Dear Family & Friends,
We hope this update finds you all well. Suzie and I are doing great and enjoying this season of our lives. For us another year has passed as we are both celebrating our birthdays this week. Mine was on November 3, and Suzie’s is on the 11th. We were blessed this year to celebrate with some dear friends over Chinese food at a great restaurant outside of Athens. Thanks to the many of you who sent us birthday greetings by Facebook, email, and even snail mail. 🙂
Onto the update…
A Growing Threat…
Neo-Fascism on the Rise in Greece: I want to draw your attention to a dangerous situation that has been growing in Greece over the last several months and ask you all to bombard heaven with your prayers in response to it. I’m not trying to be dramatic here but simply exclaim the severity of this issue in Greece!
Very little media attention has been given to this situation in the U.S., but the BBC has been reporting on it more frequently over the last couple months. The despair and unrest that have been growing since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008 have led an increasing number of Greeks to turn to a neo-fascist, ultra-nationalistic political party (whose name I won’t mention here) for help. As the result of the last two elections they have become the third most powerful party in Greece and hold 18 seats in parliament. This new popularity has emboldened them to physically attack immigrants, foreigners of various kinds, and Greeks who don’t share their views. We know of several first hand stories of this. It has been reported that 50-60% of the police force supports the party and the reality of this shows on the streets. The police have idly sat by during several attacks and have at times even arrested those being beaten. The BBC also has reported this about the party’s parlament members, “Its parliamentarians have threatened to “drag migrant children from the kindergartens,” and requested a list of the kindergartens with high migrant numbers. This, the Greek education ministry has willingly provided.”
The climate here is eerily similar to that of Germany in the 1930’s when the Nazi party rose to power. I think we all understand the severity of the ramifications of that historical event. If this fascist nationalistic party gains control of the nation, things will get very bleak here for everyone, but especially for evangelical believers, foreigners, and the thousands of immigrants from the Muslim world. Please pray that God would embolden the Greek pastors to speak the truth about these men without fear, that reason would prevail against desperation and that God would stop this great evil before it gets any farther. Regardless of this looming danger we know that God is in control and that He will continue to do as He chooses in our lives and ministry. If you want to know more about this group you can easily Google, “fascism in Greece” and it will lead to lots of coverage from this side of the world.
Now onto more cheerful things…
Ministry Moving Forward…
Laying the Foundation: Our broadening ministry vision is continuing to move forward and develop. A small group of us have been meeting on Friday evenings to pray as a precursor to the upcoming Bible study. I believe the Lord wants us to set apart several weeks just to pray before we actually begin in order to sanctify ourselves, and this new step of our work. We are also using the time to allow the Lord to develop the vision more clearly and give direction as to how we are to proceed to fulfill it.
I’ve continued to meet with both Greek and foreign pastors and ministry leaders in Athens to share about the vision of doing multicultural church plants. Doing so has been helpful because we have gained much encouragement, godly counsel and a good report among these men of God. Last week I met with the head of the Greek Evangelical Alliance, Fotis Romeos and was overwhelmed by his support and heart to see the vision come to fruition. I asked him specifically if he believed that other Greeks would receive us as foreigners doing this kind of work and he said, absolutely as long as we see it through. It was very humbling but he expressed gratitude to us for being here. He is very knowledgeable of Calvary Chapel and believes that our church-planting ministry has a place in Greece! This response was above and beyond anything that I expected!
The Lord has also brought along a young man to assist us until next June. His name is David and he is a student at the Greek Bible College’s International Program. Funny thing is that he is from Southern California and has some history with Calvary. God has given him a heart for church planting and teaching the Word, so it is our prayer that his time with us will not only be a blessing to us but spiritually educational to him.
Greek Bible College Ministry Fair: I was invited to the Greek Bible College’s ministry fair last month to share about Calvary Chapel Hellas Ministries. It was a wonderful time and opportunity to share about our ministry and Calvary Chapel in general with the staff and students of the college. Each pastor or leader was given five minutes to share about their ministry in order to encourage student involvement. We also had a table in the exhibit area where we interacted with students. For us there was an additional blessing of learning about some of the other ministries working in Greece and connect with friends serving in those we knew about already.
Seeker’s Bible Study & More: I’m continuing to co-teach the Seekers Bible study at Helping Hands on Saturday with Kenn Dirrim. We’re up to chapter six of Mark’s gospel. In the next couple of weeks I will also be teaming up with Kenn to facilitate what we are calling a Community Group with several Afghan and Persian men. He and I will do it once per month at our home. The Community Group is a time of encouragement, fellowship and food. It’s a chance for those who attend to share about what God is doing in their lives and showing them in His word. We think it will be on Thursday evenings.
CD & Book Projects: We are happy to report that the Greek Christian Music Association finished translating the second Scott Cunningham song. Next on the agenda is getting into the studio to record these two songs and then put them together with pastor Chuck’s message, “How Can A Man Be Born Again?” Looking forward to getting the finished product into people’s hands. We’ve also had the added bonus of getting to know the brother who oversees this music ministry and have some potential opportunities to work together in the future on other projects.
Now that fall has arrived we are restarting our discussions with those involved in the translation and publishing of “Why Grace Changes Everything.” I believe it is going to happen as those involved are very positive about the book and see a genuine need for it in Greece.
The Harvest Is Plentiful but the Laborers are Few: As the Lord continues to establish the ministry here the need for workers to join us is increasing.We are praying for the Lord to send likeminded individuals who will share in the vision and calling to reach the people in this nation through church planting. Although we have a great group of people who are with us at this point we are anticipating the need for more, especially those who know the specific cultures we are ministering to, who also possess the unique gifting and talents that are needed, such as translation ability, worship leading, hearts to disciple and train, and those called to minister to children.
Calvary Chapel Hellas Ministries Website: We’ve created a new ministry website calvarychapelhellas.wordpress.com. Please pray for the Lord to use this tool to inform people about our ministry and to further the work of His Kingdom in Greece! A Greek version is under construction and will be done this week. We are still working on a Farsi translation and hope to have it up and running in the near future.
Calvary Chapel Missions: Last month we were blessed with a special visitor, Felice from the CC Costa Mesa mission’s ministry. We shared her with Aziz and Donna Aslami (CCCM missionaries) and enjoyed some very encouraging times of conversation, fellowship, food and a bit of sightseeing. It was truly great to share our home and ministry with her.
Eric Metaxas: If you don’t know who he is, Eric is a American Greek/German Christian author. He spoke at the National Prayer breakfast earlier this year and shared a powerful message just before President Obama spoke. Although he did not come to Athens to see us we got to meet him when he was in Athens for a day last month. Eric spoke at the First Evangelical Church. Suzie and I had a great time listening to him share his testimony and answer questions about his books on William Wilberforce and Diedrich Bonhoeffer. Many of the believers we know in town were there and we all had a sweet night of fellowship enjoying Eric’s talk.
Around the Corner…
Pastors’ Wives Conference: Recently Suzie was given a scholarship to attend the European Calvary Chapel Pastors’ Wives Conference in Germany this month from a church in the States. She was also able to invite her friend Jacky Coleman, who has been serving on Crete with her husband Sean for about three years now and are in the process of a beginning church-plant. She leaves on Friday November 9 alone and will return with Jacky on Wednesday November 14. One small downside of this is that she will be celebrating her birthday there instead of here with me 🙂 Praying they have an exceedingly blessed time in every way!
New Apartment: The Lord has blessed us with a new apartment. We’ve been praying about moving for quite some time. The new place is cheaper, bigger and more adequate for our personal and ministry needs. Cross Eyed our furry little friend (cat) will enjoy the extra space as well. Oh yeah, we have a cat, and he’s cross-eyed, hence the name! He adopted us a few months ago. He’s the smartest and most well-tempered cat we’ve ever owned! The Lord knows how to bless in such special ways.
Furloughs and Visas: Some have asked us about our next furlough but as we’ve mentioned in previous posts we are not planning to return on furlough until next year. We are specifically praying about late May thru late July, Lord willing. By then it will have been almost 3 years since our last visit to the States, which was when we went for my dad’s funeral in 2010. God has been doing much in our ministry and keeping us very busy so we don’t feel that it will be practical to leave for a longer period until then.
We know our furlough is a ways off but we’d like to ask people to begin praying now both for the Lord to provide for the trip and to grant us wisdom in the area of visas. We are considering applying for visas when we return on furlough next year. Although our current visa situation is adequate for the time, it also has its limitations. An official Greek visa would allow us greater freedom to minister in this nation. In light of that we are asking the Lord to show us in the best way to proceed. We are asking for prayer now because the visa policies and processes of Greece are complicated and are currently at a halt. Many recent applicants have been denied This is mostly due to the creation of a new government office that deals with all immigration issues. It is not operational yet due to lack of funding but according to the most recent plan it should be up and running by early next year. Until then the Greek government has directed each embassy and consulate to deny ALL visa applications until further notice regardless of the applicants qualification or visa type. From what I have heard they want to open the new immigration department with a clean slate, i.e. no pending visa applications from the previous system.
Despite this harsh reality some exceptions have also been made and a few missionaries have been granted visas very recently. This gives us hope but ultimately we know that God can move mountains and can give us visas if He wants us in Greece and if He leads us to apply next year. Please be praying with us on these things, as we desire to be as free as possible to minister here in Greece and do not want to be limited by any immigration status.
Thanks for taking the time to read and pray! To see our current prayer needs please click here. If you are a church or an individual and would like to learn about partnering with us financially with either a one time gift or regular monthly support please click here.
Frank & Suzie