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Trips

Greece Winter 2014

Athens, Greece January 10-19, 2014

TLI provides the curriculum and teachers for a Bible Institute in Athens, Greece that serves the needs of the immigrant community. Classes are offered in four separate locations and in four languages for the following: Arabic, Farsi, Romanian and English speakers (for African and Filipino church leaders.) The immigrant community of Athens is roughly 20% of the city's population and there is very little theological training offered in these languages. You are invited to come and help provide leadership training for current and future church leaders among the immigrant community. Many current church leaders are former Muslims who now have a great opportunity to reach Muslims who have emigrated to Europe from Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   Greece Winter 2014

Jan  16th,  2014Day Four

Athens is an amazing city. In the morning we walk through 2,500-year old ruins, at night we teach refugees and immigrants from eight countries in four languages, and right now I'm writing in a comfortable, modern, wi-fi equipped hotel.

Tonight most of our classes will have finished teaching through Mark's Gospel and the next two days will be devoted to modeling and practicing preaching. This will be a telling time when we find out how much of the principles of Bible study and preaching our students are able to implement. Please be praying for the students who are preparing short sermons in between four hours of class and their job and family responsibilities.

The class I'm teaching has had between 30 and 35 Farsi-speaking students each night. Many of the students who have taken previous TLI courses have had to move to other countries. This is the nature of immigrant ministry. Few students will be able to make it through the entire three years of curriculum. For that reason, I want to be sure to get the basics of the Gospel into this class and Mark is an excellent place to teach on the centrality of the cross and resurrection in Jesus' mission.

Most of the students come from an Islamic background and are clearly seeing Jesus' deity presented in Mark's Gospel. They're realizing again the truth that Jesus is not just a great prophet or miracle-worker, but as Mark pulls back the curtain, Jesus is seen to be God himself. He does things only God can do. He forgives sin, which only God can do. He calls himself "I AM", the Old Testament name for God. Mark isn't just telling a story about a great man, he's telling a story of God coming into this earth to give his life as a ransom for many (Mk. 10:45). As we've traced Jesus' story through the first half of Mark and seen his authority and power, we're sensing the narrative tension of this holy, all-powerful Christ dying a humiliating death. I've had joyful conversations with students after class who are basking in the glory of a God whose love is so great that, rather than just telling ourselves to get fix things up, he came into this world to save and redeem.

It is so good to joyfully worship God as we study his Word together! Today is the fourth day in a row of teaching from 6 PM to 10 PM. It's tiring, but God is faithful. Many of the team members are still fighting various colds and stomach ailments. Keep praying for health and strength as we move past the halfway point of the week tonight.

- Josh

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Jan  16th,  2014Preaching Mark

On this Thursday morning we continue to see sickness around the team, but are praising God for his faithfulness in empowering us to teach and preach through it. I (Alex) have been feeling feverish and have had a lot of congestion during the days, but when the evening comes and it is time to teach, God has allowed prevented it from becoming a distraction. Please continue to pray for the health and endurance of our team. 

This evening we make a transition from delivering content to our students in the form of teaching and preaching the Gospel of Mark to hearing and evaluating the preaching of our students. We have been blessed by the excitement, the passion, and the graciousness of our fellow Christians here in Athens and we are confident we will be blessed as we work alongside them in preaching faithfully the Word of God. I (Alex) have been greatly encouraged by our student biblical literacy; they have not hesitated to quote the Scriptures as we have delved into various topics that arise from Mark’s Gospel.

Tomorrow is the final day we will be teaching the immigrant pastors and leaders here in Athens, but pray that we as teachers will keep our focus and remain present with our students. As we get excited to see our families and begin to remember our responsibilities back home we ask that we would not be distracted, but instead that God would give us focus and enable us to faithfully finish out this week with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

We sincerely thank all of you who are supporting us with your prayers and your resources and we are excited to bring be even more testimony of the work God has allowed all to partner in here in Athens.

 

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Jan  15th,  2014Half Way Through

Tonight we will be half way through the curriculum. We have been teaching through Mark and will now transition to the students preaching and receiving feedback.  The classes are lively and the students are engaged. About a third of the students have taken all the TLI classes. Another third have taken some and the rest are new. This is the nature of refugee ministry. We are thankful they are taking 20 hours out of their week to study.

We have had a sick bug going around the team and would appreciate your prayers. Darren started it, then Alex, then George and now back to Darren. Everyone is well enough to teach and we pray it will stay that way. Pray for our students as well, especially as they begin to preach.

Thank you to everyone supporting us in this ministry. We are thankful to be apart of what God is doing here.

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Jan  12th,  2014Sunday Night Church Service

Sunday night we (Reed and Josh) went to a church service of mostly Iranian Christians, and the service was all in Farsi. Josh will be teaching this week to the Farsi group, which will include some of those who were present. Josh gave the sermon on Mark 14:1-11 (the woman anointing Jesus just before his betrayal), and he noted that we were worshipping at the same time that Damascus Road Church was worshipping Sunday morning in Verona (10 AM in Madison, WI, 6 PM in Athens)!

Just before we arrived four Iranians had converted to Christ upstairs in their building. There were about 50 people at the service, and there was a computer set up at the front with Skype going so that a group of Iranians who had been converted through that ministry and now live in London could "participate" in the service. The ministry has seen over 300 Iranians come to Christ in the past 12-15 months. Many of those have moved on to other parts of Europe, so one of their challenges is trying to make sure they get plugged into good churches in their new home (Athens is the major gateway into Europe for those in North Africa and the Middle East, and many must wait in Athens for their paperwork to get approved before moving on).

Tomorrow we will start teaching in the evening, but before that we plan to go to the Acropolis and do some preparation for those first sessions. Please pray for us as we prepare, and for our first sessions tomorrow night, that God would give us wisdom and direction, and that he would continue to build his church among the immigrant communities (and Greek-speaking communities) here in Athens. It is so encouraging to see what God is doing here!

Please pray also for our translator and a few of the teachers who are battling colds and flu-like symptoms.

- Reed and Josh

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Jan  12th,  2014Arrived

It's Sunday morning and everyone seems to have gotten a good night's rest after a long day of travel. George, Alex and Darren arrived from Turkey first. Darren got pretty sick during his visit but has received some medicine here and seems to be slowly on the mend. Reed, Josh and Dale arrived an hour later with our host. We had some time of orientation last night. If you want to get a layout of the Greek and Ethnic churches in Athens, visit www.communitywalk.com/athens

We went out to dinner at the base of the Acropolis and then headed to bed. Most of us slept a good 10 hours. Today we are headed to a presbyterian church across the street from Zeus's temple and then will head up to Mars Hill, which is a short walk. Tonight some of the guys (TBD!) will be preaching.

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