Eurozone pressure comes to bear on Greece

By January 10, 2012

(MNN) — Germany warned this week that further bailout funds won't be coming
until Greece restructures its debt.

France added its voice, encouraging Greece to find a way to boost
growth and jobs against a backdrop of austerity and mounting funding tensions
in the Eurozone. Tasos Ioannidis with AMG International says time is running short. "The goal of the Greek
government is to complete the negotiations
for the restructuring of the Greek debt by the end of this week."

Austerity measures were wildly unpopular when they were first
introduced. However, as the crisis
deepened, the hope of a bailout became linked with even further cuts. "The
hope is through that restructuring and then through structural reforms taking
place, by reducing the size of government and
reducing the cost of labor in Greece, this will help the country
move forward."

Bankruptcy threatens to tip the first domino of countries
in the Eurozone.  As the scope of the
crisis became clear, the attitude of Greece's people changed. This week,  the Czech Central Bank Governor suggested Greece
withdraw from the Eurozone if they can't get debt under control. However,
Ioannidis says, "The overwhelming majority of Greek people do not want to
leave the Eurozone. More than 80% want to stay in the Eurozone, and they
say they are willing to do what it takes to remain in the Eurozone."

The financial
disaster hit AMG's St. Luke's Hospital in Thessaloniki especially hard. Since
the government couldn't meet its obligations, the hospital ran into a severe
cash flow and credit problem.   

It grew severe
enough last Fall to threaten the hospital's existence. However, the team did manage to free up some
funds and keep the doors open. Ioannidis
says, "The situation is holding steady,
basically. There are no new developments. The government continues to be slow
in paying its obligations for the insurance
that it provides for people in Greece. So it's a month-to month struggle to
meet our obligations to get the payments from the government."

The crisis in
Greece has helped the local believers in three major areas: first, fully trusting
God for their lives; second, depending on Him alone for daily needs; and
third, becoming more active vehicles of the message of hope with words and
deeds among their communities.

Ioannidis says, "As people have gotten more desperate, they
are looking for something to bring hope into their lives. The answer to that,
from our perspective is Christ. We see a lot more openness from the people who
come to St. Luke's to hearing about the Gospel."

A local church,
the Greek Evangelical Church in Thessaloniki is feeding more than 400 people every week,
and they have exhausted every single local source. They contact
AMG asking for help.

AMG's Fotis Romeos writes: "This is
true of many local churches all over Greece as they seek to share the Gospel
but at the same time serve the urgent needs of people in their
communities. "

Ioannidis says
not only that, churches are becoming more missions-minded. "A large group went to Tanzania providing
gifts for poor children in that African nation. In the midst of the crisis,
what we are seeing is that the local church is mobilizing to help people in
Greece but also reaching beyond the country of Greece and helping others
around the world."

It's the beginning of a year that promises challenges and
triumph. "Pray that the churches
would have the resources that they need as people come to them asking for help.
We need to pray that lives that have been touched through the team that has
gone to Tanzania will be impacted for the cause of the Gospel."

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