St. Luke's Hospital, Thessalonica, Greece.
Greece (MNN) ― Greece was pushed to the brink of insolvency earlier this year.
The country was faced with a huge government deficit because of years of overspending. The International Monetary Fund stepped in to provide an economic rescue package, embarking on a 3-year plan to stabilize the economy.
In the meantime, the government was warned it needed to do more to restore long-term economic health. It responded by making drastic cuts in government spending.
Tasos Ioannidis with AMG International says, "A lot of people are losing their jobs. To give you an idea, last year unemployment was 9.5%; this year, it has jumped to 11.6%, and the forecast is 14.5% for 2012."
While this move should help economies to grow in the long run, the pain of the cuts is felt in slow growth and high unemployment. "The hope is that over the next two years, the situation will reverse and there will be more development and the economy will start to grow again. But things are looking pretty grim for the next year as well."
Others who have their jobs have seen their salaries go down, but even as Greece attempts to stabilize the economy, the deficit continues to increase. The impact has been devastating. Ioanidis says, "The number of people who are looking for help from churches, even for basic things such as meals, has increased. So, the churches are taking an active role, and AMG is also active in the facilitating outreach for churches."
The economic problems affect the Christian community, in general, but people continue to sacrificially support ministries like the AMG partners. Tough reforms mean Greece is reeling from the short-term impact.
Cutbacks to government insurance coverage have been crippling St. Luke's Hospital in Thessalonica, too. Ioannidis explains another facet of economic malaise this reveals. "We are faced with the challenge of having to take more people while we are seeing the government be very slow in paying for the services that St. Luke's provides for the people that are insured by the government. That is creating a serious cash flow crisis for us."
35 years ago, the leadership of AMG wanted to establish a medical center in northern Greece that would offer a successful combination of modern medical treatment and a spiritual approach to the sick. Their mission hasn't changed, despite the economic conditions.
Ioannidis says, "The ministry of AMG needs people to pray for it, for our coworkers, to give them strength and wisdom as they deal with the financial crisis, as they seek to minister to people. This is a great opportunity to show the love of Christ in word and deed and draw people to Christ."
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