Ever-rising numbers of refugees and migrants, a smaller than 1% evangelical population and recent fires and floods make Athens, Greece, a city ripe for gospel outreach through compassion ministry.
More than 65 Serve Tour volunteers from 13 churches joined Greek local churches Sept. 8–16, to bring physical help and gospel hope to a diverse city. Serve Tour is an effort Send Relief, the compassion ministry of the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board.
Projects ranged from painting walls at a future community center, to distributing school supplies in underserved neighborhoods, to cleaning up lower-income areas. Each project helped local churches take their ministry outside of their walls and establish more influence and credibility within their neighborhoods.
Greece’s unique geographical location makes it a hub of various people groups, allowing Send Relief volunteers to minister to Greeks, North Africans, Ukrainians and the Romani people during their week in Athens.
“Our Greek leaders identified these projects and are leading our volunteers on the project sites,” said Jenny Wheeler, a director of the Athens Serve Tour. “This was an effort to align with them in the vision they have for their communities.”
During Saturday’s Opening Ceremony, Jason Cox, Send Relief vice president of international ministry, told volunteers, “We are here to serve local churches and come alongside them and engage in compassion ministries as we are working to fulfill the Great Commission which tells us to go and make disciples.”
Delivering food packages to Romani families
Working alongside a 110-year-old Greek church, Serve Tour Volunteers from Weems Creek Church in Maryland prepared and delivered 100 food packages to Romani families, a people group from northern India, with whom the local church already had relationships.
Some of the volunteers who were also nurses were able to conduct health seminars for the Romani women and gift them hygiene packs.
“We want to share the gospel; that’s really our number-one aim,” one project leader said. “At the same time, we want people to know that it’s not just words. We want to, where we can, meet a need and encourage them with a practical gift.”
Even though witnessing among the Romani can be slow work, the local Greek church has already seen Romani people come to Christ and become active members in their congregation because of the partnership with Send Relief. One of Send Relief’s ministry partners said, “We’re grateful to the Lord for this team that has come and blessed these folks, both spiritually and physically.”
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Learn more about Serve Tour stops in 2024 at servetour.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Anna Skurdarnova and originally published by the International Mission Board.