With the Church of God established in 183 nations of the world, it is easy sometimes to overlook some of the countries where God is doing a great work. One such location is Greece, which also comprises 150 inhabited islands.
Herodotus Kourpas founded the Church of God in Greece in 1964. The pastor of a group of born-again and Spirit-filled believers, Kourpas became acquainted with Vessie Hargrave, then World Missions director, and the small congregation joined ranks with the Church of God. He later was appointed to serve as overseer. Kourpas passed away in 1998, but during his lifetime of service, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was spread to many places in Greece.
Despite troubles and opposition of the official Greek Orthodox Church (the state religion of Greece), thousands of people were evangelized and hundreds gave their hearts to the Lord. God used ministers of the Church of God to establish missions, Bible studies, and three churches … one in Athens, one in Thiva, and one in Kokkinos Mylos. The pastor at Kokkinos Mylos, Alkis Gatzelias, graduated from the European Theological Seminary in Germany.
The present overseer of Greece is Anastassios (Tassos) Aronis, who received his call to the ministry while kneeling in prayer and meditating on the Word of God, specifically Joshua 1:1-9. The Holy Spirit revealed to him he would preach repentance to God’s people and that he would bring God’s people back to the land of his forefathers! Aronis was ordained in the Church of God in 1994. Later, God mightily used him during the European Conference of the Church of God in Kircheim, Germany, in 2001. Shortly thereafter in 2002, he was granted the leadership of the Athens Church of God. The World Missions Board appointed Aronis as overseer to Greece since 2000 until the present time.
Eighty (80) kilometers from Athens is the church in Thiva, one of the centuries-ancient Greek cities. A population of 35,000, the people are farmers, industry workers, traders, and shop owners. Refugees comprise Pakistanis, Indians, Albanians, and Romanians.
Despite propaganda against them and the persecution of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Thiva church proceeds before each Sunday morning service to teach the Word of God to 12 children—refugees from former Albania (Muslims)—who are accepting the truths of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The outreach extends to Gypsy camps, as well.
In 2005, the first “Romanian Church of God” was established in Tsesmes, Crete. Since then, several other Romanian churches have been birthed. The first convention of the Churches of God in Greece, held in Athens in 2006, consisted of Church of God Greeks, Romanians, Filipinos, and Africans, as well. Experienced was a new and active vision among leaders to work together in spite of the ethnic and cultural differences, and to be united in the Spirit of the Lord and the denomination. At the beginning of 2008, two Filipino churches were added to the Church of God constituency.
The Church of God in Greece is extremely grateful for the leadership of the Church of God in the United States, Europe, and the World Missions Department for their love and support in accomplishing His mission. They hold in their hearts great anticipation for all God is going to perform through them in the near future.