4. Every Tribe & Every Tongue

The Greece Missions Trip this past June was terrific. Most of us who are familiar with the New Testament, especially the book of Acts, appreciated the experience. Athens Baptist Bible Church and its ministry to different ethnic groups served as a good testimony that God has not forgotten this region where the apostle Paul ministered many centuries ago. It was so fascinating to look and walk into places such as the Acropolis, Corinth and Mars Hill (Areopagus), where Paul preached “to the Unknown God” in Acts 17:22-34.

One of the highlights of our trip was Sunday’s worship when members and attendees from different parts of the city of Athens came to hear the word of God. Pastor George Dimakos gave us a glimpse of what it is like to be in a church service where many different languages are spoken. Although CrossBridge, our local church in Westbury, is multicultural, our medium of communication is English. On the other hand Athens Baptist Bible Church preaches God’s word in Greek. You might ask, so what? Koine or Hellenistic Greek was the universal language during the time of the apostles, similar to what English is for us today. The New Testament was written in Greek, even though most of the Bible writers were Jews. The significance to us is that the original language is what they based their interpretation of the passage on instead of an English translation of the Bible. English can only come close but not as exact as what the original language could do to extract the author’s intent of the verse.

During the service before the preaching, Pastor George requested several people to pray in their own dialect. We heard prayers in Greek, Farsi, Chinese, Filipino, Arabic, and Portuguese. He also made them recite John 3:16 in the same manner. Although this writer does not believe in the continuity of the sign gifts, such as tongues among other things, the existence of languages and dialects and the ability to interpret them exist.

This writer had the privilege of delivering the word of God during this service. The Greek translator named Bobby did great and the exposition of the word was delivered to the people. As a lay Bible teacher who has never had someone interpreting their English into Greek, let alone on a foreign soil where most of the New Testament manuscripts originated, this was an extraordinary experience.

The Bible says in Revelation 5:9 that the Savior redeemed every tribe and language and people and nation and made them a kingdom of priests to our God and they shall reign on the earth. Our one-week missions trip to Greece was just a foretaste of what it will look like in heaven when there is magnanimous corporate worship of every tribe and tongue that exists all throughout eternity.

May this be an encouragement to anyone who is thinking of serving God and wants to have this experience first-hand and know what missions is all about to participate in one of these trips in the future.

Written by Jimmy Ablaza
Mission Posts Editor: Betsy Abraham