Faithfulness in Your Here and Now
“Success in God’s Kingdom is faithfulness... so be faithful in your here and now.” This is something Mihalis, the Program Manager of Cosmovision (CVC), challenged our team with early in the summer. Preparing for ministry in Athens, we anticipated a focus on directly serving refugees, but when we got there, we found that the need was different. Instead, this summer looked like community outreach through camp ministry: helping prepare meals in the kitchen, setting up activities, and lots of cleaning. Even though we did not serve in the roles we were expecting, this change wasn’t negative. It was an opportunity for God to stretch us. We came to Europe to serve. We came to be adaptable and to meet needs as they come. We were challenged with being faithful in our here and now, which is something the people we served alongside model every day.
I was reminded of songs we sing and various “coffee mug” verses we say so often: “If all of you means less of me, take everything,” or, “If any man must be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35b). Both of those ideas sound nice until challenged with the reality of living them out. What if “less of me” and being “last of all”, meant sacrificing the personal desire to serve in seemingly more exciting, more spiritual-sounding facets of ministry? What if it meant stepping into roles of hands-on servitude: cleaning toilets, dusting spider webs, scrubbing out the sticky insides of a cabinet? Were we still going to be as excited to belt these lyrics and scribble these verses into our journals?
Stephanie, the missionary we partnered with, describes the “here and now” of CVC as, “making sure people have space to do what they need to do in the language they need to do it in.” During the summer, CVC hosts Greeks, Afghans, Poles, Kurds, Syrians, Iranians, Ukrainians, and short-term mission teams from America. As interns, we got to help serve that purpose, and in that, we engaged in relational ministry.
We experienced Jesus in every task that presented itself: Cleaning the bathroom became a time of prayer and worship, or even a space to reflect and rest in solitude. In the kitchen, we connected with Neelam and Vicky, our two cooks, through their limited English, my broken Spanish, and the little bit of Greek our team started to pick up. Running activities, we built a context in which people from different nations could commune through the climbing wall, archery, or a water balloon fight. We got a peek into the stories of so many different lives, and we didn’t need to know every person’s suffering to know that they need love; something that connects us all. Humans crave community. We crave belonging. We crave Jesus. Greece is a place where foreign nations come and go. Whoever is here at any given time, CVC welcomes them like family, and the Athens team was honored to be a part of that this summer.
Emma Stauber is a storyteller with Greater Europe Mission and serves in Athens, Greece.