Editor's note: Below is an account from June 29 of a day Walter Wood spent “on the ground” in Athens with prospective church planters, Tim Coomar and Alex Pipilios, during the recent demonstrations and protests against the Greek government's austerity measures. These measures were passed on June 30 to avoid default.
I am visiting leaders who want to plant a church in the neighborhood of Exarcheia, about a mile from Parliament Square. The demonstrations against the government are confined to the square, and Exarcheia has not been affected. Some of the residents of this area are politically active, and have attended the demonstrations. They are not among the agitators/ troublemakers, who are a distinct minority. The great majority of protestors is and has been peaceful. There has been a general strike for the last two days, and air traffic controllers have been on four-hour strikes throughout. We should pray for the city of Athens, for its peace and for justice and wisdom to prevail. Most of the city center is closed, and the worship service at the First Evangelical Greek Church, the mother church, was called off tonight, largely because many of the roads into the city center have been closed until things calm down.
Yesterday and today were spent with Tim, Alex, and Senior Pastor Giotis Kantartzis (of the First Evangelical Greek Church) meeting potential core group members and discussing how the next six months’ activities might play out, regarding next steps to gather a leadership core and build the foundations of the new church. Tim just returned from New York City after finishing his theological studies filling the pulpit at a Greek church in Astoria. It's been a privilege to work with these young guys who have a vision and a heart for Athens and who are enthusiastically recruiting good people to come and join them in living out the gospel in this city. And it's been gratifying to see how the story of God's amazing work in and through North Cincinnati has been useful in encouraging and instructing the young men I have encountered on this trip who are seeking to make an impact for Christ in their cities.
The world is in chaos. Just as Paul went to the great cities of the world to preach Christ, so many are being raised up today to bring the power of the gospel to these cities. And it's a privilege for us to be a small part of that movement of God, and to be in partnership with others who have a heart for their cities as we do for ours.