“Spathi, Skilo or Kardia?” That phrase will forever be burned in my mind. I asked it over and over in a park in Athens to the neighborhood kids of Neos Cosmos. My job was the balloon man and those are the three things I can make. “Sword, dog or heart?” I was there as a member of the youth mission team, sent to Greece to bare witness to and participate in what the Lord is doing in the great city of Athens.
The team, made up of eleven high school students and four adults, spent ten days working throughout the city. We had three primary focus areas; neighborhood festivals, refugees and victims of sex trafficking. The common denominator in each of these ministries was Argyris Petrou and his family, our newest missionary partnership. They are an incredible family that loves Jesus, His church and they desire to see the Kingdom grow in their city.
Our trip began with a visit to the historic sites of Athens and surrounding are. Led by Mark Petrou (the oldest son), we walked where Paul walked. It is truly amazing to read Acts 17 and 18 standing in the exact spot it took place.
Next we focused our attention on an area of the city that Eric Petrou runs, Center 68. It is an afterschool center that seeks to reach families with the gospel through activities, art classes, tutoring and bible studies. We participated in their summer Festival in the Park. Armed with sports equipment, face paint, balloons and music we drew a crowd of hundreds and spent hours in the park each night playing games and getting to know the neighbors. The fruit of Eric’s ministry was evidenced in the lives of the young adults who grew up coming to these festivals and are now the volunteers serving alongside Eric and being mentored by him.
THE HOUSE OF DEMARIS
The ladies on our team had the privilege of spending time at Dina Petrou’s ministry, the House of Demaris. It is a home for women who have been rescued out of sex trafficking. They had the chance to hear the heartbreaking stories of each of the residence and how the love of Jesus saved them from this wicked industry. Our team was able to equip the women at the home with the tools and the new skill of leather bracelet making. The goal is that this will be a source of income and fundraising for the home.
Finally, we saw first hand the refugee crisis in Greece. Through the efforts of Faros (or Lighthouse), those who are fleeing the horrors of war torn countries are being met with the light of the gospel. We spent most of our time at a day center for unaccompanied minors. In other words, a place for teenage boys (mostly Afghani), who fled their country without parents and with almost no personal belongings. Someone shared with a member of our team that we should not confuse what is happening with the simple idea that people are just fleeing their countries. She said that what is really happening is that God is breaking Islam. These boys have seen the ugly side of Islam and are now in a place to receive the wonder and beauty of Jesus.
In the end, our team was exhausted and joyful all at the same time. We are thankful for what the Lord is doing in Athens and grateful to have a short amount of time to be a part of it. Argyris Petrou and his family were fantastic hosts and a challenge to us all. Their heart for the Lord and willingness to serve together in ministry in so many different ways was such an encouragement.
Please join me in praying for their family, each of their ministries and the team of church planters working on the front lines in Athens.
Author: Rev. Wes Andrews