Athens group

“. . . We heard academic reflections from faculty members who had already taken significant pay cuts as a result of government austerity measures, seen as imposed by the international community rather than the Greek people. (Indeed, their university had just that week delayed starting the fall term due to a strike against further cuts.) Their questions about governance were both ancient and pressing.

‘Experiencing first-hand the historical/ biblical sites like Ancient Corinth and Mars Hill . . . was eye-opening, surreal, and ultimately this short period of time had an impact on my faith’ (Samantha Moody). Sitting together in the ancient Corinthian Agora—not far from where St. Paul probably engaged in his tent making trade—we read aloud at length from Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. Amidst the wonderful passages about unity within the diverse body of Christ and the character of biblical love, the contrasts of the temporal with the eternal were especially striking. Having just heard from our guide about the thriving civilization of Ancient Corinth—now reduced to dusty stones—Paul’s stress on resurrection and eternity were compelling. Like a crumbling ancient city, ‘The body that is sown is perishable’—but unlike that city, for those in Christ, ‘it is raised imperishable . . . it is raised a spiritual body.’ (I. Cor 15:42, 44).

‘Athens was a place that became home, physically and relationally . . .’ (Destinee Valadez). The length of our stay in Greece allowed a close familiarity with our surroundings. We could return to special places and enjoy them repeatedly such that they became, in a sense, our own. The warmth of Greek hospitality and the cultural openness to relational engagement were also a major part of our sense of place and belonging. The readiness of warmth and affection was simply remarkable. For instance, one shop proprietor that we had come to know tearfully showered gifts and hugs on the Covington children just before our departure.

‘Athens was characterized by community bonding and outstanding food’ (Nikki Dressler). During shared meals, regular corporate worship, long walks through the city, or even rap battles on long bus rides, one of the pleasures of our time in Athens was the forging of new communal bonds.

We are now settling into Rome and are looking forward to the road ahead!”