Actually, Greece was also on a COVID lockdown but due to the fact that i58 partners with Euro-Relief, we were able to get special exemption to enter into Greece as an Essential Humanitarian Aid Worker.
For quite a number of years already i58 refugee ministry in Greece was asking Naomi & I to bring MTM to Greece. Finally, after my (Raymond’s) bilateral knee surgery had fully healed and his mobility was restored, the timing seemed right we could answer that i58 call to minister to the refugees there in Greece. The countries in Asia that MTM normally ministers in are all still closed due to Covid-19.
The great evangelical prophet Isaiah prophetically promises in Isaiah 60:1-11 that the gates of the glorious light of the gospel will come to the Arabian nations. These 22 nations were all fathered by Abraham (yes, the father of all who believe by faith). After Sarah dies Abraham takes Keturah for his wife (Genesis 25:1-4). Abraham, fathers 6 sons with Keturah. These 6 sons are the fathers of the 22 Arabian nations stretching across northern Africa all the way from the Atlantic ocean to the Indian Ocean. All these nations today are Islamic. They are unreached people groups for the gospel. The prophet Isaiah promises that they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord (Isaiah 60:6) as well as they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory (Isaiah 60:7)
What a great joy and privilege was ours in being part of this great prophecy being fulfilled through the ministry of i58. These refugees are fleeing their homelands for various reasons, but one thing came through loud and clear. That is, they were willing to risk their lives in crossing the water on small mostly unsafe rubber rafts (from Turkey to Greece) in search of deliverance from forced & failed hope of their present life conditions which is directly connected to their Islamic religion. Considering what they are fleeing from results in a tremendous gospel New Life opportunity and openness in many of them, (but not all).
The Spiritual warfare was very real while we served there in Chios. The opposition was continuously imminent. The COVID-19 lockdown majorly restricted us and kept getting tighter and tighter in the time we served, here from February 14th until we departed April 2nd. There also were strict curfews enforced by police. Police would stop us and question us from time to time. There were restrictions along with fines with limits of passengers in vehicles. We were not allowed to visit within the Vail refugee camp but nevertheless God made a way for me (Raymond) to visit one of the Bible studies attendees’ tents for a quick short visit (see photos).
Numerous times as I ministered the gospel of our lord Jesus Christ unto these seeking refugees, they would confess they feel the love of God being shed abroad in their hearts. They knew nothing of such love and compassion from where they are coming from. But for them to repent of sin & Islam and Confess Jesus Christ as Lord is not easy for them. They know their lives and their families are at stake. Therefore, they take their time in counting the cost before making a decision for Jesus Christ. Naomi & I just kept on loving on them in various ways. Simply to hear them say things like they feel the love of God flowing through us unto them was worth it all. Our prayer is that the seeds we sowed, will be watered in the future by other missionaries and will bring forth fruit, to God’s honor & glory, in due season. Please do pray with us also. Thank you.
For Christ & The Nations,
Raymond & Naomi Burkholder
Macedonian Teaching Ministry Director