Greece (MNN) — In October 2010, Tasos Ioannidis with AMG International told Mission Network News that unemployment was forecast to be at 14.5 percent in Greece by 2012.
Just five months later, the unemployment rate has already shot past the projected point for 2012. Clearly spiraling faster than anyone could predict, unemployment is now within decimals of 15 percent.
"We complain of the unemployment here in the United States, but in Greece among the population of 25 to 35 [year-olds], it's more than 21 percent," says AMG president Paul Jenks.
Unemployment has helped thrust Greece into all-out crisis. The financial situation has placed the country's credit rating "on par with Fiji and Vietnam," according to The Independent. "Investors have little confidence" that the nation will be able to repay its debts on time.
The problem began years ago and has only gotten worse. After borrowing exorbitant amounts of funding for the Athens Olympics, the country assumed it would be able to pay their dues back easily.
But as unexpected bumps in the global economy forced unemployment rates higher and higher in the Mediterranean nation, debts became harder and harder to repay. Jenks says discouraged citizens are becoming more and more likely to evade taxes. Illegal immigrants continue to enter the country. With insufficient revenues, the country is struggling to make good on their word.
"Unemployment and people not paying taxes is making it a downward spiral, which is causing real spiritual difficulty for the country," says Jenks. "With all these needs of people, our missionaries and our workers–the church leaders–are busier than ever before."
The crisis is a strain for individual missionaries, but it's causing a bigger problem for a larger ministry sector. AMG's St. Luke's hospital is clinging to life.
"The problem for [St. Luke's] is that the government-backed insurance payers are broke. So people come, needing medical care, and then their insurance company either doesn't pay the claim, or delays payment for a long time. Any organization needs a positive cash flow or you're going to have problems," explains Jenks.
A financial struggle for St. Luke's means a financial struggle for all of AMG. "It's a bigger problem than just the hospital. Because St. Luke's has had positive cash flow in the past, it's been able to help our other ministries throughout the Balkans and throughout Europe."
The Thessalonica-based hospital is a major funding source of AMG ministries worldwide, and it is the only hospital in all of Greece that actively preaches the Gospel.
At this point, AMG is calling for help in two forms. First, Jenks urges you to pray. Pray for guidance and provision for AMG, and pray for a solution for the country. Pray for believers to cling to Christ during this crisis, and for non-believers to seek out the Lord for the first time.
Second, AMG has been calling on donors and partners to help pick up the slack that the St. Luke's dilemma has created for the ministry. If you feel led to get involved to help AMG bring health, healing, and the Gospel to people across the globe, click here.