I wanted to pass along a quick note and ask for your continued prayers.
First, please continue to pray for Kristin’s father (Kent), who is recovering from a stroke. It’s a long, hard road to recovery. Kent is very uncomfortable and very frustrated. Please pray for Kent and the family. Kristin was able to return to the US to visit her dad and help family. She’ll be flying back to Greece on Sunday.
Secondly, please pray for the situation here in Greece. It’s been an incredibly hard week here for our refugee friends. An extremist group has used the recent murder of a Greek (allegedly by immigrants) to justify attacking immigrants and other minorities at random. Needless to say, it has been chaos on the streets. Please pray. Read a more in-depth report below (from teammates Scott and Themis).
We’re grateful for your partnership.
———- from teammate Scott McCracken ———-
Dear Praying Friends,
Two things are currently happening in an intense way here in Athens:
1. Anti-foreigner violence is on the rise, with groups of Greeks hunting for dark-skinned foreigners to beat with baseball bats. A few have already been killed. Some foreigners killed a Greek man a few days ago, and now the violence against foreigners is increasing even more.
2. Police are stepping up arrests of refugees/immigrants.
The reasons this is a problem, other than the obvious, is that refugees are afraid to come out on the streets (i.e., to our ministry center). Bible studies are being canceled, ministry events are not being well-attended, and even when they are our friends are facing problems when they come and go (see photo below, taken right across the street from our center after a ministry program–2 of those refugees had just left our place, and one of those guys is due to be baptized on Wednesday).
Here is a great update written by our teammate Themis Sirinides (includes some news article summaries):
There was tension in the Athens air today. Sofokleous St. and the surrounding blocks are usually busy (something like a flea-market) with refugees crowding the streets; but not today. Last night a mob from an extreme rightist group came into the neighborhood with clubs and knives, attacking all foreigners and taking revenge for the killing of a Greek man the day before. The news reports one refugee death, but people on the street say three foreigners were killed.
Today our ministry center was truly a place of refuge. Around mid-day, all local shops closed their shutters and police were everywhere. You could sense the tension in the air, like dynamite ready to explode. The rumors flew that this far right group was coming again, causing an Afghan woman to run into our center with two children seeking shelter. One of the men with his head wrapped in a bloody bandage from last night’s battle sat peacefully in a room filled with Christian Persian music. What a contrast from what was going on outside.
It is sad to see a great city like Athens in such spiritual oppression-hatred showing its ugliest face. In this immense spiritual darkness,what an opportunity for the light of Christ to shine! Thanks for praying with and for us. Below is an article from a Greek newspaper.
Violent anti-immigrant riot in Athens after fatal stabbing
A violent anti-migrant riot broke out in the Patission district in Athens centre on Tuesday afternoon (10/5) when some 200 people including members of the extreme-right group “Chryssi Avgi” held a protest rally hours after the death by stabbing of a Greek 44-year-old man for his video camera blamed on foreigners. The 44-year-old was attacked as he was taking out his car to take his pregnant wife to hospital to give birth to their second child. According to information gathered by the police, the perpetrators- still to be arrested- were three dark-skinned men, possibly foreign nationals.
The protest soon turned into a violent anti-immigrant pogrom as hooded persons smashed apartment buildings and stores, shouting “Foreigners leave Greece”. Riot police intervened when groups of people carrying broken bottles and clubs, began chasing and clashing with immigrants. During the whole night single attacks on bypassing migrants were reported in different Athens neighbourhoods while according to blogs, a young man from Pakistan was brutally beaten up and had to be rushed to hospital. Moreover, three Molotov cocktails were thrown at the house of 3 Pakistanis in the area of Renti. The attacks continued also on Wednesday (11/5) while more than 24 people were detained. Further rallies are also to take place today (12/5). (12 May)
You can also read more in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Thanks for standing with us through your prayers! Grateful, Scott and Vicki