"The Holy Spirit Comes Again to Athens"

Christ for Europe - Greek Mission

News May 19, 2023

18 May | Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece [David Neal]

 

With ‘Christ for Europe‘ underway, (1) for the next few weeks tedNEWS will report multiple stories of how the message of God’s love is being shared across the Trans-European Division (TED). As General Conference Officers and directors (along with evangelists from elsewhere) partner with members in multiple locations, leading public evangelism and outreach events, a prayer from the very first evangelist to Europe comes to mind – Paul. In his letter to the Thessalonians he prays that the Lord directs hearts and minds “to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5 ESV). Our first report comes from the Greek Mission, one of the most southerly regions of the TED.

Athens

My visit to Athens was preceded a week earlier with a mini-evangelism series led by Glenn Aguirre in this city of 3.8 million people. Aguirre is Senior Pastor of the Calhoun Church, Georgia Cumberland Conference, North American Division and was invited to support the Greek Mission as part of the Christ for Europe project. The series conducted from 28 April – 3 May ran with a bold title. “The Holy Spirit Comes Again to Athens”, and so too was its location, just stone’s throw away from Mars Hill where Paul preached in ancient times. As Aguirre explains, “My purpose was to build on Paul preaching in Athens about the Holy Spirit (as recorded in Acts 17) but would like to say that more than preaching about the Holy Spirit, we prayed for and taught and sang and experienced the Holy Spirit!”

 

“We prayed for and taught and sang and experienced the Holy Spirit!”

Greek Mission president, Claudio Gulyas reports that with an attendance of 63 people on the first night with both members and visitors, attendance held well for the entire series, Aguirre commented that “Members and visitors alike displayed an exciting spirit for the Word and worship.” He continued, “It was an international audience with “Greeks as well as people from Zambia, China, the Philippines, Ghana, Romania, Ireland, the UK, Serbia, France, Cyprus, Cameroon, Tunisia, and the US – all in one place!

Pastors Ivan Novakovic (far left) and visiting evangelist Glenn Aguirre (far right), flank members of the recently organised Athens youth church and their pastor, Moses Siwale (back row, fourth from far right).

So, was it an evangelistic outreach or member revival series? The answer is both because evangelism and revival go together. “A few decided for baptism”, says Ivan Novakovic, pastor of the Athens Filipino and International churches who is looking forward to building on the ministry of Aguirre. “The highlight was seeing the Church united in the mission, and for 11 days” says Aguirre, “we experienced a revival”.

Pastor Glenn Aguirre leads a follow-on series for members at the Athens Central Church

When the church experiences a visiting evangelist in the name and power of the Holy Spirit, something significant happens to both the evangelist and the church. Both are encouraged as members grow both deep and wide. As Aguirre explains:

“I told the group on our last day, with sincere emotion, that I came fully expecting to bring the blessing from the Word of God, but they were the ones who were such a blessing to me.  I have a renewed love and belief in public evangelism!  Truly, the Holy Spirit is moving because if He can move as He is doing in a place like Greece, He can move anywhere!  Public evangelism again taught me that there are those who attend who we expected, but there will always be those who attend who we didn’t expect, and for that reason – we must continue to do this kind of work!  As I headed for home from Athens I was reminded of a text from Revelation 10:11 (KJV) “And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” May we “prophesy again” – and again! – and again! – until He comes!” 

Thessaloniki

I left Athens and travelled three hundred miles (500km) north to participate in another Christ for Europe project, to Thessaloniki, a city with a population of 814,000. The hotel receiptionist enquired  as to why I was in Thessaloniki, “as I did not look like a typical holidaymaker”. I explained my visit was to help make a documentary on the life of the Apostle Paul. To my surprise he asked, “Who is Paul”? Confirmation indeed of the need and relevancy of ‘Christ for Europe’ I thought to myself. 

Spearheaded by the General Conference Communication and Media director, Williams Costa, the documentary aims to show Greece as more than a land of myths, heroes, philosophy, brilliant sunshine, and blue-green sea. As the Thessaloniki pastor, Yannis Samaras and lead scriptwriter explains, “Greece is the first country in Europe to embrace one of the three pillars of Western, and consequently world civilization. The first pillar was ancient Greek philosophy, the second Roman law. But then came a third and unexpected pillar – Christianity!”

An Orthodox priest reads scripture at the Vlatadon Monastery in Thessaloniki founded circa 1351.

The three-half hour long series will follow in the footsteps of the Paul as he travelled through Greece, and attempt to capture his passion for sharing the news of the Risen Christ. For this particular ‘Christ for Europe’ project, the aim is not to share Christ – at this point in time – through public meetings, but to create a lasting digital evangelistic resource to support the 500 Mission members, as they seek to witness to the 10 million strong Greek population. Still deeply immersed in the Greek Orthodox tradition, consumerism and secularism are the new constants chipping away at what has gone before.

The documentary, expected to be completed by 2024 with the primary narrative in Greek will also be translated into English, and a number of other languages.

For the Greek Mission the Athens series of public meetings and the “In the Footsteps of Paul” documenary are just two features of a perahaps a new dawn for the Mission under the leadership of Claudio Gulyas and Yannis Vrakas (Secretary-Treasurer). In addition plans are underway for the development of an Athens based Centre of Influence, a media suite, and an outreach ministry to university students spearheaded by the Athens Youth Church.

 


Stay tuned to tedNEWS for further reports about the work of the Greek Mission and Christ for Europe initiatives across the TED territory. “Christ for Europe” is an evangelistic endeavour of the General Conference’s “Total Member Involvement” initiative, partnering with the three European divisions to conduct evangelistic meetings across 38 countries. You can read more about its aims and objectives here. Marcos Paseggi, for Adventist Review, reports from Prague, Czech Republic, on this initiative which will see the Gospel shared in thousands of venues across Europe. 

  [Photos: Glenn Aguirre and David Neal]

Latest News

See All

Spring Meeting Elections

Marcel Ghioalda, Kevin Johns and Branislav Mirilov elected to serve.

News

Newbold Reinstates Role of Vice-Principal

Dr Dan Serb, currently Irish Mission president appointed.

News
Beograd Book Fair

Expanding Horizons

Preporod's Publishing Ministry Journey

News