Presentations focus on the interconnection of justice and solidarity
November 1, 2021
Presbyterian World Mission’s Office of the Middle East and Europe brought together representatives from global partners in Southern Europe virtually recently to discuss the interconnections of justice, solidarity and mutual ministry.
Presentations of creative ministry and advocacy within each individual context were shared from global partners in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. After the presentations, three representatives of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), including the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA), responded to common threads identified between the work of partners and the priority foci of the PC(USA).
“The Mediterranean is one of the crucial regions of the world with many geopolitical implications and we know our partners, small, minority reformed churches and NGOs active in their societies to promote peace with justice,” said Luciano Kovacs, coordinator of World Mission’s office of the Middle East and Europe, who moderated the webinar.
Dimitris Boukis, secretary of the executive committee of the Evangelical Church of Greece, said the church takes seriously its prophetic voice for the sake of the gospel.
For the past 25 years, the church has taken an active role in working with refugees and immigrants, opening the first center for people in need in downtown Athens. After addressing the immediate needs of food and clothing, the church went on to create shelters and offer language classes, medical care and legal advice. The work is done by a church community of just 5,000 people throughout Greece.
“It is not always easy,” said Boukis. “We are not always successful, but as long as we see even one or two people have found a new life and new opportunities, we feel well.”
Boukis told the participants that their work would not be possible without partners from around the world who have supported them with prayers, financial help and, most importantly, their presence.
“We are grateful for Nadia Ayoub, mission co-worker in Katerini, who works in one of our large refugee centers,” he said. “In her, we see all of you. We know we cannot do much, but with a family behind us with a common desire to serve the gospel of Jesus Christ, we feel stronger and have the power to continue what we are doing here in Greece.”
Human rights activist Efi Latsoudi, one of the founders of Lesvos Solidarity, talked about the current situation in Lesvos, after the government closed the Pikpa Camp she helped found for some of the island’s most vulnerable refugees. She said there is a desperate need for decent refugee accommodations, with many living in terrible conditions. Even though the camp has closed, they have started a new center for women and families. They are also working with a local network to help people find jobs.
“We try to send the message that we can all live together, that the solution is not to keep people out but to try to address this as a society and to find solutions the human way,” she said.
Representing Mediterranean Hope, Paolo Naso, a member of the Waldensian Church of Italy, one of the smallest Protestant churches in the world, has created a global and inclusive approach to refugees despite the church’s small numbers.
“We have evidence of hundreds of people dying because there is no safe route for the asylum seekers,” said Naso. “We don’t have land borders or deserts as you have in the U.S. We have the Mediterranean. And this wonderful sea, instead of being a bridge of communication among cultures and people, is becoming an immoral cemetery for our generation.”
The church has focused its efforts on creating legal ways to find refuge in Italy. Through advocacy, lobbying and political campaigns, they have convinced the Italian government to develop a humanitarian corridor for refugees and hope others can learn from their success.
He talked about the Bible passage recounting the resurrection of Lazarus.
“These people were dead. Their bodies were dead. Their hopes were dead. Their fantasies were dead and their dreams,” he said. “But through the actions we started, we have seen people taking back their lives, their dignity and those who were dead start to live again and live in richness with hopes and dreams.”
Kathy Melvin, Director of Mission Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Monday, November 1, 2021, All Saints’ Day (Year B)
Today’s Focus: Global partners in Southern Europe
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Kelly Cahill, Business Administrator, Information Technology, Board of Pensions
Suzan Cantrell, Mission Associate, Mission Personnel Payroll & Finance, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
Lord Christ, fill your followers in Vietnam with bold faith and the power of the Holy Spirit. Continue to increase the number of believers, one house church at a time. May we be inspired by their witness and support them through the gift of prayer. In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.