NCC's mission team to Thessaloniki, Athens, and Corinth

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An Education in Human Trafficking

Today our education in human trafficking began in earnest.  After a quick stop at Starbucks to keep the troops well-caffeinated, we headed to the A21 Campaign office for a 3-hour debriefing on human trafficking from Phil Hyldgaard.  After that, we had an amazing as always Greek lunch, then packed up some lunches (taping together croissants and juice boxes) to send to the detention center where women found without papers (some of whom may have been trafficked) are kept.  Following some brief free time, we grabbed some gyros and headed back to Philadelphia Church to watch the movie “Human Trafficking” (available on Netflix and highly recommended for understanding this issue further).

The team is still processing what we learned and experienced today (it was a rather emotional day) so we’ll post some reactions tomorrow.  In the meantime, here are a few notes from our meeting with Phil:

  • Trafficking is when people are treated as property, bought and sold, and forced to work.
  • At $32 billion per year, more humans are sold than drugs each year.  One trafficker has said that people are cheaper, can be sold more than once, and are easier to transport.
  • 27 million people are in slavery today, 99% of whom are never rescued (or at least not yet!) and 80% of whom are women and children
  • The average age of a trafficking victim is 14-years-old.
  • 25% of global sex trafficking victims come from Eastern or Southern Europe
  • There are an estimated 40,000 sex trafficking victims in Greece today.
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Team Greece 2012 Highlights as of Day 2

As Day 2 in Thessaloniki ended, we asked a few team members what some highlights had been so far.  In this video, Sunshine, Emily, Amanda, Shawn, and Josh share some of their highlights.  And Emily explains how coming to Greece has inspired her to learn a new language.  English.

Adventures in Thessaloniki

Greece Team at the Rotunda

The Greece Team in front of the Rotunda

Our Sunday began with the our hotel’s delicious breakfast (including Greek yogurt with honey – yum!) and then it was on to Philadelphia Church, where Pastor Heather preached a message somewhat familiar to those of us who were at NCC services last weekend.  What was unfamiliar, however, was the Greek translation of each line by Melina, who was equally as animated as Heather.

The worship (in both Greek and English) was also amazing (and brought to mind Revelation’s passage talking about people of every language worshipping before the throne of God).  We also watched the video of “Twenty Seven Million,” the new song by Matt Redman and LZ7 aiming to raise awareness of the anti-human trafficking movement and done in support of the A21 Campaign. I’d encourage you to download the song from iTunes and check out the video below:

After church, we headed to yet another delectable Greek banquet for lunch and then it was off on a tour of Thessaloniki with Tony Sebastian, founder of iHeart Café, and everyone’s new best friend, his 6-year-old (almost 7!) son Brady.  We visited the Roman forum, St. Demetrios Church, the Rotunda, Galerius Arch and palace ruins, the White Tower, and the waterfront.  One of the highlights was the not-quite-as-old-as-that-other-stuff iHeart Café, which was inspired in part by our very own Ebenezers Coffeehouse.

Lunch!

Lunch!

Tony speaking to team at Roman Forum

Tony speaking to team at Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Inside St. Demetrius Church

Inside St. Demetrius Church

iHeart Cafe

iHeart Cafe

Greece Team 2012 members at iHeart Cafe

Greece Team 2012 members at iHeart Cafe

Amanda, Andrea, and Brady at iHeart Cafe

Amanda, Andrea, and Brady at iHeart Cafe

Arch of Galerius

Arch of Galerius

The White Tower

The White Tower

Members of Team Greece 2012

Members of Team Greece 2012

Members of Team Greece 2012 at iHeart Cafe

Members of Team Greece 2012 at iHeart Cafe

Members of Team Greece 2012

Members of Team Greece 2012

Look Who We Ran Into!

The Haslers!John and Steph (Modder) Hasler joined us in Thessaloniki!  For those who don’t know, John is NCC’s campus pastor in Berlin, Germany, looking to start a cafe ministry there.  Last November, he married Steph Modder, NCC’s long-time Worship Coordinator, and following last January’s Leadership Summit they made their permanent move to Berlin.  They just found an apartment to live in, which is a major answer to prayer, although it’s going to require a bit of elbow grease to get it in working order.

So what are they doing in Thessaloniki?  Well, we’ll let them tell you…

Food, Glorious Food!

Greek dessertIf you haven’t guessed, Team Greece 2012 has been eagerly anticipating the food here in Thessaloniki.  Well, tonight’s dinner with the folks from The A21 Campaign, Philadelphia Church, and iHeart Cafe did not disappoint!  We ate until we were stuffed — and then found out the main course hadn’t even been served yet!  Glorious!

Those of us who decided to feast instead of fast while we’re in Greece are very thankful we did so. Looking forward to what culinary delights tomorrow holds!

Greek food

Saturday dinner with A21 #2Of course, it was also awesome connecting with the folks who are here on the ground in Thessaloniki, hearing some of their stories and the passion they bring to the issue of human trafficking — as well as the obstacles they face.  It will be awesome working with them in the week to come!

In addition to the 14 members of our team, there were about 18 others at dinner, including full-time staff and interns from all over the world who work for the A21 Campaign in Thessaloniki.

Saturday night dinner with A21

Tomorrow morning we’ll be worshipping at the Philadelphia Church where a certain Pastor Heather Zempel will be delivering the sermon (please pray for the unfortunate Greek woman who will be translating her into Greek and trying to keep up!).  After that we’re headed off on a tour of Thessaloniki with Tony Sebastian, the founder of iHeart Cafe.

What Are You Most Looking Forward To?

Greek gyro and CokeShortly before boarding our flight at Dulles airport, we asked the members of Team Greece 2012 what they were most looking forward to on the trip.  “The food” seemed to be a common answer.  View their responses in the video below.

Sing to Show You Care… aoke!

Before heading overseas, Team Greece 2012 hosted a night of karaoke at Ebenezers Coffeehouse to raise funds for the A21 Campaign.  Thanks to all who came and gave! (Those who couldn’t attend but would like to support A21 can do so directly here.)

After seeing some of the karaoke antics, we considered raising additional funds by using pictures from the event to blackmail participants, but then we realized the crazy ones all seemed to be of Team Greece member Jason Chandler, so that scheme wouldn’t work.  Plus we didn’t want to deprive the world of such photographic wonders.  Enjoy!

Amanda and Jason singing karaoke

Jason and Michael singing karaoke

Team Greece members who lasted until the end of karaoke