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Athens Ministry Report- March, 2021

March, 2021

In response to the Corona virus, European countries are engaging in severe lockdowns. Travel is restricted, curfews are enforced, but God put in our hearts to go to Athens to minister to the Arabic speaking community. Many hundreds of people were praying, and God’s Spirit was powerfully present and active on our behalf- from the time we entered our respective airports enroute to Athens, until the time we arrived back to our homes.

Mohamad, the evangelist, was coming from Finland. Before the trip, we earnestly prayed that God would allow him to pass through customs. Against all odds, officials at the Helsinki airport let him board the flight to Athens, and the customs officials in Athens let him pass even though he had no paperwork stating he was essential for humanitarian work. (I had two such letters, and was grilled extensively at the Mytilene airport about why I was traveling to Athens.)

On Monday morning, the first small group was scheduled to come to our apartment. A lady who had been baptised in August brought two women who wanted to hear more about Jesus. One of them believed, while the other needed more time to think about it. This was the theme of the week. New believers would invite their friends and bring them to the Bible studies. I watched the newly invited folks carefully. Their eyes would light up as they heard about Jesus. Over and over, I saw the expression on their faces say, “This is the best thing I’ve ever heard!” Again and again they would ask if they could come back tomorrow.

The Sad Lady

She sat at the end of the couch, hardly looking up during the Bible study. As we all ate lunch, she remained in her seat, so we brought the food to her. She came back each day, looking so sad. On Wednesday, she brought her father. He seemed to enjoy the atmosphere of the crowded room. He participated in the Bible lesson and joined the lively discussion about Jesus talking to the woman at Jacob’s well. Even though he is Muslim, her father approved of a gathering focused on God, facilitated by people who really care.

When she returned on Thursday, her countenance was bright and smiling. I thought to myself that something big and good must have happened. Behind her, a bearded Muslim man entered the room. She had invited a friend. A beard that size identified the man as a serious follower of Islam. I was a little concerned. The lesson was the Prodigal, or lost son. The parable was told and then the hearers were asked to tell the parable to each other. The bearded man began to tell the story to a woman sitting next to him. Serious, smiling, and very animated, he told the story. He listened to others in the room answer questions about the meaning of the individuals in the parable. [At this point another man, born again on Monday, became angry and said the son should be killed for bringing such shame on the fathers house. Mohamad began talking him in off the ledge so to speak.] The bearded man said his heart was touched by this parable, especially by the response of the father. He said he was glad to hear this story. Then he asked if he could come back tomorrow. And thus begins his story of encountering Jesus. I don’t know how the bearded man’s story will end, but for 12 others that week, including the sad lady, the story reads- “and they believed.”


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