Dates: June 4 - 16
Ministry Partner: Hellenic Ministries, Operation Joshua
Ministry Focus: Compassion ministry in refugee camps
This team will be working in an Outreach Family Camp for refugees (most Afghani). Ministries could include child care, small groups, dishes, water sports, cleaning and other camp duties as needed.
Updated Friday, June 21
Team Greece had an uneventful flight home tonight, arriving tired, glad for what God did among the refugees, and grateful for your prayers. Please set aside the date of of our GO Team Celebration on Sunday evening, September 15, where you will have the opportunity to hear from these folks and from the other teams that served around the world.
Updated Tuesday, June 18
Last day of camp...lots of emotions tied up in the
team. Sad to think of saying
"goodbye", happy to have made new friends and to have served these
Following breakfast and time of worship and then sharing
from the campers how camp has impacted their lives. What joyful faces we see! Gifts
of Samaritan's Purse shoeboxes are given to the children, backpacks from the
Chan's non-profit, Hearts in Need, are distributed, along with vitamins for the
adults and toys for the children. Sweet,
Following that is a delicious lunch of grilled lamb
(okay...they killed the lamb on Friday and grilled it today! They raise sheep for food at camp.) Right after that, we all head to the beach
for a baptism of a young man who accepted Christ here at camp. Pray for "M"...sorry can't give his
real name or give a picture of him. Pray
that his faith grows and that he continues to worship the true God.
"M" was supposed to come to the men's camp last
week, but was arrested (for being in Greece illegally) and wasn't able to
come. So, they let him come to family
camp as a single man, and he accepted Jesus.
Hearing his testimony brought tears to my eyes. As he came out of the water
(baptized in the Agean Sea), a spontaneous chorus of "This is the Day The
Lord Has Made" broke out simultaneously in Farsi and English. I believe it is a bit of what heaven will
sound like...all nations,tribes and tongues worshipping around the throne of
the Lamb! What an incredible experience
We are tired, but happy.
We are ready for a couple days of rest.
Tomorrow at 7am we leave camp and head to Corinth for a
Following that we will take a ferry to the island of
Poros for a day of rest and to debrief the team. After that it's back to Athens for a night
with a noon departure on Friday for home!
Pray for us that we finish here well (we are all helping to clean up
camp and head down to the dock to say goodbye to our new Muslim friends.).
Thank you for supporting your Greece team. God has been glorified!
Morning finds us with more sunshine! It will be a great day!
Following breakfast - discussion groups. Today we talk about Jesus'
resurrection and ascension. We use many different scriptures to back this
concept up. Talking with the refugees
about the fact that if Christ has not risen from the dead, then our faith is
Christ is not simply a good teacher or a prophet in the
fact that He is risen from the dead.
In the afternoon, following lunch we had activity time -
the ladies practicing their archery and a craft time again. Another sweet time of chatting with the
ladies and having a great time of fellowship.
We all met down on the activity field (staff and refugees)
and took photos of the staff and then the entire group of us. They also did individual group pictures (i.e.
teams, discussion groups). What
After dinner we went to the last session of discussion
groups. It is sad to think this is the
last time I will be with these dear women, who have given and suffered so
much. They are bound by a culture, law
and religion that offers them very little in the way of freedom and love. Oh how sweet it is to share Christ's love
with them and the freedom He offers.
Tonight our topic is Jesus' return and day of Judgment. Using various scripture references we speak
to them about the only way to heaven is through God's Son...Jesus. I have the chance to tell them of the peace I
have experienced in times of sadness, loss and trauma. I tell them I was able to cling to the
promises offered by Jesus and through that He gave me a peace that passes
understanding and I experience sweet freedom in Christ.
woman got very upset when some of the other ladies began talking about Islam
and how they do not have freedoms...how they, as females, have no rights and
how hard it is. The woman who left said
they were being very disrespectful to Islam and she did not want to hear
it. I think God is working in her
heart...pray for her ... no name... pray for "H".
Celebration and fun time after discussion group. Games for the kids...singing for all. Lasts well past midnight...the refugees had a
WE AWOKE TO SUNSHINE!!!!!! It is turning out to be a gloriously
Following breakfast - off to discussion groups. Again, so many
questions from the ladies. One can tell they are thinking and listening
to the lessons. It is such a blessing to
hear from them and for them to share their hearts. This morning we are discussing the fact that
Jesus' suffering and death were foretold.
Isaiah 53 is the main text used.
The refugees are told that God's plan for the redemption of mankind was
established before the foundation of the earth.
In our small groups we talked about how God used prophets and prophecies
to deliver information to His people concerning His will, laws and future
After discussion group time it's time for tea and
snack. Then off to activities and
fellowship with them. The women swim and
are taken by jetski on innertube rides on the water. So fun to see them smiling and laughing. We try to teach them to swim, but for many of
them they have never been in the water before just for fun. None of them know how to swim and are a
rather frightened of the water.
is a shower at the beach, and these dear women caring for their children, strip
them down, lather them up and rinse the dirt away from them. Most have no provision where they live in
Athens to truly clean themselves or their families. So showers are a real treat. Then, fully clothed they shower themselves!
the men are on the sports field practicing their new-learned archery skills and
playing soccer. A tug of war game breaks
out and all are laughing and enjoying recreation time.
Off to a wonderful lunch and fellowship time with the
Mealtimes have become a great time of conversations and
learning from them about their culture.
then take time to prepare for the next activity. For the men it will be swimming and
innertubing, for the ladies, sports time and craft time. The ladies on our team meet to prepare the
crafts that we will be sharing with them.
Today they are given cloth bags that they will be able to embellish with
fun decorations or stitching. The
refugee women are very creative and a wonderful eye for color. These craft times have been a time of
learning for the team. Each day I have
asked them how to say specific words in Farsi that relate to the craft they are
doing. They love to teach me!
Following afternoon activities, it is time for
dinner. Bobbie heads off to the kitchen
for dinner prep and serving. Others take
showers, rest or just continue to chat with some of the refugees.
food here has been incredible. While
there are people who help with meal prep, there is one chef who oversees
meals. She is absolutely amazing. Herself a refugee from Albania, she is here
to serve these refugees. She is cooking
for about 160 people and it just doesn't phase her. She plans all the meals and makes her
shopping list. Others actually do the
shopping, but she plans it all.
After dinner it's time for another discussion group. For this
session the Jesus Film in Farsi is shown to the
refugees. That should make for
interesting discussions tomorrow!
Updated Monday, June 17
We awoke AGAIN to rain!
Tents are wet again...it's cold as well.
I think everyone is tired of the damp weather. They tell us it's very unusual for this time
of year. But we thrilled to be here and
to have another day to spend with the refugees.
First thing...Lori and Bobbie are off to prep and serve
It's another 10 loaves of bread to slice and 160 people
to serve breakfast to. But what a
delight to get to know folks from other places in the world. 3 on breakfast detail are global workers from
Germany, so it's fun to get to know them and chat as we work.
Following breakfast we break into our discussion groups
to discuss more of the prophecies spoken of Christ from the Old Testament. The ladies are interested, but ask us some
pointed questions. They ask if we have
read the Koran so we know what it says. I have to admit, I have not. These women are quite intelligent and think
deeply. I am convinced that the change
in the Muslim world could come through the women...if these women choose to
become Christ followers, they will raise their children in the true faith. And since the women are the major care givers
of their children, I am now praying that way.
I will also be praying for some of the women in my group who appear to
be seeking. Maybe, not seeking, but
certainly open to learning about Jesus.
Following discussion group, the ladies are given a bit of
instruction in archery and then given the chance to put into practice what they
have learned. It was a great time of
fellowship with the ladies...so good to hear them laugh and have fun.
After archery, it was lunch time...again serving 160
people a meal...no simple task. Always
after lunch is siesta time (not sure they call it siesta, but that's the word
I'm using!) Instead of resting, Sargon
wants to meet with the team to have a bit of time together. However, we were interrupted by Bruce, who
wanted to take us on a walk to the prayer tent - which is up at the back of the
property and offers a spectacular view of the bay and the camp property. He again, gives our team a vision of what
they wanted and still want this place to be.
It is so good to hear his heart and passion for the ministry God has
called him to. He is definitely casting
a vision for the Muslim world to our team.
I think some on our team are seeing the Muslim people in a new light through
Many on our
team have remarked how thankful they are to be
able to live among the people and meet with the same ones
daily. The Chan family, who have served
several times in Jordan, said this refugee work is very different than Jordan.
There you meet a family for about 15-20 minutes, which is great to see them in
their environment, but then you are gone and trust that the church/ministry
there will do the follow-up. Here in
Greece we are living with them
24/7 for a week's time.
You also have your discussion group, which is the same group of people
for all 9 sessions. We then have
opportunities to interact with them during recreation time and are simply able
to share the love of Christ with them.
Following our hike, the ladies have the opportunity to
swim as the weather has cleared. What a
fun time they had. Some of these people
have never been in water for recreation purposes, so it truly is a treat to them. They are not allowed to wear swimsuits, so in
the water they go, fully dressed, most with scarved heads. They are somewhat frightened, but are still
laughing and playing in the water.
This time serves 2 purposes...they have fun, and also
shower/clean themselves and their children.
The camp has set up 2 outdoor showers there that they can use, which
they do, fully clothed.
After swimming and all are cleaned up, it's time for the
men to swim and the ladies to have recreation time.
Following recreation time...it's dinner prep/serving for
Lori and Bobbie (are you sensing a pattern here?). For this meal, we are responsible for putting
plates, bowls, silverware out for the campers and then bring out the food to
Following dinner, it's evening discussion group time and
I notice during that time, the women are a little quieter than usual. I don't know if they are tired from the
swimming and recreation time or if they are thinking about what we are
learning, I actually believe it's the latter.
One of the ladies had made the remark following the morning session that
it was a lot for them to think about.
After discussion group time, again tea and dessert, and
then another slide show of the day's activities....and then treated to some
Iraqi music and dancing. What fun that
Tonight...lights out at 12:30 pm! So tired, but so happy!
keep telling us this is an arid climate, but we are having a hard time
believing it. The rain woke us up and in
addition to that, they have canvas sheets hung over the worship and dining
areas that need to be emptied of water multiple times when it rains as they
will tear if they get too heavy.
dining area is right outside the women's sleeping quarters and the splashing of
that water on the concrete is startling when you are sound asleep.
It will rain most of the day, interrupting teaching and
small group time to "empty the canvas covering" of buckets and
buckets of water.
It is cold as the wind is blowing and most of our team
did not come prepared for multiple days of rain and col weather. So, we are COLD!
Morning saw Lori and Bobbie off to the kitchen (as every
morning) to help prepare and serve breakfast.
We hit the kitchen and they are on the go from the time they open the
door to the room. Bobbie slices 10
loaves of bread (that's a lot of bread and a lot of slicing). Lori works outside (where the serving and
eating happen) moving plates from storage to the serving carts that 160 folks
will pass through to get their food. We
move to the worship tent to hear instructions for the day and to hear from
God's Word. It is a great way to begin
the day..worshiping and praying together.
Vicki Gillis leads the women's devotional time, while Jones Chan leads
Then it's off to serve/eat breakfast. Others from the team join in helping to serve
as well. Following breakfast, we have
teaching time followed by Discussion Groups.
The discussion groups go very well, with several of the women in each of
the 3 groups asking some very good questions.
We learn about the deity of Jesus.
Trying to explain the trinity to Muslim women is an interesting
concept. I kept thinking that scholars
for centuries have written volumes on the subject and here we were trying to
get women to understand who have never heard of the trinity. There is nothing in their culture that could
compare to it and help them comprehend.
They were struggling to get their heads wrapped around the concept of 3
persons in the form of
1 God. The leader
of the groups did a fantastic job of explaining it, with the other facilitators
joining in with explanations, but for the Muslim women, full understanding the
concept would have to come at a different time.
Following Discussion groups, it should have been swim
time for the women, but the weather didn't allow it, so that was cancelled and
we stepped up to offer a craft for them and painting their fingernails.
The chef also held a baking class for any ladies
interested. It was a sweet time of just
sitting and watching these women interact and find joy in doing something they
love...sewing! At the same time, the men
had sport activities on the sports field.
Archery, soccer, and climbing wall were among the choices.
Lunch was served at 1:30 pm and following that is siesta
time....quiet time for 2 hours!
Okay...can I just say how hard that is for me????
Although we were all tired, so we went to rest .... only
to be interrupted. Jonathan M.
was here at camp and wanted to meet our team.
We met with him on the balcony of the beach house and he shared what his
father's vision had been for this place and the camp. He also shared what they hoped to accomplish
in the future.
His father had the vision 25 years ago to develop this
land into a place that could reach Muslims for Christ. Seeing a camp in its future, he worked hard
and God blessed that vision he had. The
ministry is now run by Jonathan and his family and continues to bless the
Muslim world. HE shared how he feels
Greece is in a unique place geographically, placed between the Eastern world
and the Western
World. It was a
blessing to chat with him for a few minutes and
hear his heart for this camp, Hellenic Ministries and the
We woke to clear skies and calm waters on the ocean
today. We will welcome the campers this
afternoon and I think we are anxious ready to get moving. Everyone is busy doing a multitude of things
to make sure all is ready. Not one
person simply sitting around, all 80 staff are running at mach speed to get the
The boat is late, but finally we see the first barge
loaded with families eager to have a few days together among people who truly
care for them. There is a contingency of
people waiting at the docks to welcome them, while others are up at the camp
ready to present orientation, register them for camp, distribute bags of
goodies (shoes, personal care items, etc.), while still others are giving tours
of the campgrounds and showing families to their accommodations for the week. They have faces of expectation and hope. Some faces are recognized as people who
frequent HM center in Athens, and hugs are given, and smiles are huge. The staff of HM truly love these people. The
afternoon is spent making sure everyone is where they should be, but soon it is
time for all to meet under the worship tent. Words of welcome
are spoken as well as some more instructions for the families.
Evening time begins with dinner (another wonderful meal),
then followed by the first teaching session. The series for the teaching is called "From Genesis to Jesus"
and will focus on how the prophecies regarding Jesus were predicted 2000 years
before they happened. We spend time with
our group of refugees getting to know one another by sharing our stories. What an incredible group of women, each so
willing and eager to share how they came to be in Greece and all the heartache
and suffering they have experienced in their young lives.
Jones Chan expressed, "how do I tell them that one
of the worst things I have experienced is a deviated septum and had surgery for
it recently so I wouldn't snore. These
people have been through horrors and trauma that we only hear about on the news
or read in the papers.
But these are real people, and I'm hearing them
firsthand." Most of these women
would be in their mid to late 20's and have multiple children, some having lost
some of those children, and other family members. The heartache they are feeling comes out in
Desert time ... then lights out (or should i say
"off") at 11pm.
Generators are off at night, so when the time hits, it
matters not what you are doing...they are off!
Updated Thursday, June 13
Two E-mail updates from Sargon
Update #1 Second Day at the Camp
We awoke to clear skies and a beautiful view of the
bay. Breakfast is in the making. As I am writing this...I see our team members
looking and asking staff for ways to serve (Ed's looking for coffee!).
Setting up tables and chairs, organizing paper goods, all
working together and working hard to make sure we ease the load and burden of
the long-term staff here at camp.
We had a group devotion time this morning and a bit of
orientation time for our team. We were
introduced to an amazing group of people who make up the summer staff here at
the camp. Each told us a bit of how they
came to be here and their passion for what the ministry means. Several of them
were and still are refugees waiting to begin a new life somewhere, but have such a heart for the ministry, they
are serving here this summer.
Today the plan is to finish getting things ready for the
families who will arrive tomorrow. The
morning was spent cleaning cabins, making beds, setting up tents, helping in the kitchen and just doing what
needed to be done to get ready to welcome the refugees on Wednesday.
Following a delicious lunch, the team took time to rest
and then some went for a dip in the ocean...refreshing and relaxing.
I am thinking of the families who will be guests here
starting tomorrow. As we prepare for them to come, it is hard to think
of all they have experienced in their lives.
Pray that we will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and that He would give
us the words to speak, hearts to love them and ears to hear their stories.
We received our assignments for camp. Several are involved in
discussion groups for the men and women, some will be
working with children, and others will be working in the kitchen, serving the
staff and campers. Pray that we
represent Christ well and that we are
effective in our work.
The campers will be taught in a main session
and the discussion groups will follow with more in-depth
discussion about the teaching time. The prayer is for the groups to move the
men and women to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and then hopefully into
relationship with Him.
At the end of our meeting a tremendous thunderstorm hit
and we were treated to a light show with the lightning. Throughout the night the thunder continued
but thankfully the rain subsided as most of the people here are sleeping in
tents. The ladies on our team are in the
dorms so we have bunk beds to sleep in and...more importantly...air
conditioning in the afternoon when the temperatures soar. Ed, Sargon and Jones are sleeping on the
boat, Morning Star. I'm quite sure they
were tossed about in the storm last night.
Now its time for lights out...the generator will be
shutting down for the night in just a few minutes.
Update #2 First Day at the Camp
The team arrived safe and sound in Greece on Sunday
evening. Tired, but glad to be
Everyone had a good night's sleep
and great breakfast on Monday. Before heading to camp we spent some time on the
roof of the hotel where we had an amazing view of the Acropolis. What a site.
The team gathered following breakfast for a team meeting
and last minute instructions. All are
excited to get there and start serving.
We are now ready to head to the camp and begin getting
things ready for the families who will arrive on Wednesday.
We left Athens in the afternoon to come to the camp. Bruce McAttee first took us to the
headquarters of Hellenic Ministries and gave us a tour of the facility. It was amazing to hear the vision of the
ministry and their desire to reach the Muslim refugees waiting anxiously in
Athens to begin a new life in a new country.
Driving to the
location to catch the barge that would take the team to camp took about an hour
and a half. When the team arrived at the
barge, the food truck was there and they were beginning to load the barge with
the food the camp would need for the week.
Some of the team stayed on shore
to help load the barge not only with the food,
but with all our luggage and ministry supplies needed for
group of 8 were taken to the camp in a small motor boat
The barge finally arrived and everything on it had
to be hauled by hand up the hill to the camp. Item after item was carried up the hill to
the kitchen of facilities where the team would be sleeping. Team Greece was quite exhausted after that,
but what a great way to begin our time of serving together. As tired as everyone was, nothing but smiles
could be seen on the faces of them. What
a great team to serve alongside.
We received our lodging locations and were able to get
beds made and things organized a little.
After dinner, we decided to make an early night as some on the team were
still dealing with jetlag. So, after
showers, it was lights out and all slept well.
Our accommodations are better than we thought. Rather than sleeping in tents, the ladies are
in the dorms (with real bunk beds) and Sargon, Ed and Jones will be sleeping on
the boat,"The Morning Star".
Updated Monday, June 10
E-mail from Sargon
It is now 8:30 in the morning in Athens. We arrived at midnight
and after a long 22 hours journey from the time we met at the church to when we
arrived at the hotel, we were able to attempt to get few hours of sleep.
We are thankful that God blessed us with a safe trip, in some
cases even an empty seat next to us on the plane. The team is in good spirits and slowly slowly they are coming down from their rooms for a breakfast. We
have a short morning of rest while we are trying to get over some of our jet
lag and then this afternoon we are going to head over to the camp where we will
start our ministry.
Months of preparation, anticipation and prayer has brought us to
this moment where we are now only days away from meeting 22 Afghan and Iranian
families. It has been and continues to be our prayer that we would be able to
show the love of Christ in a way that would bring these families to the
knowledge of a loving God that has changed our lives and has given us hope.
If we could only be an instrument in our Father's hand to reflect
His love and His grace to these families, the purpose of this trip is accomplished.
Please continue to pray for us as we are going to start a week of
hard work yet rewarding labor. Please pray for health and safety of each person
who will attend this camp. For continued unity and harmony in the team and our
harmony with others from other parts of the world who are here for the same
Thank you again for all your prayers and support. This is a
ministry that can only be done by the work of many and thank you for your
willingness to be a part of this ministry. We will have limited access to
internet while on the camp but will make every effort to keep you updated with
stories and the work that is being done for His glory.
Updated Monday, June 10
Updated Saturday, June 8
The Greece team arrived in Athens on schedule, with all of their bags, after an uneventful trip, and are preparing for the start of the Family Camp.
The Greece Team was sent out with prayer by an enthusiastic crowd of supporters this afternoon, and are headed to the airport. Thanks for praying for their impact in Greece!