In Greece, postmodernism may be helping to facilitate the spread of the gospel—especially to college students, according to national pastor Giotis Kantartzis.
“In a society with traditional ties to religion, postmodernism can create the necessary vacuum in order for the gospel to be presented without stereotypical perceptions or illusions,” said Kantartzis, pastor of the First Evangelical Church of Athens, Greece, which is now partnering with RUF and MTW to reach students at Athens University. “And this is especially important for students [who are learning about postmodernism], which is why we feel we need to develop a strong university ministry.”
Church and Campus Ministry Combined
Kantartzis’ ministry at Athens University is the hub of a new type of partnership between Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) and Mission to the World (MTW). In this paradigm, several MTW missionaries and an RUF campus minister will move to an international location to help plant a church and set up an RUF campus ministry in tandem.
“One of MTW and RUF’s shared values is working through the church,” said MTW’s Opal Hardgrove. “And Giotis has a real vision for planting a church and school/campus ministry with a strong church connection flowing back and forth.”
In the Greece partnership thus far, MTW has provided the local contacts and logistical support and RUF has provided much of the manpower. “MTW initially made contact with Giotis through a conference we had in Greece several years ago,” said Hardgrove. “Then, RUF got the vision for this project and provided a pool of students to go on several short-term trips, for which we provided training and support.”
In recent years, more than 200 RUF students have traveled to Greece with MTW for short-term mission projects alongside First Evangelical Church in Athens, helping out with university ministry as well as sports ministry and outreaches to refugees.
Making Faith “Visible”
Giotis reports an interesting anecdote to demonstrate the need for campus ministry in postmodern Greece. When RUF students visited the Athens University campus last year, they noticed icons of Christ hanging in the classrooms. Later, they had a conversation with Greek students and mentioned they were impressed seeing the icons. “The Greek students were really puzzled because they admitted they had never seen the icons,” said Kantartzis. “They were there but they went unnoticed. That is a telling illustration of the status of most Greek students. Religion is ‘invisible’ and goes unnoticed in their lives.”
One of the goals of the growing MTW-RUF presence is to help believing students grow in their faith during their university years, he says. “We hope that they will be able to find ways to communicate the gospel in a meaningful way in the context of the university.”
To learn more about the MTW-RUF partnership in Greece, contact Opal Hardgrove at firstname.lastname@example.org.