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DATELINE: NORTHERN GREECE—These are turbulent financial times for the Greek people, but a group of 323 volunteers from 22 countries around the world (including 14 members of a Wheaton Bible Church GO Team), have spent the past seven days bringing good news to the people of northern Greece.
Together they have distributed 126,207 Bibles in modern Greek. In addition, each New Testament included an audio MP3 version of the Greek NT and a challenging personal testimony from a Thessalonian Greek who came to Christ after overcoming his addiction to gambling. The volunteers covered a distance of 67,947 km and visited a total of 519 villages in Northern Greece.
This may well prove to be the biggest evangelistic effort in Greece’s history. WBC missionary, Johnathan Macris, who is president of Hellenic Ministries, was elated at the opportunity of reaching so many people who would not ordinarily come into contact with the Gospel.
“As in the parable of the sower,” he said, “we realize that much of the seed will fall on hard and unresponsive ground, and some will fail to take root, while others will be choked before it can make any real progress. Nevertheless, we are confident that the Word that is being spread is ‘alive and powerful.’“ (Hebrews 4:12). It is like a hammer that breaks the hard rock of tradition and indifference and draws people into a new spiritual dimension.”
A significant happening during the week was the visit of the local Bishop of Alexandroupolis to bring a message of greeting and solidarity. He received warm applause from the volunteers when he declared, “the problems of Greece are not economic but the absence of the Holy Spirit.”
His support was particularly meaningful because the Greek Orthodox Holy Synod had previously condemned the project and the Hellenic Ministries organization as ‘deceitful and heretical’ and had warned its faithful followers to steer clear of their activities.
Johnathan Macris invites us to pray for the Greek nation, and specifically that this project would be the catalyst lifting the gloom for thousands of Greeks. He added, “The message of hope and peace and joy found in the Gospels has reached into the most depressed communities in tiny villages and towns throughout Northern Greece.”
As the week wore on, public awareness and curiosity intensified, including newspaper coverage, radio and TV interviews—even reaching across the border into Turkey, where awareness of the Bible distribution was significant.
“This sort of interest and positive coverage of an evangelical event are unprecedented in Greece,” Johnathan said. “You can’t help but wonder if God is doing something unique and momentous. Perhaps echoing the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland’” (Isaiah 43:19, NLT).
WBC Missionary to Ukraine Wally Kulakoff says he was “awestruck by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to distribute New Testaments and share the Gospel during the Euro 2012 soccer championship.
This massive sporting event brought a flood of athletes and fans to Kiev, capital of Ukraine, during the month of June and early July, setting the stage for Ukrainian believers to go into the streets, parks, and shopping centers where they could sit beside people, share the Gospel message, and give interested people the Word of God.
“Many responded,” Wally reports, with an average of 1,000 New Testaments being handed out each day and an average of 20 people a day coming to faith in Christ.
Let’s join him in praying for the tens of thousands of Ukrainians and others from across Europe who now have their own copy of the New Testament—that many will find their way to local churches where their faith will grow and transform their lives.
“God was faithful in helping us sow the seed,” Wally said. “We saw a harvest of people who accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior and took God’s Word home with them.”