Greece (MNN) — Greece’s drift toward the abyss of default was slowed in the hours after missing a major payment on an International Monetary Fund bailout loan.
The immediate consequences were swift and painful. Credit agencies lowered the credit rating for Greece to junk bond status. It also lost access to the European bailout loans that have helped keep it solvent.
Despite rhetoric insisting they wouldn’t budge on accepting bailout terms, it was the threat of collapse that forced Greece to offer concessions to creditor demands for a new bailout package. Germany froze talks until the outcome of Sunday’s referendum is revealed. From Greece, Tasos Ioannidis with AMG International explains that the vote originally was to decide on accepting bailout terms. With that package no longer on the table, “It really is a vote of whether people want to stay in the Eurozone or exit the Eurozone and go on a different path. That is, in essence, what’s happening, according to what European leaders are saying.”
There are a few days before that question is put to vote. With banks closed, Ioannidis says, “Tourist agencies that operate out of the U.S. and who pay Greek tour operators, they’re not making the payments because part of the default process is that any assets that are due to Greece can be confiscated and be used for payment for the International Monetary Fund.”
That’s one version of the impact on small business. Another would be that “there are already shortages in Greece in some areas. There’s a shortage of medicine in hospitals. In businesses here, a lot of them are not accepting credit cards. They want payment in cash because the banks are closed and they cannot get payment.” The shuttered banks are constant reminders of the uncharted waters Greece is attempting to navigate. Ioannidis says, “People continue to hope that there will be some agreement to restore the situation to some ‘normalcy,’ but that is unlikely to happen until there is a referendum (that’s scheduled for this Sunday).”
Despite outside support, or maybe because of it, AMG missionaries are walking on the same path as everyone else. struggling with the impact of shortages and lack of cash. Ioannidis explains, “It is impossible to pay anybody, including anybody that is employed by ministries, because the banks are closed. So there are a lot of people that are not able to get any income or any money out of the banks.”
Foreign funds coming in require more paper work, but all that’s a moot point if you can’t access anything through the banks anyway. In the first few days, people are surviving on their cash reserves and what stores they have at home. However, warns Ioannidis, “Depending on how long this bank closure is and if there is a negative vote in the referendum that is taking place Sunday, there is a likelihood that the banks will stay closed through a much longer period of time.”
Formulating a response is premature since no one knows how to fund it. “Pray for wisdom for our workers, that God will intervene, and that He will protect His ministry and will continue to provide for an opportunity to show God’s love here.”
Ioannidis also asks that you would pray that their co-workers would have clear vision and confidence in God’s direction. “Pray that they will be able to share Christ’s love with people around them; that their needs will be provided for as they provide for the needs of others.”