Celebrating the Growth of the Local Church and Bookstore Ministry in Greece

 

This column highlights the ministries of Disciple's parent organization, Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel (AMG) International, a non-denominational missions agency.  

In October, some of AMG Greece's staff from Athens travelled to Larissa in order to help move our local Logos bookstoreto a new location in the most central and prominent area of  downtown Larisa, a key agricultural center of Greece with a metro area population of over 250,000.

"The Christian bookstore is the best tool of evangelizing Greece," said Rev. Meletis Meletiadis, chairman of the General Synod of Greek Evangelical Churches, in a recent meeting with AMG's national leadership in Athens. Logos bookstores like the one in Larissa provide a constant presence of Christian testimony in the midst of the marketplace for 8-12 hours each business day. More people have a practical chance to hear the Gospel by visiting our bookstores (which are open throughout the week) than all those who may have a chance to visit any evangelical church around the country on a given Sunday.

AMG started the bookstore in Larissa (one of several around the country) in 2000. From the first year of operation, the presence of an evangelical outreach center in Larisa created a strong opposition from fanatic circles of the State church (Greek Orthodox) of Greece. A huge campaign started on the local media to inform the residents of the city about the dangers of the Logos bookstore. Special announcements were made in the local radio, TV, state church magazines, and even from the pulpits of some State churches. The manifold pressure was overwhelming for our coworkers and the small group of evangelicals in the city.

That spiritual battle has continued for ten years now, and the Lord has given us a unique opportunity to move in the best location of town, literally touching thousands of people.

Christina a faithful AMG national worker who manages our bookstore shares one of her experiences:

"In the midst of the greatest opposition, a lady by the name of Gianna started visiting our bookstore in spite of all opposition from the leadership of the state church. Gianna was teaching religion in the local high school at that time. She never stopped visiting our bookstore since her first visit, and a great relationship was developed between us. We started studying God's Word together in our bookstore, in our homes and even via telephone. It is such a joy to see the change in Gianna's life to see her hunger for the Word of God and her gratitude to the Lord for her salvation!"

There are many more people like Gianna whose lives have changed forever due to the witness of Christian message through the ministry of Logos bookstores in Greece.

Later in October, we celebrated the grand opening of the new building in our local church in Athens. That caused me to contemplate one more time on the strategic involvement of the ministry and coworkers of AMG International in the building of the local church in Greece.

It was a partnership with the local church in Katerini, Greece that led to the opening of the first orphanage of AMG in Greece. Today, more than 65 years later, all our coworkers and AMG leaders play a vital role in building, supporting and serving the local church of Christ in Greece. They work with various denominations, positions and cities, but they all have the same priorities and participation in the ministry of the local church.

This is not the main thrust and objective of their ministry but it is the biblical command and our philosophy of ministry to be servants of the local church. This is one of the reasons why AMG ministry has become such a catalyst in the advancement of His kingdom in one of the most difficult and challenging mission fields of the world.

We do believe that the missionary work is totally integrated with the ministry and the operation of the local church. As AMG International, we are operating in Greece not only serving our mission programs (which we do faithfully), not only reaching out to the people of Greece for Christ (something we do unceasingly), not only serving the people in need (something we do daily), or focusing on creating material for helping God's people to mature in their faith (which we are doing creatively)-We are here to work for the building of His Church and for the equipping of our fellow Christians.

This is why most of our coworkers, above and beyond their missionary responsibilities, volunteer in serving the most striving local churches as pastors, teaching elders, worship leaders, Sunday school teachers, ethnic group leaders, and many other vital positions. This is why AMG was able to see major, historic, and strategic  ministries developed like St. Luke's Hospital in Thessaloniki, Logos Publishers, and the various programs of Cosmovision Center in Athens which have become a tremendous blessing not only in the local churches in Greece but in local churches all over the world!

Only heaven will totally reveal the multiple impact of AMG in the ministry of the Gospel in Greece and the region. Until then we have a lot of work to do, this is why we keep pressing on!

Fotis Romeos serves as coordinator of Eastern European ministries for AMG International. He & his family live and work just outside of Athens, Greece.

Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel (AMG) International is a non-denominational, international missions agency based in Chattanooga, Tenn. AMG's distinctive has always been its reliance on national workers to carry the Gospel in their own cultures. Today, they operate ministries in over 40 countries around the world through partnership with national believers.


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