Posts Tagged ‘greek orthodox’

Visiting the Greek Island of Corfu Once Again!

August 9, 2016

20160722_183714

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!

 

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)

A Memorable Trip to the Isle of Patmos

September 26, 2012

Patmos… I had often dreamed of visiting it and one early morning while we were staying on Kos I realised as I looked across the sparkling sea from our balcony that this dream was about to come true that very day!

In the mellow early morning sun we drove to the harbour in Kos town where we parked and then boarded the Puglia Queen bound for Patmos. Unlike the boat to the volcanic island of Nissiros, this was a large vessel for the much longer sea journey involved.

The Greek island of Patmos, referred to as the ‘jewel of the Aegean’ and the ‘Sacred Island,’ is the island to which St. John the Divine is said to have been exiled “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 1v9) He wrote of his experience of hearing the Lord speak to him there in Patmos…

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” (Rev. 1v10&11)

It was a smooth pleasant journey – more like a cruise and as I sat there I reflected on the fact that human nature has not changed at all since the days when John, the servant of God, was inspired to write those sacred and precious messages which the Lord revealed to him.

At first sight of the little island (these days home to around 3,000 people) my thoughts turned to John and how he must have felt as he approached it, not on a comfortable ship with refreshments at hand, but most likely by sailing boat on rough seas – banished to this small remote island because of his love for “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1v5&6)

Despite his circumstances John continued to praise God, being filled with His Spirit to the extent that the prophetic words that the Lord gave him to write and the wonderful visions that were revealed to him, would speak to billions of souls down through the ages ahead.

 After docking we boarded the coach for ‘the cave of the Apocalypse’ which is where John is said to have received his revelation; yet sadly I knew that very few of these pilgrims to the cave would truly own the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.

Several monasteries on the island are dedicated to St. John too and as I suspected, the cave etc. are used by the Greek Orthodox authorities to make money from the thousands of tourists who visit there each year.

I chatted with a friendly little elderly man, dressed in black with a white beard, who accepted my Greek John 3v16 bookmark with a smile and a ‘thank you,’ while my husband got the opportunity to talk to one of the monks who showed a genuine interest in what we believed.

We also met two young Dutch girls, Evangelical Christians, with whom we had a good conversation.

All in all, it was an unforgettable and fascinating day. I noticed that when we initially boarded the ship, a passenger list had been made, reminding me of the ill-fated Titanic… How many of those names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?

The last words of Jesus, written in Revelation 22v20, are these: “Surely I come quickly.”

John could say with complete assurance: “Amen, Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (v20)

How many today can truly say these words with confidence?

Jesus’ message to each precious soul for whom He died is still the same as it was when John walked the dusty earth on that lovely little isle of Patmos, around the year AD 96… “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Rev. 3v20-22)

Jesus is coming again… oh that we would be ever ready for that day that no man knows – and that we would see His face and that His Name would be in our foreheads! (Rev 22v4)