Sunday, December 17, 2017

Local Churches Respond to Greece Refugee Crisis

Churches in Greece are stepping up and reaching refugees with the Gospel.

Churches in Greece are stepping up and reaching refugees with the Gospel.

Thousands of refugees from war-torn countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East have moved into Greece, presenting local churches with the opportunity to reach out in Jesus’ Name to displaced families.

I grew up in the Greek evangelical community and I have never seen the church thriving as it is today. Churches are going the extra mile to serve people from different backgrounds who look different and who speak different languages.

Samaritan’s Purse continues to respond to the refugee crisis and work with local churches as they seek to bring hope in Jesus’ Name. Migrants are knocking on church doors and asking for help. Some churches have opened their doors during the week for people to walk in and enjoy fellowship and a warm meal. Greeks have opened their homes for strangers to come in and live and eat with them.

What God is doing through the local church in Greece goes beyond my imagination. Pastors have put a pause on their dreams of church growth in terms of quantity, and instead, are planning how to make the lives of their neighbors—the migrants—better. While they have not forgotten their church traditions, many pastors have engaged the new cultures of these refugees and combined them with Greek traditions.

One Iranian mother entered a partnering church in Central Athens searching for Jesus. She had secretly believed Christ in Iran, but did not have opportunity to grow in this understanding. She wanted to know where Jesus was and if she could meet Him in person. Our partner hugged the woman and told her about Jesus. It didn’t take more than a week for this mother, her husband, and her daughter to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and to be baptized in the church.

In my work with the Samaritan’s Purse refugee ministry with the local church I have also met many youth with passion and fire for Jesus. These youth are from both the Greek church and persecuted churches across the Middle East.

Many of them feel like God is calling them on a mission to spread the Living Word of God across Europe. Whether they stay in Greece for a week, month, or even a year, Greece is a station for them to be refreshed and to share their story and their passion for Christ.

One young Iranian in Athens said, “I need to go to Europe, not for myself, money, education, or a job, but because of Jesus Christ.”

After persecution, war, and separation from family and friends, these young adults want to know more about Jesus Christ and they are willing to share their faith with others.

“This is a dream for every believer, seeing lives transformed and local churches growing,” shared a local ministry partner.

I see congregations united in serving, praying, and sending people out into the ends of the world. Pastors are giving their time to meet the needs of people who have fled from violence and economic depression and have come to Europe seeking peace, freedom, and, ultimately, Jesus. It is beautiful to be part of the plan of God, the bigger picture of world missions, and the global Church.

Please pray for the Greek church to thrive, to rise up from the dead of tradition, and to serve their communities with a loving and united heart. Pray for the churches across Europe who are hosting people from all over the world who are hungry for love and thirsty to know about Jesus Christ.

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