Hello from Greece! If you have been following the blogs, you may be wondering if I made it through Monday after Hannah said that I’m so klutzy I wasn’t going to make it! :). Well, I survived with no incidents. (Hannah may have exaggerated a bit!) The team is doing well and probably a little too comfortable with one another! 🙂 There is much sarcasm and laughter among the group; I don’t think anyone would have wanted it any other way. Seriously though, through the good and the difficult, I believe God is answering our prayers by bringing us together as a team.
I’ve had a few things that have consistently come back to my mind that I want to share. Last week during the women’s shower day I saw a lady who had a tattoo that said “Free”. I was surprised to see her have a tattoo in the first place, but I was even more surprised to see that word. It sparked several questions: What is her definition of freedom? Does she feel free or is that what she is longing for? Does she feel more freedom now that she is in Greece and away from a lot of the turmoil of her home country? Does she know the depth of freedom that is available to her right now in Christ? If she doesn’t feel free, does this represent her desire and hope that one day she will be free? As I sat thinking about this, she then proceeded to put back on her long clothes and head covering–this saddened me. While some women still decide to wear their head covering after becoming a Christian, or it takes them awhile to understand this freedom, it felt like that was a picture of the freedom she doesn’t have. I don’t know her story or if she is a believer, but my prayer for her is that she will be able to experience true freedom in Christ.
That same day as we were cleaning the ministry center, I was mopping and there was a precious little girl sleeping in her stroller near me. Seeing her, I began to think about her story and how much has happened in her life in such a short time even though she has no idea of any of it since she is so little. I was thinking about how her story has changed. It has changed because God brought her and her family to Greece. It changed because God had provided a place for them that, while it may not be home or familiar, it is away from the chaos in their country. It changed because God brought them to the ministry center. It changed because her mom felt safe enough to let her daughter sleep peacefully in the stroller while she chatted with friends across the room and she had no fear that anything would happen to her daughter. These changes are significant for many reasons…her story is different now. When she gets old enough to understand, her story doesn’t only include the fact that her family had to flee when she was a baby, but now it includes the help and hope that they received. Her story includes how her life was spared when that wasn’t the case for some. Her story includes the love that she has been shown at the center. And my prayer is that her story will also include how God showed himself to her family during their time in Greece and that she grows up to be a God-fearing, God-seeking, faithful child and daughter of God. Everytime I interact with the refugees, I pray that they will experience the freedom of Christ daily and that their story will be changed dramatically.
This week we are serving at a camp with a new group of refuges with different stories and a hope for freedom. Yesterday during our discussion group, one of the questions was “Why do you think God brought you to Greece?” All of the women (we were split in men’s and women’s groups) could have responded that they had to leave in fear of their lives and the lives of their families. They could have said that they didn’t want to come and they didn’t know why God brought them here. I somewhat expected that, but that is not what I heard. What I heard was testimonies of how God brought these ladies here so that they could find Him. Some did allude to the fact that they didn’t want to come to Greece at the beginning, but all of them said that God had plans and if they wouldn’t have come to Greece they wouldn’t have found the Lord. How amazing is it that those that are forcing them to flee are actually pushing them to a place where they will have more freedom instead of fear, where they are getting help from several people and organizations, but several are hearing about the love of God. God truly does make good out of the circumstances that people try to use for harm.
I could probably write several pages tonight about what I have heard, the beautiful people I have met, and the stories that have been shared, but I hope this gives a glimpse of some of the ways that God is working! We appreciate your prayers and ask that you continue to pray! The days are long and it has been very hot–plus, most of Greece does not have air conditioning–so being at camp and in the sun tends to be even more draining, but we are definitely energized by the people we are meeting. God is at work and he is allowing us to see how he is moving and bringing people to Him.
Thanks for your support! Below are a few pictures of our time on Monday. The first is in front of Mars Hill, the sign is Acts 17 in Ancient Greek. The other pictures are from climbing up to the Parthenon.