Greece (MNN) — Two days of violent protests this week brought
Greece to a standstill. Fotis Romeos with AMG
International says, "Mass transportation is down, public
services are closed, [and]banks. Regular lifestyle has been stressed
Thousands gathered outside the Greek parliament, even as
legislators face an unpopular vote on austerity measures needed to secure
continued payment of international rescue loans. These measures are what have prevented
the country from sliding into bankruptcy.
Protests are expected to continue as Greeks object to
measures that cut public-sector jobs and wages, slash pensions for high income
earners, and enact taxes. However, Greece faces default on its $473 billion debt,
double-digit unemployment, and a fast-falling Gross Domestic Product.
There are also broader concerns that Greece's economic
problems will spread to other troubled European nations. Public morale has suffered irreparable harm. Romeos agrees, "The spirit of people is
down," but he notes the bright side of the situation. "On the other hand, the spirit of believers
is up because we have hope that we want to proclaim to people. We're excited that we see people so
interested in spiritual matters."
While AMG has a diverse outreach throughout the country,
their main ministry outlet is St. Luke's Hospital in Thessaloniki. The crisis has taken its toll there, too. "St.
Luke's has been tremendously affected because we depend on the payments of the
governmental insurances for the medical services rendered at the hospital. The government does not pay regularly; it
pays very little of what we have offered to our patients, so that has created
tremendous pressure on the operation of the hospital."
Even as the hospital fights to keep its doors open, they're
not going the way of most of the public hospitals. "We have a very big number of patients
filling up our beds because sickness doesn't stop because of the financial
crisis. We have a challenge there, and we're trying to have this ministry open,
proclaiming some hope for the people; we're trying to serve their physical
needs as well."
As a result of their dedication to serving the physical and
spiritual needs of those they help, Romeos says, "We see many people
coming to the churches. We see that people are more open to hear about the
Gospel, what we have to say as Christians. We see a tremendous unity among the
church family, among the church leaders here in the evangelical community of
Greece." What that means is
encouraging to the ministry leaders. "So,
we see that the debt crisis won't become an obstacle for the advancement of the
kingdom of God. It might become a great opportunity."
There is no easy solution to the debt crisis in Greece or
the repercussions that will be felt throughout the Eurozone. Through it all, God is sovereign. "Be praying for wisdom. Be praying for physical strength. Be praying for God's intervention because we
believe that God has full control of this situation. There is no surprising Him."