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Missionary Spotlight-Greece

June 2001 | by Paulus Farmer

The Greek Diaspora

Apart from Greece and Cyprus, Greeks are found all over the world. There are still many Greeks living in countries like Turkey, Italy and Egypt, which have had large Greek communities from ancient times.

Today Greeks form a significant ethnic minority numbering hundreds of thousands in many parts of Europe and in the former Soviet Union, USA, Canada and Australia. Some of them have become famous, such as the US tennis champion Pete Sampras and Australian tennis player Mark Philippoussis.

Well-established and active Greek Evangelical churches are to be found in Germany, USA, Canada and Australia. In some places they have programmes on TV and radio.

In Britain there are about 300,000 Greeks, most of whom are of Cypriot origin, due to former colonial links.

Large Greek communities are to be found, for example, in North London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, Margate, Hastings and Great Yarmouth. To locate them, all one has to do is to find the local fish and chip shop, restaurant, hairdresser’s or delicatessen!

Pressures to conform

To maintain its identity, an ethnic minority often holds on to its traditions more firmly than does its motherland. The Greeks abroad form strongly knit communities, and there is much pressure on individuals to conform to their norms.

Any religion apart from Orthodoxy is seen as heretical. Although the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church are involved in dialogues with other Christian churches and bodies (including the Evangelical Alliance) and appear to be tolerant towards some, they still warn their people not to join other churches.

It is no surprise, then, that those who preach the biblical gospel to Greek people face opposition from the Orthodox Church. Though they ought to know better, the Orthodox make no distinction between Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny the Trinity and Evangelicals who believe in the Trinity and Nicene Creed.

Mission field

It is sad that many British Christians do not view the Greek minority in UK as a mission field. Only a small number of the few born-again Greeks have a burden and zeal to present the good news to their compatriots.

The Orthodox make no distinctions between true Evangelical believers and cultists, and will accuse a reformed Christian missionary of belonging to ‘one of those born-again sects who brainwash children to leave their families and do crazy things’.

Over the past fifteen years in which I have been involved in missionary work to Greek people, I have had only a few encouragements.

Please pray for a revival in the Greek communities at home and overseas; for unity and zeal for the few born-again Greeks to co-operate together in evangelising their compatriots; and for more British Christians to take an interest in and support this area of gospel work.

Remember, Romans 1:16 says: ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first’ but also (let us not forget) ‘to the Greek’!

 

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