For the past years Greece has been flooded with refugees. Many have called it a crisis, but others saw the divine opportunities for the message of salvation to be shared with people who are hard to reach in their own countries. In 2014 a Bible study group for Afghan refugees was started in Athens by an Afghan who had just come to faith himself and was filled with a passionate desire to help others find the Truth as well. Soon the group had grown too big to continue meeting at home. From then on the church needed to operate in borrowed or rented spaces. Since the start of weekly Sunday services in 2015, Afghan and Iranian refugees get together as a church named Agape. This community of believers has allowed God’s love to shine through Sunday worship, weekly teaching, daily fellowship, and continuous prayer.
‘When we worship we do it with all our heart and soul because it’s like we were in prison before but now set free. Through Jesus Christ’ – new believer at Agapè Church
Agape’s urge to fulfill God’s mission for the church as written in Matthew 28:18-20 has resulted in spreading out to three locations: Athens, Lesvos island and Neos Milotopos (in northern Greece). A great step forward has also been the completion of Agape’s non-profit registration in the summer of 2021. Until then owning property has not been an option, but having a facility that is owned by Agape Church will give stability to the refugee leadership and their ability to provide effective support to the church members and to other refugees they minister to through their words and deeds.
Now that Agape Church has developed a key function in the ministry among Afghan and Iranian refugees in Greece it seeks to purchase a facility, either an apartment or a small building, which will allow a new era of ministry to Farsi and Dari speaking refugees. Ideally, the space would be an area that serves as a multi-purpose room to provide a setting for e.g. church services, face to face meetings, spiritual counsel, trauma care, educational programs for children, exercise groups, outreach projects, etc. For this young church, such a building will be a tremendous blessing and positively impact the lives of dozens of families and 100+ new believers each week.
Investment in a facility
Where western churches usually have a steady income from their own members the story is different for Agape. The church is struggling financially since nearly all members are refugees. These people usually stay only for a short transition period before they move on to other countries. Besides, they often come with needs instead of adding to the church’s income. This means that Agape is very much depending on the worldwide body of Christ to join the mission with financial support.
For the purchase of a building Agape Church is looking for a combination of donors and investors. Research has indicated that prices on suitable facilities will range from €100,000 up to €250,000 depending on the building size. A few specific areas in Athens’ center offer both affordable options and locations accessible by public transportation and pedestrian means.
Because Agape Church does not have a fundraising staff, MissionInvest was asked to raise funds for this important project through its network in the Netherlands and the USA. How special it is, precisely as Christians, to be able to help young believers. Many of them are ex-Muslims. They have just found the Truth, but still live with thousands of questions and in much uncertainty. Offering them a permanent place to meet is incredibly important. Since Agapè Church has already received some donations directly as well, MissionInvest will try to raise an additional amount of € 200,000.
Initial efforts to raise funds for purchasing a facility have shown promising. With support from donors and churches in America, more than €40,000 has already been received, including €15,000 through MissionInvest USA. ‘This gives us as Agapè Church hope that we can proceed with a purchase in 2024. God willing, we will have a place that will provide good support for the ministry of the church in the future.’