We are in Athens! And though Cyprus and Greece speak the same language, the two countries are very different from each other. The economic crisis is much more evident here than it was in Cyprus; the streets are packed with people who have lost their jobs and homes and have nowhere else to go. 80% of immigration into Europe comes through Greece, so in addition to all the Greek people without jobs, there are loads of other immigrants joining them in their desperation. The church we’re staying in is right in the center of the red-light district; we’re surrounded by drugs, graffiti, and prostitution. Despite all these things, God is really showing us the beauty of Athens and helping us to love the city as much as He does.
We teach English and German to refugees. Most of the people who come to our lessons are from Afghanistan and Iran. We teach all ages and levels, from the most basic, to more advance conversationalists.
Three times a week we serve food to Greek, Iranian, and Afghani people. This takes place in the same building where we’re staying. Between 70-150 people come for food and fellowship. Before serving the food, there is some time for us to present a drama or give a talk. During eating, the aim for us is to build relationships. It can be challenging because of language barriers, but we try.
In addition to these things, we also get to be a part of some other fun things in the city. Here’s a cool story Miguel had from one of our days out:
One afternoon we met up with another YWAM team that’s also here on outreach to worship together in a popular square called Plaka. It was really great; both teams were working together as if they had known each other for a long time. People around came closer to find out what we were doing. After a little while some of us got up and started to speak with the people around us. Dortje and I spotted a guy we wanted to talk to, but he got up from where he was sitting and left before we could even speak to him. We were disappointed that we had missed him, but that disappointment was short-lived because we spotted the man again sitting near to our group who was worshipping. We approached him and had a good conversation. He was feeling anxious and upset about something that had happened to him earlier that day. It seemed that he really needed someone to speak to, and we were there at the perfect time. He told us that he had wanted to go into the church that is at the square, but it was shut. So, he considered taking the tram home, but felt to sit down, drink his coke, have a smoke and then go home. That’s when we approached him. We mainly just listened to him. He was going through a bit of a rough time in his life, and all we really could do was to listen. At the end, we prayered for him and gave him some scriptures. He was really encouraged. He kept telling us for minutes how encouraged he was, how different he know felt after talking to us and that we should keep doing what we’re doing. Sometimes all that people need is someone who is willing to really listen to them.
It’s so rewarding to see how God touches the lives of the people we meet!
We have many more stories and we can’t wait to share them with you when we return home. Until then, keep praying for us and our last three weeks in Greece!
Alex, Dortje, Edel, Jake, Janik, Josien, Kevin, Lisanne, Miguel, Samantha & Susie.