Greece (MNN) — The debt crisis in Greece has thrust the nation into economic turmoil, but the outcome of the situation has reached much further than bank accounts.
The emotional effects of the crisis continue to scar.
Operation Mobilization country leader for Greece, Kees den Toom, says, "Generally speaking, there is great unrest and fear for the future. Much heated discussion is placed on the current political and economic situation. Pessimism and even fatalism are emerging."
It's a bad sign in a nation that will have little to do with anything but the ritualistic side of the church. 98% of the nation is Greek Orthodox, but Toom says the church hardly relates to everyday life for Greeks. The institutions of baptism, marriage, and burial are believed to be the means to attain salvation.
Toom says despite the Orthodox presence, abortion rates are extremely high: for each baby born, two are aborted. Also, one in four men visit brothels. Toom adds that materialism has also become the god of many, and with the economy falling, it's hard to know where to turn.
The hope is that they would turn to the church and ultimately to Christ. However, this is rare, says Toom. The Evangelical community is very small, making up 0.2 % of the population. According to Toom, the church in general is very fragmented and divided, and it was inward focused for many years.
Although some churches are starting to respond to the needs of the community, when religion is viewed as nothing more than tradition, people don't often look to the church for solutions.
If people will not come to the church, then, OM is bringing the church to them.
OM Greece seeks to respond to the current crisis by sharing the message of hope through Christ while meeting the basic needs of the most needy: the homeless, gypsies, and immigrants. OM tries to address these issues in the local church whenever possible.
With the breakdown of social services, Toom says OM sees challenges and opportunities in areas such as the need for a place of refuge for battered women and their children, as well as feeding programs.
"We know that only Christ can bring restoration and healing to this country, and we need to share the message and Biblical ethics to a society that neglected the church's direction and authority a long time ago," says Toom.
OM Greece is working hard to spread hope in the midst of chaos. To learn more about their work and ways you can help, click here.