Greece has been in the middle of a financial catastrophe. Unemployment has hit 40 percent. People are angry. Demonstrations happen weekly. Businesses can’t afford to pay rent or stay open. Even still, in a country of 10 million people, nearly 1 million refugees have entered the country, fleeing Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries in hopes of finding something better.
These refugees have left their homes, relatives, jobs and everything they know. Oftentimes families end up in different camps and countries, or they live outside in parks without any shelter or rights. Recently, Feeding The Nation’s (FTN) Finland office sent a team to Greece to feed some of these displaced families.
“Living in the street with four little children seems to be impossible, but unfortunately it is a reality for many in Athens,” said Paivi, FTN’s director in Finland. “You could see fear and hopelessness on their faces. One young man told me that he met pastor Philip in the park. ‘I liked what he said and I was very impressed of what he was doing. I have peace now and I am not afraid any more. Jesus is my Lord, I read the Bible every day and I like to pray,’ he said. He found Jesus three years ago and helps eagerly in the kitchen.”
FTN has been feeding 500-600 refugees weekly since the beginning of the year. Each time food is given, the Gospel is shared. “It was good to see how these Christian Afghanistan people welcomed everyone warmly, talked to them, listened to their worries,” Paivi said. “All of these people are Muslims and all the young men who I talked to told me their families had abandoned them because they had converted to Christianity. They surely pay a high price for their faith.”
While there, Paivi and the other team members worked with pastor Philip who has been a missionary in Greece for 24 years. “Refugees are often treated badly, and that’s why we want to treat them with respect and love and also give them good, tasty food,” he said. “God loves them and every one is precious to God.”
God does care for each and every person. We give thanks for Paivi, her team, Philip and everyone else who has made these feeding missions possible. Lives are being changed because of them. People are turning to God, even at the risk of losing their families. That is indeed a high price for their faith.