What an amazing three weeks I had in Greece and other parts of Europe! Our team in Greece did a great job working hard to minister to everyone we met and we soaked in all the Biblical history as we walked the steps of Paul across this beautiful Mediterranean country.
We worked with 2 different churches in Athens, Samaria Church who ministers mostly to refugees from Afghanistan and Iran and the Greek Evangelical Church in Piraeus who focus on Greeks but also have an active ministry with refugees.
We’ve been in Samaria Church for many years now and it was amazing to see how God has grown this church. Pastor Philip is from South Korea and he has a growing staff of German missionaries who are assisting with the church. The Sunday we were there was their first Sunday to have small groups. Pastor Philip said that he had prayed and worked for over 20 years for the church to have small groups. He was understandably emotional as he introduced the 12 leaders who he had discipled to become small group leaders.
It was also in his church where we met a couple from Afghanistan. The husband had personally watched his entire family be executed by the Taliban. In the aftermath he suffered a heart attack and a stroke and had lost his speech and the ability to move his right arm. Our team was privileged to pray for him. At the end of our prayer time we were amazed to see him lift his right arm and repeatedly extend a grip with his hand!
Pastor Pavlos at the Greek Evangelical Church was a firecracker to meet! His energy and passion for reaching his community and growing his church was contagious. We loved meeting his church leaders and seeing the many people who came for a meal on Thursday afternoon. On that day, as Brock Gill offered an invitation at the end of his message the room was filled with raised hands. One senior adult couple in particular were sitting up front. Pastor Pavlos told me that his couple had come the past 2 weeks and the wife in particular was so excited to come to church. They came out of a Greek Orthodox background but as they came to the evangelical church they were in awe and overjoyed to hear the word of God preached. Pavlos said they were soaking up every word taught and couldn’t wait to come to the next service.
We also worked with Hellenic Ministries at a camp they were holding for refugee men. They had about 50 men at this remote camp site for the week and we were there on their first night of their camp. About half of the men were already believers but the other half were not yet followers of Christ. We had some great conversations and Brock presented a magic show and then the gospel. We saw several responses at the end of the night but the great news was that at the end of the week they baptized 8 new believers right there in the Aegean Sea!
The highlight of the trip is always when we get the local pastors and missionaries together for a meal and a time of blessing. We had about 17 pastors and other servants show up for dinner on Friday night as we sat beneath the Acropolis on a rooftop restaurant. Br
ock did a little show for them and then we spend time in prayer. Our team shared the night with the families and then prayed over them. We gave them gifts and cards of encouragement, many of which were written by you! It was a beautiful night to edify those who live everyday on the front lines of faith.
From Greece most of our team went home but Brock, his wife Auny, and I went on to Portugal to be with Troy and Michelle Pitney and Surf Church in Porto. We had an amazing weekend in this beautiful city on the Atlantic Ocean. At their Sunday evening service Surf Church was joined by two other church plants and we had about 150 people in what became a very cramped space. Three people responded to the gospel presentation that night. Troy said that is a big response in Portugal!
After saying good-bye to Brock and Auny who headed off to begin a 3 month sabbatical I went to London. I had lunch in London with a good friend, John Theuns, who was just about to accept a leadership position in a small church in London. He had every intent to ask me about bringing a group to help his church in 2019 but I beat him to the punch by asking first if he would like a group to come. So we agreed that I would put together a group to come do children’s and youth ministry at his church, and possibly at several others in the London area. Keep your eyes peeled for information about this trip in July 2019. If you are already interested let me know!
Next was Germany where I spent a few days with Marvin and Meagan Schaefer. They were such kind hosts and we had a great time together. I was able to share with their youth and young adult group on Thursday night and had a great time meeting them.
Then on to Finland and a weekend with Shaun Rossi and the United Community Church. Shaun is a church planter from New England who came to Finland and never went home. He has a great passion to reach Finland through the colleges. His church is laser focused on reaching the college campuses in Helsinki and the surrounding areas. With three different church campuses he stays busy and has some great support from other guys there like Daniel and his wife Kati. I preached three times on Sunday, once on each campus, at 10, 2, and 5! It was a great day and I really appreciated the great hospitality shown by Shaun and his entire team.
Many thanks to all those who prayed for us. God moved and blessed in many ways. I never cease to be amazed at how He puts people on the trip who need to be there and how He matches each team member to at least one person that they connect with in a meaningful way.