Mike and Maria, serving as #HowWillTheyHear missionaries in Thessaloniki with a local church, see first-hand how Jesus’ power transforms lives of refugees and asylum-seekers.
Last month, five new believers from Iran and Turkey were baptised into new life with Christ. A few weeks beforehand, four former Muslims also gave their testimonies and shared how Jesus had set them free from past lives and fears. As the faith of these new Christians became known in their refugee camps, many others have also asked to be baptised and the church now plans further baptism preparation classes in April.
One of these believers had been awaiting execution in an ISIS prison, and cried out to God. A voice repeatedly told him to walk out of the prison gate, for some reason left unlocked, and walk right past the guard. He gave his life to the Lord and ended up becoming a disciple under Pastor Andrew Brunson, who himself had been imprisoned for some time in Turkey.
Another man had fled his homeland on a crowded boat across the Mediterranean, bound for Greece but terrified that they would end up in trouble. A few Christians in the boat began praying, and he joined in. They reached shore safely, and he too placed his trust in Jesus. He was hard to baptise because he is still scared of water, but his faith is firm.
Mike and Maria are committed to building up the new believers in faith and helping them continue to trust in the Lord, even as their current situations are more precarious. Many refugees and migrants end up further inland or are moved elsewhere in Europe, but it is their prayer that those who have heard the gospel whilst in the camps near Thessaloniki will respond by faith.
“Ministry is really amazing. God is working in people’s hearts. Even though many are just passing through Greece, God begin a work in their lives. Two teenage girls who came to faith in baptism class were smuggled to be with their mother in Holland before they could get baptized. The refugee’s status is unstable, but ripe for harvest,” they said. “The window of opportunity is now.”