Let me tell you about the amazing couple we’re working alongside here in Greece. Five years ago, when Larry and I were invited to go to Poland to speak, we asked around for other opportunities to minister in Europe while we were there. Our pastor, Marvin O’Dell, suggested we contact Taki and April Korianitis who our church supports and who he knew personally. We did contact them and for a week in November, 2006, we appreciated the opportunities for speaking they opened for us.
Over the next five years we kept in touch with them and knew we wanted to minister alongside them again. This trip was designed for us to be in Greece longer so that we could have more opportunities to support their ministry.
Taki and April have an amazing story and a passion for God’s work. In December, 1988, Taki, who was born and raised in Zakynthos, Greece, decided to visit the United States for six months, visiting his uncle.
Around the same time, living in the same area, April Cacioppo came to know Christ at the Faith Baptist Church in Somis, California, where Marvin and Theresa O’Dell then pastored.
Taki and April worked at different businesses at the same shopping plaza and met at the restaurant where Taki worked. April was enchanted by this Greek man who was learning English. He seemed so sweet and innocent. She explained to him that he shouldn’t ride his bicycle on the freeway. No wonder people had yelled at him.
Taki was drawn to this pretty girl who gave him attention. April invited him to church and their first date was attending her church’s Bible study. Taki, who had been raised in the Greek Orthodox Church, was surprised at the appearance of the inside of the church. There weren’t any icons or priests. No gold relief decorated the church. Only a cross. Taki concluded, “These Christians must be very poor.”
April and Taki were married in 1989. Taki was fascinated by the different perspective of Christianity and over time and through lots of discussions with Marvin, came to Christ. Taki joined the US army. After serving, Taki felt God’s call to go to seminary and then return to his native Greece to represent Christ.
He knew that back in his home village, it had been announced without his permission that he was returning and would become a priest in the Greek Orthodox church. His family was ashamed about his new “religion.”
Taki may have felt the call but April’s heart, as she confesses, “was rebelliously unsure. I didn’t want to have anything to do with living in Greece.” After living there for four years, the Lord changed her mind. “When I finally was able to un-attach myself from my church family at Faith Baptist, I could surrender to the Lord’s will.”
Taki and April have now lived on the Greek island of Zakynthos for 15 years. Their ministry among the Greek people is very difficult because the Greek Orthodox church and its teachings are a part of the very fabric of Greek culture. In the Greek mind, to become an evangelical is to divorce yourself from being a Greek. Taki has been maligned on the radio by the local Greek Orthodox Bishop and even blamed for an earthquake. The sowing of the Gospel message is on hard ground but the Korianitis’s persevere. They provide both an English speaking service and a Greek speaking service on Sunday. There are many people from England who live in Greece and Zakynthos Bible Baptist Church attracts them with solid biblical teaching.
Taki and April don’t just pastor a church, though, they wear many hats. Taki cares for his family’s farm and constructed his own house and other buildings. He is a talented musician and songwriter who teaches a variety of instruments including the mandolin.
April is a homemaker of four children ages 20, 14, 6 and 4. But two other children wait in heaven. A little girl, Anastasia, with a malformed heart died in utero after six months. And a little boy named Stavros lived for two hours after birth. He was Downs Syndrome also with a severely malformed heart. April’s faith and trust in God have stayed strong and as a result she ministers to others with wisdom and encouragement.
It’s a privilege for Larry and I to co-labor with this committed and wise couple. If you’d like to check out the church website, it’s www.zakynthosbiblebaptist.com/ (click on the English flag).