This afternoon, I had the honor of having lunch with Dr. Argyris (Ar-HEE-ris) and Dina Petrou who serve as Christian missionaries in Greece. Dr. Petrou is the director of the "Greek Bible College," which is the only Bible school in the country. He is also an ordained minister, Bible teacher, and published author. Dina serves in a ministry dedicated to reaching out to prostitutes in Athens. Many of the women who are trapped in the brothels of that city are victims of human trafficking from countries in Eastern Europe and Africa. It was such a delight to meet these new friends and to hear their exciting stories!
Over the course of the past two years, God has been slowly opening (Gina and) my eyes to the deep spiritual needs that exist in other parts of the world. Other places and people groups simply don't have the access to the Gospel that we've come to take for granted in this country. Argyris said that there are only 5 large churches in the whole country of Greece (large, to Argyris means 500 people or more). The rest of the evangelical churches are very small (less than 50 people each), and there are not many of them in relation to the population of Greece.
In 2008, Gina and I witnessed a similar situation on our trip to the Baltic Region. On that trip, we visited missionaries in the countries of Sweeden, Latvia, and Lithuania. There are very few evangelical churches in these countries, and those that are established lack the leadership, training, and resources that exist in such abundance in the U.S. As Gina and I considered what we'd seen on that trip, we realized that the Holy Spirit was stirring us to go and help.
It's a bit ironic that God would use a situation in Eastern Europe to bring us to Nagoya, Japan. But that's exactly what he's done. It might seem equally strange that I'd begin this blog entry by reporting on a lunch with missionaries to Greece and end up with a paragraph about our calling to Nagoya. For us, I suppose ALL roads lead to Japan!
The truth is, I'm a Gospel minister...and we're a "Gospel family." We're going to be about the work of spreading the light of the Kingdom of God wherever we are - we just want to be where the King wants us. More and more, we're realizing that we live in a world brimming with darkness. Athens, Stokholm, Riga, Vilnius...Nagoya...they're dark places begging for the light of the Gospel, and the Spirit of Christ is on the move around the world. He's at work right now through families like the Petrous in Greece, the Chaplins in Riga, and the Newsomes (etc) in Japan. And the job isn't finished...right now, He's in the process of moving more resources to the darkest places on the globe. Our family can testify to that!