This week, we heard from Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church member Dale Berry, who is currently in Europe visiting with ministry partners and continuing to assess the refugee crisis situation. Here are snippets of the email he shared with approximately 16 CSPC families who are helping support refugees in Greece affiliated with the Houses of Hope project, which we’ve posted about in the past. If you’d like more information about this initiative, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Hello Support Families,
I want to give you all an update on the Houses of Hope ministry in Athens. When Tyler and I arrived, we were taken on a whirlwind tour and were introduced to all the families living in the first three Houses of Hope apartments. We also saw the fourth apartment that is close to being occupied. For it, they have bought the furnishings, but there is assembly to be done. During the next two days, we made our way to other parts of the city where we visited with other families that the church has adopted and is helping. We were able to deliver all the letters to families we met with. We could tell that the families treasured getting these letters. Thank you!
The Houses of Hope project has gotten bigger and is more complex than I had realized. With approximately 60,000 refugees staying in the Athens area, mostly in camps outside the city, the needs for protection of the most vulnerable are many. Pastor Giotis and others close to the project are trying to find ways to provide a safe haven for as many of these vulnerable refugees as they can. So, instead of there being a simple four apartments, there are actually, at this time, nine locations where refugees are being housed. Now, instead of thinking of supporting one family in one-half of an apartment, think instead of supporting the family or families in one of the locations.
With each House of Hope family, they have a six month agreement. This is flexible, of course, but the idea is to provide temporary housing until they either get cleared to immigrate to Northern Europe or find housing in Athens (which is hard to do). Some of the families in the apartments have already moved, and new families are there. Some other families have been granted extensions since they currently lack other options. In the fourth apartment, when it is ready, they are housing a number of single Iranian women who are living in unsafe circumstances currently.
Our support money goes toward coupons for necessities, utilities in the apartments, and for rent (in the apartments that the church does not own). The coupons can only be used in a supply store that has food, toiletries, some clothing, diapers, etc.
Having witnessed the situation personally, I was impressed and inspired by what I saw. The leadership is excellent; the apartments are of high quality – sending the message to the refugees that they are valuable; and the refugees are in genuine need of assistance for a limited time. As I said in an earlier email, I felt like I was back in Biblical times working side by side with spiritual giants. I hope that you will get the opportunity to visit personally as well. I hope to be leading future expeditions there periodically as God wills.
Blessings to you all in Christ,
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