At a refugee center in Greece, new Christians are stepping forward to bridge the communication gap and ensure that the good news is told in a language that refugees can understand.
The refugee crisis in Greece is compounded by an economic downturn the country has yet to recover from. But local Christians are serving the poor however they can—and the In Touch Messenger is helping them share the gospel in the process.
Sometimes, God just asks us to trust Him. Because of this man’s obedience, people all over Greece are listening to In Touch With Dr. Charles Stanley and growing in their faith.
With its rocky peninsulas and thousands of islands amid glittering seas, Greece sits at the edge of Western civilization. Once the heart of a huge empire, it has been at the forefront of philosophy and poetry, pagan theology, early science, and military skill.
At the time Jesus walked the earth in Israel, Rome had become the dominant political force in the region, but the Greek language and culture were still very influential. There were many Jews in Greece itself, and Jewish communities lived side by side with inhabitants of Greek heritage. The gods of Greek mythology were still worshipped by the local population, and their shrines and altars were commonplace.
When the new Christian faith arrived with the preaching of the apostle Paul in the first century, a spiritual revolution was sparked. Both Jews and Greeks heard the gospel and believed. Communities of Christians were established wherever Paul and his companions taught the good news.
are free. But we have all been baptized
into one body by one Spirit, and we
all share the same Spirit.”
—1 Corinthians 12:13 (NLT)
LOVING THE MULTITUDE
The church in Greece has survived through schisms, wars, and foreign occupations, and has lasted for two thousand years. But it faces some unique challenges today.
Greece is smaller in land mass than the U.S. state of Kansas. Its entire population is less than the population of the New York City metropolitan area.
Despite its small size, Greece has experienced large waves of immigrants and refugees from other countries in the past 30 years. They’ve come from the north, the east, and the south, by foot, by boat, and by car.
Some of these arrivals are passing through on the way to another life elsewhere, some are waiting to seek refugee status in Greece, and some are there to stay—for years or for a lifetime.
The flood of refugees in the past several years has been especially severe, with hundreds of thousands arriving in a short time from war-torn Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.
Regardless of how long they will be in Greece, each one of these individuals represents a unique life with pressing needs—for food, shelter, comfort, and connection. And most of them suffer from the greatest need of all: the need to hear the gospel of truth and find eternal life in Christ.
Refugees and immigrants find assistance at a Christian-run café and service center in Greece. The center distributes In Touch Messengers in various languages as it ministers to patrons.
Christians in Greece have been unwilling to turn a blind eye to these guests in their country. But they’ve had to come up with creative ways to minister to the needs of such a large population that includes so many different languages and is so reliant on the kindness of others.
That’s where the In Touch Messenger Lab comes in. This family of devices is designed to bring the Bible and Dr. Stanley’s sermons to people all over the world in a format that works for their circumstances.
The flagship device, a solar-powered, handheld audio player, is available in 100+ languages and counting, including Albanian, Arabic, Dari, and Farsi. This enables local believers in Greece to share God’s Word and discipleship materials with the many foreigners among them.
Your donations to the In Touch Messenger Lab are helping these visitors on Greek soil to hear the gospel in their own language and come to faith in Christ, even when they’re far from home.
could count, from every nation and all
tribes and peoples and tongues,
standing before the throne and before
the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and
palm branches were in their hands ...”
A man receives an In Touch Messenger from Mihalis, a local Greek Christian whose ministry provides help and shares the gospel with his country’s guests.
OPEN HEARTS, OPEN HANDS
Making the refugee situation all the more difficult to handle, in the midst of it all, grave financial problems sapped the country’s resources and upset the stability of Greek society.
Around 2008-2009, economies around the world suffered significant downturns, but as some have started to recover, Greece still struggles. Poverty and unemployment have skyrocketed among the Greek population, while the mental health of the nation has plummeted, with suicides increasing by 35% a er 2011.*
*Source: World Psychiatry. Suicidal Ideation and Suicide Attempts in Greece During The Economic Crisis: An Update https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4780297
Things look bleak indeed for many here. And yet it’s in the middle of such scarcity and despair that Greek Christians are opening their hearts and serving their neighbors. With the government unable to give assistance, many residents, both Greeks and foreigners, are turning to the church for help—and the church is determined not to let them down.
Resources may be lacking, but God is not. As His children have given sacrificially, He has provided what they need, allowing them to serve, love, and witness with grace and generosity.
And In Touch is helping. With the support of partners like you, we’re providing devices from the In Touch Messenger Lab in various languages to spread God’s Word to locals and refugees, rich and poor, young and old alike—so everyone has a chance to believe in the Savior and grow in their faith.
—1 John 4:7
Dimitrios, a local pastor, prays with members of a community in Athens where his team delivers food staples. The In Touch team also distributed devices from the In Touch Messenger Lab to share God’s Word with residents.