My first year in Greece was all about settling in, finding an apartment, learning Greek full- time, making friends, finding the nearest supermarket, bank, post office etc, and training at Nea Zoi. Even before I arrived in Greece I expected that there would be high and low periods and I knew that after a while things would get better and they did get better.
Now that I have settled in my biggest question now is, What does life in ministry in Greece look like for me? How do I balance learning Greek with working at Nea Zoi? How do I find ways to increase my work load at Nea Zoi from 2 days to 4 days or do I use that time more effectively to work with Migrants from Syria or Afghanistan? How do I extend my network of friends to include both English and Greek speaking friends? How do I continue to receive the word of God but still be able to listen to Sunday worship in Greek.
These are just some of the questions I have grappled with over the last few months. Its been a challenging and dark period filled with lots of prayers and some answers but through it all Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do everything through him who give me strength’, has strengthened me and given me the courage to continue and preserver. Below is one answer to prayer.
The women’s bible study group
On a Wednesday evening I attend a women only english speaking bible study group. Above are just some of the women who attend, there are many more. Currently we are studying Revelation. If you look carefully you can see me. This is one place where I can receive the word of God in English.
The rubbish heap – the scraps of cloth no longer required
Through all this my focus is always about building relationships with the girls I work with out on the streets and in the brothels. These men and women are considered the rubbish heap of society. The scrap heap of cloth nobody wants, they are the lowest of the low, most peope think their identity comes from prostitution and yet God gives them hope and in Genesis 1:27 it says:
‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them’.
He afirms them as being made in his image, God values them and gives them dignity, and there identity is always in Christ. At Nea Zoi we share this message of hope. We want to touch the girls hearts with the light of Christ so they know there is an alternative As a result some do choose to come out of Prositution.
When a girl is no longer in prostitution it is a difficult period and there are many hurdles to overcome and many questions need to be asked, answered and grappled with, while some are easy others are much more difficult and can sometimes lead to the girl going back into prostitution. However for those who have come out there is a way Nea Zoi can help them to earn money.
The Threads of Hope sewing machine used to make products to sell
Threads of Hope is a completley separate business that came out of Nea Zoi but still falls under its umbrella. The organisation sells bags, aprons, ovens gloves, toilet bags and small purses made by the girls . Nea Zoi will firstly train the girls to sew and act as a bridge between the girls being in prostitution and deciding to come out, during this period some of these girls may still be in prostitution and may not have legal documentation. They will also have bible study each week. If they have the skill and maturity they are then offered employment at Threads of Hope to make products to be sold. This is on the understanding they have exited completely from prostitution and have legal documents to stay in the country. They will also have bible study and some of them will attend church.
The Threads that give Hope to our girls
Nea Zoi and Threads of Hope will work alongside these girls to help them build a life outside of prostitution, with plenty of prayer, tea/coffee, practical advise and lots of grace, patients and kindness to encourage them.
The Hands that make the bags
Making these items is not easy, it takes strength of character, patients from us for God to enable them to learn a new skill at Nea Zoi. The girls have to first learn how to sew in a straight line on a sewing machine, this takes time, practice and hard work, once they learn this they can start to make simple things like purses. Once they can consistently make a quality product and have the maturity to go with it they can be offered employment at Threads of Hope. This also takes lots of courage and wisedom for the girls to finish a quality product. Above is the hand of one girl who is employed by Threads of Hope.
The toilet bags and purses that are made by the girls
The Aprons, bags and purses made by the girls.
We praise God for the girls who have chosen to come out of prositution and work with Threads of Hope or choose to go back to thier country of origin and recieve help and support.
At both Both Nea Zoi and Threads of Hope we want to help many more girls to learn how to sew and make a qualty product to be sold. This is much more difficult because of a lack of finances. It costs €5000 a year for a girl to be employed by Threads of Hope. By selling products Threads of Hope is able to cover some of its costs but not all of it and they are always looking for more people to buy their products and also support them financially.
I will be coming to the UK for Christmas from the 18th December – 4th January and I will be bringing with me samples from Threads of Hope for people to look at and hopefully make an order to buy the product. If you are interested in Buying any of the products I will have a stand at Christchurch New Malden on the 1st January 2016 at both the morning and evening service.
Please be praying for both Nea Zoi and Threads of Hope
For His Glory