Thursday, July 26, 2012
Good News in Bad Times for Greece
By Nico Bougas
Special to ASSIST News Service
NORTHERN GREECE (ANS) -- Greece has had its share of adverse publicity in the past few years. Many are fearful that it will default on its financial obligations. Others feel that it might withdraw from the Euro and head back to the bad old days of the drachma. There are also concerns that a Grecian collapse could cause a domino effect and draw other countries down with it.
Together they have distributed 126,207 Bibles in modern Greek. In addition each New Testament included an audio MP3 version of the Greek NT and a challenging personal testimony from a Thessalonian Greek who came to Christ after overcoming his addiction to gambling. The volunteers covered a distance of 67,947 km and visited a total of 519 villages in Northern Greece. Many of the villages were predominantly Islamic and received Turkish Bibles.
“As in the parable of the sower we realize that we will not achieve 100% success rate. Much of the seed will fall on hard and unresponsive ground and some will fail to take root whilst others will be choked before it can make any real progress.”
As was to be expected the response varied from enthusiastic and welcoming to indifferent, hostile and anger. Interestingly the response from the Muslim minority groups to the Turkish Bibles that were distributed was generally warm and friendly, whilst the Greek households were more suspicious.
A significant happening during the week was the visit of the local Bishop of Alexandroupolis to bring a message of greeting and solidarity. He received warm applause from the volunteers when he declared, “the problems of Greece are not economic but the absence of the Holy Spirit.” His support was particularly meaningful in that the Greek Orthodox Holy Synod had previously condemned the project and the Hellenic Ministries organization as “deceitful and heretical” and had warned its faithful followers to steer clear of their activities.
The project has caused waves of interest throughout the week. Several of the teams distributing the Bible packs were detained for questioning by local police on the grounds that they were involved in “suspicious activities” or “proselytism”. The police also made an appearance at the campsite where the majority of the volunteers were being housed and engaged in a short stand-off with Johnathan Macris. According to European law Greece has freedom of religion so these tactics are merely to intimidate and have no legal validity. However the amicable relationship that had been developed with the bishop greatly assisted with the early release of the detainees.
As the week wore on public awareness and curiosity intensified. Newspaper coverage reached across the border into Turkey and became a major talking point. The local TV station granted Macris as well as New York evangelist, Tom Mahairas and Greek evangelical leader, Spiro Mitakidis a 45 minute live TV interview which was re-broadcast the next morning. They were also featured on the main TV news bulletins as well being interviewed on live radio.
“This sort of interest and positive coverage of an evangelical event is unprecedented in Greece,” said Macris. “You can’t help but wonder if God is doing something unique and momentous. Perhaps echoing the words of the prophet Isaiah, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isa 43.19 (NLT)
People wanting more information about Hellenic Ministries or wanting to support this work through prayer or financially can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the websites: www.hellenicministries.com or www.operationjoshua.net
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: email@example.com
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