A Letter from Nadia Ayoub, serving in Greece
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“So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)
Dear friends and family,
I greet you with the peace of Christ. Praise and honor be to our God, for he is love and sent Jesus to save us and commission us to share God’s love with our neighbors and bring the good news of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And I thank you, my dear partners in Christ. Because of you, I have been able to be present in Greece and share God’s love with locals and refugees.
I thank God for the declining number of COVID-19 cases. Many restrictions have now been lifted, and life has begun to return to normal in schools, businesses and governmental offices.
Work with the refugees has slowed. Very few Syrian refugees are still in Greece. I recently checked in on one of my refugee families, and the wife told me, “You need to come to visit me to say goodbye.” I was happy for them but felt sad because I was losing a friend. This family from the integration program has lived for more than five years in Katerini, Greece. I became close to them when I attended the birth of their second child, a baby girl, and their third child, who was born during the lockdown. He was born in a hospital in Thessaloniki, but because of the lockdown, I could not accompany the mother in person. Instead, I checked in with her by phone every hour from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. At 11 p.m., I finally received the message that the baby had been born and that he and his mother were doing well.
Many refugees received rejections for their asylum requests, and they appealed the decision through a lawyer. The rejection causes many women to feel depressed and sick, and they do not want to do anything for themselves or their families. We, at Perichoresis, started a program called “Friday Teatime” at the Education Center to help them. We invited the women to come together to share and talk about what was happening in their lives. We follow up by seeing if we can help them by calling the asylum office, finding a lawyer, or completing forms needed for their children’s schools. We also played some games to help them experience some joy. At the end of the meeting, they were all smiling and promised to come the following week. The goal of “Friday Teatime” is to spend time with the women, listening to and encouraging them.
Thanks be to God, on March 21, Kurdish people celebrated Nourose, the Kurdish New Year. The families celebrated together by having a picnic in the municipal park. All children were playing and having some fun. It was special because they had not been able to celebrate together for two years because of COVID. Easter was also a happy time when families were able to gather freely without restrictions.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, my days have been clouded with sadness and fear. I start calling and communicating with my friends in both Russia and Ukraine. My friends in Russia were very distressed, not knowing what to do or what to expect to happen. The young men were afraid that they might be summoned to join the army. Many left to stay with their relatives in other countries, but others were scared to do so by the restrictions being enforced. They were not able to say very much when I communicated with them. I was glad just to hear their voices.
I contacted my friends and former colleague with the Roma ministry and the church in Ukraine. They said in the West of Ukraine, it was safe, but still some families fled to neighboring countries. Many people came from the East for refuge and safety from the war in their areas, and people were ready to open their homes and schools and churches to host the refugees. As the war continued, many Ukrainians fled to other countries, and some thousand came to Greece. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees contacted Perichoresis with the request to consider being involved with Ukrainian refugees since Perichoresis has good reputation for its work with the Syrian refugees.
Thank God the hosting church and the Perichoresis team offered three apartments equipped and all the needs of refugee families. In a short time, three families had arrived. The first family consisted of a grandmother with her two granddaughters. The second family consisted of a husband, a wife and three little children, a grandfather and a grandmother. The third family consisted of a mother, father, two grown daughters and two grandchildren. All are situated comfortably in those apartments. The church and Perichoresis are praying that God will send enough funds so they will be able to help more Ukrainian families as well as Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
Thank God many of the Ukrainians can speak some English, but when I started to speak Russian with them, their eyes were lit up and smiles spread on their relaxed faces.
Thank God for hearing our prayers. I received my Greek temporary residence visa. It is valid until August 2024.
Thank you so much for your prayers, encouragement and financial support.
They have enabled me to continue working among the refugees with the encouragement of the Perichoresis team and the Greek Evangelical Church of Katerini. Your partnership is helping us all to obey God’s Word as the Apostle Paul said, “Let each one of us please the neighbors for their good, leading for edification.” (Romans 15:2)
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