Walking Alongside Refugees in Greece

A Letter from Nadia Ayoub, serving in Greece

November 2018

Write to Nadia Ayoub

Individuals: Give online to E200473 for Nadia Ayoub’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D506029 for Nadia Ayoub’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

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Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’ John 14:6

Dear Friends and Families,

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father, I greet you from Katerini, Greece. I thank God very much for his love for us and for sending Jesus to show us the way to come back to the Father, know the truth and have life. This is the message that I need to tell over and over again to the many people who ask me, “Why have you come to Greece?”

Dear partners, I thank you so much for your prayers, encouragement and financial support that have enabled me to be in Greece for the past two-and-a-half months. It has been incredibly overwhelming trying to understand the extent of the refugees’ needs. And what are these needs? Until now, I knew very little about the situation of the economically impaired Greek people who are trying to help very poor and needy refugees.

As they witnessed the growing refugee crisis on the borders of Greece, members of the Greek Evangelical Church in Katerini recognized it was their Christian duty to help Syrian forced immigrants, and they opened their homes to receive the refugees who fled the war and came to the Greek borders. And then they formed Perichoresis, rented many apartments and brought more refugees from the main refugee camps at the borders. But, it was a bigger commitment than the people of the church could take on alone, so they accepted help from UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). The refugees receive aid from the UNHR for housing, utilities and living allowances.

Perichoresis serves refugees from Syria and many other countries — Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Palestine, and even Kuwait. Many of these refugees recognize that Greece cannot sustain their families for a long time, so they stay for a short time until they find other countries to go to. This is very difficult for the numerous Greek people who really would like many of these refugees to stay and become integrated into the Greek community. Sadly, as the Perichoresis workers get to know and love the refugees, they leave to go to other countries. That is the discouraging side of this ministry.

By God’s grace, I have begun my work in translating for Arabic-speaking refugees at the Katerini hospital. At first, the doctors and the hospital workers were resistant to speaking English, insisting that I speak Greek. I agreed that I need to learn the Greek language, but shared that since helping people is the first priority, it is necessary to speak English until I am more proficient in the specialized Greek vocabulary used in the healthcare field. Though I understand some of it, I even have problems understanding the general Greek language in Katerini. People in Katerini are from Greek-Turkish descent, so the language is a mix of Greek and Turkish. Thank God many doctors, nurses and office workers have agreed to use English.

I have also been asked to join an art class for refugees and women from the Evangelical Church of Katerini that takes place every Monday evening. As we create crafts, we talk and make friends with each other.

On Tuesday evenings, we have family fellowship in one of the Evangelical Church buildings with the cooperation of a group of Christian church leaders from Thessaloniki who are from Egypt, Sweden and Greece. These leaders come every Tuesday from Thessaloniki to Katerini and help teach the Christian faith to refugees. During this time, we explore the Christian faith. The next day at the hospital, when I see the Syrians who attended the meetings, they sometimes ask me questions. One couple shared that they knew this information about Christianity before but wonder what they need to do to be Christian. I replied, “It is your choice to decide if you would like to accept and live by the Christian faith.” Other refugees come with questions about their own faith. Mostly I listen to them and let them hear themselves and think about what they asked me. At all times, I leave the door open for them to come back, talk with me and ask more.

The Greek Evangelical Church leaders agreed to sponsor my Greek visa invitation. I have come back to the USA to work with the Greek Council in New York in acquiring a Greek visa. I pray it will be granted in a short time so that I can go back to Katerini, Greece, and help with what the Lord has started there among the refugees.

I thank God that after living in a hotel for my first 20 days in Greece, I was able to move into a fifth-floor apartment. The apartment is in the center of Katerini, near the bus station and a good supermarket, but a little far (about a 20-minute walk) from the Evangelical church where I go to worship on Sunday and attend the Monday class and Tuesday fellowship mentioned above. The apartment is a good size for me, but perhaps because it is old, the plumbing is leaking and all the taps are dripping. I pray I will find a better place, but if not, I will need to do some renovation when I return from my trip to the States.

A little note about the Roma people in Karpatalja, Ukraine: Thanks be to God, the children have started the new school year. There are about 25 children between the ages of three and five in the kindergarten. The afterschool program is going well, supported with funds from Hungary. Pastor Elemer and his family continue to lead family worship for Roma people on Sundays and weekly Bible study in the Roma homes.

Thank you so much for your active partnership through your prayers, encouragement and financial support for my ministry among refugees and forced immigrants. Your support makes it possible for me to be used by the Lord in Greece for God’s glory and the welcoming of those considered to be outsiders into God’s kingdom.

Yours in Christ,


Please read this important message from José Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission

Dear partners in God’s mission,

We near the close of 2018 inspired by the hope of Christ. God is transforming the world, and you are helping to make it happen.

Thank you very much for your support of our mission co-workers. The prayers and financial gifts of people like you enable them to work alongside global partners to address poverty, hopelessness, violence and other pressing problems in the name of Jesus Christ.

Every day, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers are blessed to be able to walk alongside their brothers and sisters across the globe. Listening to each other in faith and in friendship, they learn from each other how to work towards a world in which everyone flourishes. Acting upon what they discover together, PC(USA) mission co-workers and our global partners strengthen the body of Christ.

Because you are an integral part of God’s mission, I invite you to become more deeply committed to Presbyterian World Mission. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer God’s call to serve others.

I also invite you to ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s prayer list and mission budget for 2019 and beyond. Your multi-year commitment will make a great difference in our involvement with our partners. The majority of our mission co-workers’ funding comes from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours, for God’s mission is a responsibility of the whole church, not a particular area of the church. Now more than ever, we need your financial support!

In faith, our mission co-workers accept a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission, representing the whole church and you, sends them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts? With hope and faith, I await your positive response!

At God’s service and at your service!

José Luis Casal

P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!

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