Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Mass Bible Distribution Project in Greece
Operation Joshua, a Hellenic Ministries project to distribute modern Greek new testaments, both audio and printed, to 125,000 households
By Nico Bougas
Special to ASSIST News Service
ALEXANDROUPOLIS, GREECE (ANS) -- Tourism in Greece may be way down because of the uncertain economic future and the highly publicized anti-austerity demonstrations. But this has not prevented 320 volunteers from around the globe descending on the Alexandroupolis in the north-eastern corner of Greece.
Operation Joshua begins this evening, July 17 and continues through to July 25. Teams of people from young teens to senior citizens are participating in this special effort to bring the hope of the gospel to a beleaguered nation.
Not only will they be bringing the message of hope to the Greeks but also 17,000 Turkish Bible packs will be distributed to the Islamic villages on the Turkish border.
This project has not been without its challenges. The area bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church was originally sympathetic and had offered his help and cooperation. However the central leadership of the church was totally opposed to this and issued a press release discouraging any association and branding the mission and project as heretical.
The problem is compounded as several high-ranking Greek bishops had previously endorsed the copy of the New Testament produced by the Greek Bible Society. And Hellenic Ministries are the Societies biggest single customer accounting for more than 30% of their annual income.
Subsequently 5 evangelical pastors (which are possibly the only evangelical pastors in this vast area) withdrew their support as they feared upsetting relationships with the national church.
There should be around 60 cars fanning out into the area covering several hundred miles. The volunteers will have to cope with extreme heat and energy-sapping climbs up steep roads. This is no tourism holiday. It is not a mission for the mildly interested but for the totally committed.
Apart from the historic indifference of the Greeks to the evangelical gospel, attention will have to be given to the substantial Islamic population. The area is right on the Turkish border and there are estimated to be 17,000 Turkish speaking people many of whom are illegal refugees who have crossed into Greece from Turkey, crossing one of the most porous borders in Europe.
Funds are needed to help pay the considerable cost of all the material. But chiefly there is a need for much prayer as we enter territory which for centuries has been devoid of the evangelical gospel and where the spirit of religion has prevented the spirit of truth from taking residence.
Nico Bougas is the International Development Director for Hellenic Ministries. He has a master's degree in communication from Wheaton Graduate School and M. Div and D. Min degrees from Trinity Theological Seminary. He is the author of five books. He previously worked for Youth for Christ in South Africa and was Editor of In Magazine and Christian Living TODAY and currently serves as Consulting Editor for JOY Magazine and is an Associate of Sports Outreach Africa. For further, information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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