Local Missionaries in Greece
Known as the cradle of Western civilization, ironically Greece has a population that is largely ignorant of the Bible. While only 3.6 percent of the people on the country’s mainland and 227 inhabited islands are non-religious, the vast majority of the population knows little about the gospel or biblical faith. More than 83 percent of the population identify as Christian, most in name only as they belong to traditional churches that give little attention to the Bible; 94.6 percent identifying as Christian belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, and 3.6 percent to the Roman Catholic Church. Nearly 8 percent of the population is Muslim.
When protests in Syria in 2011 grew into an armed rebellion that included various jihadist forces, the embattled country’s people began pouring out to other countries, including Greece. By 2015, 385,525 refugees had arrived in Greece by sea, with only 8 percent of them applying for asylum as they were in transit to other parts of Europe.
There are now more than 50,000 refugees in Greece, mostly Syrian, but also many from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and parts of Africa. Of those refugees, 40,000 are living in Greek reception centers built to accommodate only 6,000. They are also facing an increasingly hostile society.
Refugees often arrive with only the clothes on their back. The practical aid that local missionaries have provided has led many refugees to want to know about Christ. Local missionaries who provide aid offer Bible studies and, for those who accept Christ, intensive discipleship training. They also undertake visits to refugee camps for Bible studies with various groups twice a month.
An indigenous ministry provides food and other basic items, with local missionaries spending much of their days trying to meet urgent physical needs – from diapers and baby formula to securing interpreters to accompany refugees to doctors appointments and hospitals. Missionaries also help refugees get their children registered for school, obtain tax numbers and apply for asylum. Donations are sought for these efforts to bring the love of Christ to the physically and spiritually troubled.
Sources: Joshua Project, Wikipedia, Missions Insider
How to Pray for
- Pray that refugees will not perish in transit on dangerous seas or from hostilities they encounter upon arrival but will receive the aid and orientation they need to begin their lives anew.
- Pray for workers trained as counselors, interpreters, and evangelists to be available for arriving refugees.
- Pray for Bible-believing churches to bring honor to Christ’s name as they make His salvation known to various ethnic groups.
More stories from Greece
Local missionaries in Greece tried to protect the head and tongue of a Kurdish refugee who was suffering a major epileptic seizure in their offices.
The ministry leader and others were praying for him.
“He speaks Kurdish, so he wasn’t able to understand the language we were praying in, even if he could hear us,” the leader said. “After he fully came to his senses, he looked at us and asked, ‘What was the prayer you were praying? I was in peace while you were praying.’”
Before the novel coronavirus struck, a Muslim refugee accepted an invitation to come to a native ministry’s Bible study at a home in Greece.
After discussion, the group leader asked the Kurdish refugee, Arman, if they could pray for him. He said yes but was shocked when those praying for him referred to Jesus Christ as God.
“His eyes got big, and he spoke about this,” an assistant director of the native ministry said, recalling how Arman objected to referring to any man as God.
At a gathering of refugees in Greece, a native missionary’s message about hospitality and serving others struck a note with a new Christian sharing a large tent with 10 other families.
“She came up front for prayer,” the native ministry director said. “She stepped in front saying, ‘I do not have a house, as I live in a tent, but I want to be used by Jesus.’”
Prayers that the Lord would use her for His kingdom were soon honored in an unexpected way.
Three years after Greece signed an agreement with Turkey to discourage refugees from trampolining off Turkey to Greece, Greek facilities for receiving them are still overwhelmed – prolonging the crisis. Many of the newcomers are disillusioned with Islam and open to the gospel. Most refugees in Greece today come from Afghanistan, including Muslims who must avoid hard-line neighbors finding out they are learning about Christ.