NEWS FROM GREECE
for the refugees in the island of Lesbos
In January 22nd – 24th, 2016, seventeen believers, both male and female volunteers, from Macedonia (Filippi, Neapolis, Lydia, Thessaloniki, Verea…) and from Athens we traveled to the island of Lesbos. As soon as we arrived at Mitilini we purchased from the local super market a large quantity of food (dolmas – that is stuffed grape leaves, fruit juices, Arabic pies …), baby wipes and sanitary towels. With the willing cooperation of the local believers we arranged all this food to bags.
In addition to those bags, our team, with the financial support of the Synod, provided medicine, food, shoes, clothes, wool hats… (Beside the Synod churches, other believers also sent money to the Synod for the refugees. God knows them…)
How and where we provided help to the island
Our Christian medical doctors examined various sick people under the umbrella of the “Medecins du Monde” in the great refugees’ camp in Kara Tepe. Also, our physicians provided medical help and medicines in a hotel outside the city of Mitilini, where refugees that needed special help were given temporary lodging.
The rest of our team selflessly provided help under a really cold weather. Some of our brothers visited repeatedly the seacoast, from where refugees were leaving for Kavala, Pirea, Eidomeni … Europe. There, they offered food, wool hats, socks, and bananas… Other believers visited refugees who used to spend the night on the streets, wrapped in a blanket… They also provided food, clothes, shoes, chocolates, wool hats… In Moria we provided a lot of medicine to the “Medicines du Monde” for the refugees. We also provided food, chocolates and clothes to the refugees who were coming and going to the hot spots.
Welcoming the refugees to our coast
Some of our brothers visited one coast of the island where usually the refugees arrive from Turkey in “desposable” rubber boats. Giannis Papageorgiou, a believer from Berea, together with br. Dimitris Pilidis and the Antouan couple, was present when one such boat arrived and describes: “In the coast of the island we waited for the refugees from Turkey. This time the overloaded rubber boat arrived to our coast without being torn apart – like others do -, but everyone aboard was full of terror, agony, tearing, shouts and fear for the possible death. Their clothes were wet and cold. We open our arms and welcomed them, giving them warm clothes and Christian love. They felt relief and hope…”
Unfortunately, too often the rubber boats are torn when they arrived close to our coasts and many are drawn. Many life vests arrive to the coart with the inscription “Mammy I love you” written by children who fear that they will be drawn and they will never again see their mothers. Twenty kilometers outside Mitilini there is a graveyard for the refugees who died trying to arrive to Greece from Turkey. There you can see tombs with inscriptions: “Unknown baby, 5 months old”, “Unknown girl, 6 years old” …
In this situation the Authorities did not permit us to openly evangelize and offer many Bibles to the refugees because of the prohibitive law of proselytism. But we are confident that our love, our works, our Christian testimony and the encouragement we gave were a strong witness to the love of the crucified Jesus.
A service with the believers in Mitilini full of blessings
It was a great joy for all of us when, about 35 to 40 people, were gathered to worship the Lord and renew our strength for our Work on the island.
The Holy Spirit ministered was and manifested Himself through His gifts… All of us felt joy and revival in our hearts.
We were all encouraged with the messages that the doctors T.Michas, Ant.Saridis, L.Sidiropoulos and the pastors D.Pilidis and El.Antouan shared.
“You shall love the stranger as yourself” (Levit. 19: 34)
Stranger is the immigrant and the refugee. Immigrant is the stranger who visits another country to improve his life. Refugee is the stranger who is forced to flee in another country in order to save his life and survive. Joseph was a refugee in Egypt. Our great Savior, Jesus, was a refugee to Egypt (Math 2:13).
Now, it is time to open our arms and help the refugees, and not to build fences and walls… Remember that behind every “one of the least of these” is our Lord (Math. 25:45).
Other outreaches for the refugees
Teams with volunteers of our Synod will participate, God willing, to humanitarian outreaches to the refugees in Kavala, the island of Samos… and to the boarder station of Idomeni. The outreach to the refugees of Lesvos was the sixth attempt of serving them.
For the Greek Synod
Dr. Lambis Sidiropoulos, President Ilias Hatzieleftheriou, Secretary