Olympics Opens Opportunity for Evangelism in Greece

Last week, the round-the-world journey of the flame that will burn at the Athens Olympics began. The Summer Olympic Games will return to its homeland, Greece this year, the event will start from 13 to 29 August 2004.

Greece has a very meaningful historical background as recorded in the book of Acts in the Bible. It was evangelized by Paul the apostle and the early church and to which many New Testament letters were written. International and local ministries are therefore very interested in the evangelism opportunities at this place.

An Athens based Hellenic Ministries with the active support of YWAM and in co-operation with the "LAME - More than gold" organization, spearheads to prepare a three week outreach program.

The campaign is named "Operation Gideon" Greece is a country with 80 beautiful islands. As the prophecy said, "Let them give glory to the Lord and proclaim His praise in the Islands." (Isaiah 42:12) In the view of saturating every corner of the country with the Gospel, the Adopt-an-island program is carried out.

In the program, individual or team can adopt one of the islands. Each team will partner with Greek individuals (or a Greek church) for translating and cooperative evangelism. Useful information on the island chosen will be sent to the team so as to start praying for the specific needs of the island. Team members will be responsible to raise their finances. For the individuals, they can join into the assigned team to support the island.

The primary focus will be to saturate Greece with the gospel to break centuries of spiritual bondage through fasting, prayer, Bible and literature distribution and proclamation evangelism. The initiative will be the largest coordinated outreach event ever to be held in Greece.

According to the report, teams from the UK and as far away as Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand are already rising to the challenge by preparing to travel to Greece for 21 days of outreach in this summer.

Another ministry, AMG International is also planning for a program. One facet of AMG's outreach is the Cosmovision Center. It is a multi-purpose facility in Athens that will be used to share the Gospel through sports and community projects.

After the Madrid train bombing attack in Spain, many people suspect that Greece is very likely to become one of the targets of the terrorism extremists because of the Olympic Games holding there. Greek officials recently completed a huge Olympics security drill involving US troops.

AMG International's Jason Schultz is in charge of the ministry's short term mission effort. With the terror threat looming over the horizon, he urges prayer.

"Number one is that our people would be safe; number two is that we use this opportunity to get the Gospel into the hands of thousands of people, whether it's the New Testaments, or tracts, or one-on-one evangelism, praying that the Word would get out there and that His kingdom would be expanded," he said.

Greece has 11 million inhabitants, and is home to the Greek Orthodox Church. However, very few Greeks fully understand the gospel of salvation by faith as a gift of God's grace alone, and evangelical Christian number only around 21,000, less than 0.2% of the population.

Johnathan Macris of Hellenic Ministries says "we are so excited about what God is going to do in this country. We desperately want to see the hearts of many people in Greece being opened to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. The prayers of God's people throughout the world are so very important - please do pray for us and the teams that will be participating in this great event."

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