Late Monday night I returned from a five-day trip to Athens, Greece with Darren Carlson, the president of Training Leaders International. We went to find out what’s going on with the migrant church in the city and discover what, if any, ways TLI can serve the evangelicals in the city.
In no particular order, here are some things I took away from the trip.
- Although most people estimate there are 25,000 evangelicals in Greece, the number is probably closer to about 15,000. Which means there are about as many evangelicals in my city of McKinney, TX as there are in all of Greece. Great commission alert.
- The refugee crisis has created a unique situation for the evangelical churches in the city. On average, 4,000-5,000 refugees are currently arriving in Athens each day (the city function like a major way station for these people into the EU). Those churches and ministries seeking to serve the migrants are facing the great challenge named, “Incredibly fluid.” Rather than staying many months in the city, provided evangelicals for an opportunity to evangelize and disciple, these refugees are in and out in just a few days.
- Ministry to the Persians in Athens seems uniquely blessed of God at this time.
- Pastor Giotis Kantartzis is the real deal. He’s the pastor of First Evangelical Greek Church in Athens and I’ve heard him called, “The Tim Keller of the Balkans.” The description seems most appropriate to me.
- We must thank God often for the unknown missionaries doing God’s work among the nations. We met with one missionary whose missionary career reads like a CIA novel—seriously. He’s known spies, threats, and death for many years.
- Unity among the missionaries and churches is something we should pray for. It’s easy for each ministry to be innately skeptical of all others.
- Living in a urban European environment never attracted me when I used to travel all the time for soccer. It still doesn’t.
- The walk up to Mars Hill and the Acropolis is much more a hike than you’d think. I have new perspective on Acts 17:16-34.
- Gyros are awesome.
- Encouraging pastors is a most noble and necessary task. How tempting it is for gospel ministers in Athens to look at their flock (usually only a few dozen people, who don’t stay in the city long) and fall into despair. Pray for them to know the comfort of Christ.
- If my observation is true, it seems children are kept to a minimum in the average Greek family. I was reminded afresh how Christians all over the world need to rediscover, with wisdom of course, the joy of Genesis 1:28.