The last month has been a good one here in Thessaloniki. We are getting out in more areas of the city for ministry and the warmer weather is bringing many more people out during the day and night. It is great to be here in the service of the Lord!
Earlier this month, there was a special Orthodox holiday for their time of lent. It was a time when they put costumes on and ate meat – all day long! Kayode and I had a great time throughout the evening/night as we made our way through all of the heavily populated areas of the city. We were able to witness to a few people – I was able to talk to a middle-aged man from Germany (George) for a while who thinks he is saved but hates God. Lord willing, he will take to heart the things and Scriptures I gave him and realize his need for God. Kayode was able to witness to a group of young men who listened to the gospel for quite a while. We each had other witnesses with people as well. All in all, even though it was meant to be a great night for the Orthodox, it worked out to be a great night for us as well! I did tell Kayode that we should have come in costume as well – as Orthodox priests! It may have helped us even more with reception!
The nighttime ministries in the area of the old palace and near the arch have been going very well. Everytime we are down there, we get to witness to college students. Kayode has been able to meet and witness to a young JW a couple of times that we met down there. He understands the JW doctrine is not perfect, but does not want to give in quite yet. Please pray for him. We have also had some college students come up and ask where the church is because they are interested in attending. We have yet to see them come out but we are still praying for them. Please pray for them with us.
I started attending Greek classes on the other side of the city and have already had great conversations with two of the ladies about the Lord. One of them says that she will come to church. In this case, I will be with these people twice each week, so I get to keep on them about it. There are 12 people in the class and I am making my way through the class to speak with them about the Lord. Please pray for these souls here. The other day was my first class there and we finished off the class by carrying on some Greek conversations with each other. One of the women asked me what my job was and I looked to the teacher to ask her how I would say “pastor” – I had already told her what we were doing here – and she was a little puzzled about what it might be so just told the woman that I was like a Babas (or little father, which is what they call their priests). The women got all excited and just kept saying, “Bravo, Bravo!” At least it gives me something to work with!
Within the church, things have been improving Spiritually. One of the men has been having great witnesses with his family. One of the family members wants to speak with me about salvation next time we are together. Another man in the church told me how much he wants to leave the things in the world that he has been involved in for so long because he sees how there is no hope or joy in them. He wants to start getting together weekly for studies (which before he had kept pushing off). It has been a blessing to have several one-on-one Bible studies with some of the guys here as it has been a joy to get to know them more and see them grow. Please pray for these men.
One of the men who had been coming quite regularly, Leonidas, just disappeared around September of last year. We had tried calling him but the number said his phone was disconnected. People that knew him did not know where he was either. We have been praying quite a bit for him that he would be safe and God would bring him back one day. He finally came this past Sunday. He had had major heart surgery last year and been in the hospital for two months. Since he got out, he has been having a very slow recovery. This was the first time he had been able to come to church again and he was happy to be there. Please pray that his recovery would continue to go well. It was such a relief to see him again and know that he is (finally) doing well!
Our family is doing great. Our daughter, Chloe, got saved this past Monday night! It was such a blessing and is such a joy to have our two oldest children saved and on their way to heaven. Our oldest son, Charlie (he got saved in December), had been telling me that he had been witnessing to Chloe and telling her that she needed to get saved. I told him that night, “See, that is such a good thing you did to tell her that she needed to get saved – now she did it!” He was really happy and told me, “Dad, now she can tell someone else how to get saved and they can tell someone else and it can keep going like that. That way, soon everyone in the world will know how to get saved and want to so that everyone can go to Heaven!” Such a sweet heart from our little 4 year old! We pray his interest in souls never leaves him!
Thank you all once again for your giving and prayers for the ministry here. We are thrilled to have a small part in it and be your extension on the ground here. May God bless you for all the physical work you did here and the spiritual work you do laboring in prayer.
Charlie Barkowski and family