By Nico Bougas, Special to ASSIST News Service
KORINOS, GREECE (ANS – June 28, 2016) — Whilst the people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave Europe, Hellenic Ministries have their own project to take back the land in a project called, “Operation Joshua.”
During the week of July 6-14, 350 volunteers will descend on Korinos, a small town in near the Biblical cities of Thessalonica and Berea. They are part of an army of people from 20 different nations who will be distributing copies of the New Testament in modern Greek to thousands of homes in northern Greece.
Greece has found itself under tremendous pressure in recent days. Since 2008, the country has been in financial free-fall and with a 28% unemployment rate thousands of it brightest and best equipped young people have emigrated to other European destinations. It only narrowly averted its own Grexit which would have meant an even greater set-back for the struggling nation.
But worse was to follow as thousands of refugees from Muslim countries like Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan poured into the country and added to its already sinking economy. It is estimated that more than 1 million refugees have arrived in Greece during the past year. Their ultimate destination in most cases was Germany and the Scandinavian countries that were willing to take them. However they found themselves stranded in Greece when the other Balkan states like Macedonia, Albania, Hungary and Bulgaria refused to let them pass through their countries and put up barriers to prevent their entry.
So Greece finds itself in a perilous position. The people have lost confidence in the government and have no confidence in the church. There is a sense of frustration and desperation. In the midst of this gloom and pessimism Hellenic Ministries have a wonderful opportunity of presenting the message of hope as found in the gospel.
In the past few years, more than 800,000 copies of the New Testament have been placed in homes throughout mainland Greece and the many islands surrounding the nation. As with the Parable of the Sower some of it has fallen on hard soil, some on shallow soil, some amongst the thorns and some has fallen on good soil and there have been many encouraging responses.
It is those areas of good soil that have emerged as one of the encouraging fruits of this campaign. Out of it has been the development of new church plants and home Bible study groups. Teams of evangelical Greeks have followed up around the areas where the Bible distribution has taken place and made contact with interested people. Groups have been established that have the potential of developing into new evangelical church plants.
Johnathan Macris, President of Hellenic Ministries, is optimistic that many new churches can be planted as a result of this campaign. He envisions 50 new church planters being sent out in the next 5 years.
“We have a good pool of young people who are motivated and energized to go and share the good news with people,” he says. “We have churches around the globe willing to train interns with the intention of returning to Greece to establish new plants. Through Operation Joshua we are preparing the nation for a great harvest. These are exciting times to be involved in mission work in Greece.”
Macris added, “The hardship and struggles that the nation has experienced in these difficult times has created a hunger and thirst after righteousness and a message of hope. Hellenic Ministries and other associated groups are doing their best to be available to gather up the harvest.”
Photo captions: 1) Johnathan Macris, President of Hellenic Ministries. 2) Group photo of volunteers from over 20 countries. 3) Bible bags placed in hundreds of homes. 4) Nico Bougas.
About the writer: 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 a Trustee for Radio CCFM and was one of the founders of Sports Outreach Africa. He previously served on the national executive of the SA Association of Evangelists and as a Trustee for the Bible Institute of South Africa and on the advisory board for the South African Theological Seminary and on the executive of The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund (SA). For further, information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
** You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net).