Key verse: Psalms 121,1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
I. Review of Greek ministry: The year of birth and growth
Since the beginning of pioneering our ministry, which started in 1991, we faced a big challenge in the year 2015 due to health problems of the first missionary, Lydia Lee. After overcoming these kinds of trial by faith and prayer, God blessed us richly the next year.
On January 4, 2016 a wedding was held between Stamatis Savvanis of Greece and Akmaral Savvani of Astana, Kazakhstan right after the CIS directors' conference at the Kiev UBF center with more than 130 attendants. Pastor Abraham Kim officiated this wedding based on the bridegroom’s life key verse from Matthew 6:33. By the time he was offered a job at a Teleperformance company he had to choose between marriage and the job offer because the wedding date and the date of his job training was on the same day. By faith he gave up the job the training and got married to Akmaral by obeying and trusting the Living God who rewards His people. After their marriage, God blessed his faith and provided him with a better job at the same company. On November 14 God gave them a son like the Prophet Daniel, by naming him Daniel Savvanis, who was born as the fruit of their love and faith.
In Greece the rate of youth unemployment is more than 50%, but in spite of this God opened the door for second generation Missionary Lydia Lee to get a job at Samsung Electronics through Missionary Matthew Sing from Portugal UBF. Praise God who is training her to grow as a self-support lay missionary through heavy tasks and hard training through her new job. Missionary Lydia Lee, Paul Jr and I supported her fully by being her personal driver, picking her up before and after work and supporting her with a lot of prayers.
Throughout 2016 we studied Hebrews, Romans, 1Timothy, Psalms and the parables of the Kingdom of God. Timothy Stamatis and I took turns to deliver the Sunday messages. On the last Sunday of each month we held united Athens chapter 1 & 2 worship services and we heard the messages by our second gens including from sister Isidora about the parables of the Kingdom of God.
A great change and improvement was shown in Mrs Maria Skotty’s faith by steadily attending our weekly bible study, testimony writing, sharing thanksgiving topics and attending the worship service after her return. She supported our worship service by preparing power points for the messages and by taking care of the beam projector. Isidora translated all the prayer topics of our world ministry and presented them to us on Sundays.
The biggest fruit of our ministry in 2016 was Sister Hara’s joining our church through God’s work in her through her devotion to the word of God. She used to wander in the world but after giving up her sinful life she joined the five member youth disciples meeting. The youth disciples were Lydia, Paul, Pauline, Isidora and Hara. They gathered together for testimony sharing, prayer meetings and bible reading, growing as the light and hope of Greece. From the beginning of the fall semester, they formed the Worship Singing team including second generation Joanna Woo and they continued worshiping the Lord with their body, mind and musical instruments. They are preciously being used in God’s ministry.
There are endless internal and external temptations and difficulties when trying to keep their spiritual and physical holiness in this sinful, adulterous and discriminative Greek society. However, when they overcome spiritual difficulties with the help of the Lord and are ready to cooperate with their parents in God’s ministry, the ripple effect is very great. When the second gens served as a bridge between the Korean missionaries and the natives, the pioneering ministry becomes solid. More native Greeks are attracted to gather, participate and grow as disciples. Missionary Lydia always expresses her gratitude to them about their faith, and she is helping them to grow as the mainstream of the gospel ministry of Greece. Paul Jr. and Pauline Jr. are a good influence on their colleagues in their daily lives because they both study hard at the university and work at their part time jobs as Korean teachers. They are actively inviting their friends home and Missionary Lydia Lee is making friends with them through serving Korean food to them. From the fall semester Lydia Lee had an average of about five or six one to one bible studies a week with 5 disciples, while Rebecca had personal conversations and delicious meal.
When I was trying to break and die to myself every day at home arguments with my wife were greatly reduced and my relationships with my children improved. I also made s list of the things my wife disliked the most and began to began to do the things which pleased her instead. Whenever we spend time together I wanted to take her out to eat fried squid, Kalamari, which is her favorite food. I have been making a conscious effort to strengthen my marriage with her. Through this we could be a good example to our children and our sheep. We thank God who provided us our daily bread in the midst of the long-term economic crisis. We thank God who blessed Woo Joy to enter elementary school.
On April 22-24 at the Cosmos Vision Center we held the united Athens chapters 1 and 2 joyful Easter Conference. The entire theme of the conference was, "The signs of the last days of the world and the separated life of God's children.” The first message was, “The fall man and the death of Jesus” from Genesis 3” delivered by Timothy Stamatis. The second message was, “The death and resurrection of Jesus” on Luke 24 by Paul Lee jr. and the third message was, “The resurrection and the second coming of Jesus” by missionary Mark Lee. Isidora also served a special lecture with the title "The difference between Christianity and Islam.”
On November 25-27 we held the joint Athens chapters 1 and 2 Fall Bible Conference at the Cosmos Vision Center. And the main theme of was, “Why we want to divorce the old husband and marry a true husband, Jesus Christ". The first message was, " Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened” Matthew 11:28 by Maria Scotty. The second message was, "Jesus who is the eternal living water” on John 4 by Isidora, and the third message was, “The faith of Joseph from Genesis 39 by Timothy Stamatis. All the messengers were in Greek.
In order to obtain a driver's license we are required to receive lessons more than 25 times on the road. I had a deep personal repentance and a sense of concern about not doing important biblical sex education, which is very important in God’s redemptive history to the second gens and young Bible students. Missionary Paul Lee delivered two special lectures with the title, “The generation of the media and biblical sex education”. He emphasized how the media only promotes sex for only physical pleasure to educate young people to have total, healthy and responsible sexual knowledge based on the Bible. He gathered beforehand all their questions and concerns about it and gave them answers and constructive directions. We pray that we will continue to listen to their concerns through the Q&A sessions to protect them from the sinful culture and knowledge of the world through steady lectures on biblical sex education and marriage. On that day five leaders gave a purity ceremony before the Lord and many witnesses. God sent us shepherdess Catalina Rebecca from Romania UBF to the conference and blessed her and us abundantly.
We gave struggles to live as people of God different from the people of the world who only go back and forth between work and home. We visited the campus every week and had prayer meetings. We have football fellowship with the sheep every Sunday afternoon to protect the second gens from the sinful world to have joy and satisfaction in our meetings.
Praise God who allowed us to attend at the EDC in Sweden in the beginning of the New Year and helped us to start having our eyes fixed on the Lord who is the Maker and completes our faith. Praise God who blessed me to take part in the World Mission Report and the missionary Conferences in Seoul on June 4-6. I am grateful to see God’s glory through one Muslim soul who shared his repentance and witness of the gospel. At the CBF conference in the Czech Republic in July Johanna Woo, Susanna Lee, Samuel Woo, David Woo an Joy Woo attended with their parents. Second gens including Esther Lee, Isdora, nephew Sung-hoon and his friend Dongsoo attended the Encounter conference in August. We thank God for sending missionaries such as Luke Im from Uganda, Barnabas Kang from Macedonia, family members of Song Myonghee from Jongno 2nd chapter and Stephan Kang from Latvia. At the end of the year, God encouraged us by the visit of Msn Jose Ahn and his wife with their grandson Abraham and enjoyed fellowship with them.
II. The key verse of the year of 2017
"I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” Psalms 121, 1-2 as our key verse for 2017. In 2017, we will meet different kinds of mountain and obstacles during the race of faith. Mountains of language and culture, mountains of disciple making, economic crisis, health problems, the marriage problem of Lydia Lee. The mountain of job problem and marriage problem of Maria Scotty, mountain of campus entrance exams to sister Hara, mountain of raising baby Daniel and of the Greek language for Rebecca Akmaral. The mountain of second gen’s education in the mission field. It is easy for us to be overwhelmed with fear, anxiety and despair whenever you encounter these mountains and obstacles. Meanwhile we will first ask ourselves a question, "Where does my help come from?" We pray that we will confession our faith every day, "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." We pray that we enjoy wonderful and exciting rides over the mountains every day abundantly filled with the Holy Spirit. We pray that we as parents, deeply sympathize with the difficulties and special circumstances of second gens in different cultures and languages and not to be controlling or indifferent. Through emotional coaching, we want to help them to communicate well with their local friends rather than being alienated, to make them as their close friends. We pray that we will educate them to learn healthy and biblical, friendship, love and courage and loyalty as soldiers of Christ and justice and sympathy as royal priests living away from the same sins of Choi Soonsil gate in South Korea.
- Lydia Jr. to fine a job receive Greek citizenship and marry by faith.
- Rebecca Akmaral to raise Daniel and learn the Greek language; for Hara to be admitted to college; for Mary Scotty to find a job and marry by faith.
- April 7-8 Easter Conference and November 3-5 Fall Conference.
One word: My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth
Paul H. Lee