Posts Tagged ‘greece’

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…

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!

 

At Times Like This I Wish I Had Learned Greek!

August 10, 2015

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After the conference was over we were free to explore the island of Zakynthos with its many fascinating villages – some of them quite remote. I enjoyed meeting local people who readily accepted my little ‘John 3v16’ bookmarks but sometimes it so frustrating when we sincerely want to communicate in words that amount to much more than ‘yes, no, please, thank you, good morning, good afternoon or goodnight!’ Many Greeks speak perfect English but unfortunately some older people like those we met have no English at all.

Above are two lovely people that I encountered in the heat of the day, in one of those little villages with their narrow streets – and they have both accepted a little bookmark from me. When I asked them, they were also happy to have their photographs taken. Somehow I had a sense of some ‘unfinished business’ on this island; a sense that we definitely will return to the region…

How strange it must have been in those days when “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” (Genesis 11v1) I often wonder what the “Tower of Babel” looked like… After the Lord sees the need to “confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Verse7), He also “scatters them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Verse 9) And so we have the generations of Shem, Ham and Japeth to this day, scattered upon the face of the earth. Today there are roughly 6500 spoken languages in the world! However, about 2000 of these languages have fewer than a thousand speakers. There are also many languages which are only spoken – and have never been written. It is said that the top ten most spoken languages in the world are: Chinese (Mandarin), English, Hindustani, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, Portuguese, Malay-Indonesian and French.

As people travel more and more in the age in which we live, I believe that there are many opportunities for the Lord’s people to reach out with the simple gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I also believe that where our words and attempts to explain have been inadequate, the Lord Himself will take over and speak to hearts through His Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, though, He can lay it upon our hearts to make the effort to learn a language so that we may effectively communicate with the souls we meet. What I felt when I met these elderly people was a great warmth and love in my heart for them and I do pray that this simple little verse in their own language will speak to their hearts.

Meanwhile I have been scanning the evening class language subjects for Modern Greek – but unfortunately don’t see it listed at all. I will continue to do so – and also to pray for those people I came in contact with – whether it was a waiter or waitress in a restaurant, a shop keeper, the owner of our apartment – or an elderly man or woman watching strange tourists who insist on walking around in the 40 degree heat of their hot summer’s day!

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…”

August 4, 2015

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I admire the Greeks for their resilience in the face of a serious economic crisis. Having returned just recently from the island of Zakynthos, I noted that people on this island have helped each other in many ways, where sometimes a barter system operated. Nobody seemed to be panicking about the fact that the banks were closed for a while and on the whole everyone was good-humoured, smiling and gracious to tourists. In the heat of the day we stopped at a remote little mountain village called Agalás for lunch, intending to afterwards visit Damianόs cave and the Andronios Venetian wells. Only two elderly men sat in the old café and on seeing us sit down at one of the tables one of them departed to bring back a lady who had been in her own home just across the road! She immediately made us lovely toasted sandwiches along with ice-cold drinks (very reasonably priced) and as we were taking our leave, she kindly also gave us a free bag of her own home-grown lovely ripe plums.

This generosity was to be experienced throughout our trip, when after a meal out in a restaurant (usually less than half the price that it is at home) we would be offered a free desert, tea, coffee or some watermelon afterwards.

It is said that one of the ‘must see’ sites in Zakynthos is “Shipwreck Bay,” which is also known as “smugglers cove.” I took a photograph of it from a great high cliff (which was thankfully surrounded by a barrier) but it cannot be reached, except by boat. Apparently a ship (built in Scotland) ran aground here as recently as 1980; it had been smuggling cigarettes from Turkey and subsequently chased by the Greek navy. And so the rusty wreck on this lonely little stretch of beach has become a famous scene on postcards and travel books – and a rendezvous for tourists.

I find it interesting that the islanders can make something as simple as a (comparatively recent) wreck into a tourist attraction – with the result that many tourists pay to sail there every day. I heard someone say: “Honestly, those Greeks can use just about anything to make a living!”

Somehow I see an analogy here for those who serve the Lord. Each of us is a unique human being and each of our lives has followed an interestingly different path. He has given each one of us gifts, resources and very different opportunities to reach others but often it is the miserably negative experiences that we have and the times of brokenness in life which have the potential to amass the rich capital that matters – our growth in the Lord and the salvation of souls. An abandoned rusty old ship has been turned into a positive tourist attraction – and a life that has been suddenly hit by illness or bereavement can be turned into a positive opportunity to reach souls. It is only when we experience the low times for ourselves that we can reach out with real understanding and His love for others who need to know Him.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2Corinthians 1v3&4)

How safe is Your Holiday or Business Destination this Summer?

June 29, 2015

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As recent terror attacks in three continents continue to send shock waves around the world, many people are now wondering whether to cancel their summer holiday – particularly if it happens to be in Tunisia. Horrific scenes have emerged in the last few days; of tourists, including young children running for their lives on a Tunisian beach; of rising casualties in a Shia mosque in Kuwait and of an explosion in a chemical plant near Lyon where a man beheaded his boss…

Elsewhere many areas of the world are in complete turmoil. Refugees and migrants fleeing war, poverty and persecution are floating in the open seas in rubber dinghies and little wooden boats which were never meant to hold the number of people that have been packed unto them. We see images of men, women and children being washed ashore on Greek islands – where the locals are barely able to provide for the needs of their own families.

On a personal level, my husband is to participate in a conference in the Greek island of Zakynthos next month but Greece, we fear, is on the brink of a humanitarian crises. School teachers in Athens have complained that young children are under-nourished and some are even fainting because they have not eaten in a couple of days. In the countryside at least, people it appears are able to grow fruit and vegetables, keep hens for eggs and goats to milk and make goat’s cheese from. However, I have to admit that I am a little apprehensive about our proposed trip to this lovely green island which the Venetians once named “the flower of the east.”

It was here, on this third largest of the Ionian Islands that dozens of terrified Afghan and Iraqi Kurdish refugees washed in to shore just recently, because they were unable to make it to the coasts of Italy. So what awaits any traveller this summer, having reached their destination – financial chaos, refugees on the beach – or worse still… a gunman on the beach?

Yes, it appears that even Greece is on the map of “tourist area hotspots with terror threat level” issued by the foreign office. On the red alert “high threat” list are France, Spain, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Turkey – and now Tunisia of course. Italy, Greece and Morocco are classified under “general threat,” while Portugal, Croatia and Bulgaria are listed under “underlying threat”.

“Oh, just stay at home,” some sigh… “Let’s face it, the world is just not safe out there anymore!”

‘But is it even safe at home?’ I ask myself. If someone had asked an 82 year-old British grandmother ‘did she think she would ever be beheaded in her own back garden?’ I’m sure that she would never have dreamt of such a horror – but this happened not so very long ago.

In an uncertain world, we brace ourselves for tomorrow’s news… but there is a happy band of people in this world who can claim these lovely words and apply them to any situation that they find ourselves in… “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Se-lah.” (Psalm 46v1-3)

Can you claim to feel a genuine peace when you hear these words? Whether it is financial unrest, wars, rumours of war, persecution; violence in the forces of nature, sickness or even death – if the Lord has control of all of your life, you have nothing to fear – either here or in the world to come. Of course pain, bereavement, anguish, or having to face up to our own death is horrendously hard to bear but thank God for the Lord Jesus Christ who loves us and wants to be our Burden-Bearer. He said: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)

But He also said: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10v28)

And so, in an uncertain world, it is essential to be certain of this one thing – that the Lord Jesus Christ reigns supreme in your life.

If it is that you fear an uncertain eternity, it is not His will that you continue to live in this unhappy state. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5v8)

The Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died for your sins because he loved you and wants you to have an assurance of sins forgiven in this life – and a deep peace in your heart that you will spend eternity in heaven with Him. All He asks is that you repent and put your trust in Him today. Remember – tomorrow may be too late… for all our tomorrows on this earth are becoming increasingly uncertain. There is nothing comparable to the joy of feeling His Presence with you as you face into each new day. Oh that you would be one of that happy band who can honestly say…“For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48v14)

May the Lord bless these words to whoever reads them.

Lagoúdi – a Small Koan Hamlet Untouched by Mass Tourism

October 3, 2012

“Blink and you’ll miss it” is an expression that the Irish give to some of their tiny villages when driving through them – and Lagoúdi could certainly be described as a “blink and you’ll miss it village.” But the tiny village of Lagoúdi on the Greek island of Kos will always have a special place in my memories because of its lovely atmosphere of peace and authentic ‘Greekness.’ I had this feeling that here was a place untouched by time and tourism. We spotted it one hot afternoon as we were driving towards the better known village of Zía, famous for its tourist shops and beautiful views. Pulling off the dusty road, we parked and strolled through the village street. (There is only one.) Cockerels and hens were roaming freely along the narrow little street and I spotted one of those elusive Greek ladies dressed in black retreat into her dwelling place. Numerous cats were slinking everywhere and after a while we heard some beautiful violin music carry, faintly at first, above the noise of the crickets. It was then that I saw him – the elderly Greek man playing a traditional melody, while he sat at the entrance to his home in the heat of the day. Enjoying the atmosphere and the music at that moment, I asked his permission to take his photograph and although he seemed to be a shy person, he readily agreed. I gave him a little ‘John 3v16’ Greek bookmark, for which he thanked me, as most of the Greeks so politely do.

The entire village seemed to be asleep (it was siesta time, after all) but for the two people we met. Another younger man sat outside his house with his feet up, contemplating his small part of the world with an expressionless gaze. He too, accepted a bookmark but how I wished at that very moment that we had more of a grasp of the Greek language, to talk to these people.

Now, on a rainy autumn day with leaves flying everywhere in Ireland, my thoughts turn to that lovely little Greek village and to the souls who live there. The village, we discovered, was dominated by the ‘Panagia Theotόkou Genesíou,’ a very ornate Greek Orthodox Church. In the heat of the day we strolled in there and took a seat in its quiet coolness. I noticed, too, a purring pregnant cat lying under one of the seats; obviously she needed to take refuge from the strong sunlight! I can still see, in my photographs and indeed, in my ‘mind’s eye,’ the magnificence of this building we discovered standing above the village: the beautifully carved candle sticks and rich chandeliers; the intricately carved seats, the shining marble floor and the stunning artwork – all in strange contrast to the simple village itself.

But in reality ‘the church’ is not a building, or even an organisation; the ‘Church’ are those believers who together make up ‘the Body of Christ.’ (Romans 12 v4&5). Does the Church have many members in this and other little villages on Kos and on other islands and on the mainland of Greece? Oh that those Greeks who profess to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, would reach out to their fellow countrymen and women – but how few really know the Lord and have been touched by the simplicity of the gospel…

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10v12-15)

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)

Another Hot Day in Kos… Another Rainy Day in Ireland!

August 5, 2012

Often when we were out and about in the afternoon in Kos, these words from an old song would come to me… “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” Even the cats and dogs, it appeared, would sleep between the hours of two and six o’clock which is the usual Greek siesta time and perhaps we should have followed their example. It is difficult to acclimatize yourself to the fierce heat of the sun here in this little island so close to Turkey, especially when your native county happens to be Ireland. And it is even more difficult to adjust to cold grey skies and lashing rain when you return!

In Ireland the volatile nature of our weather is an ever-popular conversation piece throughout the island. It is also a safe subject matter to dwell on – unlike politics, or religion. Strangers from the north of the island who are holidaying in Kerry will freely discuss the weather situation with the natives. It is something that affects all of us, sometimes very deeply, when we depend on benign conditions to grow fruit, and other crops that are grown so effortlessly in other parts of Europe.

The same Lord who said “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9v13), is He who is sovereign over earthquakes throughout the world, tornadoes in the Americas, melting glaciers in the Alps … and wintry days in an Irish summer.  He has lessons to teach the human race – both collectively and individually. I have no right to feel angry about a “grey day” for “he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew5v45) So many are suffering in our world today, which is something I know nothing about! Certainly we can, (and must) pray about weather conditions when lives are in danger, or when the livelihood of farmers is being affected. Let us never forget … “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (James 5v17&18).

With all the great advances in technology in recent years, people have found no way to drag clouds away from a blue sky, or create rain in the parched lands of the earth … but “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5v16). This is as true today, as it was in the days of Elijah!

I read media reports on global warming, and yet God’s word tells me:  “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”  (Gen. 8v22). And yet someday the earth will be subject to the ultimate trauma, for we read … “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2Pet. 3v10).

Are you ready for this day? Remember that while we live in this, the ‘day of grace,’ His invitation stands in rain, hail, sun or snowstorm!  To the Christian He says: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” (2Pet.3v11) “Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2Pet. 3v13). With these crucial exhortations and wonderful promises, let us in the words of Peter … “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.  Amen.”   (2Pet.3v18).

Walking Uphill to the Traditional Greek Village of Kéfalos

August 1, 2012

So enthusiastic was I about being in the sun that I made the mistake of getting too sunburned on our first days in Kos! Soon I felt much better but we still decided not to go to the beach and so on the third day, armed with plenty of water, we walked steadily uphill towards the large medieval village of Kéfalos. I discovered that the latter was actually the first capital of Kos, named Astypalaia. After an earthquake destroyed the town in 412BC, it was abandoned and Kos town (today’s capital) was founded by the survivors.

Along the dusty road we were passed by all sorts of transport, including motorbikes and those beach quads which people seem to hire here. I had purchased a straw hat enroute, in a little shop where an elderly lady, sitting at the door and dressed all in black accepted one of my John 3v16 Greek bookmarks: “Οὕτω γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.”

She, of all the people we had ever met made an impression on me; I was very touched by how grateful and enthusiastic she was about it. She did not speak English at all but a younger man behind the counter looked at the bookmark and said: “You are Christian?” This gave us an opportunity to talk to him and somehow I felt more than the warmth of the sun as we left that shop.

Soon we were walking along a more rural area where the parched scenery was relieved only by the beauty of vibrant pink bougainvillea, growing wild by the roadside. After a while I began to feel quite ill in the heat of the day and I was just praying for some shelter from the sun when we spotted it… the little Greek Orthodox Church at the top of some steps. It was worth the climb to be able to find an open door to a cool place with a seat, where we drank most of our remaining water. As we sat there in that little church, I took in our silent surroundings… Greek icons, revered here as if they were the very saints themselves. Coincidentally my daily reading was in Jeremiah at the time: “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” (Jeremiah 7v18) Although Orthodoxy denies that the icons themselves are objects of worship, there is evidence that the regard in which they are held is certainly tantamount to worship.

Apart from small Muslim and Jewish minorities in Greece, as well as very tiny numbers who follow other sects and cults, most of the population adhere to the Greek Orthodox Church. While not accepting the pope of Rome as the spokesman for Christianity, the Greek Orthodox clergy also oppose the Reformation and Evangelical Christianity. It is sad that much of the Greek population today have still never been presented with the true gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

After exploring the ruined medieval castle in Kefalos with its few remaining walls overlooking the beauty of the azure sea below, we strolled into the sleepy village, largely untouched by time.

How good it was to have had the opportunity to leave the little bookmarks in the Greek Orthodox Churches that we visited and in Kéfalos and other villages; yet I feel in my heart that this region is so spiritually needy. I love the people of Greece and its island and wish that they could be reached with tracts in their own language that they could read and absorb. Most of all, I pray that precious souls would come to a knowledge of sins forgiven and a firm assurance of knowing my Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

“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