Click the markers for details of the work in individual countries
What is Cyprus like?
Cyprus is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean, nestled in just south of Turkey and West of Syria and Lebanon. This is an island of rugged beauty—from mountains to cacti to flowers to the sea—and hospitable people, yet also a place that shows the sorrow of human conflict.
In 1974 the Turkish army invaded Cyprus. The island remains divided to this day, with Turks living in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which consists of the northern 36% of the land, and Greeks in the Republic of Cyprus. The TRNC is recognised only by Turkey and Uzbekistan. Dividing the two states is the UN Buffer Zone, patrolled and inhabited solely by UN soldiers. Sadly, both sides seem to have chosen intransigent positions, thus resulting in failure for all settlement attempts made thus far.
For a team member, this situation affects one mainly through the partitioning of the capital city, Nicosia, which has been divided between the Turks and Greeks. There is free flow of people from the South to the North, so team members will have opportunities to visit the TRNC and see what the Turkish people also have to offer.
The University of Cyprus is in Nicosia, and is very up to date and westernised. It teaches only in Greek. Nicosia and Larnaca have various small colleges in them, most notably Cyprus College, Intercollege, and The Frederick Institute of Technology. The North has Cyprus International University in Nicosia, Girne American University in Kyrenia, and Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta. The InterAction team is based in the South, working mainly in Nicosia and Larnaca.
What is the present state of the work?
Cyprus has no student movement of its own, but we are pioneering work, and hope that it will produce fruit to that effect. The work is mainly amongst international students at this stage, all of whom come to study at the various colleges.
What does the team do?
Many movements find their springboard for ministry with the internationals, work with the nationals coming later as our presence is better established in the community.
The team is involved in running two coffee houses, one in Nicosia called The Place, and one in Larnaca called Lighthouse. These events provide a place for students to come and meet each other as well as to meet us and gain exposure to the Gospel. Most of the evening is spent playing games and hanging out, and then near the end someone from the team gives a talk.
Our ministry is very relational, with a strong focus and sharing Christ through love and friendship, evangelising and encouraging by example. We also engage in Bible studies with students who are interested in learning more about this intriguing Jesus figure or what exactly Christianity is.
Why join the Cyprus IFES InterAction Team?
The Spirit is moving across the island of Cyprus. Opportunities of sharing the Gospel abound amongst the internationals, many of whom hunger and thirst for truth, love, and righteousness. For many of these students, their time in Cyprus is the first chance they have to ask questions about Christianity and Jesus. As a team member, you could have the tremendous privilege of letting someone know about the greatness of Jesus for the very first time!
Among the international students, team members have the faith-stretching and mind-enhancing experience of exposure to a variety of worldviews—Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, postmoderns—all of whom have a need for Christ deep in their souls. The Cypriots themselves are also a people whose souls cry out for the living water of Christ. Many identify themselves with the Orthodox Church yet believe in no God, are consumed by materialism, or seek to have their spirits satisfied through the New Age.
Cyprus itself is a place where faith is challenged and deepened. On this beautiful Mediterranean island, walk where St. Paul walked, visit the tomb of St. Barnabas. Marvel at the beauty of the frescoes at St. Sozomen’s Church amid the beautiful Troodos Mountains. Here is a place where God himself dwells. If only we had the eyes to see.
Cyprus has both the need and the opportunities for young people to come and serve Jesus amidst the international students as well as seek ways of reaching the national community. If you wish to help pioneer a movement of students that can take root and flourish in this place so near where the Gospel itself was born, if you wish to see the joy and delight as someone takes the step of being baptised into the church, if you wish to take on a challenge, if you wish to delight in the Lord—seriously pray and ask the Lord if the call on your life may not take you to Cyprus for a year or two.
What special requirements are there for joining an IFES InterAction Team in Cyprus?
Visas: EU citizens do not need a visa. If you are coming from outside the EU, visitors’ visas are only for three months so one must leave and re-enter the country every three months to renew, or team members can register at the college to obtain a student visa.
Language: Greek is desirable but it is quite easy to manage in English as most Cypriots speak English as do the international students.
Nicosia (population 236,000)
Greek, with English widely spoken
Open proselytizing is not allowed in either part of the country. In the Greek area (RC) the Orthodox Church is influential; and in the Turkish area Islam is dominant. Over the whole country, 18% is Muslim, and 78% Greek Orthodox, and 4% Maronite, Armenian Apostolic, and other. Protestants are likely around 1% of the population.