The summer of 2007 was one of hardship and fear for many in Greece, because of the forest fires that decimated the Peloponnesian peninsula—the southernmost part of the mainland. So, when the prime minister called a State of Emergency to deal with the fires that destroyed 177,265 hectares (438,040 acres) of land, a corps of Greek Scientology Volunteer Ministers took off for the region to back up the fire fighters and the 1,000 military personnel who were activated to deal with the catastrophe.

The Volunteer Ministers (VMs) set up in villages in a rural district called Ilea, which was among the areas that suffered the worst damage and casualties.

They began by transporting supplies to the destroyed villages. Goods were arriving faster than they could be distributed, so the VMs helped organize this effort and coordinated with other humanitarian groups and volunteers to get the food, water, clothes and other supplies into the hands of the people.

Visiting village after village, the Volunteer Ministers went into the houses, meeting places and village squares and provided what people wanted most—someone to listen, and help them work out solutions to the problems that faced them. Along with the spiritual first aid they provided in the form of Scientology assists*, this compassion was probably the most important thing the VMs added to the relief effort.

These Greek Scientologists personified the qualities of the VM as described by L. Ron Hubbard in these terms: "If one does not like the crime, cruelty, injustice and violence of this society, he can do something about it. He can become a Volunteer Minister and help civilize it, bring it conscience and kindness and love and freedom from travail by instilling into it trust, decency, honesty and tolerance."

* Scientology assists are procedures developed by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology religion, that help people overcome the mental and spiritual aspect of trauma, accidents and injuries and speed recovery. More information on assists is available on the Scientology Handbook web site.

Author's Bio: 

Ms. Wieland is an editor for the Scientology Press Office.