A Letter from Nadia Ayoub, serving in Greece
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“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword…No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:35, 37
Dear friends and families,
I greet you all in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. With a heart full of thanksgiving, I thank God for He is love, and through Him, we are more than conquerors because all the suffering cannot separate us from the love of Christ, who showed us the ultimate love by dying on the cross to save us from sin and gave us abundant life. What a comforting truth I treasure and refer to whenever I translate stories of hardship for the displaced and forced immigrant people.
Toward the end of April, Perichoresis welcomed the first Ukrainian family: a grandmother and two granddaughters. They were happy to have left Mariupol when the fight started, leaving behind the grandfather with his two sons and wives to defend the city. The grandmother was full of hope that they would only stay for a short time and soon return to her flat that she had locked with wooden and iron doors. But after a few days, she received the news that the doors had been broken open and her belongings stolen or damaged. Tears flowed from her eyes as she was told what had happened. But she continued to be proud of her family, who had stayed behind to defend their beloved Ukraine. After two months, the Ukrainian fighters could no longer fight, and their city fell into the hands of the Russians. Russian officials began asking Ukrainian citizens to surrender their Ukrainian passports in exchange for new Russian passports so that they could live easily and travel freely. The grandmother’s family intended to hold on to their Ukrainian documents. She said, “we may not be able to go back again, but there is no place like Ukraine. It was rich in everything, especially in food.”
Perichoresis, a humanitarian and non-profit organization, was established in October 2016 in Katerini, Greece, based on the Christian ideals mentioned in Matthew 25. Perichoresis’s mission is to alleviate human hardship regardless of ethnicity, race and creed. Perichoresis’s vision is to embrace every destitute fellow human being and include all people, both native and foreign, in the spirit of inclusion, providing protection, accommodation, medical/pharmaceutical care, legal support, social inclusion and educational programs.
Perichoresis initially volunteered to host Ukrainian refugees for two months by providing three fully equipped and furnished apartments for the refugees. Even before the two months were over, Perichoresis decided to make five apartments available and extended the time that the Ukrainian families could stay to four months. Now looking at the prolonged war between Ukraine and Russia, we see the need for long-term housing and adding a few more apartments. It takes a lot of volunteering work to manage a few families.
I had the chance to come back to the USA after more than three years to visit my family, see my two nieces’ children and have a medical check-up. I was overwhelmed by the many changes.
When I returned to Katerini, Greece, I learned I needed to teach English in Perichoresis’ education center. This task increases my chance of meeting and serving refugees.
The Friday coffee time continues to be a joyful time where women feel free to talk about anything they like: cooking, families, beauty and make-up, customs and traditions. As one lady said, “in our homeland, women are not allowed to speak out, but we are here free, and we enjoy expressing our opinions.”
In addition to the Ukrainian refugees, Perichoresis is caring for refugees from Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Niger, Congo, Ghana and Japan. Most of them have had their asylum requests rejected one or more times. With the help of lawyers, they reapply for asylum many times. But sometimes, they feel discouraged and try to cross into other countries with the help of smugglers. They rejoice when they arrive in the country of their dreams, but when they arrive, they still have to apply for asylum and wait to see if they will be granted refugee status.
I thank the Lord so much because of you and thank you for your prayers, encouragement and financial support that enable me to be in Katerini, Greece and share Christ’s love with all our precious siblings.
I pray the Lord bless you and encourage you more as you share Christ’s love locally and internationally.
Serving God joyfully together,
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