Although Greece’s population is largely centred on Athens, many live on its islands, where numbers vary from a few hundred to many thousands. There are increasing numbers of northern European immigrants to the islands. Some marry Greeks and settle into their way of life. Many retire, expecting a comfortable life and good weather. Some younger people come seeking a ‘good time’.
Island life is very religious. Greek Orthodoxy has many festivals in its monasteries and tiny chapels. People attend, say, the dedication of an icon and then party the night away. Graveyards become places of pilgrimage for the bereaved. Yet, the Bible is rarely read.
The economy revolves around tourism. For six months the inhabitants work night and day, and then wait six months for the next tourist season. When May arrives, the empty beaches become hives of activity. Sun beds appear by the lorry load. Water sports erupt; yachts return; boarded-up restaurants reopen — and the traffic increases by 70%.
Kos is one of the Dodecanese islands, situated in the Aegean Sea a few miles from the Turkish mainland. Its population is 26,000, of whom 60% live in Kos town. Among them are 1500 northern Europeans, the majority being British.
The neighbouring island of Rhodes is a couple of hours away; Patmos (where the apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation) is the same distance to the north.
Kos has one notable claim to fame. In 460BC, Hippocrates the ‘father of medicine’ was born there. But, sadly, it has no Bible-believing church.
So can a summer holiday move people to plant a church among Kos’ local people and visitors? The answer is ‘yes’! God began to place such thoughts in our hearts. After several visits to the island, my wife and I decided to move to Kos with a view to church planting. The people there are no different to any other human beings living on planet earth, although language barriers will need to be overcome. Their greatest need is to be reconciled to Almighty God through the living way, our Lord Jesus Christ.
With the backing of our local church in West Row, Suffolk, and in association with the Open Air Mission, we have had ample access to Christian literature. We are grateful too for the help we have received from the Evangelical church in Katarina, northern Greece.
In this first year, we have set ourselves some objectives. These are to get out regularly to the beaches, sidewalks and harbour areas. The use of a text board with such texts such as ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ has helped to attract people. Thousands of tracts have been given out or placed on car windscreens, and much good literature like Ultimate Questions and many CDs have been accepted.
We use a Greek-language newspaper called The Winners. Some copies we place in gardens (Greek houses have no letterboxes). Fortunately it rarely rains in Greece!
A further task has been getting to know the few Christians that live on the island, as well as many other local people from all walks of life.
>From May this year we will have a hotel room available for Sunday morning services, and on Sunday evenings we are hoping (unless the authorities stop us) to have open air services. Advertising for these in several magazines will be under way from March-April, together with advertising with the Open Air Mission and United Beach Missions.
A web site is already under construction and should be finalised soon. Large quantities of evangelistic literature will be in place for the coming tourist season.
If you have a burden for sharing God’s great love for sinners, and would like to use some of your holiday reaching the holidaymakers of Kos, please contact Alec and Glyn Molton (0030 22420 72301; [email protected]; or Skype Alec Molton) — or the Open-Air Mission (01582 841141).