About Nadia Ayoub’s ministry
From 2010 to 2017, Nadia Ayoub partnered with the Reformed Church in Carpath-Ukraine in developing and implementing church-related early childhood education programs in marginalized Roma communities. These educational programs served as pre-evangelism outreach that sought to steadily improve the self-esteem and status of Roma children and their parents in the eyes of other Roma and those in the larger Ukrainian society.
Nadia’s work with marginalized Roma families endowed her with experience and understanding that proves invaluable in working with refugees in Greece in partnership with Perichoresis and the Greek Evangelical Church. Perichoresis, which operates under the auspices of the Greek Evangelical Church of Katerini and the General Synod of the Evangelical Church of Greece, explains its mission as “the alleviation of human hardship regardless of ethnicity, race and creed.” The theological term “perichoresis,” which refers to the nature of the Trinity wherein each part interpenetrates the other, aptly encapsulates the philosophy of the organization. For it is when we acknowledge that we are all members of the body of Christ that we recognize that it is imperative to embrace our fellow humans and strive to improve their lives.
Perichoresis provides housing and support for 550 refugees in 115 apartments in the city of Katerini on mainland Greece. Their programs include a nursery school, sports activities, and socio-therapeutic groups for children, adolescents and women. They also support refugees with medical appointments and visits with lawyers. In her work with Perichoresis, Nadia serves as a children’s worker in its preschool programs and as a translator.
Greece is celebrated as the cradle of Western culture and the birthplace of democracy. Its mountainous mainland, countless islands and rich history attract over 25 million tourists each year. However, during the past decade, Greece has suffered a devastating economic crisis. In response to budget deficits, the country has instituted austerity measures that have debilitated many Greek citizens. Businesses have failed, the unemployment rate has skyrocketed and poverty has become much more widespread.
Greece has also found itself incapable of adequately addressing the European refugee crisis that has hit the country especially hard. In 2016–2017 alone, more than 1.3 million refugees traveled through Greece to reach safety in Europe. According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), of Greece’s population of about 11 million, more than 65 thousand are refugees. Primarily from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, these refugees are fleeing war-torn, conflict-ridden countries in search of reunification with their families and a safe place to live.
About Nadia Ayoub
Born into a Christian family in Egypt, Nadia immigrated to the United States with her family in 1985. Before she left Egypt, Nadia earned her Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from Ain Shams University in Cairo and her Bachelor of Science degree in Christian theology from the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo.
Nadia’s call to serve refugees is rooted in her own experience of being a stranger in the many places she has called home. Immigrating from Egypt to New Jersey necessitated learning a new land and culture, as did the many years she spent in Central Asia and Ukraine. “As I think about God’s call to me to serve among the refugees and strangers,” she said, “I see I was that stranger not once but many times. And God has always provided individuals and communities in God’s church to welcome me. I only can give thanks to God and pray I will be able to welcome others and make them feel at home in strange places.”
When Nadia first saw the images of rubber boats filled with refugee women and children in the early days of the refugee crisis, she was struck by the realization that the situations in their homelands must be dire to compel them to risk their own and their children’s lives. In the summer of 2015, her heart became more burdened when she encountered refugee families with little children living on pieces of cardboard in a train station in Budapest, Hungary. “When I heard that many of those children were unaccompanied,” Nadia said, “I began thinking about how frightening is to be alone and not understood because of language differences.” It was then that she felt a strong desire to commit herself to ministering to refugees.
Nadia strives to listen carefully to the refugees with whom she interacts so that she can understand their real needs. She prays for the ability to serve and strengthen the church’s purpose of embracing the stranger.
Nadia was ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament on Oct. 24, 2010. She is a minister member of the Presbytery of Elizabeth. Her home church is Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, New Jersey.
Birthday: December 23