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
A young Muslim from Iraq arrived as a refugee after Islamist militants tortured him and killed his father. When local missionaries led him to faith in Christ, he said he felt a sense of freedom, peace and joy. Workers at weekly Bible studies have discipled the many refugees who have come to Christ and, due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, have brought others to maturity through WhatsApp messages every Sunday. Local missionaries recently baptized 16 new believers. Donations are sought for these and other evangelistic outreaches and follow-up. Pray that new believers will build strong relationships with Christians.
A young man in Iraq, Sami, and his father were descended from multiple generations of historic Christians, but during occupation by Islamist militants they had been forcibly converted to Islam. Such converts have trouble showing loyalty to a new caliphate, often refusing to join the fight to establish and expand it. Both men were subjected to torture; Sami told native missionaries in Europe that his father died trying to save him from the militants.
A Christian ministry in Greece helped a traumatized refugee mother from the Middle East obtain an appointment with a psychologist, but she also wanted to speak woman-to-woman with one of the ministry’s two directors. The refugee had left her four children, ages 4 to 13, behind. “She left her country running, trying to rescue herself,” the director said. “Her kids didn’t blame her.”
Two Kurdish men who had fled hardships in southeastern Turkey surprised local missionaries in Greece when they eyed books on the refugee ministry’s shelves and asked, “What are these?” When workers answered that they were Bibles, one of the men asked if there were any copies in Turkish. “I am interested to know more about God,” the refugee said. “Can you teach me?”
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.