Since the beginning of January the ICC has continued establishing additional Safe Houses for vulnerable Christian refugees. The Mission has been blessed with five new properties donated by American believers, who have bought property in Athens to loan to the ICC. This amazing act of kindness and generosity on their part is another example of how God is touching hearts and minds. Our current portfolio of 11 Safe Houses now has capacity for 72 refugees. These properties however, all incur necessary operational costs. If you or your church would be willing to sponsor a family in one of these safe houses please do get in touch.
Greece is strategically very important for the ICC. With Europe closing its borders and the Middle-East destabilising further, Greece is now caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. From March, Germany will begin returning many thousands to Greece under the Dublin 3 agreement, as Greece was the first point of entry. Turkey meanwhile is threatening to eject some of the 2 million+ refugees it holds as retaliation for the EU refusing membership, and for Greece refusing to deport Turkish military personal who sought asylum during last year's coup.
Greece is a country whose constitution includes defending the Christian faith, the land in which the Apostle Paul established the early church. God is at work in Greece, there are some wonderful disciples here and we are privileged to witness God weaving a tapestry of people and organisations who provide for His people from the Middle East. Truly when the brethren dwell in unity there is great blessing!
As such, for many Christians escaping persecution, Greece will become their new home. But their journey has not been without trouble: 88% of those interviewed by the ICC over the last year have experienced or witnessed faith based hostility or violence either en route to Greece, or here in the camps.
If you would like to be involved there are many ways to support. Volunteer, pray or donate - the ICC needs all three!
ICC Data Lands in Downing Street
Over the last four months the ICC has been collaborating with other Christian NGOs to produce a comprehensive report highlighting the plight of Christians across the Middle East. Last week it was submitted to Downing Street. Compiled and published by Dr Russell Blacker (Caucus for the Persecuted Church), we sincerely hope and pray this report will open eyes and ears to the plight of our brethren in Europe and the Middle East - and act!
Currently the UK government refuses to recognise them as a persecuted minority. This is especially hard within Europe's borders, as people see Europe as a democratic continent with notional Christian values. But what people don't understand is the many refugee camps and centres across Europe, with their 97% Muslim majority, have simply become microcosms of the Middle East with Sharia even being implemented in some, thereby putting non-Muslims at risk.
UK Charity Status Awarded
Just before the Mission closed for Christmas, the UK Charity Commissioners awarded the ICC full charitable status. The Greek government has also formally recognised the ICC as an NGO branch.
When the ICC was first announced there were voices who said it could not be done, that it would never work, that the word 'consulate' could not be used or that the orthodox churches would never accept it. Yet ten months on the ICC has been established and is formally recognised. The Mission has eleven safe houses and secured substantial funding towards the 'House of Faith' refugee centre opening soon. The ICC is developing relationships with UNHCR and the FCO, whilst continuing to work with various NGOs, ministries and the Greek orthodox church.
Truly, what is impossible with man has proven very possible with God. The ICC belongs to God and He is building it. He has reminded us that unless the Lord builds the house the labourers labour in vain, for this Mission will not be built by man's power, wisdom of might, but by the Spirit of the Lord.
"Not by power nor by might but by My spirit", says the Lord.