ATHENS – The Greek coastal cities of Mati and Rafina in the southeastern region of Attica have been devastated by the worst wildfires in decades that have spread into the small urban areas.
As of August 12th, the death toll has reached 94, including men, women, and children. Many were trapped in the flames in the tourist village of Mati, including an Irish man on his honeymoon. More than 170 have suffered injuries. At least 30 are hospitalized; many in critical condition.
Twenty-six people who are thought to have gathered in a shelter for safety became entrapped and died in the port city of Rafina.
In Mati, many people fled to the ocean beaches for refuge. Although their lives were spared from flames that were hot enough to melt cars, the city of Mati has been virtually wiped out by fires driven by 75 mph winds.
Rescue operations have been replaced by recovery. As neighboring countries including Cyprus, Italy, Spain, and Bulgari offered their assistance, people traumatized by their losses have, as is our nature, taken to casting blame on everyone from the Greek government to God.
Being very much aware of the frustration and immeasurable grief that the survivors must now endure, evangelical Christians from a local church, many of them teenagers and young men and women under the age of 25, have literally begun digging into the ruins to lift debris from the remains of buildings. “We are helping with cleaning the burnt properties, by removing items, carrying wood, and offering hope of restoration.”
The work requires strong arms and backs, so the government has welcomed their assistance. But the Christian teens’ motivation is more than cleanup. And it is more than the restoration of buildings. It is about showing “the people the hope and love of a God, who became flesh, became like us, and brought hope . . . of restoration through His resurrection.”
These Greek evangelical Christians have requested that fellow Christians worldwide commit to pray for the Lord’s blessing on their efforts “so that they can impact others in this difficult time.”
Would you commit with us to do that today? Let us pray together that believers in Mati and Rafina will be able to demonstrate the love of Jesus through their efforts and His peace that passes understanding even in the midst of life’s storms even if they are the survivors of the worst fires in Greece in decades.
- Evangelical Focus, Wildfires in Greece kill at least 70
- Evangelical Focus, Christians in Rafina work with authorities after the “big disaster”
- Evangelical Focus, Greek Christians get involved in the recovery of the Mati region
- The Guardian, Greece: fires force evacuation of Evia island near Athens
- CNN, Cars turn to molten metal as Greek wildfires wipe villages off the map
- By Janurah [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
- YouTube, BBC