Greece (MNN) — Over 25,000 protestors flooded the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki yesterday in a 24-hour civil servants' strike.
Schools, government offices and even portions of hospitals were closed yesterday when thousands of air traffic controllers, tax workers, teachers, hospital staff, public transport workers, police and other emergencies refused to go into work in protest of the Greek government's new wave of tax increases and job cuts.
"The latest round of measures the Greek government has taken has been to impose an additional tax on Greek households based on the size of the property that the Greek people have," says Tasos Ioannidis with AMG International. "This extra tax is the sixth one that has been imposed on them in the last year."
Even more off-putting to the general population, perhaps, is the severe job cuts that have been announced. "They are terminating approximately 30,000 public sector employees this year," says Ioannidis.
It's becoming more than Greek citizens can bear. Ioannidis says the unemployment rate has reached 15%. Those that still have jobs have seen their wages sliced. People had hoped the recession would have ended by now, and they are fed up.
"The Greek people understand that they have to make sacrifices, but this has been going on for two years now, and they are not seeing any reversal," explains Ioannidis.
The debt crisis in Greece continues to be of concern to other European Union countries. Defaults on debt will mainly affect European banks. The BBC reports that Italy's credit rating was diminished on Tuesday as well.
In the meantime, AMG's St. Luke's Hospital continues to struggle. All Greeks are insured by the government for medical needs, says Ioannidis, but the financially-hurting government is slow on paying what they owe. The timing is regrettable, as many more Grecians are coming to St. Luke's since public healthcare is now frequently unreliable.
AMG has a team landing in Greece today. But their team is not in the nation to help with the debt crisis or even the hospital, but rather to help with its effects. The 10-day trip will serve as an opportunity to train pastors and Christian workers, as well as to minister to people in a soup kitchen and engage in evangelistic activity. The trained pastors and workers hopefully will be able to better share Christ's love to a hurting nation when the training is over.
And people are ready to listen. Many Greeks are desperate for hope and are open to Christ at this time. St. Luke's staff members are able to share the Gospel with those who enter, as will the AMG team. Pray for all of these outreaches to effectively invite the Greek people into a relationship with Christ.
The primary need, currently, is prayer; you can also help financially by sending gifts to AMG in order to provide for Greeks' necessities. To give, click here.