What comes to mind when you think of the word “home?” For many of us, home is a cozy, inviting and safe place where we are surrounded by those who love us. It can be a place of contentment, belonging, comfort, encouragement and rest. Unfortunately, for many refugees home is a far off place in a distant land. Because of conflicts and religious and ethnic persecution, many refugees have fled their homes, live in crowded, ill-equipped camps, and find themselves separated from their loved ones and unsure of what the next day will bring. That uncertainty, as you can imagine, can be filled with anxiety and despair. These desperate people have been forced to leave behind loved ones, jobs that helped them provide for their families, and any dreams they had for the future. How might we partner together to express the love of Jesus, and bring some normalcy back into the lives of the more than 74,000 refugees God has brought to AMG International in Greece?
One way is through our highly effective HomeSpot refugee ministry. AMG currently operates a HomeSpot Center in Lavrio, outside Athens, along with supporting a second care center in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. In addition, we recently opened a brand new HomeSpot in downtown Athens along with a HomeSpot Lab near our center in Lavrio. The idea behind the centers is to create a safe space where the love of Christ is found — a space where refugees feel welcome and have a comfortable place to sit, sip coffee, and visit with others. When you support these centers, you offer a respite that restores a sense of home, belonging, and dignity to the visitors the Lord has brought to us. The Home Spot also provides much-needed access to resources like medical care, job building skills, Bible studies, Wi-Fi, computers, printers, copy machines, clothes, showers, washers and dryers, and various types of English language and technology training. And through these activities, you make it possible to share the Gospel with refugees.
Our centers, which we locate in close proximity to refugee camps, are easily accessible and host numerous Bible studies and church gatherings. In Lavrio alone, there are four refugee camps housing up to 1,200 refugees at any one time. These are people God has brought to us so we can minister to them, build meaningful relationships, and assist in meeting their spiritual and physical needs. A leader in a large refugee camp in Athens recently stated, “God brought us out of Afghanistan and into Greece so we could have access to hear about the Bible and Jesus.” We are able to serve as God’s hands and feet in this trying situation because of the prayer and financial support of donors like you. Another refugee we work with was a Muslim who came to faith when he had to flee to Greece. Now, he is passionate about sharing the Good News with other refugees, and has recently engaged a core group of new believers within the Syrian community in Athens. Already, the group has been able to reach out to more than 800 fellow Syrians living in the capital city, who have been relocated from various refugee camps. This group needs space to meet on a weekly basis, so we want to establish a new Home Spot to support their ministry and continue to advance the Gospel among the refugee population.
While many of the refugees in Greece wait on relocation visas to destinations like Ireland, Norway and Germany, and as some look to remain in country, we find ourselves in more of an integration phase in the community. Thus, it has become necessary to modify our ministry approach to effectively reach more refugees with the Good News, while showing them the love of Christ in practical ways. For many refugees, the relocation process to Europe moves very slowly as they wait to be reunited with family members who have already been relocated. At the same time, Greek government and United Nations officials are working to transfer refugees from the Lavrio camps into available houses and apartments in Athens, while new refugees take their place. Unfortunately, central Athens is 40 miles away from our ministry outreach center in Lavrio. Therefore, in order to expand our outreach to the Syrian refugees, we opened a new Home Spot Center in Athens, the largest city in Greece.
AMG International is one of the longest running ministries in Greece. And, when you partner with us, you are meeting people’s deepest needs in Jesus’ name. Our new HomeSpot center will allow us the opportunity to reach the migrant community in and around Athens with the Good News, and also provide skills training that will equip them to make a life for themselves in their new surroundings. The care center is conveniently located in the city center, in close proximity to key metro stops and government housing. We have been experiencing 20,000 to 30,000 visits annually by displaced people in each of our other centers, and expect to see similar numbers in Athens. Your support of our new HomeSpot provides a safe place to hear the Gospel and have a meaningful conversation about Jesus.
The annual operational cost to staff and run the HomeSpot Refugee Ministry in Athens is $30,000.
One of our national leaders in Greece, Takis Vasilopoulos, recently reminded us, “These people are desperate not only because they do not have a country, a home, enough food, and clean clothes, but because they are spiritually destitute. Since the beginning of this human inpouring, AMG has helped the refugees physically in order to reach them spiritually.” For many of the refugees coming from Muslim countries, this will be the first opportunity they have had to hear the Gospel and interact with Christians.
Together, our work with displaced people groups affords us a platform from which to build meaningful relationships and give an answer for the hope we have in Christ. Many lives are being changed as you support these ministries. We couldn’t do what we do without the involvement of financial partners like you. The cost for us to staff and operate HomeSpot Athens is $30,000 annually. Would you join us in this important effort by investing in AMG today? With your help, we will see many more lives restored and transformed for eternity.