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
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
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
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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