Two of us from the Raven Ministry had the opportunity to travel back to Greece for a month in February. We had just recently returned from Greece with a larger team in October 2008. Upon our return, the Lord gave us an overwhelming burden to travel back to this nation to serve and be willing to be given to the work and the needs in Greece.
Prior to our departure, we were asked by the local pastor in Greece if we could launch the Women’s Drug Program for him at the Mercy Center. Have we ever done this? No! But we were willing to say, “Here we are Lord take us and use us for Your purposes!”
This would be the first time ever in the nation of Greece to establish a Christian Drug Program for women. It was an honor for us to serve and be a part of this unique and challenging experience. The pastor is currently housing a men’s program at the Center which was established roughly about a year ago.
During our stay, we learned what it truly meant to lay our lives down — to serve and sacrifice without our own conditions, agendas or resources. We had to rely on Christ and Christ alone.
The Lord brought two women to us fresh off the streets that were bound to the vicious addiction of heroin and enslaved to many years of prostitution. We had the opportunity to minister, care, and nurse these girls back to a healthy heroin- free lifestyle. In this short month we grew to love these girls and they in return began to reciprocate their love back to us. In Greece, thousands have fallen prey to heroin addiction which has led many of these girls into prostitution to feed their addiction. Prostitution and heroin addiction is a massive problem for multitudes of women in the epicenter of Greece and abroad. Sadly, male prostitution is also common and widespread in Greece.
It is evident that Satan has a hold on these heavily oppressed areas near the Center. No matter how thick this cloud of darkness looms, we know that the Lord is moving on many aching hearts that long to be set free from this tormenting and gripping way of life. We have witnessed that the ones who remain on the streets, Jesus is beginning to captivate their hearts and is drawing them to the Mercy Center, a lighthouse in the midst of darkness. It is our prayer that they will desire to seek the extended hands of those at the Center who are willing to helping them get off the streets.
It was exciting to see many familiar faces from the neighboring streets flow into the Center looking and longing to be released from the grip of the enemy. The scripture comes to mind, A broken spirit and a contrite heart He will not despise!! On ministry nights, we would drive in the ministry van down the street to a nearby plaza and invite street workers and addicts to come and hear a message at the Center. They would anxiously pile into the van and ride back with us yearning for spiritual food and prayer!!! One night a prostitute brought her client and he responded to the alter call and accepted Christ into his heart. He returned back to the Center again on a regular service night!
In addition to the Women’s Program and evangelizing, we counseled and held Bible studies with the Center as a whole. We also assisted with the weekly outreaches including the explosive Afghani Ministry community that was birthed last October. The Lord’s power is being unleashed in a mighty way through the Afghani ministry. This ministry was birthed when the October team applied face paints on a few children in the neighborhood. This drew the Afghani’s into the Center and within a week this ministry was born!! What began as an unexpected outreach to the neighborhood with mere face paintings, God had other plans and brought many. Another scripture comes to mind…..God will use the foolish things of the world to confound the wise!!!!
One evening I was across the street from the Center and the Lord showed me that He has this Center and the residents who reside there now in the palm of His Almighty Hand. As I looked up to the dimly lit windows of the Center, I knew and had a hope that there were precious lives inside this building that the Lord was restoring and that He indeed was mending the broken pieces of their lives back together. The Center is that city on top of the hill where many in Athens that are bound, hopeless and rejected can come, just as they are, and come to this place of refuge to find love, prayer, a Word or perhaps a blanket to keep them warm.
The Women’s Program was an unforgettable experience for the both of us. Together with these women we experienced tears, pain, withdrawals, joy and laughter and so much more. Through the passing days, we saw the character of Christ supernaturally develop in the two women addicts and in us as well. The two of us learned about characteristics that our carnal nature so easily wants to escape such as mercy, patience and longsuffering.
Our continued prayers for the Center is, for those who reside there now, their hearts will never grow cold or discouraged and that the Lord will continuously increase a hunger for righteousness and more than anything, that they will have a face to face encounter with the One and Only True and Living God.
Please pray for the nation of Greece and the Center that the Lord will continue to do a work and that lives will be forever changed and transformed by the power of Almighty God.