Posts Tagged ‘corfu’

Oh For a Deserted Beach!

August 31, 2016

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The “deserted beach” is an unusual phenomenon on Greek islands like Corfu, especially during the height of the season… but strangely enough we found a few of them this year. Not only were there deserted beaches – but also an abandoned villa and a deserted restaurant, both of which were perched precariously on the edge of cliffs. Perhaps a mix of coastal erosion, the Greek monetary crises and fewer British tourists (owing to ‘Brexit’) was taking its toll in the quiet rural location where we were staying.

In contrast we saw other beaches on our travels: the “over-crowded beaches,” all dotted with umbrellas and people, people everywhere! Usually these crowded resorts had also crowded tourist shops, restaurants and noisy nightlife all night long. How glad we were to stay in peace and quiet, with just the sound of the crickets in the night air and the gently lapping tide of the sea not so far away…

Thirty years ago someone I knew had visited a resort in the south of the island and I was curious to know what it would be like now, so that I could tell her about it. Anyway, one evening we visited it, intending to have a meal there and what a shock I got! This resort, which had once been only a quiet sandy beach with a few tourist shops, was now a crazy venue where young people got drunk (and often perhaps drugged) out of their minds. It wasn’t a big town at all but ten GP’s were kept very busy there all during the tourist season, a local explained to me. “Oh yes,” he said, “they have accidents around the place and get bad falls from hired motorbikes because of their drinking you know…”

We managed to find a relatively quiet restaurant overlooking the beach and as we sat watching the sun go down, I thought about all the young lives in this resort and a saying came to mind… “youth is wasted on the young…” It is sad to think about how a baby may be born perfectly and then nurtured and cared for by a loving mother – and later that baby grows into a young person who subjects himself to such abuse!

‘I wonder has anyone out there ever taken it upon themselves to try and reach these young people?’ I thought. We had watched them in the town, jumping up and down on tables, doing crazy feats, under the influence of who knows what…. Do Christians ever base themselves in areas like this to try and reach out to those who come for the so called ‘good’ time? I had visions of tracts trampled underfoot, but still… there would be those who would listen and those would who would be convicted, for we are promised this.

Later, back at our peaceful abode with the nightly sound of the crickets and those gentle dark waves washing in on the beach, I felt relieved; so relieved that I didn’t have to stay in that other place we had seen that night. But I also felt so burdened for the young people that we had seen there. I was once like them – not a drunkard certainly, but I needed to know the Lord and there were souls who reached out to me and prayed for me. I know that. How easy it is, as the years go by, to take the comfortable option; not to ‘get involved’ and yet I believe that often the Lord wants us to get involved; to reach out in these dark dark days.

While we were away, often with no Wi-Fi and no news, I happened to view an old English newspaper one morning… worldwide terror attacks were rampant and there had been a coup in Turkey that we hadn’t even heard about. Jesus said… “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9v4) And as sure as night follows day – that night is coming.

The Lord has given each of us very unique opportunities to reach out to those who very often may never meet another Christian – except us. None of us, as long as we are alive on this earth, are exempt from the ‘Great Commission.’ Going in His will and being led of His Spirit, there is spiritual warfare to be engaged in for the Master but that work must have already begun in our own hearts. The pre-requisite for soul winning is most certainly a clean heart….

“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” (Psalm 51v12&13)

There are times when we need the ‘desert place’ and the ‘deserted beach’ for our own quiet times, with rest and reflection – but there is also the time when our Saviour is leading us to go into the crowds, as He did all those years ago. Do we love people enough to show them that they are heading for a lost eternity? Oh, to be aware, to pray – and to reach them with the true story of His great love for them, for He is not willing that any should perish…

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Visiting the Greek Island of Corfu Once Again!

August 9, 2016

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We have been there several times and this year again had the opportunity to visit Corfu because of my husband’s attendance at a work-related conference. This time, though, we spent much more time and also visited the islands of Paxos and the small island of Antipaxos. As always I took a good supply of John3v16 handcrafted gift bookmarks in the Greek language. Last Autumn I made an attempt to learn the latter at evening classes… something I discovered to be very difficult with its different lettering system! However, this summer I found myself naturally greeting locals in their own language which I think they warmed to. It was encouraging to learn that they actually understood me!

We don’t read that St. Paul ever visited Corfu, although it is said that two of his disciples, “Jason” and “Sossipatros” (or “Sosipater”), supposedly brought Christianity to Corfu in 40AD and built the first Christian church there which they dedicated to St. Stephen. Some say this is the same “Sopater” mentioned in Acts 20v4, although I am uncertain as to the truth of this history. All I know is that today on this island (as with most of the rest of Greece) there are very few Christians in the true sense; the Greek Orthodox Church holds sway here, many of its doctrines being not so far removed from Roman Catholicism.

Today there is just one church on the entire island which would claim to be “evangelical” and the need is indeed great. I found some individuals that I talked to showed an interest, especially one sincere young man who had actually looked up my website and told us this the next time we visited his restaurant. He was the one who initiated the conversation the second time and I was touched by his sincerity.

I don’t have very good “sea legs” as a rule but felt very strongly that the Lord wanted us to go to Paxos, a small island of around 2500 people, while that of Antipaxos has just 150 permanent residents. The sailing to Paxos that early morning was just a little turbulent but once there we relaxed with a cappuccino and a lovely free Greek pastry at a sunny outdoor café and then strolled in the narrow little streets where I gave out my bookmarks as the Lord led.

It was strange that day, how we managed to get to Paxos at all… and this is why. The previous evening we hadn’t booked in time for the boat trip (which only leaves on certain days and only when the weather is just right) but all that night I felt the Lord telling me that we must go. The voice was so strong and insistent all through the small hours, to the point where I knew that if I didn’t go I would be disobeying Him. I felt that if we didn’t there was some opportunity to be lost and that the Lord wanted us most definitely to catch that early morning boat. I slept badly but next morning amazingly I felt ok and on waking I said to my husband: “I think we must go to Paxos today.”

“But we haven’t booked,” he said, and then… “Well, ok, we’ll drive over to the place after breakfast then, although I doubt they’ll let us on.”

On arrival at the port we parked and hurried down to where people were boarding the boat. Everyone had a ticket except for us and when it came to our turn, the person said: “I’m sorry we are fully booked out and it is dangerous to take any more people on board. Maybe another day? But you must book in advance.”

We turned and walked away, disappointed after the drive over there in the early morning. But mostly I felt confused, in the knowledge that I was sure that the Lord wanted us to go that day. Then, just as we were walking away someone else shouted. “Hey, just a minute, we might just be able to take you. Two people have informed us that they won’t be able to make it…” After a brief moment while this person was on the phone confirming the latter, he smiled at us and welcomed us aboard, after selling us a couple of tickets.

My husband and I exchanged glances. “I knew that if the Lord wanted us on this boat He would find a way,” he said. I am still left wondering why this should be. We didn’t get into any meaningful conversations in our brief time on the small islands but I felt a great sense of peace as I gave out the bookmarks with their limited information. The Lord helped me overcome my fear of little boats on rough seas and I know that whatever the reason for us being there that day – His perfect will was accomplished. I thanked the One who walked the waves so long ago… for safety, for the beauty of His creation, including the lovely ‘blue caves’ and the opportunity to share His precious Word with the souls He loved and died for. Surely He has promised that His Word will not return unto Him void!

 

The Erroneous Doctrine of “The Assumption of the Virgin Mary”

August 15, 2012

I recall some years ago arriving into the Greek island of Corfu quite late on the night of the 15th August, to find that many locals had gathered into our hotel for the celebration of the “assumption of the Virgin Mary.” Throughout the world, this doctrine is held to be true in both Orthodox and Roman Catholic circles, yet few investigate whether there is any scripture to support it.

It is believed that Mary (like Jesus) was immaculately conceived, and that eventually (like Elijah of old in 2Kings 2) she was taken up into Heaven. In my leaflet and blog (The Virgin Mary – and the Bible versus Roman Catholicism) Mary’s “perpetual virginity,” “Immaculate Conception,” and her “Assumption” are all viewed in light of scripture, revealing that in God’s Word, there is no scriptural foundation for these doctrines.

I quote from my leaflet/blog: “As for the “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” which was declared by Rome as recently as 1950, there is no scriptural foundation for this doctrine either. In 2Kings 2 we may read that unique account of how Elijah and Elisha conversed, and how Elijah “went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (Verse 11) In Genesis 5v24 we learn of Enoch, that he “walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Again, in Hebrews 11v5 we read: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” The latter are unique accounts of two individuals who did not see death, but no account exists to tell us that Mary, unlike most people, did not see death. If she had been taken up into heaven in such a manner, then I have no doubt that the infallible Word of God would have recorded such an important event.

I quote again from Mary’s famous words in Luke 1v46-55… “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.”

These are the words of a woman of faith – faith in her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ the promised Messiah of old. Although Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, Elijah and many others did not live to see those days of grace, they too would be justified by faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11v6)

And so, in this, the ‘Day of Grace,’ we are most honoured to have an Advocate and sole Mediator, the risen Saviour, who now sits with His Father in Heaven, awaiting that day and hour which no man knows, when He will return “as a thief in the night” (1Thess. 5v2) to “judge the quick and the dead” (2Tim 4v1). But time is running out, and many today are being deceived. As each hour brings us closer to eternity are you ready for that Day of Judgement and is your name written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life?” (Rev. 21v27)

While many today are only interested in the material, they neglect their soul’s salvation – but what could be more important than the issue of where we spend eternity? May God bless you as you search the scriptures and may you experience that joy and assurance of knowing that your sins are forgiven and that you will have a home in Heaven. Jesus said: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5v39)

“Something Lives in Every Hue – Christless Eyes Have Never Seen”

August 12, 2010

The first thing I realised as we meandered around hairpin bends on the edge of dangerous precipices, climbing higher into the green mountainous terrain – is that I had to commit my fears to the Lord! I soon learned too, that the way of life here was slower and less stressful. Although the journey to the other less ‘touristy’ side of Corfu was a short one, it seemed to take forever that late afternoon, but despite the dangerous roads and fiercely hot sun burning into the car as we drove, I just loved to be here again. Who wouldn’t after a cold Irish winter and a mediocre summer? “I know we’re going to have difficulty finding those apartments,” commented my husband, as he negotiated yet another ‘devil’s elbow.’ “I couldn’t even find any road leading to them on the Google map.”

Soon we were descending from the mountains again and I could see the blue sea in the distance. In time we found ourselves in the small village where the apartments were situated. But where were they? I soon learned too, that an address in these parts tells you very little. We asked some locals but no one seemed sure about the location. Eventually one lady in a bakery knew exactly where we wanted to go and gave us directions. I wondered at the time why she gave me a parting sympathetic smile. The streets were incredibly narrow – barely able to take our own small hired car, as we meandered down sheer slopes and bends towards the sea. Parking in a piece of rough ground, my husband went off to investigate, while I stayed with the luggage in the car. After a while he returned, wiping sweat from his brow. “You’re not going to believe this,” he gasped, “to get to our accommodation you’ll have to cross a field on foot and climb over a wall. There’s actually no road to the place.”

I stared at him for a moment and then sighed. “Well, we’ll make the best of it…” Yet I discovered that although the accommodation was basic, the surroundings were stunningly beautiful – and the manageress was friendly and hospitable. The price of our accommodation was good in the present economic climate – of which Greece was very much a casualty. I remembered the words of St. Paul:  “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phil. 4v11). And who, in good health, could not be content in such idyllic surroundings?

At night we would go to sleep to the crash of the waves washing in over the shore, which was just ‘a stone’s throw’ from our little balcony. Every morning I awoke to the sound of a cock crowing and the warmth of the amber sunrise. I loved the vibrant colours of the wildflowers, the bright blue sky, fluffy little white clouds and the golden beaches lapped by the sparkling azure blue waves of the sea. Behind the beach there was a backdrop of greenery in the form of pine and other trees – such sheer beauty!

I sincerely believe that the beauty of God’s creation can only really be appreciated by His children. George Wade Robinson (1838-1877) aptly portrays this in his hymn: “I am His” The hymn describes the relationship that the saved soul has with His Creator and how he experiences a deeper appreciation for the beauty of nature. Yet some day all of nature (as we now know it) will pass away to be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth which has not been tainted by the fall of mankind – a truth which can be read in Revelation, chapter 21. And for those who love Saviour, the last few lines of George Wade Robinson’s hymn eloquently describes this wondrous truth…

“Heaven and earth may fade and flee; firstborn light in gloom decline;

 But while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.”

Link to this hymn: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/a/iamhisah.htm

The Lovely Greek Island of Corfu

August 9, 2010

It is true that Corfu became the first Greek island to be introduced to tourism in a big way but today it is still possible to find a secluded beach, or a quiet little village unspoilt by time. “Come ye apart and rest awhile” Jesus said to His disciples and today, as then, sometimes as Christians we need to draw apart and rest awhile. Yet even in our resting moments, we are still His ambassadors, ever showing our love for the souls who briefly touch our lives. I have always enjoyed trips to Greece and its islands, having a special affinity with the Greek people and would have to say that I have been impressed, for the most part, by their honesty and integrity as a nation.

Once when I was very young and travelling alone with a rucksack on my back across mainland Greece, I became ill from sunstroke. I don’t remember how I came to be in a dark room, lying on a bed of clean cool linen sheets, or how I had came into contact with the old lady who carried me glasses of cold fresh water and looked after me. The curtains were drawn for what seemed like days; I had lost all count of time. I only recall feeling extremely sick and thirsty and having no wish to even look at the sun for a very long time. As I lay there in the darkness, she hovered around anxiously trying to communicate with me, although she spoke no English and my knowledge of Greek was practically non-existent. Eventually I recovered and I vaguely remembered thanking her and leaving her little dwelling for the journey to Athens. But I will never forget her; like others I had met on my travels, she touched my life in a very special way, that old lady.

St. Paul journeyed to many parts of Greece and its islands, although it is not recorded that he ever visited the island of Corfu. Today religion lives on in Greece but sadly Evangelical Christians are few and far between here. I entered a tiny Byzantine church on Mouse Island (aptly named because of its shape) off Corfu. There many candles had been lit by visiting tourists, but my attention was drawn to the many young people entering the church to kiss the pictures of the saints that hung on the walls. Superstition and idolatry are probably as widespread today as they were in the days when St. Paul preached on Mars Hill in Athens. (Acts 17v22-34) Added to this is the fact that many Greeks have become disenchanted with the traditional Greek Orthodox Church, embracing instead erroneous cults which deny fundamental Christian doctrines such as the trinity.

The green island of Corfu is just 583 square kilometres in area, but has a population of around 116,000. How these beautiful islands and the mainland of Greece need to be reached with gospel! From the Ionian Islands to the large island of Crete, many souls have never heard of their need of salvation. And there are tiny remote islands which have probably never even been reached at all. From the busy, bustling and cosmopolitan city of Athens to the smallest medieval village in the mountainous area of a Greek island, they need to hear the message of salvation. Yes, “the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few”… “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest…” (Matthew 9v37&38)

My little Greek Donkey – A Thought for “Palm Sunday”……(John 12)

March 23, 2010

Paul said: “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” (Gal. 4v10&11) Therefore with this in mind, I do not observe these “days, months, times and years” in the sense that I feel obliged to pay homage to them. Yet these times which are noted on our international calendars may be used to proclaim all that the Lord has laid upon our hearts. With this in mind, I remember my little Greek donkey…

Some years ago I made friends with a little donkey on the Greek Island of Corfu. Day after day it stood tethered by the dusty roadside, looking parched in the intense heat of the sun. As I gave it some water to drink, my eyes fell on the cross upon its back… something peculiar to all donkeys I had ever seen.

He could have chosen a golden chariot drawn by well-groomed horses, for after all He was the King of Glory, but as always Jesus trod the road of humility.

It was a beautiful day when those who loved Him lined His path with branches of palm trees, as He came riding upon an ass’s colt. “Hosanna!” they cried, “Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” There were certain Greeks on that day who had come to worship at the feast. “Sir, we would see Jesus…” they said to Philip. (John 12v21)

Sometimes on a stormy Irish winter’s night while I try to sleep, my thoughts return to another time, another place… and my little donkey. Aptly named ‘beast of burden’, the donkey is universally subjected to ill-treatment. No one understands burdens more than Jesus does, for He took the burden of sin of the entire human race to Calvary – and made it His own.

Today, as the burdens of life would press upon us, we can (like the Greeks of old) see Jesus – by faith. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden”, He says, “and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt.11v28-30). Why not trust Him with your burden today, for no matter who you are or what you have done, He died to make your burdens His own!

Jesus said: Peace I leave with you, my peace give I unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14v27)  © Elizabeth Burke 2006