnicities line up at this bakery, eager to savor delicious bread.

Making bread takes time and patience. It takes loving hands to mix ingredients and press them together until the dough is ready to rise and grow. So it is with people; it takes time and patience to cultivate trust and friendship, to warm their lives and invite them to follow Jesus.

At the Trapezata Global Mission urban center of influence in Bulgaria, staff members offer visitors more than food. Here, people find room to interact and participate in various courses and activities. As they make new friends, visitors are invited to become volunteers themselves. This way, they can give back and help others too.

One regular volunteer, Dimitur, found purpose in Trapezata by tutoring math. “There are good people here, and I developed good relationships with different people,” Dimitur said. “So, I want to give my best to others. I feel a strong desire to learn more about God and the Bible. I have this idea that I have to help, and if I can, I am going to do it. I am not a math teacher. I’m an engineer, but here I help kids with math.”

Dimitur travels more than six miles every day, sometimes on foot. He started as a customer, then he became a volunteer, and now he is a baptized Seventh-day Adventist. Like Dimitur, many people who come to Trapezata find the Bread of Life.

The owners of Trapezata have seen how centers of influence can work as a platform to engage the community and form friendships.

The bakery’s owner, Christo Kudinov, said, “God gave us this place to keep us close to people. He showed us that we needed a place where people felt accepted and at home. . . . That’s why we established a bakery: it smells like home. In Bulgaria, people eat a lot of bread. . . . This is how Christ worked. He was close to people; He offered them the Bread of Life, healed them, and took care of them. And we want to do the same.”

The leaders at Trapezata invite you to pray for this growing group of new believers. Please pray for this urban center of influence and many others around the world that find creative ways to befriend people and introduce them to Jesus.

Earley Simon Office of Adventist Mission