ICC Note: As tragedy sweeps its way across Europe in the form of radical Islamic terrorism, faithful missionaries are totally unabated in their work to win souls for Christ. On the contrary, they are reporting how these attacks are actually reaffirming and strengthening the resolve of the evangelical community.
07/28/2016 Europe (Christian Chronicle): ‘Tragedy upon tragedy in this sad world needing salvation.”
Those are the words Arlin Hendrix, a missionary in Lyon, France, used to describe his feelings after a terrorist attack about five hours to the south, in the seaside city of Nice.
There, 31-year-old, Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a rented truck weighing 20 tons into crowds gathered for Bastille Day, an annual celebration of the French Revolution. At least 84 people died, with 202 more injured, some critically. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
Hours later, the predominantly Muslim nation of Turkey — a gateway to Europe for thousands fleeing conflicts in the Middle East — endured an attempted miltary coup.
Days later, an axe-wielding, 17-year-old refugee from Afghanistan attacked passengers on a train in Germany.
Has the tension and fear changed the resolve of the Church of Christ members who serve the refugees?
Absolutely not, said Eleni Merlirrytos, a member of the Omonia Church of Christ in Athens, Greece.
“On the contrary, as we see the satanic forces attack innocent people, the more committed we feel to flood the world with the message of love and reconciliation of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Melirrytos, whose husband, Alexander, ministers for the Omonia church. Eleni Melirrytos herself is the granddaughter of a refugee from Turkey, forced to flee to Greece from the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s.
Members of the Omonia church have opened their building to refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern, predominantly Muslims nations. They cook meals, conduct English conversational classes and study the Bible with those interested.
“One refugee family told us they were taught that God lives in heaven,” Eleni Melirrytos said in a recent Dialogue with The Christian Chronicle. One member of the family told her that “you have shown us that God lives in our heart — and that has changed everything.”