Athens was flooded with spiritual atmosphere while the 2004 Olympic Games were held there. Many Christian organizations dispatched missionaries to Athens for outreach efforts to share the Gospel. Some of these organizations were Youth With A Mission (YWAM), Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), International Ministry of Outreach (IMO) and many others.
While spending several weeks in Athens for outreach effort, missionaries witnessed countless incidents of people praying, worshipping and doing ministry.
Megan Sallm communications director for YWAM’s Games Outreach explained, “Everywhere you turn in this city you’ll bump into people doing ministry, praying and worshipping. Our participants have engaged in many exciting conversations with Athens' inhabitants and we have seen many hearts returned to the Father. Hundreds of thousands of people are praying for Athens and the advancement of the Kingdom in this land. Everyday we witness the effects of these powerful prayers and we praise God for raising up so many intercessors for this time.”
There were many instances in which missionaries witnessed “the change of heart” in Athens people when they turned to the Lord.
“Last night, (we) a big worship time in Maroussi (a suburb of Athens) outside the train station,” wrote Andrew,one of more than 370 people sent out by YWAMGO.
“It was such an amazing time...I opened my eyes and saw this kid...and God said ‘Go talk to him’. He spoke very little English, and it was somewhat difficult and took some time, but he gave his life to Christ last night! His name is Vincent, and he received a lot of joy from God and answers to some tough questions. God is so good! It was only the Holy Spirit that could have got through those language barriers, and He did,” wrote Andrew.
The theme of outreach for most Christian organizations in Athens was “games outreach mission”. As the name indicates, games outreach is part of evangelism program focusing on reaching out to people through a range of different means, including staffing ‘hospitality houses’, sports-related activities and just one-on-one ‘friendship evangelism’. There was also a “Prayer House” at the games which was used to gather worshipers.
Meanwhile, Megan Sall expressed her feelings for the need of introducing the love of Christ to Greece, a country where protestant churches are unknown.
“(The) Lord has given me a huge heart for the nation of Greece and its people,” she says. “I love the Greek people and my heart longs for them to understand and experience personal intimacy with the Father. Religion is very stoic here - very impersonal and unmoving. A God who we can interact and talk with, and who conversely speaks to us, is something quite astounding to these people.”
Sall also said the spiritual atmosphere in Athens “has been very encouraging”.
With the Olympic Games ended on August 29, missionaries believe that their message of love from Christ has been spread, the gospel will eventually transform Athens.