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 refugee mother who was jailed for lack of legal papers was separated from her young son, who was sent to a hospital. Native Christian workers assisted in obtaining her release, reunited her with her son and helped her locate her two other children who had traveled with another family.
An Iranian refugee who had received help from native workers three years ago and left the country recently returned on a visit to thank them for the help – and the gospel – that he and a friend received. Accepted as a refugee in Switzerland, he told workers that his Christian journey began with their assistance in getting him a Skype appointment with asylum officials.
Refugees have learned of Christ’s love for the first time from native Christian workers who provided them aid. Sharing the gospel with refugees in ministry offices, weekly Bible studies, home visits and online calls, workers have seen Muslims who might otherwise never have heard about Christ come to saving faith.
Native Christian workers assisting a refugee mother in Greece had learned that two of her three children were lost somewhere near Greece’s 132-mile border with Turkey. When she went to police to report them missing, they put her in jail for lack of legal documents and sent the 5-year-old, autistic son with her to a children’s hospital. “The situation was very bad, and the woman was very frustrated,” the ministry leader said. “The autistic child, who was very much dependent on his mother, was asking for her and didn’t eat anything.”
As economic turmoil causes governmental and other programs to fade, more refugees are seeking ways to survive. “The projects and organizations working with refugees are closing one after the other, leading the people to despair and pushing them to leave the country as quickly as they can,” a native ministry leader said.
Native workers sharing the gospel with refugees disciple hundreds of new Christians each year, as new arrivals stream into the country while others move on to new destinations. Faith grows in weekly Bible studies, Zoom calls, WhatsApp messages and meetings with individuals.