Monday, December 8, 2008

Riots in Greece

We are okay. Many of you who have heard about the situation here in Greece have asked if we are okay. We don't feel that we are in any danger. I will tell you a bit about what is going on, but understand, I don't have a full picture of all the reasons and history behind the current upheaval. The catalyst to this particular upheaval was the deadly shooting of a 15 year old boy by a police officer. This officer and his partner were in their patrol car when 30 youths rushed their vehicle. The officer claimed he was firing warning shots, but some witnesses claim he shot directly at the boy.

For starters, understand that a great number of people here are frustrated and angry with a government they accuse of being corrupt and self-seeking, not caring about the people. I can't tell you the number of strikes that have gone on since we have been here, only for three months. There was a Customs strike when we first arrived that prevented anything from coming into or going out of the country. This diverted our container and caused us problems, but also, it drained this area (Attica) of 95% or more of gasoline. I waited 40 minutes in line one day for 30 euros of gas, as they were forced to ration it out. The metro has been on strike several times. A workers strike is going on Wednesday which affects many people in many ways. One example is a friend of mine who had to postpone his flight because of the strike! So, all this to say, there exists quite a tension between the people and the government, and the people continue to seek to make their voices heard.

As for the violence, much of this can be attributed to Anarchists. Demonstrations and protests happen quite often in the city. Most of the time they are non-violent, although sometimes violence erupts. It seems that this erruption of violence can many times be attributed to the anarchists.

So, is this happening where we live? Has it affected us? The only activity I know that has happened in our section of Athens is that last night a number of youths were throwing rocks at the police station. This was the scene at many police stations all over Athens, as well as many other cities in Greece. Sunday night we had a worship event scheduled with Hellenic Ministries, but had to cancel. The ministry building is located in the center of Athens and is in a pretty volitale area in times like this. So, the word got out to cancel the night of worship for everyones safety. Not only that, but the roads were blocked off as well. The only other direct effect was the thick traffic this morning because of closed roads. Many roads were closed as they needed to be cleaned up. Several shops, banks, storefronts, etc. have been damaged and burned.

Wow, what a post! Gloom and destruction. But, I got to tell you, it's ten o'clock at night, I'm typing on the laptop, Nikki is cooking dinner, Ashtyn is sleeping, and in our home... it is quiet. Thank God, for the simple things. Today, I walked up to the rooftop of my school to take a look out over the city. From the top you can see the beautiful mountains, the open sky and the sprawl of the city. Can you imagine the heartache of God when He looks over this city, over this world, full of people he created in His image, and sees and hears and feels the brokeness of the people. But can you also imagine His excitement and joy when we become his hands of healing!

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