A former Merchant Marine Bridge Officer and world traveler (86 countries) for over thirteen years, I was converted by my wife Eleni in 1978. We have been happily married since August 29, 1980 and we have two great children: Our son Orestis, now 22, who studies and works in Nashville, TN. and our daughter Danae, now 17 who will further her studies in Biochemistry as of fall 2004 at the Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., having received – by God’s grace always – full scholarship for four years. The year 1986 was the last one of my shipping career and in 1987 we decided to start a new life, with a new scope and desire, to serve the Lord for the years to follow.
Starting in September 1987 and up until January 1990 we are both students of the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ School of Bible Studies in West Monroe, Louisiana, where we are taught in detail the word of God. Upon graduation, (3.91 G.P.A.) we came to meet Brother Houston Ezell, who introduced us to the Nashville, Tn. Church of Christ community and several congregations.
The Hillsboro Church of Christ in Nashville, TN. was just one of them. Since that time (1991) they have been our gracious overseers to the present time. Other congregations joined the support team. The Crieve Hall Church in Nashville, the Hartsville Pike Church in Gallatin, TN., the Church in Waverly, TN., the Smith Springs Church also in Nashville, TN., have been supporting us in part all these years. Lately, as of the beginning of 2004 the Mandarin Church in Jacksonville, Fl. decided to be a part of this effort, the Mt. Juliet Church in Mt. Juliet, TN. and the Granny White Church in Nashville, TN.
THE MISSION FIELD IN ATHENS, GREECE
The mission field in Athens, Greece, dear brethren, is unique. Unique, de facto.
After the caving-in of the Eastern Block in 1990, the population of Greece and particularly that of Athens has been swollen by over one and a half million souls from Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Russia, Ukraine and all the former Soviet Republics, people from Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, all of them to be added to the 100,00 Filipinas who have been working in Greece as house helpers since the 60’s. The population of Athens went up from 4.5 million souls to 5.5 million. This Pentecost type effect created the need for assemblies to minister spiritual needs in native language.
Eleni and I have been faithfully serving at the Omonia (Which means Concord) congregation downtown Athens since 1990. In addition to the Greek speaking assembly, we had a multi-ethnic, international, English speaking assembly utilizing our Church meeting place – fully owned and remodeled – for the English speaking assembly in the evening. Through the years, the ethnic background and makeup of this international group called for an altogether Bulgarian speaking assembly, with located trained Bulgarian minister to serve their needs. The two congregations became three. As of May 2003 God’s love has created a fourth, Russian-speaking assembly for which I also preach every other Sunday, taking turns with our coworker with the help of a translator – a faithful member of this assembly. This assembly has grown from four to twenty-four souls in its first year.
These four independent assemblies, the Greek, the Bulgarian, the Russian and the multi-national, English-speaking utilize our church building (2700 sq. ft. space) at different times son Sunday. It is a walk-in and walkout phenomenon all day. We go to the Church at 9:00 a.m. and the last service ends at 8:00 p.m. Space has become a problem and we pray that the Lord will provide funds to purchase either the second floor of the building right above us, or an altogether different facility in the vicinity.
This work has its full activities for each assembly, mid-week Bible study, monthly excursion to strengthen bonds of unity, Sunday Bible class, visitation program, potlucks etc. I speak English and French, in addition to my native language; Eleni speaks just Greek and English. Eleni has also been cooking lovingly on Sundays for the Bulgarian assembly in the last two years until recently.
IN ADDITION to these activities, Eleni and I have been blessed to serve the Lord, as we are often invited to share God’s love in other countries. As Greece is now playing a key role in the region, supporting the entry to the E.U. of the neighboring countries of Bulgaria, Romania and Albania, we can say that in the evangelistic realm, Athens and the Omonia Church is a real springboard to the neighboring countries. First, let us mention the numerous financial immigrants, who receive the gospel and them migrate to other European countries, Canada or the U.S. Athens is their greenhouse. Second, invitations are extended to us for short visits on special events of congregations, for Eleni and I to speak.
By his grace, Eleni and I have been guest speakers at the Pepperdine University Annual Bible Lectures for the last four years in May. During our visit to the U.S. I have been always honored to preach for a number of congregations – like I did for you at Mt. Juliet or the Mandarin congregation, Jacksonville, FL. on Sundays, while Eleni led a number of annual Ladies’ event, like she did at Argyle Church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. on Saturday, May 15.
Just one day before we flew to the U.S. this time, Eleni returned from the neighboring country of Albania, where she was the guest speaker for the Annual Ladies Fellowship from all the Churches of Christ in this country. Two months before, I had visited the Church in Tirana, I preached and I taught classes, having also delivered 500 copies of a Christian book for evangelism.
Since 1990 I have been lovingly visiting the Lord’s Church in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital and preaching, while the located minister was back in the U.S. – two or sometimes three visits every year. For this coming September Eleni and I are invited as keynote speakers at the Annual Rally of Churches in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Please read attached letter. (SOUTH AFRICA)
As if this was not enough, it was my second year to visit the Church in Omsk, Siberia, Russia – north of Kazakhstan. Having departed from Athens I joined in Omsk a group of fifteen brothers and sisters who flew from the U.S. for the Annual V.B.S. and adult bible study campaign for eleven days. I have also participated for four years in the past in similar event in Pitesti, Romania – as a V.B.S. and adult class teacher.
Once again, Eleni and I wish to thank you for your interest in the Lord’s work in the Biblical city of Athens and other nations. Please keep us in your prayers as we do the same for you and all the Family at Mt. Juliet.
In His loving name
Alexander and Eleni Melirrytos
Servants of Jesus