Greece-Refugee Outreach

GREECE – Refugee Outreach

Dates: June 7 - 19

Hellenic Ministries brings the gospel to refugees, and sponsors a family camp for refugee families at a seaside location outside of Athens.  This team will serve at the Family camp in a wide variety of ways: children’s ministries, crafts, games and bible studies, sports time, women’s and men’s bible discussion groups, and whatever else is needed to create a loving and Christ-centered atmosphere.

Updated Monday, June 16
E-mail from Sargon
Day four of our camp started with a time of worship. Every morning all staff and volontiers start the day with a time of worship and a short devotion. This morning we heard of few stories that I would like to share with you.

In one of the women's discussion group it has become a custom to have one person request a prayer and one of the other ladies pray for that request. One of the ladies had requested on the second night prayer for her husband who was now in Germany. She had shared that he is not a good man and she would like to see him come to trust in Jesus and become His follower. Well, the ladies in that group prayed for this request and the next day, yesturday, this lady received a call from her husband. The husband told her that he had trusted the Lord and he is now a Christ follower. He asked his wife to ask around the camp to see if anyone knows of a Farsi speaking church in the town he is in because he felt he needs to have fellowship with believers.

God answers prayers and He does not miss opportunities to not only reveal His glory but showcase His faithfulness that "when we call on the name of Jesus, He responds". I have to point out, this lady is not a Christ follower,,,, Yet!

Another lady in response to the sharing of prayer requests asked that she would be prayed for so that she would be able to believe in the Word and what it is written. How eager we all are to see these prayers answered!  

Every day we see questions that reflect an internal struggle. A struggle between what they have been taught all their lives and the truth that gracefully penetrates in the darkness. In some ways many of these men and women are fighting to keep their old faith when losing this one battle would perhaps be the best thing that they would come to experience. Please contiue to pray for us as we are engaged in this work of serving and showing love and compassion.

May God graciously use us as instruments in His holy hand for the His redemptive work. We have come to learn that we are called but not qualified, yet those that God calls, He also qualifies.   Blessings to you all.

Updated Friday, June 13
Two e-mails from Sargon

Second E-mail
It has been a warm morning. Sounds like we will have rain later this week but for now, there are blue skies and warm temps.

As the camp continues, getting up early to start the day becomes more difficult. We start each day with a few worship songs and a time of devotion and then the daily program begins.

Let me share the story of a young man we met this week. My first impression was that he was a young man full of joy that continued to smile and praise God. Well, there is another brother here who came to The Lord two years ago who is blind. After his conversion, he had been robbed three times, beaten and  threatened a number of times by other refugees even to the point of being threatened to be killed. He is a amazing young man. Well, come to find out that the person who had been threatening this blind brother was this man that we met this week. Last year, God put on an amazing show of His redemptive love when He touched this young man's heart and transformed him from a man full of hatreds to a man full of love, joy and hope. 

Last night in one of the discussion groups a young man asked, "If I am a sinner and you are righteous, where will I end up and where will you?" Another older man stated that he believes that God is a merciful God and He will forgive his sins. That question led us into a conversation on God's justice and His Grace and how can both of them be satisfy. Please pray for the rest of this conversation as it will continue for days to come.

There are many penetrating conversations and good questions that are being asked not only during the discussion groups but throughout the day. Please pray for all of us to have the wisdom and discernment to respond to these questions and many like them properly with a Christ-like spirit. 

Everyone in the team is doing well and they are fully engaged in the ministry.  Thank you again for all your prayers and your support.

First e-mail:
Our first day of the camp was not short on challenges. During the last minutes before the departure of the buses from Athens, a few families were still missing. The buses were finally forced to leave with empty seats. Never the less, most families arrived without issues and later two vans were sent to the city to pick up additional 20 people to bring the number of guests to 80. We are thankful that all made it safe to the camp.

Today is our first full day and despite a fully sunny forecast, our day started with rain. I thought only our weather men and women were clueless, I guess this is more of a global issue !?

The team is doing really well. They are all very comfortable in their roles and it is such a blessing to watch them strive in doing what they were called to do.  This year we have a larger mix of younger families and right from the beginning it is showing that there will be more interactive discussions. Days have not all been smooth either. Yesterday we heard a few men verbally abusing few young ladies because they did not have their hair fully covered. There were number of interaction during the discussion groups that were intended to bring different religious beliefs into the conversation. A number of individuals continued to try to skips meetings and an entire family decided to sleep in and miss breakfast and the first group meeting. 

In the middle of all these struggles, God continues to work. In Ed's discussion group, one of the men expressed interest in knowing more about Jesus (more on this later). I was having a conversation with a one year old Muslim Background Believer (MBB) and he expressed that while being from a family of clerics, he always knew something was missing. Early in his youth, he was forced to enroll in a school to be a cleric and during his studies one night he saw a dream. In his dream he saw all his classmates following a donkey descending from the sky (God seems to have a sense of humor  at times) but he decided to follow this man in a white on a white horse. At the  time he did not understand what this dream meant.  Over 13 years later, last year, during the men's camp, when he came to trust Jesus he remembered that dream and understood it. He now has committed his life to be an ambassador for The Lord, sharing the Gospel with as many as he is given an opportunity to.

Please continue to pray for all of us here that we can serve with hearts full of love of our Lord, compassion for the lost, humble approach and patience.  Thank you again for partnering with us. The Lord is good and His redeeming plan is right on target.

Updated Wednesday, June 11

E-mail from Sargon
Hello from the shores of Porta Astro, the campsite where we will be serving over 20 refugee families from Afghanistan and Iran. We arrived in Athens on Sunday evening and were blessed with a smooth and comfortable flight. On Monday we came over to the camp and have been working on preparation since.

It is Wednesday morning here and we are making the last preparation before the arrival of the families. The team has been in great spirits and they have done an outstanding job.  We all have been working very hard along side of HM's (Hellenic Ministry) staff an over 60 volunteers from various states and countries. The weather has been comfortable until now. However, we are expecting high 90's for the rest of the week. It is such a blessing to see all the volunteers work in such a harmony with each other, not only prepare to serve the refugees but also eager to serve one another. After all it is our love for one another that comfirms our identity as His disciples (John 13:34)

Please continue to pray for us and others here with us as we are preparing for these families. Pray for continued health and safety of all staff as well as the families. Pray for the sharing of the Gospel. There will be over 20 hours of studying the word of God over the next five days. Yesterday I asked the question, "How long would it take to reach out to 80 Afghans and Iranians with the message of the Gospel in their own countries?"The answer is, a long time and perhaps after losing a few lives. Well, we will be doing that here in Athens this week with total freedom.

Finally, a quick story.  Yesterday I was asked to drive the ministry van down to the Metro station in Athens and pick up 8 other volunteers. I was given the directions on how to get there, and told that it was a one and a half hour trip. I very quickly learned that it is not wise to get on to an unknown road, going to an unknown place with directions that you can not read! The directions I was given were in Greek!!! Thank God for GPS, without it, I would be still driving around the streets of Athens. I realized that life sometimes feels like that, as if we are trying to find our way around using directions we can not read or understand. Praise God for His Spirit that helps us to read and understand His word so we can find our way around and finally get to the destination.   

Don't leave home without the GPS of God's Word and God's Spirit!

Updated Monday, June 9
The Greece Refugee Team left Santa Clarita on Saturday morning, and arrived in Athens without incident on Sunday.  They have met up with their hosts in Hellenic Ministries and are preparing for the family camp this week.  Check back here for updates throughout the week.  Internet access at the remote camp site is limited, but we will pass on news as we receive it.