Kipseli Ministry in Thessaloniki
In 2018, Antonis & Viki Topaloglou, along with a retired Greek-American couple Thomas and Christine, began the Kipseli Ministry in Thessaloniki, based around a community centre & café in the centre of the city, but aimed to reach out to wounded people in the city, and share the gospel and the love of Christ with them. The centre needed a lot of refurbishment to turn it into an attractive and welcoming place, and a team of workers led by Antonis completed this work in 2020. (Thomas and Christine had to return to the US, donating part of the Kipseli premises to Antonis & Viki so that the work could continue; they rent the other part).
Antonis is from a typical Orthodox background, being baptised into the Orthodox church, but later realised his need of saving faith in Christ and the centrality of the Bible. His background has helped him to find ways to share the gospel with Greek people, predominantly from the same Orthodox background, in a way which can be easily understood and without introducing unnecessary barriers, to become 'all things to all people,' (1 Cor. 9:22).
The work has grown, even this year, with people coming to faith in Christ (including from a Muslim background), as well as believers committing themselves to the work. The team now includes Natasha, Cindy, Leonidas, Soteria, Martha and a number of others.
As part of Kipseli, Antonis & Viki and the team working with them, run a number of different ministries. One ministry in particular which has grown is the Sanida Ministry, focusing on domestic violence and pro-life issues. Natasha is a young missionary who works with them, and has great expertise in pro-life ministries, and has been training the other team members in how to be effective in counselling young women an girls caught up in both domestic violence and coming under pressure of abortion. There is a major problem with domestic violence in Greece, probably linked to a strongly patriarchal family structure; and the number of abortions, while a great deal lower than in the UK, is growing rapidly, and many young women are pressurised into having abortions rather than giving birth out of wedlock.
Apartments in Thessaloniki
A few years ago, an elderly Greek Christian lady donated five apartments to the Kipseli ministry, to use how they saw fit. The apartments are in the city of Thessaloniki, but were in a very dilapidated state. But recently, thanks to the generosity of some Christians across the globe, they have been able to get to work on renovating two of the apartments.
The intention is to make use of these apartments as part of the Sanida ministry, both as the headquarters of the work, but also to provide emergency sheltered accommodation. Most of the work is done by Antonis and other volunteers in the Kipseli team to make the available funds stretch as far as possible, but the end result is very impressive!
They also hope to convert the other three apartments into two refurbished apartments, and do repairs to the exterior, as the Lord provides the finance for this work.
Another part of the work in Thessaloniki - but now extending to Larissa - is the Moses Coffee enterprise. First and foremost this is a commercial venture to sell high quality coffee in pleasant environments, including the Kipseli centre. But the proceeds of this are intended to provide income for the Sanida ministry, so that this can, at least in part, be self-supporting. But the coffee shops also provide a place where the women who have been supported by Sanida can work, as they can be trained up as baristas.
The idea of reaching out to Greek people through a café, through which they sell Moses Coffee, has now been taken up by the Greek Evangelical Church in Larissa, where Viki's father (also the father of EMF Missionary Stathis Yfantidis) is the minister. Stathis is also heavily involved in the project (according to brother-in-law Antonis, Stathis is a coffee expert, or perhaps 'coffee maniac', as well as the most gifted 'Barista preacher' in Greece!), but is also very strongly committed to finding different ways to engage with Greek people to share the gospel, whether in his location in Athens, in his native Larissa, or in Thessaloniki. Once again, the team of volunteers have been working hard to develop the premises in Larissa, and make this an attractive, welcoming and comfortable environment - but with a hugely important purpose: to reach Greek people with the gospel.