Victoria is 14 and a student living in Athens, Greece. She attends a public school, and part of her studies includes religion classes twice a week. “Religion class is required,” she explains. “Only those children who aren’t Christians—such as Muslims and Buddhists—can be excused from these classes.
“Most of the students aren’t really interested in religion class,” she adds. “They don’t read the Bible or their Bible story, so they don’t know the answers to the teacher’s questions. The teacher asks questions about the story we’re studying, but the kids don’t raise their hands to answer. So the teacher looks at me. She knows that I know the answer.”
After class some students asked Victoria how she knows so much about the stories the teacher discusses in religion class. Victoria told them that she attends church every week, where she and the other children study the Bible together. “I read these stories in the Bible,” she answered.
On her way home from school, Victoria decided to take her Bible to religion class. Maybe that will help the other students see that God is real and that His Word is important, she thought. Victoria began taking her Bible to school. Sometimes the textbook missed important points in a Bible story, so Victoria asked the teacher for permission to read the story from the Bible. Often her teacher agreed.
Encouraged by her teacher’s openness, Victoria asked for permission to invite her classmates to bring a Bible if they had one so that they could read the lesson together from the Bible. She wanted her classmates to know exactly how the story was written in God’s Word. But most of the children had only the New Testament, so they just listened as Victoria read the story from the Bible.
“My classmates and my teacher respect my faith,” Victoria says. “This is unusual, for most children who don’t attend the state church are given a hard time about their faith. I feel so blessed that God is giving me the courage to stand up for my faith and introduce others to the importance of knowing God’s Word.”
Victoria doesn’t talk a lot in class, so it takes extra courage to stand up for her faith. One day Victoria’s teacher saw the girl’s father waiting for her after school. She told him, “You are blessed to have a daughter like Victoria.”
After class one day, one of Victoria’s classmates stopped her in the hall. “Can we talk?” she asked. Victoria nodded, and the girls stepped away from the other children. Angela spoke softly about a problem she was having at home. “My father says bad things to my mother,” she said. Angela’s face turned red as she struggled to hold back tears. “I think they plan to get a divorce.”
Victoria listened to her classmate in silence. When Angela was done, Victoria told her that Jesus could help her through these difficult times. “You must talk to Jesus,” she said. “Ask for His help. He loves you, and He’ll help you. You just have to believe.” The next day Victoria brought a Bible to give to Angela. In it she had written some Bible verses that Angela could read and share with her family. Victoria told her friend that she was praying for her and her family. Then Victoria prayed for Angela. “I wanted her to know that she can talk to Jesus just like she talks to her friends,” Victoria said.
Victoria and her parents prayed for Angela and her family. Her parents encouraged Victoria to pray with Angela whenever possible, for in Greece people don’t often allow someone of another faith to pray for them or talk to them.
A short time later Angela excitedly told Victoria that her mother had found the list of Bible verses in the Bible and that the family had read them together. “I told my parents that you had prayed with me,” Angela said. “We’re now reading from the Bible and praying together. My dad isn’t arguing or yelling as much, and my parents seem happier. Thank you! Thank you!”
Victoria smiled. She knew that God was answering her prayers. “I hope that the kids in religion class will learn enough about the Bible and Jesus to love Him as I do. I want them to know that I stand for what I believe.”
The people of Greece are often closed-minded about religion. It makes sharing God’s love difficult. This quarter part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help the believers in Greece to reach out to others through personal evangelism and training. Thank you for helping share Jesus in this important project.