10 February 2020 | Athens, Greece [TED/Greek Mission Communications]
Standing on Mars Hill watching Friday evening sunset, Victor Hulbert recognised the similarities between the ancient world of first century Christianity and the modern challenges of 21st century Athens.
Called to support the Greek Mission with a weekend of communication training, Hulbert reflected on how the Apostle Paul sought a way to break through the communication barriers of Greek philosophy and belief. He found a common platform – an altar to an unknown god. Standing on Mars Hill he proclaimed, “as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So, you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” [Acts 17:23 NIV]
And proclaim he did! Paul’s skill was to adapt his message to his audience. Follow his missionary journeys and note the different styles. Read his letters and note them even more – the same gospel but slanted to audience needs.
The same applied to training during the weekend – with Athens church members joining together with ministers and elders from across Greece for Sabbath morning and afternoon presentations. This was followed by specialist training with ministers and elders on Sunday.
In an active question-and-answer period one member asked whether we should be giving up the old methods in favour of the new. “Not at all,” Hulbert responded. “We should still use the tried and tested methods while incorporating new ways to reach modern generations.”
Hulbert emphasied that Adventists had always been on the cutting edge of technology in sharing the gospel – whether with books and tracts in the publishing ministry, radio – with the earliest broadcasts of HMS Richards and the Voice of Prophecy – or more modern TV ministries such as It is Written, Faith for Today and, more recently, Hope Channel and internet ministries.
It was internet ministries that gained the primary attention of the young adult audience. Hanging out in the upstairs balcony, smartphones in hand, they gained ideas on how they can effectively use their phones for Jesus.
One lady from the Ukraine stated afterwards, “I wish we had his message three years ago. I have been wanting to start a social media ministry and didn’t know how. Now I have some really practical ideas.”
Yannis Samaras pastors the Katerini district in northern Greece. He also has a passion for Communication and is now working with the team to restore an old radio studio in the Mission office, buy some simple equipment for producing videos appealing to Greek culture, and engaging with the youth to record simple messages and testimonies that will appeal to their friends. Following the weekend, he is now looking for further training opportunities. “I see this kind of ministries as one of the primary ways that we can use to build bridges and open doors with our local communities,” he said.
As for Hulbert, following his visit to Mars hill and other locations of biblical historical significance, his aim is to continue helping church members and leaders focus on effective ways of using media to share the Gospel.
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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