Honors College Students Spend Two Weeks Serving in Greece

June 1, 2023
Athens Mission Trip

During the last two weeks of May, 10 Honors College students traveled to Athens for two weeks of ministry, service, and learning. Led by Honors College Dean Douglas Henry, Ph.D. and Classics Lecturer Joe DiLuzio, Ph.D., students served with joy while deepening their own sense of Christian calling, responsiveness to the Lord, usefulness in Christ’s church, and awareness of the challenges for people in Greece, Europe, and the wider world.

“Over the last dozen years, the Honors College has built a growing presence in Greece,” Dean Henry said. “This year’s mission trip reflects the friendships, ministry partnerships, and experience we’ve gained through the years, as well as the great continuing need for Christian faith, witness, ministry, and service in Athens.”

Throughout their time in Athens, the mission team partnered with First Greek Evangelical Church, Greek Bible College, and Hellenic Ministries (AXIA 113) to minister to youth groups, college students, and refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Iran, as well as indigent Greeks. Practically this looked like preparing and serving meals, playing with children, and encouraging refugees in word and deed.

“This trip has shown me the sweetness of the universal church,” Honors Program senior Parker Westover said. “Serving alongside Greeks at AXIA 113 for refugees from all over the world was incredible. Language barriers did not hinder the sisterly and brotherly connections because of our core appreciation for and devotion to Jesus. This was also evident when we met students and professors from the Greek Bible College who shared their unique, beautiful love for Christ with us, even though our previous experiences could not be more different.”

When the group was not serving alongside the modern Greek church, they were visiting sites such as Delphi, Corinth, the Parthenon, and the Areopagus to gain a better understanding of ancient places and history within a Christian perspective.

“It was so incredible to experience Athens’ history in a way that related everything I learned back to my faith,” Honors Program junior Ella Gardner said. “Visiting the Areopagus and Acropolis took on a much deeper significance in the light of Paul’s audacity in speaking to the Athenians: he looked at the unmatched grandeur of the Parthenon and boldly told the people that his God did not dwell ‘in temples built by human hands’ (from Acts 17:16-34). For me, this trip was a call to action: a call to study God’s word as well as world history as it relates to my faith, and to make conscious efforts to serve others in my everyday life.”

According to DiLuzio, this experience was the perfect combination of Christian service and study.

“Each day, we invited students to live out the gospel by connecting the opportunities and challenges of ministry in their own context with those of Paul in his first-century context,” DiLuzio said. “I think the students have a better appreciation for the connection between the early church — the church established by Paul in the first century — and the modern church of the twenty-first century. My prayer is that the same Spirit that animated Paul in Athens and Corinth will inspire our own students to minister faithfully in whatever setting God calls them.”

The trip was funded by the David and Amy Hunt Christian Missions Endowed Fund, which supports mission experiences led by the Honors College, enabling Honors College students to integrate their Christian faith with discipline-specific learning and hands-on service.

“Dave and Amy Hunt’s generosity has had an unmistakable impact on the opportunities and education our students receive,” Henry said. “To travel abroad and see the world through the lens of Christian ministry and service brings understanding of a whole different order. The vastness of human need and the tragedies of human suffering can be mere abstractions when we read about them from afar, and tourists are usually too preoccupied with sightseeing to give attention to the realities right at hand. But because of the Hunts’ vision, we’re able to take students on dedicated mission trips in which the drama of others’ lives, in all their complexity, are evident. We’re able to bless and minister to them as beautiful people made for fellowship with God in Christ, and for good and uplifting shared life with their neighbors.”