Here is another missionary update that I received today. It gives one a glimpse into another culture and another "front line" of God's grace and His activity. Take a look...
I'm back in Athens after my quick trip to Seattle. It was great to connect with those of you I could - 2 weeks is definitely not enough time! But I enjoyed seeing the budding spring in Seattle, and sharing our amazing parks with Erik. I wanted to ask for prayer for an upcoming awareness raising show we are putting on on May 29th in a theatre space donated by the city of Athens. Some local artists have graciously donated their talent and time to put together a music and theatre event to raise public awareness about the issue of trafficking and our organization's work. We haven't ever put something like this together, and though we've been working on it, many things still haven't quite fallen in place, particularly for the advertising. This is one more way by which we seek to be a witness to an audience (of 600+) which may not think well of Christians. And it's one more opportunity to see God at work, as we attempt to pull something off that is truly a God-sized event. Please pray for protection, provision, wisdom... And the following is an account about our Easter outreach written by Britt Kroll, who is halfway through an internship with us. Enjoy!
the eve before my first greek easter, i stood in a square outside a traditional orthodox church in the center of athens. i did my best to absorb the new everything around me. the sights & sounds of this celebration: the priests singing into the cold night, surrounded by a mesmerized crowd, in which the soft glow of candlelight was slowing growing. the gradual walk through plaka, shared with friends trying to keep their light the whole way home. the calm city, with only church bells to break its rare silence. anticipating the taste of lamb for our easter lunch the following afternoon …
as i reflected back on this easter season, which had started weeks before, the picture unfolded into nea zoi’s special holiday outreaches. the senses of easter were much different here. the sight of a dark stairway, lit by a single dim dulb above its doorway. the sound of loud dance music to greet us at the entrance - a constant reminder of the cheap party some women are forced to attend. the smell of cigarettes, perhaps from a previous customer. the warming affect of a smile & “kalo paska!” in a crowded & uncomfortable place. the taste of chocolate in our gifts, sharing a celebration. the shy welcome of a girl, telling her name or country of origin with hesitation. one girl in particular stands out in my mind from our visits. tanya works in a brothel that is a longer walk from our outreach center. she is bulgarian, and immediately welcomed my friend & i inside. she was not busy at the time & we had a chance to sit with tanya & her madam for several minutes. they both accepted candles, and were interested in discussing the easter holiday & what we do as an organization. tanya has been in this work since she was a young teen, and is now in her mid-20’s. she was open to hearing about nea zoi & she had such a welcoming & kind heart! i was thankful that we had a chance to meet tanya, and know we were only able to make this far-away connection because of our unique easter outreaches, in which we cover more ground. we know many other bulgarian women like tanya, and it is my hope that we can continue to have positive contacts with as many as possible.
these are the visions that fly through my mind as i reflect on nea zoi’s easter season - a time of sharing true, vibrant life in a dull & colorless world. i pray these gifts are received well & that the hope of something different lingers in their minds.
Thanks for your prayers.-- Emma Skjonsby Manousaridou
Nea Zoi: Association for the Support & Restoration of Individuals in Prostitution
Vilara 7Athens, Greece