Hello Calvary family! For those of you who don’t know me or know what I’m doing, my name is Elise Godsey and I’m a sophomore at Calvary, majoring in Intercultural Studies and TESOL. However, I’m not exactly a student at Calvary right now. I’m a student at the Greek Bible College in Athens, Greece! I am studying abroad this semester, thanks to the wonderful opportunity that Calvary provides where you get to come to this college and take some of your basic Bible classes for Calvary credit. So far I am the first CU student to do this, but I’m sure I won’t be the last!
I am actually on the island of Patmos while writing this update. That alone should tell you how awesome this program is! To clarify, I am doing what is it is called the International Student Program (ISP) here at the Greek Bible College (GRBC) and as part of our classes this semester we are taking 4 different study trips! So what class do you think this trip to Patmos is for? You guessed it…our writings of Apostle John class. It has been so neat to read the book of Revelation on the island where it was originally written. We also went on a trip to the city of Nicopolis last month, where we got to see some ancient ruins and learn more about the Roman Empire. The Apostle Paul spent time in Nicopolis, as he mentions in the book of Titus. We will go on two more study trips this semester!
The ISP is 9 students this semester, which is a nice size to travel and to get to know each other well and interact in class. Our classes are all in English. Then there is the Greek program here as well, which is 3 years long. There are about 20 students in that right now, so I’d say there’s about 30 students total enrolled here this semester. There are only 11 of us living on campus in the dorms right now. Last year there were more on campus, about 20 I’ve been told, so it fluctuates year to year.
There are 6 classes being offered here this semester for the ISP and I am taking 4 of them, because those are the ones that I need for CU. They will count at Calvary as my Bible Study Hermeneutics class, my Old Testament Survey class, my John class, and also one elective (New Testament Greek). There is also one that would be New Testament Survey, but I had already taken that class before coming here. I am still learning a lot by sitting in on it though! The office staff here have been very flexible and helpful as we work to make my time here compatible with my CU course requirements. Also, it is not super pricey to come study here. In fact, it is cheap! When you factor in the cost of airfare, a semester here ends up being about the same cost as a semester at Calvary. This is a blessing. Also, the 6th class is Engaging Orthodox Theology, which has been very eye opening as well, especially since we have gotten to visit some Orthodox churches here. Please pray for the vast majority of Greece, who think that this is true Christianity! It is sad to see people who do not know the joy of a loving relationship with Jesus Christ that is based on faith and not works. But I have also learned that there are things we can learn from Orthodoxy as well. It is important to keep an open mind and learn all we can, holding everything up to the light of the Bible.
The classes here are wonderful. The small class size makes us all feel very comfortable with having discussions in class, and the professors are full of knowledge and a desire to see us grow. I have gained so much insight into biblical principles from studying here. Being in such an ancient country really makes it feel like the Bible comes alive! It is so awesome to read the Bible and see Athens or Patmos mentioned and now be able to say “Oh, I’ve been there!” Hopefully I can visit other biblical places such as Corinth and maybe even Thessaloniki before I leave. It might be hard though, because there is so much to do right here in Athens, between school, ministry, and exploring. That is why I am thankful for the built-in study trips, to give us time to visit some awesome places.
Probably the biggest blessing for me since coming here has been the opportunity to learn from and serve alongside multiple ministries. God is doing some big things in this city. People from literally all over the world (but especially the Middle East) are being driven here due to war and persecution and corruption, seeking a better life. Athens has become a sea of multiple cultures, and it has been so encouraging to me to see how the local Greek churches have been rising to this challenge and serving those that God has brought to their city. Then the new believers who are springing up all around have started ministering to those that come from their own countries, and some of them even want to try to go back to their home countries to tell their friends about Jesus. It is amazing! I have also met plenty of missionaries who come from overseas and are serving here too, which is super awesome since that is what I want to do once I graduate! I do not know where I will go as a missionary, but I am eager to wait on the Lord and learn all I can in the meantime. He very well could end up leading me right back here to Athens, which I think would be spectacular!
Just like Calvary, the Greek Bible College has Christian ministry and church attendance requirements, so we were given lists of different churches to visit in the area. The first couple Sundays we visited churches all together as an ISP group. Also, during our second week here we met with the Christian ministry coordinator to talk about different ministry options for us each to do. There is a huge variety of different things to get plugged into, and I want to do as many as I can! Since being here I have gotten to participate in a ministry to feeding the homeless of downtown Athens, help out at an after-school ministry to Roma (gypsy) children, and I am looking to get connected to serve with a refugee safe center downtown. I have also found a wonderful church to attend, and even though I have only gone there twice, I have already gotten to participate in an outreach in their local community where we set up a table in the market and played board games with local people. It has been awesome!
I cannot say enough about how wonderful my time here has been already. I have quickly grown so close to my fellow students here and I appreciate their fellowship immensely. We hang out on campus a lot, and we also go out and about to do things sometimes too. We have chapel for a half hour every day except Wednesday, and that is also a great bonding time. Everyone here speaks at least some English, and most of them are very good at it, so it is not a struggle at alI to not know Greek. I am trying to learn a bit though, and I appreciate all the Greek students teaching me things! I also deeply appreciate Greek food. Man. How am I ever going to part from it? If you chose to come here just for the coffee, gyros, and gelato alone, it will be worth it. And there is so much more, it’s all just a short walk down the street from the school. Not to mention the delicious food that is made and served to us here in our cafeteria every day! Our cook is very talented, and we are all so blessed by the homemade Greek dishes she makes for us.
Praise God that He has kept me strong and in good health, and that He is granting me this time to learn about Him at this beautiful college and serve Him in this wonderful country! I pray you all are having a great Fall 2019! Always be open to new things that the Lord may lead you to do!