A team of 11 Nazarenes from Australia, Portugal, and Spain traveled across Greece for a vision prayer tour in March as the Church of the Nazarene attempts to establish a registered ministry there.
The Australia/New Zealand Field has long been connected to Greece.
“[The trip] was slowly born from a dream and a concern that was planted many years before as Greek immigrants left their homeland and settled in Australia, giving the island continent one of the largest expatriate Greek communities in the world," said John Moore, field strategy coordinator. "At one time, there were more Greeks living in Melbourne than in Athens. Over the decades, many Greek Churches of the Nazarene were planted in Australia, and a thirst developed to take this gospel of holiness back to the land from which it had first been preached. When the Australia South District learned of the possibility of Nazarene missionaries being sent to Greece, the plan got underway to go to Greece to offer assistance as it would be useful.”
Moore and his wife, Vicki, were joined on the trip by Satish Manmothe, Australia South district superintendent; Harry Malos, an Australia South District pastor; Steve Kasambalis, Melbourne team coordinator; Gretchen Freeman, a Global Serve partner working in Australia; Bruce McKellips, Western Mediterranean field strategy coordinator; Charlton and Christine Kerr, visiting Greek Australians, and Joshua and Shannon Herndon, missionaries to Spain who were recently appointed to start the work of the Church of the Nazarene in Greece.
During the visit, the team spent time in prayer and discussion with people and organizations who could help establish a registered Church of the Nazarene in Greece. They met with Evangelical leaders from various denominations and consulted with pastors, legal representatives, nongovernmental organizations, Christian humanitarian organizations, and a Orthodox humanitarian organization. They visited places of biblical and archeological significance, including Athens, Corinth, Thessaloniki, Philippi, and Mikri Volvi.
The team also visited Idomeni, where they assisted refugees trapped in “no man’s land” located at the border of Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia and Greece.
Greece's economy, political situation, and the influx of millions of refugees have caused the people to become fearful and despondent, making it a country of urgency for Nazarene mission work. A recent census showed 88.3 percent of the population are Christians, but during the team’s visit they found that church attendance is low and it seems that the Greeks’ personal relationship with God is not well understood.
The Church of the Nazarene, with its holistic message of Christ’s salvation, compassionate and humanitarian assistance, is an ideal match to meet the needs of modern Greeks.
The city of Thessaloniki, as in the days of Apostle Paul, was selected for future Nazarene work because of its strategic position in the Balkans as a gateway city to Asia, Europe, and Africa.
This trip is only the beginning of a longterm partnership as the Australian church seeks to assist the blossoming efforts of the Herndons, their children, and the Church of the Nazarene in Greece.
“As the Church of the Nazarene prepares to enter the ancient land of Greece, it was a historic moment for us to walk in the footsteps of the great apostle Paul when he preached the message of holiness to the church in Greece about 2,000 years ago by saying, ‘For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life’ (1 Thessalonians 4:7)," Manmothe said. "What a privilege it is for our missionaries to be Christ’s ambassadors to implore the people of Greece to be reconciled to God!”
The team members enjoyed witnessing how God is opening the doors for the Church of the Nazarene in Greece and would like to thank the people who partnered with them in prayer.