This year more than a quarter million migrants have so far reached Greece by boat via the Aegean islands on their way to claim asylum in Western Europe. Countless numbers are still waiting in the coastal towns of Turkey to make the dangerous trip across the Aegean Sea, having already paid smugglers more than €1.000 for each ticket and a precious seat in one of their overcrowded boats. We are afraid, that the flow is set to continue as fighting in Syria goes on escalating.
Evangelical Community response
The amazing thing is that the Evangelical community in Greece responded instantly and effectively, helping thousands of migrants and covering their basic needs in the Eastern islands of Greece, in Athens and at the northern borders of Greece, long before the shocking photograph of the drowned toddler Alan Kurdi washed ashore a Turkish beach sparked an outburst of compassion throughout the Western World.
In spite of the serious restrictions to their income due to the economic crisis, most families in our community have responded warmly with volunteers, but also depriving themselves to give money for the collection of basic necessities such as nappies & baby food, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, dry food, fleece blankets, all sizes of warm socks, shoes, warm coats/jackets etc.
As Greek Evangelical Alliance we organized two coordination centres with secretarial support, one in Athens which has the responsibility for giving a warm reception of migrants in Lesvos Island and in Athens as they come off the boat in Piraeus and one in Thessaloniki (Northern Greece) responsible for the reception of migrants at the Northern borders of Greece with F.Y.R.O.M. Daily more than 2.500 people cross the Northern borders of Greece travelling North. Sometimes they cross the border in 30 minutes time some other times they have to wait 24 or 48 hours in tents for a permission from the neighbour’s county soldiers to enter. In every coordination centre, Churches from different denominations of our community participate, giving a good example of Christian unity and cooperation to the non-Christian world.
We have also organized a training seminar for young volunteers in order to form flexible and effective groups of 10-20 young people, ready to reach the migrants and deliver donation boxes carefully prepared for them according to their specific needs. At the same time, we gave them useful instructions concerning their safety. We keep permanent contact with the local authorities at the border area receiving vital information about the number of the arriving migrants in order to be ready to cover the daily needs. Of course there are also other nonprofit organizations working with us in helping migrants like UNHCR, Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Praxis, etc. But the presence of the Christian Community as the most active and effective team gives glory to the Lord and make the difference.
This OM film gives a snapshot of the work involving many Christian partners.
Please remember us in your prayers as this situation will be going for rather long time.
- Pray for physical strength to many volunteers and staff serving thousands of refugees
- Pray for good spirit of cooperation and unity among many churches and organizations.
- Pray for fruitful relationship with the governmental officials
- Pray for greater hearts of love and God’s provision of wisdom for ministering the eternal needs of precious people