Michel (Michael) had dreams, big dreams. He lived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo), a country that cannot offer a great deal of hope to its young people. Although he had completed a university course, he couldn’t find decent work. He wanted to improve his English so that he could one day teach in a university. He decided to make his way to Europe.
He arrived in Greece with great hope, but he quickly discovered that the country’s faltering economy offered few job opportunities. Michel had no money, no work, no family, and no friends from his homeland. But he was not alone. He met many others who were stranded, as he was. He found a place to live with several other immigrants, and together they struggle to survive.
With no work, Michel often spent an hour or so in a nearby park. One day he met George, a man from Michel’s homeland. The two began talking, and George quickly turned the conversation to God.
Michel believed in God and often prayed. But George told him things about God that Michel had never heard before. Michel listened intently. When George invited Michel to attend the Adventist church with him, Michel smiled. He knew a few Adventists from the Congo and had read some Adventist books back home. “Sure, I’ll go with you,” he told his new friend.
On Sabbath Michel listened as the pastor urged the congregation to keep the Sabbath day holy, for God is holy, and He had created the Sabbath as a time to spend with God and worship Him.
After church Michel asked George more about the Sabbath. George opened his Bible, and the two began to study the Sabbath. George explained each Bible text about the Sabbath, and by the time the two had finished their study, Michel had no doubts that the Sabbath was God’s holy day and that he must keep it holy.
Michel continued meeting George in the park, where George taught him other Bible truths. They studied Revelation, and Michel learned that this book was filled with precious information that he had never understood before.
Michel was excited about what he was learning and immediately began sharing the good news with others he had met. On the day Michel was baptized, two others whom he had invited to church also were baptized. Now these new members are also sharing their new faith with others.
Michel and George continue sharing the gospel with those they meet in the park and through friends. “They are astonished at the truths the Bible contains,” Michel says. Michel can’t give each one Bible studies, so the pastor and other church members step in to help. His enthusiasm has fired up the church members.
“I still don’t have a paying job,” Michel says. “But God has given me work to do in Greece. So far six of those I’ve invited to the church have been baptized, and two of my housemates are coming to church.
“I want to work for God now, and I wait for Him to show me where I should go and what I should do. I try to meet new people in the streets or in a small café or at the park and tell them what I’ve learned about Jesus.”
Michel attends an international church whose members actively minister to immigrants such as him, providing food for those who need it and warm clothes for the winter. “We want to reach out to the people of Athens, one person at a time,” he says.
The congregation uses their rented facilities for many different programs to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people in the city they serve. And the congregation is growing rapidly. “When I first came here, we had about 50 members,” Michel says. “Now more than 100 people from 16 different countries worship together here. We come from many cultures and speak several languages, but we are all seeking to follow God’s path for us.”
The Athens International Adventist Church is growing rapidly, and it needs a larger place to meet. But it’s difficult to rent large halls in this city because of the prejudice from other churches.
“We see this congregation becoming the center for outreach to Athens,” says Apostolos Manglis, president of the Greek Mission. “This evangelistic center will also house a training center to teach people such as Michel how to be even more effective missionaries in Greece. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help fund this project, which will make a tremendous impact on the people of Athens and of Greece. Thank you for helping us share the gospel in this needy country.”