great is Thy faithfulness.

Reflecting back on my time in Greece and realizing how God has moved and worked is really cool.  If there is one thing that I learned over these 6 weeks, it is that God is faithful.  I’m not sure why I ever doubted that, really.  There are countless examples of God being faithful in the Bible.  And I’m not totally sure if you could even say I doubted it…it just wasn’t a thing that I thought about a lot.  But beyond Him being faithful, He is ever so sweet in this faithfulness.  Here are a few examples:

My friend, Marianna, who I met during my second week in Athens, not only wanted to be my friend, but she wanted to be a part of my life.  We were able to have numerous hangouts.  She missed class multiple times to hang out with me, she invited me over to her apartment, she played a song on her guitar that she had written, she rode the bus an hour out to campus only knowing we would only have 30  minutes to spend together, she took me to a place across town because they had the best dessert, she opened up and let me ask her questions about her life and her beliefs, she shared her fears about the economic crisis and what it would mean for her family and her future.  So many sweet blessings came from this friendship.  When I sit back and think about it, God didn’t have to give me any friends this summer.  I could’ve just gone to campus everyday, met new students, had short conversations, and then said our farewells.  Instead, He chose to give me a friend who loved me, cared for me, and showed me aspects of Jesus – even though she didn’t/doesn’t believe in Him.  The last night we were in Athens, we had a going away party at a rooftop restaurant in the center of the city.  Marianna came and was there from the beginning to the end.  She brought me and three other teammates a gift.  It was homemade olive oil from her grandparents’ backyard, some traditional Greek spices, and Greek coffee.  She also wrote me a sweet note that said “Lauren, You are an amazing girl full of happiness and joy.  I hope I’ll see you again.  Best wishes.”  God is cool.  I don’t ever know what He is going to do or how He is going to do it, I just know He will do something amazing.  And He did.  He called me to Athens, I responded, and He was faithful.  Even though Marianna doesn’t know Jesus, I am still thankful for the time we were able to spend together.  My prayer is that she would be forever changed by our days spent together and would know and be reminded that the “happiness and joy” that I’m full of, comes from Jesus.  She touched my life and loved me well.  Being able to see parts of Jesus in her gave me more of a passion to get to know non-Christian students at NMSU and love them better.  We can learn a lot from people, whoever they might be or whatever they might believe.

One of our many coffee dates, doing Marianna’s signature look:

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Our going away party!

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As I mentioned, we had our going away party the last night we were in Athens.  It was a fun time full of laughter, good food, fun pictures, and reminiscing on the summer.  Last year, there were 4 Greeks that came to this going away party for a team that was double our size.  This year, there were over 40 Greeks that came.  God is moving in Greece.  Even if people aren’t eager to learn about Christ or accept Him into their heart right away, He is moving.  There is rocky spiritual soil, but someone has to plow it.  Years ago, the soil was rocky in China.  Vision was seen for that country, action was taken, and the Gospel was shared.  Now, China has people thirsting for the Gospel and accepting Jesus.  That can happen in Greece. It might take years for the Gospel to truly blossom, but it isn’t impossible.  God is preparing Greece for Jesus.  We were able to give, bless, and cherish the friends that we made.  When our friends think of Agape, it won’t leave a sour taste in their mouth. It was truly a blessing to be in Greece, experience the culture, and have the opportunity to pray for the people that we came in contact with.

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God was faithful in providing us friends to talk to, get to know, and pour into.  But okay, now that we’re gone, it’s just over?  Nope.  {Insert yet another sweet gift from God}  The in-country staff with Agape were at our going away party and were able to meet almost every student that came.  They exchanged contact information and will be able to get in contact with each other.  One of the girls I became friends with, met an in-country staff member and actually initiated that they go get coffee sometime… Yes!  It makes me tear up thinking about this because it’s such a joy to know that our work isn’t ending.  The friends we made will still be poured into and can continue learning about God and doing life with people who love Jesus.  Such a wonderful comfort knowing that they are taken care of and have a safe place to go if they ever want to talk about spiritual things.

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Sweet Anastasia + friends.

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I learned how to appreciate another culture, and became really familiar with the saying, “it’s not wrong, it’s just different.”  There are a lot of things America doesn’t have figured out.  There are a lot of great things about America, but there’s also a lot of great things about other places.  Being submerged in the Greek culture taught me how to truly enjoy company and know that there’s always room for more friends.  They don’t really have a concept of time, but that’s not always a bad thing.  I learned the importance of cherishing family and time spent together. Greeks also show great examples of how to sacrifice.  It was cool to see that even though you might disagree on something, it doesn’t mean you can’t stay friends.

God taught me a lot this summer.  He taught me how to love better, live a fuller life, and show people who He is in deed and word.  Last summer in San Diego, I remember hearing a phrase that really stuck with me: As Christians, we are always on call.  And this summer in Greece, I yet again was reminded of this phrase.  Evangelism isn’t something we do, it is a lifestyle.  Sharing Jesus with others requires genuine love for the other person.  There’s not a set “way” to share Jesus with people – it fits into all contexts, we just have to learn how to recognize where.

I am changed because of the Lord’s faithfulness.

Be encouraged by this today.  Live in truth and walk in love.

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