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“You Are My Friends”

A Letter from Nadia Ayoub, serving in Greece

Fall 2023

Write to Nadia Ayoub

Individuals: Give online to E132192 in honor of Nadia Ayoub’s ministry

Congregations: Give to D500115 in honor of Nadia Ayoub’s ministry

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

 


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“Jesus said, ‘My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.’” John 15:12-14

 Dear friends and families,

I greet you all in the name of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ our savior. With a heart full of thanksgiving, I praise the Lord for he is the living God and created us in his image and Jesus Christ has called us friends through the laying of his life for us, his friends. He has instructed us to follow his command to love each other and become friends. I thank you all, my friends, for your faithful friendship for many years, your encouragement, prayers and financial support that have given me the chance to become friends with many different people who need a friend.

The Ukrainian grandmother Irena asked in a dispirited tone if there was any way that her two granddaughters attend camp for some days?

Grandmother Irena and her two granddaughters are happy to know that they will attend the Greek Evangelical Church Summer Bible camp and learn about Jesus, the friend of all.

A few days ago, I was on my way back home from the Education Center at about 2 p.m. It was nearly 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and I was trying to stay on the shady side of the street. I was happy to see Irena in the distance, but she crossed to the other side of the street. I called her but she did not hear me, so I hurried to catch up with her before entering the supermarket. Once inside we greeted each other with a hearty hug, and she started telling me that she had been in court all morning to produce custody documents so she could obtain a traveling passport for her grandchildren. She is going back to Ukraine with her granddaughters. It has been almost a year and a half since these children left their parent’s home in Mariupol-UA, which is now occupied by Russians. I was happy to hear that the children would see their parents again. But Irena explained; the passport would be a Ukrainian passport, which would require that they must travel through Ukraine to get to Mariupol. And they will not be allowed to enter the occupied Mariupol area. The parents live in this occupied zone so that they can take care of their grandparents who are very elderly and have a farm with livestock and crops. The children’s parents did not change their Ukrainian passports to Russian passports so they will not be able to travel out of the occupied territory. This means that the children will not be able to see their parents. But Irena, the grandmother, was very homesick and tired from taking care of her grandchildren alone for a year and a half. She said, “I have family in Ukraine that I can stay with, and they can help me.”

It is true that Ukrainians have received a great deal of help from different organizations like Perichoresis and Greek authorities in the past but now this help has subsided. What is the most difficult for Irena and her grandchildren is that the housing privilege has ended. Because of her young grandchildren, she cannot go to work to be able to pay for housing (rent + utilities) and living expenses.

For almost a year and a half, her grandchildren have attended the Greek school and they are doing very well according to their teachers.

I asked Irena, “Where is a better life for the children?” And she said it was in Katerini-Greece.

A while ago she asked me whether or not her grandchildren could attend camp. I told her that we would pray for guidance, and I would contact the Evangelical Bible camp director and ask if there was any chance that her grandchildren might attend. On a Thursday afternoon, I asked the director whether or not it would be possible for the children to attend. The director told me that there was space but that the registration deadline had passed. She did agree to make an exception if Irena could complete the requirement documents by the next afternoon, so that she could complete the registration electronically.  

Thank God, the next day, on Friday at 11 a.m., Irena provided medical certificates for the children and we were able to complete two other documents. I photographed them and sent them by Messenger to the director. By 2 p.m., the children were registered to attend the camp for 10 days.

My prayer for the children is that their lives will be happy now and for eternity.

Irena was so happy. She felt that she was not alone and had real friends because many people were trying to help her. And she said she would try to find work while the children were at camp, so she could save some money for later.

My prayer for her is that she would have some free days from caring for the children,  that she would have some time to think about the benefits of her trip to Ukraine and be able to make a wise decision.

Jesus said, “You are my friends because I have told you all what I heard from my father.”

For many years, since I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, I have enjoyed his friendship through you, my friends, and my ministry partners. Thank you.  

Jesus is the friend who will care about our cases, advocate for us, share our tears and joy, and pray for us. My heart prayer is that all my friends will accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal savior and friend.

Serving Christ the Lord with you all among the refugees,

Nadia Ayoub

 


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