Greece & Cyprus Update #2
We’ve now been in Greece and Cyprus for around three weeks. We’ve all overcome our jet lag and the teams have adjusted well to new foods, uncomfortable beds and a different culture. However, the one thing that has not gotten any easier is hearing the horrific stories of fleeing and death that so many of our refugee friends have experienced. We have seen how many people back home make decisions about the refugees often based on how the media portrays the situation. So much has been said and done out of fear without ever meeting one person who has had to flee their home. If nothing else, may the updates below bring some light to what is really happening and how Jesus is using this dark hour for one of the most incredible movements toward His name in history.
One thing that is unique about Cyprus is there are refugees from all over the world. Of course there are many from the Middle East because of the crisis you see on TV but there are also many from different parts of Africa, Ukraine, and some Asian countries. It really is a melting pot!
This past week our team continued to help with English classes, food and clothing distribution as well as Bible studies with M*sl*m’s. We also helped a local ministry as they just got word they could move in to their new refugee building. The main problem is that the house has sat vacant since 2009. For seven years, local cats have been the residents. Ya…you can imagine what it looked like.
Our biggest prayer request would revolve around the many painful stories we hear each time we meet with our new refugee friends. So much loss and so much pain. We cannot share those stories at this time but ask that you would pray for wisdom as we love those who have lost their belongings, their homes, their country and often times their family.
One really quick story we can share just happened this weekend. One of our team was chatting with a young man who fractured his elbow. He couldn’t move his arm and was in a lot of pain. As our team member prayed he could move it just a little. And then he prayed more and he could move his arm just a little more. He kept praying and the young man was like, “how are you doing this?”. By the time he was done praying he could move his arm completely and he sat their astonished.
The organization we work with here in Athens has a weekly refugee outreach at a popular rest spot for Afghani refugees and two Tuesdays ago my life was wrecked by three teen boys. It was like we had been friends forever. In a few minutes they shared how horrible camp life was here in Athens but emphatically said they would choose camp life over constant bombings. They came to church with us that night and gave their lives to Jesus and since then they have been coming every time the church doors are opened. A few of us were able to take them to lunch on Friday and I learned so much more about these brave boys. Each one of them left their families to get away from the violence occurring in their country and to look for better opportunities. As you may be aware there are sooo many uncertainties with refugees and to be honest it can sometimes feel hopeless but I’m sure glad these boys know the giver of all hope.
Recently the boys came and brought two other friends with them. It so crazy that they keep coming to a church that only speaks Greek but I love it! One of the guys went up again during the alter call and I used this time to share with the others via Google translate that once you accept Jesus into your heart you don’t have to keep going up to receive again. I was able to explain the process of justification to them. The new friends they brought wanted a book about Christianity but the church didn’t have any. Our Afghan friends said, “Don’t worry, I’ll share mine!” These boys are already sharing the Good News!
Refugee Focused DTS
Our next Refugee Focused Discipleship Training School (DTS) is in January 2017. Would you help us get more people trained and equipped to minister to refugees by encouraging them to do the DTS with us? The DTS is 5 months long with the first 3 months being training and outreach in Boise, Idaho followed by an international outreach in Greece or Cyprus.