Over 300 volunteers will descend on the Biblical town of Neapolis (the modern Kavala) to partake in what is potentially the biggest evangelistic effort in the history of Greece.
The project is being coordinated by Hellenic Ministries, an indigenous evangelistic ministry in Greece is in the midst of an ambitious plan to distribute a million copies of the New Testament in modern Greek.
Very few people in Greece have ever read the Bible. To them it is a 2,000 year old book written in an archaic Greek that only the academics and theologians can understand. Up until fairly recently it was the only translation available and it didn't even need to be translated because it was the original language. Or at least the New Testament was and the Old Testament translation into Greek, known as the Septuagint even pre-dates the New Testament. It was this Greek translation of the Old Testament which was quoted by the Apostle Paul and the early Church Fathers. So to the modern Greek the Bible is regarded as an archaic book completely irrelevant to the stresses and problems of modern day life.
Operation Joshua is Hellenic Ministries' effort to facilitate a Bible distribution programme throughout the entire nation of Greece. It was birthed out of the desire to see all of Greece canvassed systematically with the Gospel, reaching the hundreds of cities, isolated towns and rural villages for Christ. It takes its name from the story of Joshua who commanded the Israelite people to march forward as the Lord promised He would deliver Jericho and the Promised Land into their hands (Joshua 6:2,7).
In faith, Hellenic Ministries are marching out into the land to systematically cover all of mainland Greece with the light of the gospel - by prayer, proclamation and the distribution of God's Word. It is their desire that the Word of God, in modern Greek, be available in every home and for every Greek.
Operation Joshua follows two successful Bible distribution projects to the Greek islands originally called Operation Gideon. During Operation Gideon in 2004 and 2006 Greece's eighty inhabited islands where covered with the distribution of New Testaments. Since then the vision has expanded to the mainland in the form of Operation Joshua which aims to distribute one million New Testaments to the doorstep of each home throughout Greece in the upcoming years.
To put things into perspective, in the last week of July the team of volunteers will distribute copies of the New Testament to 160,000 homes. Reckoning on an average of 4 people per household that will mean 640,000 people will have access to the New Testament in modern, newspaper Greek. They can then truthfully say, "This is all Greek to me!"
Johnathan Macris, President of Hellenic Ministries, is very upbeat about the prospects for this project, "We know that the Bible is alive and powerful, we know that the unfolding of God's word brings light and understanding, we know that God's word is like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces and like a fire that burns up the chaff so we are expecting great things from this campaign.
"We are encouraged to believe that if just 3.2 % of these people actually respond to the gospel invitation presented in the packages and receive Christ as their personal savior we will actually double the number of evangelical believers in Greece. And even if just 1% respond it will mean reaping a harvest of 6,400 people coming to know the Lord. Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
For the past two weeks groups of volunteers from various churches in Athens as well as groups from South Africa and the USA have been slaving away in the southern European heat at a local warehouse preparing the Bible packs which include not only a hard cover printed copy of the modern Greek New Testament, but also an audio version and a brochure containing the dynamic testimony of a Greek who came out of a lifestyle of gambling and womanising to find peace with God and eternal life. It also provides the Biblical steps to personal salvation and contact details for further help.
There has been some opposition to the campaign by the national church authorities who have actively discouraged their members from receiving the Bibles or even reading them. This is a sad commentary on the role of religious leaders in a country that desperately needs to hear the message of hope and redemption in these troubled times. Sounds like the religious leaders of Jesus' day who particularly incensed him. (See Matthew 23)
"This is a huge day of opportunity," says Macris. "Perhaps never since the days of the early church has Greece been more ready to receive the good news of personal salvation in Christ. We are asking people all over the world to join us in praying for a significant breakthrough in this unique opportunity."
"It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it" (Isaiah 55.11 NLT).