Saturday, November 5, 2011

Athens 10 day report back

Cindy and I were asked to lead a ten day outreach this semester. I am very grateful to our Lord for the opportunity and was blessed through doing so. We sought the Lord as to where He wanted us to lead a team on outreach, and we got a Word in Philippians 4:14 – 23. In this passage Paul mentioned Greece, and we just knew in our hearts that the Lord wanted us to go to Athens.

I made some mistakes during and before the outreach, but have learnt and grown through each one of them. There were various issues before and throughout the outreach. Some of them spiritual, others physical. At times, especially in the logistical planning for the trip, I felt anxious. Then the Lord gave me Philippians 4: 6 – 7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. I have learnt to memorise this verse and have engraved it on my heart. I will take this verse and truth with me wherever I go into my future ministry...

After announcing our outreach to Athens, we came under spiritual attack. It was almost immediate. A rock was thrown through a large window of one of my stores back home, my newborn went down with a chest infection for two weeks, there was an attempted burglary into our house on the castle property etc... I learnt to always overcome these attacks by putting on the armour of God and through constant prayer. ( Ephesians 6:11 ).

The outreach was difficult because there were strikes and riots in Athens during our outreach week. This added to stress levels and we had to constantly reschedule our itinerary. In the end we resorted to a day to day program. “Blessed are the flexible”.

There were cultural issues. The biggest was having to adjust to a new toiletry system. The Greeks do not flush used toilet paper. The trash removers were also on strike during the duration of our outreach, and the smell which resulted was interesting.

I grew personally in the area of leadership. I learnt to take the bull by the horns and run with it. There was a lot of planning, organising, leading and control for the outreach. I learnt to take care of man's basic needs: food, shelter, finance, transport, spiritual etc.

Although Athens sounded like the most exotic destination for this semester's outreach, the 9 days were not easy. We were all out of our comfort zones and the team had to learn to share one bathroom. This taught everyone to die to self, and be servants to one another.

The outreach presented evangelism opportunities. Our most fruitful day was one spent at a refugee centre called Helping Hands Ministries. The team got to serve and observe in many areas. The guys also got good opportunities to witness to men from Muslim backgrounds.The ladies did childcare and cooking and cleaning.  This created good inter-cultural exposure for the team. I was blessed with an opportunity to witness to an  old man from Sudan. I will continue to pray for the ministries and the people that we witnessed to. The ladies went for another day to Helping Hands which was a shower day for women and kids - they helped with kids ministry, cooking, cleaning and just serving. The guys went to help at a soup kitchen with Hellenic ministries one evening and were really blessed to help there. Some of the team got to help sort clothes for a ministry sending clothes to the needy in Bulgaria. We did prayer intercession for Athens from Mars Hill near the accropolis and did prayer walks in the areas where the missionaries stay.

We also got to spend a day in Corinth (book of Corinthians, ring a bell?) with our own tour guide , attended Calvary Chapel Athens mid week Bible study and Sunday service, spent a work day doing practical ministry, helped with a soup kitchen, blessed the missionaries with fellowship and ministered to and were ministered by our host, a local Christian Greek widow with a heart of gold.

Overall the outreach was a success and brought glory to God.

Amen.

2 comments:

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