5 weeks in Athens, Greece
Being in Greece was incredible. Coming we knew that we would be working with refugees, but honestly I don’t think that our hearts were ready for all that that entailed, or maybe that was just me. No amount of stories or statistics that I read over in the states could have ever prepared me for seeing the crisis, sitting down and hearing story after story of tragedy and trauma. We were able to visit and bring aid to refugee camps and something that they call “squats” (which is just abandoned rundown buildings that 100s of them would live in together), serve in a few different warehouses full of supplies that weren’t getting out to the refugees simply because there was no one to sort and document the stuff, teach English, do evangelism, and so much more! We also felt incredibly called to evangelize and bless the Greek people as much as we could, but I will get to that later because honestly I could go on just about how God chasing that nation as well. That is a VERY SHORT summary of some of the opportunities and open doors that God opened in Greece, and while so much happened in the physical God moved SO much in the spiritual as well! So, there is a small snip it of our time in Greece and there is more coming in just three short weeks.
Testimony: Puttin’ my pencil where my mouth is.
Beginning this testimony I need to let you in on something that I have been asking God for within the past few months. I love to draw. I love to paint. It is not something that I tell a lot of people, but I love it. It is something that I keep very private because to me it’s very vulnerable. I don’t know what it is about art, but it is just a very personal thing and often to be honest I fear that people will not like it or just think it’s flat out horrible. So, my art was MY thing that only I only shared with a few people, only after I drew in private with a BIG eraser in hand. However, after some talks with amazing people in my life and some teachings here and there, I felt a stirring in me. So, I decided to ask God to have it. To have my talent. That sounds weird. I know. But, art is a gift God has given me, and out of fear I have kept it to myself. So, I asked Him to use it. To bless people. To help me in drawing closer to Him. To be prophetic. Really anything. I began to draw pictures and give them to people as God told me, or as they asked, but I still did it in private and with my eraser ALWAYS in hand… until Greece.
One place we served was in a refugee center where refugees would come to use wifi, drink tea, wash their clothes, and shower. In this place we were able to sit, talk, process with, and play games with them and really just love on them and make them feel known. On this day, one of my students was sitting with an afghan woman coloring and talking about life, and I decided to go over and join the conversation. After sitting and exchanging names (we will call her Sarah), we began talking. In some very broken English she spoke with much love and tenderness about her family and specifically she began to talk about her daughter. She was saying how her daughter likes to color and draw to show how she feels, and lately that has just been pictures of a sad house with bombs dropping on it. Not exactly knowing where to take the conversation my student points to me and says, “Oh she loves to draw too. She is very good.” To which then Sarah says, “Oh really! Do you draw people and give to them? People are always so happy to get drawings of them. Draw me.” She reaches over to find me the only non-scribbled on piece of orange construction paper, and a blue colored pencil, hands them to me, and looks at me with her big beautiful eyes. There I am no privacy, no fancy drawing pencil, and NO eraser… I almost shook my head and pushed it back to her, but then I heard God say, “Do you trust me?” I paused thinking to myself, “I have to draw a person…one of the hardest things to draw for me…with no picture to follow, but a wiggling live model and no eraser…” I was 100% sure that she was gonna come out looking like Mr. Potato head, but I heard God say again, “Do you trust that I who gave you this ability can increase it when you need it? This is your chance to bless someone with what I have given you.” So, I bit my lip (and my pride) grabbed my kindergarten supplies and began to draw. As I drew, I was very aware that people were watching my every stroke to the paper, so I began to pray. For Sarah. For what God wanted to say to her through this picture, and just for God to capture her hurting heart. Awhile after I began to draw, the center we were at announced their closing, so looking at a very unfinished drawing I put a few last minute touches on it and handed it over holding my breath. “My eyes. Those are MY eyes. This is me!” She kept saying that over and over, then I got to share with her how God see her and loves her. With a sincere smile, two kisses and a hug she thanked me and said, “I will keep it forever.” The drawing wasn’t perfect by any means. It was disproportional, inexact, and unfinished, but it was beautiful. I truly believe God helped me draw that picture and gave me the grace to do. All I can say is that God is good, and when you ask him to take you and use you… ALL of you. Even the insecure parts, He will.
Written by Anna