Welcome to Acts 29 Ministries!
|Posted on April 4, 2009 at 3:54 PM||comments (707)|
(This journal is in blog format. Scroll down to the bottom to read the first entry)
We finally made it home. It took us two days to make a twelve hour trip. We were flying from Athens to London. Well, London had a record snowfall and Heathrow airport closed. Now we're not talking about a lot of snow - maybe 6-8 inches - but it was more than what they were used to and could handle.
I won't go into the boring story of hours of waiting and long lines. We spent Mon. night in Athens in a nice hotel compliments of British Airways. The next morning we actually left Athens and arrived at Heathrow. The sight that greeted us was one of confusion and chaos. There were thousands of people crowded into that airport. Some flights were going out but no flights were coming in. Since a flight from Chicago couldn't get in, there was no plane for us to leave on.
We arrived at Heathrow around noon. From that time until about 7:00 that night was spent waiting in lines, trying to find our luggage, trying to find a hotel, trying to rebook our flight. Again I won't bore you with all the details. We finally found our luggage so that we could clear customs so that we could go to the hotel that we had to find on our own. Once at the hotel we had to rebook our flight for the next day. We finally were able to get something to eat about 9:00 that night.
One bright spot in all of this was that we made some new friends. The husband and wife were flying from Greece to Chicago to visit their daughter and son-in-law and new grandbaby. The older lady was flying from Greece to Chicago to visit her son. God brought us all together so that we could help them through a very difficult and stressful time. It was a blessing to meet them.
When we did get on the plane we could all finally relax. That is probably the most difficult travel experience we have had. But we did meet some wonderful people. And British Airways treated us very well, for the conditions. If you ever fly to England give British Air a try.
When we arrived in Chicago our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter met us. Our ganddaughter wasn't feeling well and we discovered the next day that she had chicken pox. So I (Kay) stayed the next week with her as Linus was scheduled to go to Kent's in North Carolina.
Even after a difficult flight home, I still say this was the trip of a lifetime. Thanks for going with us through this journal. We are looking forward to what the Lord has planned for us in Greece.
|Posted on April 4, 2009 at 3:04 PM||comments (5748)|
We have had an exciting few days. We had the privilege of meeting Pastor Gail Stathis. She is the Senior Pastor of Glyfada Christian Center and the Executive Director of EME Ministries. Gail is our divine contact that we met through Nikos. Martha, our initial contact, is the administrator of the ministry and church.
Kay, Pastor Gail, Linus Linus and Martha
Let me give you some background on Pastor Gail. She has been in Greece for about 23 years. EME Ministries was founded in 1997. It is a mission resourcing agency enabling mission endeavors. It serves Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Learn more about EME by going to www.emeministries.org. Glyfada Christian Center is an outreach of the ministry. Brian vanDeventer is the Associate Pastor.
During the opportunities that we had to visit with Pastor Gail, she was a wealth of information. She has a real heart for the Greek people and desires to see revival in this country. She told us the even though Greece is considered a Christian nation, in reality less than 1 percent of the people are born-again. Greek Orthodox is the State religion, therefore the priests are paid by the State. There is little unity or cooperation among the pastors there who are not Greek Orthodox. Several ministerial associations have been started but then died out. The youth are disillusioned with the church today (sound familiar?). It is against the law to try to convert someone to Christianity who is under 18 years of age. There were several more things she shared with us. Greece truly is a mission field.
We attended Glyfada Christian Center this morning. We thoroughly enjoyed the service and the people. Pastor Gail led praise and worship, did the teaching, and prayed for people after the service. Pastor Brian was out of the country. Martha translated the service from English into Greek. It was a well attended service this morning.
Friday evening Seth and Amber were able to meet with Niki who is in charge of the youth at the church. They had a great time exchanging ideas and sharing vision. I think they were able to encourage each other. This evening Pastor Gail came over to the hotel (after her busy day) and visited with us some more. Afterward she took Seth and Amber to a Greek coffee shop and they visited.
We pray that this encounter will grow into a mutual relationship. We admire what Pastor Gail has done and is doing here in Greece. She has endured many hardships. We know there is a lot more we can learn from her. We believe we can help the effort here and add another dimension by training leaders so they can plant churches across this nation. This is going to be exciting!
Time for bed. Tomorrow begins our journey home. Kent, Seth, Amber, and Eve have to leave the hotel at 2:00 a.m. and we want to be up to see them off. Then we have to leave at 6:00 a.m.
THIS HAS BEEN AN AWESOME TRIP!!!
|Posted on March 19, 2009 at 5:57 PM||comments (126)|
Yes! we made it to Athens, but not without a few adventures. We had no major problems with roadblocks - God got us through. Thank You, Father! We did great until we got to Athens. We were trying to find the south suburb of Glyfada. In our search we got separated from each other. Linus and his car went one direction and we in the other car kept going straight.
After overcoming the first feelings of panic we decided to pull off the road and pray and wait. We had walkie-talkies, but their range went only so far. After about an hour, we hooked up again only to get separated again. God brought us back together again for the second time and we headed in what we hoped was the right direction.
We finally found Glyfada but in trying to find the hotel we found ourselves separated again. Here's a trivia question: How many times can Americans get lost in Athens and God rescue them? Answer: As many times as they need rescuing - in this case, three.
We made it to the hotel where reservations had already been made for us by our divine contacts that Nikos introduced us to, a.k.a.. Martha. We were so thankful because we were very tired after our "Lost" adventures.
You will never be bored on a mission trip with Acts 29 Ministries!
|Posted on March 18, 2009 at 5:58 PM||comments (72)|
We left at 6:45 a.m. so that we could get out of town before the roadblocks were set up. We got through without any trouble but we arrived at Ancient Philippi so early that it wasn't open yet. So we decided to go into a nearby town to see if we could find some coffee (and tea). We found a nice place open which was a gathering place for the locals. There were several older men there who didn't speak English but they were friendly and motioned us to come in and join them. The owner understood coffee and chai (tea) so we got our drinks and enjoyed the local company.
Side note: one thing that is hard to get used to is all the cigarette smoke in the buildings. I think just about everyone that is considered to be of adult age smokes. I didn't realize how much I had gotten used to clean air in public places in the U.S.
The ancient city of Philippi covers a large area. They have uncovered only a small portion of it. Acts 16:12 tells us that Philippi was a foremost city of that part of Macedonia. We also know that the church in Philippi was the first one in that country. We saw so many wonderful things, it would be hard (maybe even a little boring) to tell it all, so we'll go with the highlights.
The first one would be Paul's jail cell. The pictures below show you what it looks like today but Acts 16:24 tells us that Paul and Silas were put into the inner prison. As you can see, it was just a hole in the ground - no windows, no light, no room, no facilities. As I (Kay) stood there I thougt about the events that occured on that spot. Paul and Silas suffering from their beating; the same men singing praises to God; a jailer almost killing himself; an earthquake; a jailer and his household being born-again. What were only words on a page came to life. Looking over those ruins and imagining the other prisoners that were there and what they were hearing - awesome!
We spent two or three hours wandering through the ruins, reading the Bible about what happened here, and imagining what it must have looked like. I came to the brilliant conclusion that Paul did not lead an easy life. It made me reevaluate my commitment to the Gospel. (You can see more pictures of Ancient Philippi in our Photo Gallery)
The next highlight is going to the river where Lydia was baptized. You can read about it in Acts 16:13-15. The Greeks have made this a shrine. The spot is very pretty and tranquil. (See the pictures below) They have built a Greek Orthodox church to Lydia and there are still many baptisims done here. The team spent over an hour at this spot. We read from Acts 16 about what happened here then we each shared our favorite verse from Philippians. Then we went off by ourselves to have some quiet time with God. It was a special time.
After getting back to the hotel we have a decision to make - whether to go to Athens tomorrow or wait a day. The farmer strike, with their roadblocks, has created traveling havoc. Sophia is telling us it could take two days to get there (it's normally a 4-6 hour trip). We decide we are going to get an early start and trust God to remove the blocks or get us through them.
|Posted on March 17, 2009 at 5:37 PM||comments (123)|
We made it through tractor roadblocks and detours and arrived in the seaport town of Kavala. Kavala is the name of the ancient city of Neapolis where Paul landed on his way to Philippi (Acts 16:11,12). Again it's so awesome to be able to read in the Bible about a particular event or place and be standing in that spot.
There aren't too many hotels open during the winter time. They are closed for renovations. But God had one picked out for us - there was a young lady at the Villa Nickolas that He wanted us to meet. Her name is Sophia and she's a university student in Thessoloniki. After we got settled in our rooms we all went down to the lobby to play a (friendly) game of 'spoons'. Sophia watched us play then decided she wanted to learn. So we had fun teaching her and we even let her win a few times.
|Posted on January 23, 2009 at 6:05 PM||comments (537)|
Just had to add this entry. We went to Ancient Korinthos for a last meal at Nikos'. As we were visiting, we asked him if he knew of a certain church in Korinthos that we had heard about. He knew of the church but didn't know the people. But he said he did know some people near Athens that had a church. He had the number and called them right then. Kent talked to a lady named Martha. She gave us the location, telephone number, and service times for the church. We're excited about this contact. It's like I always say - one door leads to another. This is God!
Nikos in his restaurant with Linus & Kay. Nikos' orange trees and vineyard.
|Posted on January 19, 2009 at 2:04 PM||comments (368)|
Today was bright and beautiful. After breakfast, devotions, and a teaching, our goal was to find Ancient Korinthos. We headed in the right direction, got a little lost in one of the towns, but actually stopped to get directions - in Greek. We did a lot of hand motions, but ended up in the right place. Unfortunantely, we didn't get there until around 2:30 p.m. and because it's off season, all the tourist attractions close at 3:00.
We did take a beautiful drive up a mountain to a fortress called Acro Korinth. It was massive stone walls and buildings sitting on what seemed like the top of the world. You could see out over Korinthos to the Gulf of Korinth - absoutly breathtaking! But of course it was closed but we got some great pictures. Tomorrow we'll get an early start and spend the whole day seeing the places where Paul was in Korinthos.
We did have a divine appointment today. We found a great resturant to eat at owned by a man named Nikos. The food was great, the place was great, and Nikos was fun to talk to. (In the next few days we'll be spending more time with Nikos.) I think this is the first Greek food anyone on the team has had.
By the way, I should introduce the team: Kent Coates is a very good friend from Raleigh, NC; Amber Bryant and Seth Coleman are the youngsters of the team from King, NC; Eve Geninthal is a new friend from Kansas City, MO. So far this team has been awesome. Looking forward to the next serveral days with them.
Back to the Greek food - it's really great! So far we've had pastitos, lamb, mousaka, some kind of sausage, and Linus' new favorite food - suvlaki. Nikos treated us to fresh-picked oranges from his orchard. He said the next time we come, he'll take us to pick our own.
Today's highlight was standing at the Bema where Paul was judged. In Acts 18:12-17 it tells the account of the Jews bringing Paul before Gallio. The Jews said, "This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law." The thing that impressed me (Kay) is that Paul could come into a city where idol worship was so entrenched and with conviction and authority speak the truth of God's grace. We saw the ruins of the Temple of Apollo towering over the city, a very dominate presence looming over the city. The temples to the gods were always in a high place - highly visible. Even in the face of that influence Paul brought the "new" gospel to the people.
Food for thought: what influences are there in our lives that would keep us from speaking the truth about God's love for us and Jesus' gift to us?
|Posted on January 16, 2009 at 7:30 PM||comments (658)|
So begins our adventure and history in the making for Acts 29 Ministries. This is the first step in fulfilling the instructions God gave in June, 2008.
Our first full day in Greece. We braved it and took a bus and the metro into downtown Athens. We made it with very little trouble. Linus is an excellent navigator. We got off at the Acropolis. What an amazing sight! We walked around the base of it. Near it was another hill with old, worn, well-polished steps going up. I wanted to use those rather than the modern steps that had been installed for convenience and safety. When we got to the top of this rocky hill you could look out over Athens; buildings went as far as you could see in three directions, with the Parthenon on our right. It was breathtaking.
When we climbed back down and read the sign about the hill, we discovered we had been standing on Mars Hill where Paul preached to the Athenians. When we found that out we had to go back up. Standing where Paul had stood, looking out over this huge city, knowing what Paul had done there - it was beyond words. We actually stood where we had only read about. It brings new life to the Word. What a privilege - what a blessing!