Although this is not my first missions trip, Greece is certainly an uncomparable culture or even phenonomon as there are thousands of people here and many are from different cultures inside this Greek atmosphere. The history that I have seen is uncomparable and is amazing to see and think about how many of our common simple tools originate from the many artifacts that were discovered here. I have not seen the Acropolis yet but it is a very majestic and powerful view from the city but I am excited to see it first hand. The few days that we have spent here have been very interesting, we have volunteered at Helping Hands offering help and relief to refugees who are struggling, we have also seen the Acropolis Museum as well as swam in the Aegean Sea; all experiences that have to be lived instead of told for full justice. Also the food here is amazing and freakishly cheap for its taste and even the gifts that I have bought from flea markets have been reasonably cheap. It is very interesting how the people here that are trying to make their way through each day that is their lives are very assertive in roping in customers for business or promoting their name. This has been my first time riding on a Metro or even a public bus and both are actually not too discomforting or strange but seem like a pleasant way to travel. Aside from building a barrier between languages I think my biggest struggle is adapting to the other cultures and being respectful in the fact that a positive hand jesture in America is highly offensive in Muslim culture. Although not everyone in Athens is Christian, there is much grace, love, and joy in these many cultures, however I will say that hope is still in need in everyone’s lives.
Each day that I am serving in Athens I believe that I subtlety discover a new or different reason that God has called me here and why he has used me to spread the glory of his kingdom. Although the many people here are content and living their lives with what they basically need, I run into several people everyday who are begging for food, money, or transportation; people who have lost their way or it was taken from them. I am unsure why but everyday when those are asking for money, they always run to me first and I rarely carry money on me or have anything to offer, and I feel terrible because I have to keep walking and leave them in the desolate place that they are stuck in. Just the other day, we all were on our way back from the Ministry Center and we were passing through the Metro station to get on our line to Kifissia, on the escalator a little boy wearing dirty raggedy clothes came up to me begging for money. The others told me to just ignore him because their was nothing that I could do to help but nothing in me could just walk away. I told him that my pockets were empty and that I was sorry but he kept asking, then I remembered that I had a bag of peaches in my hand that I had gotten from the Ministry Center, and I gave him three to enjoy and to have food to eat. I know that I did not change his day much but just seeing his face of turmoil turn to a sincere smile made mine; I did not give him what he wanted but I was able to help with his needs and that eased my conscience. Above all of my experiences here, seeing so many struggle just to live in this city and strive to find the next meal for them or their loved ones, what hurts the most is not that I cannot give them what they want but that I have to walk away not being able to give them what they need and it breaks my heart every time and I would gladly trade places with them just to end their suffering. My passion for this problem, this problem of poverty that is completely unnecessary was shared in my own childhood and I absolutely hate seeing people suffer in loss of value, position, health, home, love, identity, or sometimes the worst for me is a loss of purpose.
I love that God has called me here, and I know that he knows my heart and that he gave me this passion to relate and feel compassion for others and it is a way that I can show Christ to others and let God’s light shine through me. Their are over a hundred refugees that attend the Ministry Center who are looking for a way to find the life that they had or hopefully a life with Christ that they have never imagined they deserved. I love the people that God has brought me to serve and my prayer is that God will continue to use me as a tool to change the lives of others, and what an honor it is to be a part of God’s plans. In the many days to come, I am eager for the many experiences to come and the joys that I can share with others, although I am also hesitant of how the pain of others will hurt my heart even more. If I could, I would do whatever I could to change their lives, but the best thing I can do is set an example of Christ and let others follow in helping each other. That is my greatest fear that I realized while walking through the streets today talking to Josiah and that is that I am so afraid of setting a poor example of Christ and not allowing him glory or even worse robbing the chance for others to give him glory; sometimes helping truly does hurt and it is so very difficult. My prayers go out to the hurting, the suffering, the lost, the afraid, and the many searching for answers not only in Athens but in the world that they would find Christ and be saved from the many tortures of this awful world but be transformed the love of the almighty father and that they would let go of pride and ask forgiveness of their sins. A world without pain or sorrow is a world that I am anxious to share with everyone.
Bless everyone that you encounter and pray that God also blesses them because if we are only focused on ourselves their is no greater way to waste our lives and desert the love of Christ. To those who read this that are battling with their faith or have turned away, my advice to you is to find your way back to God and eventually put your trust in him; I have lived many years with no intention of having Christ in my life and they were the most desolate and traumatic times of my life and I now know that their is no greater purpose or happiness than serving the Lord and delighting in his many blessings that I do not deserve. Don’t let this world discourage you because if you turn your eyes away from Christ, you are exactly where the Devil wants you. There is no evil in this world so great, that God isn’t Greater.
“Therefore, I urge you , brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
— Romans 12:1-2