As I sit here contemplating the fact that we are about to finish our first Ministry assignment, I am very grateful to God and so very proud of our team. Why? Let me explain.
Proud? Yes! Our team has done an amazing job this past week. Let me explain what we’ve been up to. Over time, many Polish people have immigrated to Greece in search of a better job and economic opportunities. There is a rather large population of them that have settled in and around the Athens area. There is a Polish woman named Tamara who has a great burden for these people, especially their children. About ten years ago she felt led of the Lord to create, provide and invite the teens of these Polish community to a weeklong camp where they could have fun while being exposed to The Gospel. She planned the schedule of activities, assembled a team of adult volunteers (including a Bible teacher/speaker, worship team, chaperones, etc., etc.) and sought a camp to host them.
The Cosmovision Center, a camp ministry of AMG (https://amginternational.org/) saw the need and Tamara’s vision and started providing a week of “free camp” for Tamara and her students. To help with the leadership, the staff at the Cosmovision Center decided it might be helpful to have international short term teams come and serve as additional adult leaders and with other support staff needs.
Over the past several years the number of Polish teens attending the weeklong camp as grown to nearly sixty and God has blessed Tamara and her team’s vision and tireless efforts.
This summer, the short term group of adults who were scheduled to help out had to back out. I (Dave, the trip leader) heard of the need and said that our Royal Servant Team could/would fill the gap if needed. The Cosmovision staff informed Tamara of our willingness to come and help, but she was very reluctant at first. She said, “this is hard and important ministry and should only be done by adult volunteers”. The Cosmovision staff eventually convinced Tamara that the right students could not only help with some of the leadership and practical duties of the camp, but they might also be able to intermingle with the Polish students, build peer to peer relationships while being a witness and example of Christian teens who love and follow Jesus. Reluctantly Tamara agreed to give it a try.
So here we are and have been. Our team was given the challenge of handling some of the “hands on” jobs such as helping in the kitchen and dining room, planning and leading game time 2-3 times per day, teaching a dance class, etc. They were also challenged to get to know the Polish teens, build relationships with them, and pray and look for opportunities in word and deed to help point their new friends towards Christ.
How have they done? Well, as the week comes to a close, Tamara is overjoyed with what our Royal Servant Team has done to impact the camp. Many of the Polish teens have surrendered their lives to Christ and others have rededicated their lives to Jesus. Tamara said she is “amazed at how quickly and well the American teenagers have built relationships with our Polish kids. And that “their testimonies and other actions have done much to influence our kids and help them understand that teenagers CAN have personal relationships with Jesus.” When questioned by the Cosmovision staff about the effectiveness of having students help with the camp (like our RS team) Tamara said, in the years to come, if we can get students like the Royal Servants, I’d RATHER have students than adults!”
You see our students stepped out of their comfort zones and sought to work around language and cultural barriers to build relationships. They ignored the heat (often nearly 100F), the busy schedule, their need for more sleep, more time “alone” (to decompress, process, recover, etc., etc., etc.,0 put the need of others and the ministry itself over their own selves and have given fully to the ministry challenge before them.
Thankful? I began this update by saying “I’m proud AND thankful”. So yes, I’m proud of each and every member of our team AND I’m “thankful” to God! You see, God has been faithful and has given us the strength and grace we’ve needed when we needed it…to push through, to do that which we believe he sent us here to do. He has also allowed us to see some of the fruit that has resulted in part, from our labors. Last night and today we’ve heard numerous testimonies from the Polish campers about how God has used this week at camp to begin and/or grow their relationship with Christ. Virtually everyone who has come to the camp has expressed the great impact it has had on them.
Tonight we have a closing program which their parents will attend and also hear the gospel. Our drama and dance teams will perform. Then we will say our goodbyes as the Polish students head home with their parents tonight (Sat. night) And we, the 2019 Greece and Northern Macedonia team, will go to bed with the satisfaction of knowing that God has granted us the privilege of being a part of what He has done and is doing in the lives of these special young people, who continue to live as Polish immigrants in the land known as Greece. But for many of them now, they are also citizens of a much greater Kingdom!
Tomorrow morning we pack up and then clean the entire camp…as the camp staff prepares for another very large group of campers to arrive the next day. At noon we will depart in vans for the Biblical city of Corinth where we will have a guided tour of the highlights of that historic place, where the Apostle Paul once ministered and eventually penned the two letters of the New Testament named after the city to, First and Second Corinthians.
That evening we plan to arrive at our next ministry site, the Greek Evangelical Church of Pireaus. We will settle in, be briefed on the culture and ministry challenges of that area and get some sleep.The following morning, we will seek the Lord’s favor and leading to do any and everything we can to allow God to continue to work in and through us….for our joy, the good of the nation of Greece, and the glory of God!
Please keep praying for us!
For Your Team,
Here’s a look at some of the Cosmovision Center’s facilities in Athens Greece where our team has been serving:
This is the building we’ve been sleeping in:
We have worship and Bible teaching in this big top three times each day! It’s nice but with no AC and temps pushing 100F most days…it gets pretty warm in their.🥵
The Greece Team has been in charge of planning and leading games twice each day! With rowdy teenagers speaking Greek, English, and Polish it’s been a challenge … but our team has been up to the challenge! (-:
Greece Team’s Grace leans on an olive tree!