Hundreds of thousands of Greeks came to Australia in the post-war migration boom. They came in search of wealth and a better future for their children.
With this migration came a corresponding increase in the Greek Orthodox Church. The church became a symbol of what it meant to be Greek—a rallying point for Greeks in their new home. Unfortunately, Orthodoxy is a religion of ritual, mysticism and superstition, and does not preach repentance and forgiveness through trust in the death of Jesus.
Evangelical Greek Churches were also established in capital cities, and these churches saw many converted. Today they are dying: they are small in size, with elderly congregations that do not attract new members. The young people have become disillusioned with the legalism and irrelevance of their parents’ faith.
You may ask, “What has this situation to do with me?” There are about half a million second generation Greeks living in our suburbs—many of whom have never heard the gospel. It is our privilege to share the gospel with them.
A major problem in Greek evangelism is that second generation Greeks fit comfortably into neither Greek nor Australian culture. At home, they are taught to be Greek; at school and in the workforce, they try to be Australian. They don’t benefit from Greek Orthodoxy, but also find it culturally difficult to fit into our English Protestant traditions. To attend an English church is seen as a denial of Greek background.
For this reason, the Greek Bible Fellowship (GBF) began in 1985. This is a church run by Greek people for Greeks, which upholds the Protestant faith. The cultural barriers to conversion are therefore broken down. Its aims are to evangelize second generation Greeks and to build up Greek believers in the faith.
The Fellowship began with 16 members and now has 35—many of whom have been converted through hearing the gospel at GBF. The church was established to reach second generation Greeks, but we now have four sets of parents attending our parents’ Bible Study. While our primary goal is to be an effective Greek witness in Sydney, as the congregation members are built up, we hope to be able eventually to send missionaries back to Greece.
The work is slow. We see people embrace the truth frequently, only to fail to let it take root in their lives. However, we’ve been encouraged at the responsiveness of Greeks to the gospel, and are thankful to God for the people he has brought to himself during the past two years.
The Greek Bible Fellowship began because members of an Australian congregation saw the need for ethnic work. Successful ethnic work needs the support and backing of established churches. We need to look at the ethnic mixes of our parishes and be prepared to be innovative in order to reach these people.
Greeks migrated to Australia for the wealth they thought it would bring. We can share in giving them the true riches of eternity!