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Volunteer Friends & Refugee Update

Dear friends I just want to give an update on the circumstances here in Athens and about the Omonia refugee community.

One by one we saw our Spring and summer volunteer/ workers depart and going back to their homes taking with them a piece of our heart. The last one was the Chrissie Baldauff Koerber family. It as painful to see this family leave. In fact all of us wait for the Omonia building door to open and for the kids to rush in and Chrissie chase them…

God has been so generous and gracious to bring these wonderful people to us. We have all been changed forever because of our service to our Syrian, Afghan and Iraqui friends as well as meeting each other from the ends of the earth. Love does indeed heart! Right Richie?

We now have a very small volunteer worker team. We can remember when we had over 25 workers to accommodate half of the refugees we have now. So imagine how busy it is! Nevertheless, we have asked and included (in all levels of this ministry) our refugee families, and they are happy to work alongside us. Of course many are leaving to their next host country but again God brings new ones daily.

We have received the gift from God to see Sahar with her mother and father (Afghan family) commit their lives to Christ through confession and baptismal. Sahar does not use the wheelchair anymore. Her mother Roquaue is the one who goes around saying to everyone in the camp, skaramagas camp, and in the church that Jesus has healed her daughter. she asked permission last week to speak at our devotional. she gave a confession we rarely have heard about how God has revealed himselft to her and family through Jesus Christ and how she wants everyone, she had brought three new families from the camp covered in black, to know of her saviour and she went on and on and finally read a poem she wrote to Jesus. We have to put music to this because it would make the most wonderful Farsi hymn.

This woman knows the scriptures like few of us do. I started telling her about Mary Magdelene and how God honors women and holds us highly in His kingdom and she did not let me finish, she knew it by heart…she is the Afghan missionary we have been dreaming off. Seriously!!

As if all the above was not enough to make our hearts burst with joy, two more families have accepted Christ last week. The baptismal took place at the sea just down from our house in Glyfada. One couple, a widowed mother and her senior daughter received Christ just as the sun was setting that evening.

As most of you know we did sow the seed but personally I did not have expectations of seeing what is happening right now at Omonia. We do live the dream of seeing people accepting the gift of eternity and that of Jesus Christ.

Along with the joys and as we get closer and closer with most of the families we are inevitable part of the solution of the problems they face. Most of you know Manhal and Tala. Tala is three less than two months pregnant and has been staying in the same apartment with a new Syrian family, the little boy Ali broke out with chickenpox. Most of the day yesterday was spent on the phone securing a place for Manhal and Tala so they could escape the chicken pox. We have rented an apartment for them for a week.

Almost immediately, Saif, Zina and Dania the most wonderful family God has sent to us with got attacked and hit by the the family they were sharing an apartment with. Those other people pulled a knife and threatened Saif they would kill them if they come back. So they spent the night with Hoosam and Noor.

Most of today has been spent talking with Praxis (the NGO responsible for them and their apartment). Praxis don’t accept that they are in danger, which means when we return from our “vacation” we will have to help Saif report this to the authorities and the proper channels. For now we have booked a room in one of the nearby inexpensive hotels, The Albion hotel, to keep them there safe for a week. We really do not know what we will do later but God does and we will rest at His will and provision.

When we get close, as close as we have, to these families and tell them we love them, then we need to get involved in the problems they face.

So for now, both families are safe and have some at peace after all yesterday’s confusion and turmoil. We keep assuring them that will not leave them alone and we will take them into our home if we have to.

Please continue to hold them in your prayers hourly. If you can be of help, please let us know.

Lastly I want to mention my friend Tania. Tania and I grew up together since we were 12 yrs od. Mind you, we are 57 now! She lives in Paris and is married to a wonderful French man and has two grown up sons. she comes every summer and spends several weeks here in Glyfada, close to our home. You know the big Greek fat arrangement! Several floors where the extended family resides.

Tania was curious to see out work at Omonia and she came along to see for the first time. Well! She was so stuck by the work that she kept coming to every service day we had. As well as the fact that she is extremely intelligent with a PhD in something I do not even know to pronounce! (Biology… genetics and something else!) she has the heart of a servant. She has worked tirelessly in the kitchen, visiting, loving our people, and teaching French to those who are going to be relocated in France. In particular her best student has been Lulu from Syria and Nargiss from Afghanistan who will eventually end up in France as they have received asylum there. .

It makes me dizzy to realize how God has brought His people from all corners of the world to serve His people who are in need. God has heard the voices of His people and has brought all of us to feed them, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Isaiah answered the call….It is I Lord, sent me Lord and so many of you have precisely answered the call. May God continue to bless your lives with the richest of the Heavenly blessings and some day bring you back to us.

Remember all that is happening at Omonia is not our idea, it is God’s idea. We just happened to be listening when He was calling you and us.

I cannot wait for Lizzie Goddard (SGI) to come back and organize my life a bit. I should not promise but I will try if at all possible to write each week a small update of how God is working and we can all regardless of the distance be united in prayer.

Our dearest Angie and David Thomas have heard our cry for help and are responding. Angie is arriving next week and David a few days later. The total duration of their stay will be a month.

Our dearest friends Judy and Danny Reed have arrived from Dallas Texas to teach conversational English with the Let’s Start Talking (LST) program.

A very special thank you to all of the following:

  • Acts of Mercy friends who recently left. Michael, and Leslie Nicosia, Peter, Hannah Williams, Sarah and Diana who worked with us throughout the summer and loved the refugee families and us like their own. We will always remember you wonderful acts of Mercy team. Thank you for your amazingly generous hearts. You know very well we could not have done it without you!!!
  • Youth with a Mission (YWAM) team led by Kelsie and Hannah Katherine Harbin. there was an immediate bond of love that tied us together. We loved all these young people and was painful to see them all go to their next calling
  • Samaritan’s purse under the direction of Thanos Xaralampidis and Sara we have received a large amount of supplies for our refugee families. Thank you Thanos it is wonderful to work with our Greek Christian friends.
  • Operation mobilisation (OM) under the direction of Vasilis and Sara. They have been sending us helpers as well as some supplies and lately paid the hotel bill for a Syrian family with three children, the youngest of whom was half burned from a barrel bomb. The girl has damage to one side of her head, hand and a deformed left leg. She cannot walk or speak and can only she was left without oxygen for too long which resulted in brain damage. This poor family needed a place to stay and OM was more than generous to cover the bill for that week.

Please keep in your prayers Sezar, his personal life, as well as his ministry at Omonia being an amazing cook. Also Joseph, our Egyptian brother, who translates for us. He now has some hours of paid work which will help support his family with Caritas organisation.

Please keep close to your heart Sanam and her aunty and families. The third family where the son was Dawar has finally deported themselves back to Afghanistan. Their dream of moving to the west was very dim and their stamina all gone. We were very sorry to see them go but again we promised to keep in touch and in fact to send some help since they had spent all their savings for the journey from Kabul to Greece and duing the five months they stayed here.

Ok, I should have warned you about the size of this update but it has been on waiting list in my head and heart for a while. Let’s keep in touch and pray for each other and all the people God has sent to us.

The size of the distance that separates us does not and cannot define the amazing love we have for each other. In fact the distance fuels it and we are longing one day for our Heavenly reunion.

Finally we want to again say how much we need help. We need teams of volunteer/workers in the spring and in the summer of 2017.

We also wish to communicate the need for specific items probably a container to be shipped with the following:

  • Wheel chairs (sport kind light)
  • Crutches (4 pairs) adjustable
  • Hygiene toiletries, such as shaving foam and razor blades, women’s pads, baby wipes
  • Baby Strollers
  • Travel cots / Moses baskets
  • High chairs / Low chairs
  • Baby bottles and related items
  • Formula milk
  • Diapers / Nappies sizes 2-5
  • Car seats
  • Stuffed animals /Toys / Balls
  • Bible coloring books
  • Unlocked used smartphones
  • Blankets / Towels
  • Winter jackets, women, men and children
  • Sports shoes for children, men and women
  • Clothes, men, women, children and infants
  • Underwear, socks and T-shirts for all ages
  • Folding camping beds
  • Backpacks for school
  • Travel luggage all sizes are fine