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Opening My Hands to a New Ministry

A Letter from Nadia Ayoub, now in the United States, soon to serve in Greece

March 2018

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The Lord is not here, he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:6

Dear friends, family and church families,

Grace and peace from our risen Lord. I pray you have a blessed Lenten season and a joyful Easter celebration. I continue to give thanks to God for his love that we are enjoying living by faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I also give thanks to the Lord for each one of you, my faithful friends and partners in God’s mission. Thank you so much for your encouragement, prayers and financial support that made it possible for me to witness God’s work among the Roma people in the Peterfolvo area in Karpatalja, Ukraine.

I bring many greetings and thanks from the people in the Peterfolvo area — Roma and non-Roma — who have all felt your love and care for them. They are grateful to God and to you all, individuals and churches, for the help and support you have offered them throughout the past seven years.

The month of December was very emotional for me, as it marked the end of my time in Ukraine after seven years of ministry among the Roma people. I thank God for hearing my prayers when I was discerning leaders to whom I would entrust the ministry in the Peterfolvo area. And I thank God for a few celebratory events that gave me an opportunity to share with Roma and non-Roma that my service in Ukraine was ending.

On December 5, we gathered with children and parents to celebrate St. Nicholas Day. The children performed songs, danced, and recited Bible verses and poems. Parents were very proud and amazed by how much their children have learned. The children received gifts from St. Nicholas, and lunch was served to all.

On December 10, the people of Tecobokyn woke up to see the Roma people marching through the town — not in a demonstration to ask for their rights, but in a 2-mile procession to the Reformed church in the village. We celebrated three new Roma church members: Eva, a 14-year-old girl; Marianna, a mother; and Velma, a grandmother. Through patience and hard work, the three completed a 10-month confirmation class and were received as new members of the Reformed Church of Karpatalja. The door that was closed for many years because of fear and stereotypes is now open wide for any Roma wishing to become a member of the Ukrainian Reformed Church. I thank God for this joyful occasion of witnessing the Roma people accepted among their brothers and sisters.

On December 17, we celebrated Christmas with the children and their parents. It was wonderful to see that the children truly understand that Jesus the Son of God came to earth to let them know that God is with us. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Through these gatherings, I opened my hands to let go of the ministry in Ukraine, but at the same time, God filled my hands again with a new call to help with the refugee project of a new partner church, the Greek Evangelical Church of Katerini. The vision of Perichoresis is the alleviation of human hardship regardless of ethnicity, race and religion. All who are involved in the Perichoresis project embrace people who are hurting, both native and foreign, in the spirit of inclusion. The Greek Evangelical Church is composed of many Greek refugees who were forcibly displaced during the 20th century and went on to become doctors, poets, writers, business people and professors in many parts of the world. They and their descendants do not forget the years of adversity, war and displacement. In turn, they embrace today’s refugees through the Perichoresis project.

Early in 2015, members of the Greek Evangelical Church of Katereni began visiting the main refugee camp in Idomeni on the border of Macedonia in northern Greece twice a week to provide food, water and clothing. Then, in March 2016, church members began to transfer refugees to fully equipped apartments and houses, starting with single-parent families and people with medical needs. The staff sees the importance of equipping the refugees with education that enables self-improvement and self-sufficiency. Educational programs available to refugees while they are in the care of the project include nursery school, Greek and English lessons, and other services.

The Greek Evangelical church in Katerini asked Presbyterian World Mission for interpreter support for the ministry, explaining that “the role of an interpreter in our organization is significant and rather vital, since she/he is our mouth, communicat[ing] with the beneficiaries of the housing projects, and assisting in hospital and doctors’ visits and in appointments with lawyers.” An interpreter is needed to ensure accurate and understandable information is passed on to beneficiaries in an understandable and culturally acceptable way. An Arabic-speaking interpreter is essential for the organization, since the majority of the beneficiaries of Perichoresis are Syrians, Iraqi Arabs and Kurds. Refugees also come from other countries, such as Afghanistan, Palestine, Congo and Cameroon.

I trust God will lead and fulfill his plans and promise for both the partner church and the beneficiaries of the project and that many of those affected people will receive the healing comfort of God’s love, receive the Lord and glorify God.

Because of you, my partners, I been encouraged to accept the new call to serve the Lord in Greece. I approach you all, individuals and churches, and ask that you please continue your partnership in God’s work among the refugees with our new global partner and with Presbyterian World Mission. I thank you so much for your past encouragement, prayers and financial support for God’s work among the Kazakhs, Tajiks and the Roma in Ukraine.

I pray the Risen Lord will fill your hearts with our assured hope of eternal life here and after as you share God’s love with others. Have blessed Easter celebrations.

With you serving Christ,

Nadia Ayoub

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