The Answer to the Question, “Why?”

A Letter from Nadia Ayoub, serving in Greece

Summer 2023

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“And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”- which means, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34

 “Siblings, …we believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13a, 14

My dear friends, families and the church’s families,

I greet you all with the peace of our risen savior the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank the Lord because he is the only living and faithful God and keeps his promises to those who believe in Jesus who died and rose again. And I thank you all my dear mission partners for keeping your faith strong and witnessing to God’s love and grace of the Lord Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray and trust that you have had a joyful time celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Lord.

During the month of February, we had some difficult times and we truly experienced sadness for the death of many, and we asked “why” but in the middle of it all God was with us, and we have seen the grace of the resurrected Christ comforting and filling our hearts with God’s peace.

Turkey has been in conflict with Greece for some time and was threatening war. On February 6, Turkey experienced a devastating earthquake that registered 7.8 on the Richter scale. In response, the Greek rescue team was among the first ones to reach Turkey and helped save people trapped under the rubble. In addition, the Evangelical Church of Greece held prayer vigils nationwide to cry for the mercy of the Lord while connecting online with Greek churches in Turkey to join in prayer and support.

During the month of February, our Ukrainian guests went through a time of grief as they memorialized the one-year anniversary of the invasion and occupation of their beloved Ukraine by Russia. There were moments in each occasion first for tears and then for laughter when they remembered the journey and the way women and children were evacuated from their homes and took very strange, long and dangerous roads to safety. But they also remembered God’s miracles and protection that enabled them to reach the border of Greece as well as the joyful reception they received from the immigration organizations. Some of them had traveled for more than a month. When they arrived, they felt peace and “at home,” but they had hoped to stay for two to four months and then go back to Ukraine. That has proven impossible and now it has been a whole year and they still are not able to return to Ukraine.

They praise the Lord for all the help they get from organizations like Perichoresis that have provided them with housing, food supplies, medical assistance, schooling, language training, and social and psychological help. Grandmother Irene has two granddaughters. She thanks God for the joy of taking care of the children and trying to learn the Greek language to help the children with their homework. When we celebrated her birthday,

she said, through her tears and laughter, “Now I have new friends who are like family.” Yes, Christ is risen and alive and He is the hope and strength in difficulties. The Ukrainian greeting for Easter is, “Christ is risen, indeed He is risen” and they add, “Ukraine will rise.”  

On February 28, a terrible train accident happened in Greece. Three hundred and fifty people died and most of them were young people coming back from a big carnival and going back to their jobs and schools. Many families grieved the loss of their children, and many young people lost their friends. We heard many beautiful stories about what happened during the accident. People were helping each other to escape from the burning train car. One young person helped the mother with her baby by allowing her to step on him to climb out the window. Another person, who was already outside of the train, reached up to grab the child and covered the child with her coat until the mother was able to climb down, then she walked away and left her coat on the child. In gratitude, the mother went online and tried to locate the person to return the coat. In the middle of sadness, the Lord comforted and encouraged us because He is the risen Lord.

My friend told me that since the accident the train line has not been working and it is causing difficulties for people who used to take the train to work. Previously, it was fast and convenient, but now they have to use the bus, which takes longer and is more expensive.

Praise the Lord that on April 2 the Greek Evangelical Church of Katerini had a joyful celebration of the ordination and installation of our new pastor, Nikolaou Stamoli (Νικολαοθ Σταμουλη).

Please join in prayer regarding the Syria-Turkey earthquake and for peace, the war in Ukraine, and also for Greece and the train accident.

We do not need to ask “Why?” We must have Good Friday, which is known by other names in other traditions such as ”Long Friday” or “Sad Friday.” Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday follows, and we celebrate it with joy and assured hope in the promise of God, we live into the glory of the resurrection and the redeeming love.

Thank you so much for your encouragement, intercessory and thanksgiving prayers, and financial support. I pray the Lord will continue to guide you in sharing the resurrection story.

I will continue to sing the hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” written by George Bennard: “So, I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies, at last, I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown.”

Serving the risen Lord together with all of you,

Nadia Ayoub


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