Since the beginning of 2016, a tsunami of oppression and terrorism has swept over countries like Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. Our lives at every level have been changed forever; they will never be the same. Thank God we have grown closer to His heart like never before. As this is His work – and not ours, by any means – we are freely poured out every day as vessels of His love, compassion and grace to our new refugee friends who came to our city – and Greece in general. These refugees have been walking endless miles through two or three countries, before they sailed for the Greek Islands in small rubber boats, totally unfit for the purpose. Their life continued in horrible circumstances as they lived in tents, desperately looking for a refuge.
God has used the Omonia Church in many ways – to touch their lives from a physical aspect, to an emotional view – and finally meet their spiritual needs. These refugees could not have done to us a bigger favor! We did not have to go their way. They came our way! We have watched God walk among them – and among us – in a visible way; we have watched God reveal Himself to them in a way we have not witnessed before. We thank God as He allows this opportunity to us; we thank God for pouring grace through His presence and we are forever grateful to our refugee friends for their kindness, patience and resilience – very important lessons to us.
Dear friends, sisters and brothers, followers of Jesus from around the world, thank you for pausing and for getting off your most beautiful daily life schedule, to come to Greece and offer a helping hand – a kind and companionate voice to the voiceless and a source of defense to the defenseless (or defenceless) – just as our calling mandates as Christians. Thank you, dear volunteer workers from virtually every corner of the world – Australia, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, India, Hong Kong, Paraguay, Argentina, the U.K., Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Canada; to name but a few! You travelled quite a distance to join a small Christian community in Athens and work very hard – staying up late, waking up really early, teaching, cleaning, playing, cooking, listening, crying, laughing, eating, walking in the heat, walking in the cold. You became a very tight “fist” of solidarity with our refugee friends – and us watching what a horrible war is able to do; also watching what God’s love can do! Love is the antidote to life, to an earthly and painful life. Without love this earthly life poisons slowly but steadily until it kills… Life not shared with is a life stolen…
Hundreds of families have passed through the Omonia Church door in 2016. Only since last September we have seen more than forty-five families receive asylum in West Europe. We miss them all and keep in constant touch with their new lives.
However, there are three couples we have lovingly and sincerely “adopted”; two couples in the host countries of Lithuania and Portugal and one in Greece for a few more days; they are ready to be relocated in Norway. They are “adopted” not in papers, but in the most important way – deep in our hearts. We miss them painfully, like we miss our own children. We consider them as our own children! Our God has done an amazing work in their hearts and lives.
Danae will visit the couple in Portugal, flying on Friday from London to Barcelona, as they will deliver their second child. We indeed claim them as our own and we have no way of expressing our gratitude to God for having brought these kids to our lives.
Please do not miss out on these amazing blessings. Just reach out and … who knows who you will end up with!
This year has found us filled with God’s presence like never before. Happier, closer to God’s heart and closer to each other – because of these families. There is a “live” network established among the families who have moved. The do not need us anymore; we do not feed or clothe them anymore, but not a single day goes by without receiving video phone calls and messages. Their first question is: “How is the Church going, mama Eleni?” This is Eleni’s new “job description” for practical reasons, as they know who mama is – an important reference figure in virtually every family.
Lord willing, Eleni will fly to Belgium in March to hold the child expected by another couple who we have come very close with. We have been notified last November: “Eleni has to visit us and hold her granddaughter. Her name will be Elenitsa.” (little Eleni).
There is more information in a blog we are now working on, about our lives with the refugee families served at Omonia. For now we wish to communicate with you just a well-knows secret – that God is working among the nations – and among His people. He is calling us out of our agendas and into every area of life and work that He will find fit for us – a life of purpose and service, as helping hands to our neighbor. “Love your neighbor as yourself”- God’s second most important command. It is not an option. It is a mandate!