Greece (MNN) — On Mars Hill, the very place where the
apostle Paul had preached Christ almost 2,000 years before, 60 short-term
missionaries from the International World Changers
Program with International Mission Board held an impromptu praise and worship service. An Iranian man pushed through the crowd to
learn more and obtain a copy of the song lyrics.
"Do you understand what is going on?" asked Jerry Johnson,
Baptist Collegiate Ministries senior minister for Georgia Southern University.
"Yes, you are Christians," the man answered. As Johnson began using the song lyrics to
share the Gospel, the man brought his daughter over and told her to listen so
they could discuss it later.
"God sometimes takes me–from America–and a guy from Iran, and we
meet in Greece,"
Johnson commented later. "I think that is God's timing."
"He knew that there was something different," said Bernard
Dafneyk, another team member. "So he
wanted to join in. I think that is awesome that our worshipping out there was a
form of ministry to people."
The team was able to share the Gospel with over 43 different
ethnic groups during the week-long International World Changers missions
trip. International World Changers (IWC)
provides high school and college students with a missions experience overseas
during their spring, winter or summer breaks.
The outreach included trash collection, drama, movie
production, basketball, English lessons, Gypsy ministry and refugee ministry.
While picking up trash on the streets, one group of team
members took the opportunity to hand out Bibles to shopkeepers and
residents. Many of them had never before
read a modern Greek Bible. The Bibles
were stamped with a seal of approval by the Orthodox Church, so that the group
would not be perceived as Protestant heretics.
The Orthodox Church preserved cultural ties in Greece
throughout a rocky history of dominance by other nations. Today, it is the main source of cultural
identity for the people of Greece. Unfortunately, it emphasizes devotion to the
church rather than personal salvation through Jesus Christ.
"They need to experience God," a Southern Baptist worker told
IWC students at the beginning of the week of outreach. "We need you to help us
Despite the power of the church, however, there is a variety
of cultural diversity in Greece. Many immigrants and Roma Gypsies take refuge
there, as well as a few ethnic groups that follow Islam. Some IWC team members utilized their
knowledge of French, Spanish, and German to communicate with the people.
"God continues to show me how He uses us," said worship
leader Sam Banfield. "I never thought I would use German again, and here I am
speaking to an Iranian man in German."
Annual IWC trips are making a significant impact in Greece.
"IWC is our top strategic partner," a Southern Baptist
worker says. "Every year they give us a push."
Click here for information on upcoming IWC missions