Vacations for Body, Mind & Spirit.
By Linda Whichelow
At Corfu Airport's sweltering departure lounge, the holiday representatives stare in amazement as Mastersun's rep Helen Pearson is suddenly embraced by a group of men. Throwing their arms around her, they confess: 'We just wanted to bless you.."
With just six months in the travel industry, Helen admits to taking her job more seriously than most tour guides. "The others can't understand why I get so emotionally involved with the guests. When I should be happily welcoming the new arrivals off the plane, I'm still sad at leaving the previous group we've all grown to know so well"
Christianity should embrace every part of a believers life, including family, workplace and leisure. Annual holidays are times of relaxation and refreshment but often lacking in spiritual enrichment. For this reason, specialist Christian holiday firms have sprung up in different parts of the world, to provide a person with "fellowship" with other believers, and spiritual teaching, at the same time as enjoying the usual pleasures associated with the perfect holiday location.
LIGHT INTERNATIONAL reviews some truly unusual and exotic Christian Holidays on offer around the world, but for now we have primarily focused on MasterSun's Greek holiday in Hotel Barbati, Corfu.
I prefer to travel light, especially in the summer season, which was more reason to notice the 'heavy laden' types arriving at Christian run Hotel Barbati, Corfu, where the more well-informed guests are rumoured to arrive with two suitcases, one containing summer wear and the other with toothpaste, pens and older warmer clothes, destined for Albania via the Evangelical Free Church of Greece, which has close ties with MasterSun holidays.
Service was excellent from the start, with dozens of MasterSun staff, dressed in red, lined up to carry each person's luggage to the hotel, and welcome each newcomer. The hotel is set on a cliff, so everyone gets a sea view from their room! Aimed at both singles and families, those deciding to travel alone, immediately feel at home, with the friendly atmostphere and can share a room with another single guest if the wish to cut costs in that way.
Watersports are mostly free. As a keen sailor and windsurfer, I was frustrated seeing dinghies and sailboards empty for days on end, due to lack of wind. But the high standard of water-skiing lessons on offer made up for this splendedly!
The first water-skiing lesson was free, which attracted the most unlikely looking candidates. But the patient instructress had unbelievably good results, with overweight, unfit guests, skiing in no time using the 'fixed side bar' technique.
Families enjoy these holidays, many returning year after year and quite a few church leaders were amongst these satisfied guests.
Youth workers arrange competitions for children and teenagers and even use their own ideas to plan the weeks activities, to ensure maximum enjoyment. Hotel Barbati is not really suitable for small children, so families including those under eight years, are advised to try MasterSun's Greek location on the Island of Kos for maximum appeal for the whole family.
'A little piece of Heaven'
All staff seem to see their work as ministry more that duty, and Julie the waitress said she often prayed with guests if they had emotional problems, after for instance ending a relationship. There is a caring, friendly atmostphere, which takes a while to get used to, but is in fact refreshing. One of the cooks described it as 'A little piece of Heaven'
Excursions are educational as well as fun, and included a jeep safari, a traditional Greek evening and a visit to an Olive Press, to see how olive oil is made. Food is delicious, although not particularly Greek, but all wine is free with the evening meal, a perk I particularly appreciated as the drinks were fairly palatable. I suppose most Christians don't drink too much, so the gesture was never abused.
A service is held each evening and Sunday mornings, which is not compulsory, but was attended by most guests. The leadership changes every week. A musical Duo called Simeon and John led the worship on flute and guitar during my stay. They tended to play a little slow for my taste, but it was peaceful, and they delivered an important message, entitled 'Tell it as it is', advising us not to paint an unrealistic picture of our faith, but to let people know the truth: that the Christian 'walk' can be difficult, but that God is with us through every situation and that He will never leave us, or forsake us..'
Popular - Albanian Excursion
Another evening speaker was Pastor Miltiades Pantelios of the Greek Evangelical Free Church, Corfu. He spoke from the heart about the Albanian Christians now living in Corfu and the newly converted in Albania.. I am sure many present went back to England with a burden for the country and to encourage their churches to support them prayerfully and financially.
The Albanian excursion attracted many guests, and Greek transport was discarded in favour of older Albanian ships and coaches, which were not air-conditioned, so as to make the trip more authentic. We were advised to take lots of water, a fact I remember, having forgotten my own.
Upon arrival at Albanian shores at Sarande Harbour, we were told the inhabitants see no wrong in stealing foreigners' expensive items that they cannot afford themselves! Clutching our cameras we made our way to the hot coach.
Maternity Wing -
Our first port of call was a hospital that had received a generator from England. I was feeling thoroughly dehydrated by this time, and felt queasy as I inhailed the stale air of the hospital. I pleaded to remain outside, but the forceful Albanian guide insisted I follow the others on a tour of a maternity wing with women in their early twenties, looking middle aged. As I entered and saw the blood-stained walls, I began to feel faint, and ended up lying on a bed in another part of the hospital, surrounded by nurses taking my blood pressure.
I gratefully accepted the cold tea and cakes our Albanian host had reserved for the whole party, and recovered in no time!
Albania needs our help very much and Miltiades, encouraged by MasterSun, is working hard to publicise this. His involvement started in 1978 when the country was under Communist rule and the word 'God' was removed from the dictionary. He wanted to help the Albanian people hear the gospel message, so after much prayer, he and some friends placed some gospel tracts into watertight bottles and threw them into the sea, in the hope that they might reach Albania!
Message in a bottle
At first he tried to float the bottles down the river from Greece, but they were intercepted at the boarders by nets placed by the guards. Not being one to give up, he then launched some more gospel messages in bottles from Kasiopi, Corfu, about a mile across the sea to Albania. Just in case they reached other destinations, they were translated into Italian, Yugoslavian and Greek.
Miltiades was overwhelmed when Albania did eventually open its boarders. He formed a church in the country, and one of the first couples to join it said they had first heard of the gospel by reading a tract they had picked up from the sea!
Many religions are now proselytising in Albania and we were informed that Muslims are offering grants to the brightest students on condition that they convert to Islam. So christians working in Albania and the Albanians themselves need our prayers and financial help. Miltiades' tiny church in Corfu has become a doorway into Albania for a flow of aid from England, Holland and elsewhere.
Christians in Holland have installed a powerful generator so that the hospital remains functional during the frequent powercuts. They have also donated 350 sets of school books, pens and rulers so that a school in Saranda, one of the poorest villages could remain open.
Bedworth Christian Centre in England sent a team of seventeen to the school with all the materials needed to repair it. The church in Corfu has also helped children in a deprived orphanage, who were only there because their parents could not afford to keep them at home. Now a programme has been set up for christian families to 'adopt' a poor family and help them financially, so that many orphans can return to their parents.
An update is due within the next few days, but in the mid nineties the countries inflation rate was 700% and unemployment was 40%, so if you wish to help support the difficult work in the country, then do contact Miltiades.
For those of you keen to hear more about MasterSun or MasterSki holidays, their name is now Richmond Holidays, and they are still arranging Quality Christian Holidays. A link to their website will be here in the next couple of days.
Helping the homeless
Night Shelter Practicalities
Praise the Lord, more and more ministries now let the homeless sleep in their church halls over winter.
Depending on the venue the 'guests' can be treated like royalty, enjoying new clean designer clothes and bedwear provided daily, gormet food and heated floors to aid a decent nights sleep.
Coming soon... advice on those extra health & safety steps your church can take to ensure a healthy, happy homeless night shelter with minimum difficulties.
To celebrate, LIGHT INTERNATIONAL looks back at her rather special visit to Christian - run Rehabilitation Centre Teen Challenge.
Page 15 Visions & Creativity Section..
We are delighted to present LIGHT INTERNATIONAL - The Global Review of Christianity to the world once more in 2018 - an important time in our history...
A huge thanks for your patience while we upload more and more articles from the five sections of LIGHT INTERNATIONAL within the coming weeks.
The sections are:
1. Business of Ministry
For pastors /ministers, curates, worship team members, church administrators, Junior Church teachers, church wardens and many others..
Covers the day to day running of Churches in different parts of the world.
Includes applications of sound technology, building resourses, flooring, heating, pews & seating, communion wine.. the list goes on and on..
2. Ministry of Business
For business people... The I.C.C.C. International Christian Chamber of Commerce and others demonstrate the miraculous new dimension of Jesus at work.
3. Spiritual Realm
Deeply spiritual articles on gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Includes Spiritual and Praise Warfare, Intercession on a Global scale, and 'forgotten' teachings like 'The Witness of the Spirit' by David Wilkerson.
4. Visions & Creativity
Especially gifted and often larger ministries sharing with us how our own faith and churches can grow beyond belief... Includes The Largest Sunday School in the World and The adoption of Third world orphans.
5. Lifestyle Faith & Fame
Billy Graham on how we should live our life, lifestyle, including travel, and taking your church on a pilgrimage. World class sportsmen with faith and other celebrities etc sharing with us...
In Christian Service,
LIGHT INTERNATIONAL - The Global Review of Christianity 2018