I took a train to Piraeus, the main port in Athens, to meet Nikos Fotinos, a Global Mission pioneer who’s planting a new group of believers near the city. I caught a bus to the proper street and then walked the remaining distance to the address he’d texted me earlier. I arrived a little early and was glad to see that Nikos was already there.
After greeting me, he beckoned, “Come see our meeting
room!” I followed him to a nicely reconstructed room on
the main level of an older structure. “The church owns this
whole building,” he told me as we took a seat. “It turned the
floors upstairs into apartments, which it rents to generate
income, and renovated the first floor for our church group.”
The renovation took place before Greece’s huge financial
While we were waiting for people to arrive, I asked Nikos
to tell me about the project. He began by sharing his personal
story because it has heavily influenced his approach
“Some time ago, I slipped on soapy water that someone
had poured out on a sidewalk,” he said. “I fell under a vehicle,
and it crushed my ankle.” Though he had drifted away
from the Adventist Church, the horrific experience not only
brought Nikos back into the church but also inspired him to
go into ministry—a ministry with an interesting focus.
“I noticed that the only people who could understand
what I was going through as I recovered from my injury
were those who had suffered a similar traumatic experience,”
he said. This made Nikos realize that he would be
able to reach out to people with comparable injuries in ways
that no one else could.
“You see,” he continued, “everyone who helps you with
such an injury is doing so because they get paid to. It’s
all about the money. But my experience taught me that an
injured person needs more than paid services. They need
personal help from someone who’s been there. That’s why
Jesus came to earth to live among us.”
You can often find Nikos in the hospital helping such
people. “I take their contact information, and we talk by
phone whenever they need to about the things no one else
can understand,” he said.
Nikos has just started work
on this project, but he hopes and
prays that after he builds relationships
with these individuals,
he will be able to begin meeting
their spiritual needs as well.
Some already attend a midweek
social gathering that he holds in
the meeting room.
Nikos has also made contact
with two psychologists and a
physical therapist who are interested
in his work. Even though
they’re not Seventh-day Adventists,
they’ve been intrigued
enough to volunteer some of their
time to help.
The fact that Nikos lives in
Athens, one of the places the
apostle Paul visited on his church-planting journeys, isn’t
lost on him. “People in Athens have lost interest in traditional
religion,” he said. “That’s why we don’t even have a sign
on our building. If they saw a sign that this was owned by
a church, they would avoid coming in. We must use Paul’s
approach in reaching people. We must build small groups
of people who meet together and who are defined by their
personal community, not by their building.”
Nikos’ very personal approach is slowly gaining momentum.
Though this work takes time, there have already
been a few baptisms. He’s excited to see the gospel move
forward as he relates to people simply as someone who’s
Reprinted and adapted with permission from Mission 360˚ magazine.
Find more inspiring frontline mission stories at Mission360Mag.org.
Jeff Scoggins is the planning director at the office of Adventist Mission
at the General Conference World Headquarters.