by Bob Gerow
Forty years ago, the idea of a medical clinic in Greece was only a dream.
Dr. Demosthenes Katsarkas, a young physician, longed to serve the needs of the whole person. Spiros Zodhiates, then general director of AMG, could envision the project, but "did not have a dime in his pocket" for such an undertaking.
September 22, 2007, was an exciting date for AMG in the biblical city of Thessaloniki, Greece. St. Luke's Hospital, a state-of-the-art medical facility, was nearing completion of a major expansion program. On this day the hospital celebrated the opening of the brand new Zodhiates Wing. It was a time to rejoice, reflect, and give thanks to God for the blessings He richly provided for St. Luke's during the past 32 years.
The much-needed expansion and renovation of St. Luke's began two years ago. It was a giant step of faith, as the $20 million needed seemed like a next-to-impossible task from a human perspective. Yet the same God who made St. Luke's a reality in the first place has continued to bless the hospital beyond the wildest imagination. Now, with the generous support of Christians in North America and operational results that have exceeded all expectations, the expansion which more than doubles the size of the hospital will be completed early this year with the addition of the second new wing.
During the past 32 years, more than 350,000 patients, their families, and other visitors have been touched with the love of Christ and have had the opportunity to hear the message of the gospel. We know many who have come to know Him as Lord and Savior, but only heaven will show truly how many lives have found spiritual healing in additional to physical healing at St. Luke's.
The new wing was appropriately dedicated to Dr. Zodhiates, the man who originally dared to pursue this vision along with Dr. Katsarkas, who continues to be the director of St. Luke's to this day. As the choir of local believers sang "Amazing Grace," the ribbon was cut for the new wing.
The expansion will allow St. Luke's to provide excellent medical care and continue to proclaim the Good News in the years to come. More people hear the gospel there in a year than are visitors to all evangelical churches in Greece combined.
The far-reaching, positive impact of the ministry of St. Luke's Hospital extends far beyond the delivery of caring medical services:
Excellent medical care has provided a platform for the gospel to many who would never darken the door of a church
Christian nurses and caregivers routinely encourage patients with the Good News, and are neither ashamed nor hindered when they pray with patients
Religious and political leaders who might otherwise not give the gospel a hearing come from all over Greece because they know they will receive excellent care
In addition to the patients, families and friends hear daily gospel messages delivered to the entire hospital over the intercom system.
Medical excellence has provided credibility for the entire Evangelical community in Greece-including Evangelical missionaries in serving in Greece
The profitability of the hospital has helped financially support other outreaches in Greece, including radio broadcasts in Cyprus, and many other activities
St. Luke's routinely provides medical treatment to missionaries throughout Eastern Europe, and free medical care to Christian workers
We praise God for what He is doing through St. Luke's and eagerly anticipate the next 30 years for this ministry that is being used so mightily by the Lord. Please continue to pray for the needs of the expansion and that many people will come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior through St. Luke's Hospital.
Bob Gerow is development administrator for AMG International.