Greece (MNN) — Greece is in serious trouble…again.
The ratings agency Standard & Poor's believes there is a
one-in-three chance Greece will leave the Euro Zone soon. Tasos Ioannidis with AMG International says that could be a disastrous move. "If Greece left the
Euro Zone, it would have to go to a national currency that would immediately
devalue. The best estimates are that the
buying power of the new currency would be reduced immediately by
Greece is set to hold an election on June 17 because the country's
fractured political parties couldn't form a working coalition last
month. A seeming majority of the parties on the June
ballot oppose the austerity terms of Greece's bailout program from the
International Monetary Fund.
Pulling out of the Euro Zone could cause trauma to the other
countries connected, but staying in hurts. Ioannidis says it's kind of like being forced to pick your poison.
"There is no easy way out for the Greek people. They have suffered a lot in the last few
years. They are in the fifth year of a
recession. They have seen their salaries
go down. Unemployment is higher than 23% right now, so there is a lot of
The financial lifeline is fraying, but there seem to be no
choices that people can embrace. "The living standards of Greeks would go
down even further, and they would suffer more than they are suffering right
now." Ioannidis says the few who remain
in the working sector have seen wage cuts and increased taxes.
All of this means more people will be needing help than ever
before. AMG coworkers
have been ministering to people in need by any means possible, says Ioannidis. "The need
will be even greater if Greece exits the Euro Zone. So, we have been trying to
secure funds and then taking measures to minimize expenses and be as prepared
as possible for the situation that arises."
For AMG's other outreach, St. Luke's
Hospital, in Thessaloniki, roughly 2,000 people each month are admitted and
experience God's love in word and deed. That ministry continues, despite the
cash flow difficulties resulting from the government insurance failures to pay
on a timely basis.
The silver lining, Ioannidis adds, is that "it's also opening
up ministry opportunities because people are more responsive to the message of the Gospel. So it's more
stressful, yet at the same time, there is more opportunity for ministry."
Since the economic conditions have been really spiraling downhill
over the last three years, the strain on
the missionaries has been increasing. However, they're finding that ministry opportunities are also emerging. "The churches are helping people who are
in need in various ways. There is an effort underway to increase the aid
that's provided, expecting that this fall will be the greatest need
that we are going to see."
For example, AMG shares two stories of what's happening to
families who have been affected by the crisis.
John and Mary (not their real names) are one such family.
They are a lovely couple with three children. John had been working in the
private sector for a company, and Mary had been teaching in a private school.
Both lost their jobs because of the crisis. They had been depending on the
unemployment allowance provided by the government, which is only good for one
year. That was terminated six months ago, so there is no income for the family.
The bank is threatening foreclosure on their
home, and John was recently diagnosed with leukemia. He has been in a public
hospital for many weeks, undergoing chemotherapy and fighting for his life. He
feels so alone, discouraged and sometimes angry because he cannot do anything
to support his family. Fortunately, their three children stay with the elderly
grandmother, and church people provide food for them. This is the only help
they have for staying alive. Tragically, stories like this are extremely
prevalent during the current crisis, with no end in sight.
Chris (also not his real name) is a
Bible-believing Christian in his early fifties and a successful businessman in
the area of aluminum frames. In recent years, the construction business in
Greece has been going downhill. There are more than 300,000 unsold houses, and
thousands of construction workers have been left without work. His wife has
been working part-time for an insurance company.
and his wife had a comfortable life with their only son, who is in his early
teens, but now they cannot meet the mortgage payments on their apartment or
their business-related bills (health insurance, social security, etc.). They do
not have any business, but the bills continue to pile up.
of our co-workers in Athens received a phone call from Chris a few months ago
asking him to announce to the church family that their only car must be sold so
they can keep their heads above water for the time being. Even the car has
remained unsold for the last six months. Their home soon may be in jeopardy.
Chris is preparing to immigrate to the United Kingdom to look for work. Once he
is settled, he will send for his family.
Aside from the obvious physical needs and resources the team is
asking for, the ministry team wants people to "pray particularly for
emotional strength as they deal with the daily needs, for wisdom, and for the
decisions that need to be made. Pray that God will provide the resources that
are needed, to provide the help that is needed."
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