The province of Thrace in Νorthern Greece is the first area of Europe that the Apostle Paul visited, and today some 100,000 Muslims live there. In this ancient area near the Biblical city of Philippi, some 40,000 ethnic Pomaks make their home. These people are members of an ancient Greek tribe that still uses its own language, Pomakian. They are one of the few remaining unreached people groups in Europe.
Agape Greece has a vision for serving the Pomaks through providing much-needed medical support. The project is named “Gledame Nagore”, which in Pomak means “We are Looking Up”.
The Pomaks are an impoverished people. Most of the men leave home to work abroad, leaving their often uneducated wives behind to care for the family. Organising humanitarian aid for the Muslim Pomaks, especially for women and children, meets a real need and provides a wonderful opportunity to show the love of Jesus to people in need. Agape works with Global Hope Network International, a trusted partner with expertise in humanitarian aid.
In the summer of 2012, a group of 30 volunteers including four doctors made the first trip to offer free medical examinations. During that trip, the team helped 130 people in the village of Glafki with medical examinations and a clothing distribution.
A year later, the team returned, this time with a newly converted mobile medical van that can be used for general exams, dental care or gynaecological examinations. This mobile medical facility served 220 Pomaks who were examined by three volunteer doctors (a dentist, an ophthalmologist and a gynaecologist) in two villages in 2013.
Agape Greece distributes school supplies and toys to children of poor families in addition to offering medical help. This anchors the work firmly within the community and builds long-term, trusting relationships. Volunteers continue regular visits to maintain contact and strengthen personal bonds to begin to open doors for other kinds of sharing, including discussing spiritual matters.
Last year the number of visits with the mobile medical van skyrocketed to 30. The medical team included a dentist and a radiologist to do ultrasound examinations as well as a female gynaecologist to examine the women. Activities continue in 2015 with trips scheduled to include medical examinations as well as personal visits with new friends among the Pomak community.
As the humanitarian aspect of the outreaches progresses, Agape Greece staff and volunteers seek opportunities to talk about Jesus Christ to the Muslim Pomaks, sharing the motivation for the outreach activities and spreading the message of a loving God who has not forgotten the Pomaks.
Project Leader is Dimitris Tsoukalas, who lives in Thessaloniki leads the whole initiative.
Mobile: +30 6988066907, E-mail: tsoukalas(at)ghni.gr
Disaster Assistance and Response Team
Last Saturday morning, I woke up to the shouts and shrieks of children playing in the park below our apartment. Confused and a little annoyed, I shuffled sleepy-eyed to the window to see what the commotion was about.
Get an inside look at what it's like for Agape FamilyLife Director, Hansjörg Forster, as he lives with his wife and two daughters in Switzerland.
A few months ago, we started getting reports of a new, highly contagious virus in China. We heard stories of major cities shutting down. We prayed and shook our heads and kept an eye on the news.