Cyprus Church Reaches Out to Unchurched Youth, Families

Active congregations serve the community across the island nation.

Kim Papaioannou & Marica Mirilov, Trans-European Division News
Cyprus Church Reaches Out to Unchurched Youth, Families

Cyprus may be one of the smallest administrative units within the Trans-European Division church region, but it is active in reaching out to youth and families, as demonstrated by two weekend events this October.

Polis Chrysochous Youth Weekend

Eighteen mainly unchurched youth were among the 45 youth and accompanying adults who gathered together for Bible study, worship and fellowship in Polis Chrysochous, from Oct. 6-8. Unchurched youth came as a result of positive friendships made with their Adventist friends over the past five years.

Trans-European Division Youth Director Zlatko Musija joined the youth to share a message focused on the heritage of the Reformation for 21st-century youth. During three study sessions on Friday evening, Sabbath morning, and Sunday morning, Musija presented key historical events and theological concepts in simple language, easily understandable by people without a strong church background. His key emphasis was the centrality of the Bible in the Christian faith.

“I need to get a Bible and start reading it,” shared one of our youngest and newest participants later. He then proceeded to download Bible apps.

Interaction and fellowship was also a fundamental part of the weekend. Two key events stand out, which included a Sabbath afternoon boat trip to the nearby Akamas peninsula, accessible only by boat or all-terrain vehicles. There they enjoyed the beauty of unspoiled nature. The 45-minute trip each way, taking in wonderful views, as well as the hour anchored off Akamas, gave plenty of opportunity for bonding, and memories through countless photos.

Sunday morning saw an extended football (soccer) game. Despite the rain, teens were undeterred. After walking to a nearby park together with some of the braver adults, the group enjoyed an hour and a half of non-stop football through spells of sunshine and rain.

Polis Chrysochous was the third Cyprus Youth Conference following two previous events in Limassol in 2014 and Larnaca in 2016.

Mending with God

The following weekend, members and their friends shared a learning time together under the theme “Mending with God,” in Centrum Hotel, in Nicosia, Cyprus capital city.

TED Family Ministries director Karen Holford, together with her husband Bernie, demonstrated in very practical terms how to enhance and even mend relationships. Some attending the event expressed that it was exemplary to have a warm, harmonious couple working together in ministry, in light of today’s statistics regarding estranged and broken relationships.

Friday evening’s presentation, focusing on different levels of communication, attracted a diverse audience from 12 language groups. However, that was not an obstacle to a meaningful and enriching evening, as the presenters pointed out that our communication is only 7 percent verbal. The evening program created an opportunity for friendly interaction between Seventh-day Adventists and their unchurched friends, who made up close to half the audience.

Sabbath morning focused on mending relationships while in the afternoon, the Holfords took the attendees through four places of forgiveness. From the youngest to the oldest they were challenged to treasure and work on their relationships.

Sunday’s program moved to Meeting Point, a church community center in Limassol. Local church elder Emily Vakatawa welcomed the group and introduced Karen and Bernie by sharing her personal experience on how, during their previous visit, they saved her marriage from breaking up. “As a mother of three young children, I am looking forward to the very relevant presentations on creating emotional balance in adults and children, developing their characters for eternity and disciplining them with love,” she said.

Karen and Bernie not only lectured but ran a workshop where parents worked on tasks together with their children and experienced how wonderful and creative family interaction can be.

Just ninety-two baptized members live and witness on the island of Cyprus among a very diverse population of 1.2 million made up of mainly Greek-speaking Cypriots and a large international community.

Kim Papaioannou & Marica Mirilov, Trans-European Division News