Page 1

25 • SEPTEMBER 2018

orthodox mission QUARTERLY PUBLICATION OF THE ORTHODOX MISSIONARY FRATERNITY


orthodox mission

Founded in 1963 Honored by the Patriarchate of Alexandria #25 - July-September 2018 Editor: Nostis Psarras Ss. Missionaries Cyril and Methodius

In this issue 04 Saint Paul medal 06 Gift of piety 08 Colombia 11 Indonesia 12 Congo (DRC) - Kinshasa 15 Guinea & Sierra Leone 20 Kenya - Nairobi 23 Ghana 26 Tanzania - Mwanza 30 Malawi 35 Tanzania - Dar Es Salaam 36 Burundi & Rwanda 40 Tanzania - Arusha 42 Kenya - Kisusmu 43 At the Garden of Theotokos You can give your love for the Orthodox Missions abroad via Paypal at paypal@ierapostoles.gr, by check or by deposit in our bank account:

ALPHA BANK • ΙΒΑΝ: GR93 0140 4050 4050 0200 2000 170 • BIC: CRBAGRAA Other bank accounts: omf.gr/ways-give/ An ofiicial receipt for your donation will be issued and mailed to you.

Authors are responsible for their own articles. Owner:

Orthodox Missionary Fraternity

6, Mackenzie King st., Hagia Sophia sq. GR546 22 THESSALONIKI

2310 279910 fax. 2310 279902

http://orthodoxmission.org.gr communications @orthodoxmission.org.gr Registered Charitable Association Aim: Moral and material support for the worldwide Eastern Orthodox Missions Spiritual founder:  Fr. Chrysostomos Papasarantopoulos Founding president:  Pantelis Bayas Great Benefactor :  P. Papademetracopoulos Honorary president: Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and all Africa

Board of Directors Charalampos Metallidis President

Nostis Psarras Vice president Angeliki Arnaouti Secretary General Dimitrios Sotirkos Τreasurer Constantinos Metallidis Secretary Assistant Zenobios Iatrou Treasurer Assistant Evangelia Traikoudi Member Aikaterini Alexandrou Member

Prodromos Kalaitzidis

Member


Orthodox Missionary Fraternity Serving your sensibility since 1963


A New Prize There are thousands of our fellow humans in the world who do not know the true face of Jesus and His Gospel. It is to all those that the Church, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, is duty-bound to disseminate the unfading light of resurrection and hope. The Greek Orthodox Mission Church has nothing to do with racism or color discriminations. She neither abandons nor abhors anyone, nor does she disregard its neighbors, even if they are thousands of miles away. She is not isolated in self-centeredness or obscurantism, but embraces the whole world and makes an outreach to it. On Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, where 110 years ago the first spirit-driven Orthodox missionary Nicodemus Sarikas proclaimed Christ, there is an inscription on a marble tablet titled, “God had a Son, the Only-begotten, and He was a missionary�. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Church of Veroia, Greece, and to His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon for their genuine interest in the Mission. We can say that the missionary zeal shows the degree of faith of a local Church as a whole. Mission, therefore, is not only a duty but a consequence and a criterion of the faith and love of each and every Christian and of the whole Church. 4


5


Gift of Piety

Address by the Fraternity President to His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore II at the Opening Ceremony of the African Art Exhibition

Your Beatitude, 55 years have passed since the establishment of this historic Fraternity, when the spiritdriven Father Chrysostomos Papasarantopoulos called from Eastern Africa that small group from Thessaloniki, saying, «people here thirst for Orthodoxy, and at the same time they are starving.» Since then, this small group, «The Friends of Uganda», has worked hard and struggled to provide moral as well as material support to the indigenous peoples in need. In a world where the values of humanity, solidarity, self-sacrifice, respect and freedom are in deep decline, this Fraternity has raised a bulwark. It has comforted people, fed and educated children, quenched the thirst of poor communities, built 6

schools and orphanages, provided educational material and teaching aids, translated Christian books into local dialects, completed hospitals and clinics, staffed and supplied them with medicines, preached believers by building churches, spiritual centers and houses for the priests’, catechized and baptized thousands of people, made roads, guided and led adolescents into missionary paths - many of whom are near us today in the service of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. They were nurtured with the milk of the Fraternity by the late great benefactor Panagiotis Papadimitrakopoulos, «the Doctor», who spoke to them of great values, missionary as well as anthropocentric. Your Beatitude, dear brothers and sisters, humanity has often suffered


from humanitarian crises, and it is a long time since Africa has sunk into a new human tragedy, with drought and conflicts threatening the countries in the eastern part of the continent. More people die of extreme poverty than any other cause. Half of the world’s population lives below the poverty line. Over 700 million people live on less than $1.5 a day. Every 5 minutes a child dies for reasons related to hunger and malnutrition. Unfortunately, as regards poverty and human pain, Africa is way ahead globally. We have made a technologically advanced world. We have armament programs that can destroy our earth again and again. We boast of discovering celestial bodies and planets of millions of light years

away from us but we cannot see our neighbor, the one who is suffering, the one who has been forgotten and yet, he is still alive, the one who reaches out for help and yet, society persistently refuses to give him any, the one who stretches out the hand to walk along with us on the road to Heaven. Your Beatitude, you have been called “Patriarch of Love”, and this love of yours guides us and gives us courage and strength to continue the God-pleasing work of the Fraternity, as we have a common course and a common goal. «And ye shall be witnesses unto me and unto the uttermostpartof theearth» (Acts, 1:8). Charalambos Metallides Board President

His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria awards Saint Mark's Holy Cross to the president of our Fraternity

7


COLOMBIA

An unfolding miracle Dear Friends of the Mission, As you know from earlier articles, Central America is experiencing a miracle in progress. Our mind effortlessly runs to the Mayan tribe of Guatemala, which we mentioned in our previous article, to Venezuela, which lives in a state of despair, fear and terror, and of course, to Colombia and to Father Juan Paul, who, by the grace of the Triune God, is doing a great pastoral and social work. In particular, the town of Copacabana is delighted with his work. Fr. Juan Paul is a married and unpaid priest who serves at the Church of the Archangels and is the spiritual father to the 600 orthodox families in the town of Copacabana. It is really amazing to see the 8

faithful Colombians gathering in the poor rented space of the Church of the Archangels, where only the sanctuary is built, while the rest of the church consists of a simple covering instead of a roof. This poor Church, which struggles to meet its monthly rent, every Sunday becomes the most beautiful palace where the grace of God radiates within the Colombian faithful who confess our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior by praying with tears, not due to the countless difficulties of life, but out of love for the Church of Christ, to which they were called to become members and be glorified in its Sacred Mysteries. A competent worker of God, Fr. Juan Paul, found receptive hearts and filled them with Christ. But


his work does not stop there. In searching for ways to generate revenues in order to meet the parish needs, such as the rent, catechetical needs, and support for the financially weak, Fr. Juan Paul managed to create a recycling spot. This has resulted in the partial coverage of the parish needs, but it also has other beneficial effects. The recycling machine recycles the waste of Copacabana. It is unambiguous that a lot of hands are required for garbage collection. Fr. Juan Paul did something very humane: he hired young people who are in a drug detoxification process. This way, these young people have not only managed to

earn a living, but, most importantly, they have won their meeting with Christ, and along with that, their quick rehabilitation. In fact, this social work continues with the 120 single-parent families that we support spiritually and financially. And especially when this work is done by an unpaid, married cancerstricken priest, who despite the chemotherapy he is constantly undergoing, strives hard for his flock. Leaving Copacabana and going to the city of Yarumal, again under Fr. Juan Paul’s pastoral jurisdiction, we find another 170 Orthodox families. Things are difficult there, too, because the praise of the Triune

Procession of the Cross in Copacabana

9


God is conducted in a rented space. The difficulties in Colombia may be a lot but the blessing of God is even greater with new souls constantly coming to His Holy Church. We are deeply concerned about our Orthodox brothers and sisters from Colombia, and seeing them without a church of their own fills our heart with pain and sorrow. All of them live with this dream. This is why we humbly appeal to your generous hearts for assistance so that we can manage to raise the amount of 50,000 euro required to buy a plot of land where a church for our Orthodox Colombian brothers and sisters will be built. Ending today’s spiritual journey, we deeply thank the few donors for

10

the support and sensitivity they show to the work of our Metropolis, but we would also like to thank in advance those who want to become supporters of our work now and with the sensitivity of their heart will give their contribution out of the little they have to help our Colombian brothers in Christ see their dream come true. In closing, we could not possibly fail to thank the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity, this charitable society which you can get in contact with if you want to become co-workers in the Vineyard of the Lord for spreading Orthodoxy in Central America. From the Holy Metropolis


INDONESIA

A New Start in Timor Dear friends of the Mission, With God’s help we are keeping well. I received the amount of € 7,000, which you sent for our hospital. I am deeply grateful to all of you for your love, especially to Fr. Nikolaos Marketos. May God reward you with His abundant blessings. I also received the chalice and the holy icons for Fr. Chariton Zenga. Next week I am planning to go down to Nias Island and give these ecclesiastical items to him in person. July the 16th was the beginning of the school year in Indonesia. On the first day I went to Sumbul village, where our “St. John the Baptist” School is situated, and taught them excerpts from the Holy Bible. The problem is that the children have no Bible of their own, which is the reason why we

appeal to your kind heart and ask you to fund the purchase of 53 New Testament copies, whose estimated cost is € 15 each. Moreover, I received the amount of € 2,000 which you sent for the labor and delivery of Fr. Savvas’ deaconess. Fortunately, the woman gave birth to a healthy boy in the middle of July. Glory be to God! In September, they are expected to return to Timor. However, I cannot possibly afford to pay for their tickets or their rent, neither can I buy them any simple furniture or the basic housewares and new home essentials, therefore, once again I appeal to your philanthropic love for our brothers. Fr. Savvas will be the first Orthodox priest permanently serving parishes in the land of East Timor. Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu

11


CONGO (DRC) - Kinshasa

The School in the Forest Should not Close Down Thirteen kilometers was the distance the children of Nkanka had to walk every morning under the hot sun or in heavy rain in order to reach the nearest school and receive education. They walked for hours and hours out of their longing for education, without minding fatigue, as long as they could have access to schooling. What about the children who could not walk, or whose parents could not afford to pay the school fees? Well, in the Congo, there is no such gift as free education, as in Greece. Students have to pay in order to be educated; otherwise they remain illiterate in their mud huts in the forest and spend their time helping their parents cultivate a little orchard or taking down bananas or other forest fruit from the trees. One could easily see the complaint in their eyes, in

12

their expression. «We’ll remain illiterate, while our friends and other children whose parents have money to pay for schooling may walk miles and miles every day, but at least they go to school, they receive education. As for us, alas, we will never be given the chance to learn to read and write; we will remain illiterate. « Their tearful eyes did not escape the notice of His Eminence Ignatius, Metropolitan of Central Africa at the time, who built the St. Nectarios School next to the Candlemas Church at the edge of the Nnanka village. However, it was not possible to run the school and afford its maintenance and operation without funding. The parents, poor people themselves, were not able to afford tuition fees. The building was made, but there was no money for its running


costs. How could the teachers, the staff, the operational costs be paid? By no chance could the Metropolis respond to so costly a project. The economic crisis in Greece had a devastating impact on church missions as well. Donations have fallen short of our expectations. Our anxiety is increasing; how will this school work? Then a Greek man from Kinshasa, Congo, along with his son undertook the burden of its operation. Every month they paid the teachers and covered the running costs. In the first year we had 100 children enrolling in the first grade. Some of them, even if they were 15-16 year- olds who had

never been to school before, rushed to enroll. The forest children were given the chance to receive free education. They would not have to walk for miles and miles anymore. The number of students was growing, the school was functioning properly, and eventually we had the first graduates from Primary School. The children wanted to further their education, so last year we had the first Middle School classes operating as well. The children did not have to walk long distances every day. The smile on the faces of the children, particularly those who could not go to school before, flashed. Cheerful

13


voices were heard now, for now they had a school. A Greek man from Kinshasa with his son helped so many trapped in poverty children study, and made them smile again. These two people gave the poor forest children, the children of Nkanka, the chance to have access to free schooling. These are the Greeks of Kinshasa, the Greeks of the Congo, always by the Church, supporters of the Mission, who love, embrace and sympathize with their indigenous brothers and sisters. However, one day this great benefactor passed away. Since then, his son has made great efforts and sacrifices to keep the school open by paying its running costs, something extremely difficult since the financial

14

crisis has struck the Congo as well and is on the increase. Naturally, it is becoming more and more difficult for the school operation to be continued without everyone’s support. Every month ₏ 850 must be gathered for salary payment to the teachers and the rest of the staff as well as for the operating costs. The St. Nektarios School, the one next to the forest, the Nkanka school, where the poor indigenous children are given the chance to study and hope for a better future. Which warm-hearted philanthropist will help these poor underprivileged children to continue going to school every morning and dare dream of a better life? Who will help us save our school from closure? †Nikiphoros of Kinshasa

Liturgy for the students of our school in Nkanka


GUINEA

Missionary Journey in West Africa On Thursday June 7, His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea, with the wishes and blessings of His Beatitude Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa. arrived in Guinea through Mauritania. In the following days, he met with Orthodox Guineans, Russians and Ukrainians working in Guinea and visited real estate to find a suitable plot of land for the construction of a church in a suburb of the capital city, Conakry. On Sunday, June 10, he performed the Divine Liturgy at the residence of a Greek-American woman. On Monday His Eminence visited the «Greek Square», as it is called by the natives, inspected the

progress of the construction works of the Holy Parthenios Church and of the «Friendship of Greece-Guinea» Academy and gave the necessary instructions for the immediate completion of the works. The Orthodox Missionary Fraternity contributed decisively to the erection of both the church and the Academy. On the afternoon of Thursday, June 14, he went to the Conakry port customs office and settled the customs clearance procedures for a humanitarian aid container, which arrived in Guinea a few days later and was sent to the children of Guinea by the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity. It was loaded by volunteers 15


on May 6th and contains- among other things- religious items, 576 rice bags, 100 boxes of biscuits, 96 boxes of sugar, 83 boxes of flour, 55 boxes of candy, 52 boxes of sweetened condensed milk, 50 boxes of cooking oil, 40 boxes of salt, tomato paste, pasta, halva and 329 boxes of clothes, shoes, toys, books, and others. This aid will relieve hundreds of poor families in Guinea, where 47% of the population lives in abject conditions while 93% of them have no access to drinking water, and infant mortality is soaring. Late Friday evening on June 15, His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea arrived in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, where he was welcomed at the port by the 16

Chancellor of the Metropolis Fr. Themistocles Adamopoulos. On Saturday morning, he officiated at the Divine Liturgy and preached the Word of God at the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, and during the D. Liturgy, he ordained Soterios Sesay to Deacon. His Eminence gave parental counsel to the new Deacon, stressing the responsibilities he assumed as a soldier of Christ, and then addressed to the young people, who comprised the majority of the congregation, saying among other things how important it is to take advantage of the opportunity given to them by the Orthodox Schools in Sierra Leone to train and study in model schools and colleges so as to be able to work in or-


der to improve the living conditions in their country and help- each one in their own way-for its growth and prosperity, always having the Lord Jesus Christ above all and the saints of the Church as role models. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the youth presented an artistic program of Christian songs and traditional dances, and Sister Minais distributed knitted crosses to all the young people present. In the afternoon His Eminence was briefed by Fr. Themistocles and his associates on the course of the works and thanked Fr. Themistocles, Maria Adams, teacher, and Dr. Eleni Athinodorou for the great work they have been doing in Sier-

ra Leone, particularly in the field of education. On Sunday 17 June, His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea officiated at the Divine Liturgy and proclaimed the Divine Word at the Church of St. Moses the Black in Waterloo region of Sierra Leone and ordained Deacon Nektarios Kollie to Elder and the teacher Athanasios Sesay to Deacon. In his speech, His Eminence referred to the Gospel of the day, gave admonitions to the new clergymen, and then spoke about the position of the woman in the Orthodox Church and the duties of the elders’ wives (presbyteres), who should be role models for all women in the par-

Orthodox youth outside Saint Moses church

17


Orthodox school in Freetown ishes where their husbands serve as church priests. He went on to stress the importance of the work the educators in Orthodox schools have to do, and also referred to the great destruction that the Ebola virus had caused, wishing it would stay in the past as a nightmare and urging everyone to be careful and strictly follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health for prevention of reccurrence of a deadly virus outbreak in the country. After the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy, the Eminence visited all the classes of the Kindergarten and the Primary School of the parish, and distributed to all the children candy, pencils and balloons, 18

and to the outstanding pupils color palettes, courtesy of the congregation of the St. Athanasios Patriarchal glebe in Kypseli. Next he visited the clinic and the first building of the Orthodox Children’s Village for Orphaned Children, which will be inaugurated in November by His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria. On Monday, June 18, His Eminence visited the largest slum in the center of the capital city of Sierra Leone, which has sheltered over 20,000 adults and children living under wretched conditions without water, electricity or any access to sanitation facilities. During the rainy season these people are at


risk of being drowned by large water streams or being killed by landslides. There His Eminence and his entourage were met by a local councilor, who led them to the rudimentary school for the slum children. The pictures were horrible, yet, despite the abject conditions and the hassle of the children, they were all very glad about our visit. His Eminence, on behalf of the Patriarchate, pledged to undertake the immediate refurbishment of the school and the rapid training of the teachers at the Sierra Leone Orthodox Pedagogical Academy. To all the children Sister Minais offered candy and stationery.

In the afternoon a gathering of priests took place in the presence of all the clergy and members of the ecclesiastical youth choir. Functional as well as other practical issues were discussed at the meeting. Finally, gifts were offered to all the priests and the young people present. Prior to his departure from Sierra Leone, His Eminence publicly thanked the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity for their continued support for twenty consecutive years now as well as for the humanitarian aid they sent through this container to Guinea and Sierra Leone. †George of Guinea

19


KENYA - Nairobi

Those Voices of Theirs‌ Here, on our mission field, as we have already written in previous updates and reports, little children who are usually orphaned and unprotected tend to have a particularly high level of emotional sensitivity which is reflected in their mentality and behavior. Our Orthodox Church, once she decided to deal with Mission Overseas, set as her priority, among other objectives, these small, innocent creatures. These abandoned children found shelter in the bosom of our Church. She picked them up from the streets and explained to them that they were like the other kids. Although alone and unprotected, they would now have 20

a place where they would feel safe and could share their joys and sorrows with other children of their age. Our Orthodox Church here in Kenya offered them the care and affection they so much needed. So we gave priority and opened our premises, where we could give these innocent beings hope and make them smile again. We have even shared with them our own lives, since they spend more time with us than with their relatives or even their parents - if they exist. The place is relatively quiet. We are surrounded by small houses mostly populated by poor people caring about their household, their daily routine and their family. So


there is no noise or annoyance from all those people who surround us. I realize that every day, since at 4 am I am already in my office to deal with the various urgent affairs of our church, our schools and everything else related to the service of our priests and our flock. Suddenly, while there is still darkness and tranquility, the scenery changes. From very early in the morning, these children arrive at the nearby kindergarten and the elementary school, which is right next to my office. Upon arrival, these little kids start to run, play, shout, jump, and rejoice. When dawn breaks, with the first rays of the sun, they are here to spend

the rest of the day. They run and shout joyfully. Perhaps this is their only joy, since wherever they come from, there is no such possibility. Within the beautiful nature which surrounds the whole place, one can hear children’s cheerful voices while playing, jumping and hoping, creating their own “kingdom” this way. A mythical kingdom, it is true, without any other option. But it is no small thing, since they know that they will spend eight whole years of their life in it and they will have the chance to live like other children… What these little children have on our Mission premises is not at all small or insignificant since it is part of the best period of their lives. They

21


will meet with so many other children their age; they will make friendships that can last a lifetime. Their staying here will help them make dreams and envision a better future. It is this loving atmosphere that keeps them alive. So every morning in the early dawn light their happy voices can be heard all around. It is the same happy voices that are heard when dusk nears as well, as they are leaving for their homes. God couldn’t have granted to us a greater gift than this! Last week we performed the first baptism of an infant whose parents were both here at this kindergarten and elementary school. The presence of the young parents awakened mem-

22

ories of the past, when they and their classmates shouted joyfully, ran and jumped around happily, filling nature with life and beauty. Therefore, it is the daily sound of these voices, the voices of small, innocent children, which gives us strength to hold on to our holy mission here and keeps us vigilant. It is these voices that make us rejoice and give praise to God for providing us with spiritual as well as material food at this stage of our life. Otherwise, who knows where we would be living now and what our life would be like without these children’s voices and play? It is such voices that give life to man. †Makarios of Nairobi


GHANA

No future without young people By grace of God, our Diocese held the general convention of Orthodox Ghanaian youth for the second time, with a turnout of 350 young people in Saint Peter Technical School in Larte, Accra, and with the help and participation of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center. Our Orthodox Mission believes that whoever invests in youth, they belong in the future and the future belongs to them and we, the Orthodox people, want to be active in the future, in order to shape it and instill in it our Orthodox Christian values. This is our responsibility and duty and we must not wrong ourselves and our Church. The African youth craves for

learning the faith and experiencing real prayer and relation with God. This is easily shown by the high attendance at this convention, that included all daily services, catechetical lessons, bible studies and lot of play in the spacious and hospitable venues of Saint Peter Technical School in Larte. This is also a means to give life to this school and get it back up and running, since it has ceased operations due to the financial crisis. With your precious help and support, we believe that we will be empowered to carry on this work, so that joy and smile will bloom in the faces of these angelic souls. †Narkissos of Accra 23


A Tear for Africa

In moments of recollection I remember Africa as the mind raises sails for the past... On the voyage It meets mourning ribbons wrapping up the years in a lasting death bundle... Why should there be so many rivers of tears from the spring of sorrow? They surely come from the children’s last tears before they even start playing hide and seek with the sun... But the sun continues its course without the smile of these sprouts. Here the land is sown with dead corpses. The much lamented peoples of Africa look like a wounded antelope in the sharp teeth. of human tigers. Feelings of guilt follow you step by step even if you want to dig to the bottom of oblivion to hide… Sometimes you feel like a scary dizziness penetrates you, You need to breathe some pure African air but your guardian conscience seems to seal your mouth. Is it not an evident truth the nakedness of the deserted soul? A soul barren of buds of virtue, its only trace of green a thorny heartlessness. The end is coming with successive images of shame… The gallop of time is only felt by those keeping the commandments of Christ. Nostis Psarras

24


25


TANZANIA - Mwanza

The Most Sacred and Difficult Task Without doubt, the preaching of «the gospel of the kingdom of God» (Mark 1:14) is the quintessence and reason for the existence of the missionary activity of the Church of Christ in the nations. It is the axis around which all the individual actions and initiatives of the mission must revolve and develop, so that they can be understood and evaluated as tools alone - and not as an end in themselves, which contribute to and facilitate the encounter of peoples with the redemptive message of the Gospel. If our Lord Jesus Christ and

26

His disciples and apostles functioned and ministered primarily and principally as preachers of the «Gospel of God,» and enclosed every meaning in the phrase, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15), then, necessarily and over time, this should be the meaning and the starting point of the ministry of every contemporary missionary apostle within the Church. The Apostles were called « to become fishers of men” (Mark 1: 17), and we see them preserve and defend this self-conscious-


ness to the end. Besides, this was the reason for the election of the seven deacons, so that the twelve apostles would not be forced to «leave the word of God, and serve tables» (Acts 6: 2), but rather give themselves continually “to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” unhindered (Acts 6:4). This is the most sacred and at the same time the most difficult task, which the Lord did not entrust to all but only to those who fulfilled the requirements for this ministry, and had the dedication, the experience of the Holy Spirit and the call for preaching the

word of God. The need for complementarity and variety of spiritual gifts within the Church made St. Paul the Apostle use the image of the human body so as to explain to his brothers that everyone has a place and role in the Church ministry and their help can be conducive to the fulfillment of her mission as long as they realize that they should function within the framework of their own personal inclination and call. «And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles…Are

Bishop Ieronymos visiting an Orthodox school

27


all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? (A’Cor.12: 28-30). And he continues, «But covet earnestly the best gifts...» (A’Cor.12:31), in order to demonstrate later that every gift within the Church becomes important and necessary only if and when it is used “in love”. Therefore, the inspiration and guidance of our Lord’s contemporary missionary apostles should be drawn from the aforementioned fundamental principles, which He Himself set as commandments in His New Testament. But let us now come to the

28

African reality in order to trace the challenges and the problems there. Our call and mission is to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God in His Son and the salvation and redemption of man through the plan of His Divine Providence. To every human being that God will send near us, in the villages and cities, in the fields, in the streets, in the wilderness. To impart the ecclesiastical experience of centuries and help so that it becomes understood and experienced as the only safe and sure path to salvation. In Africa, since the problem of


people’s daily survival is dramatically and desperately pressing and there is no end to it, the challenge is painful. The need leads to the ministry of the tables (in the broader sense), thus the daily dual struggle between the need and the divine service of preaching divides the missionary apostle and penetrates his heart like a double-edged sword. He knows well what exactly the human beings he has before him are most in need of, but they themselves don’t! As expected, they only ask for the worldly, the material things that will help them

meet pressing immediate needs. He was called to fill them up with the spiritual, the eternal. How can he achieve that without the support and help of deacons of complementary gifts? That’s his drama. Many times the immaturity of the people and the inadequacy of the gifts make the most sacred and hard work, the testimony “on the word of life” (John,1: 1), come last, or inevitably end up in the hands of people who may be good but who are inexperienced both ecclesiastically and spiritually! With ardent prayers † Ieronymos of Mwanza 29


MALAWI

After Crucifixion, Come God’s Blessings Dear Friends of the Mission, It is an undoubted fact that by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, many of God’s countless blessings derive from the Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy, this sacred service which helps the whole universe, which is the most powerful prayer that exists, which unites Heaven with Earth. We praise Almighty God for in the third world country of Malawi where we serve, with the blessings of our Bishop and our Patriarch, the 25 priests of our Mission have truly loved the Divine Liturgy and perform it quite often. As a result, along with the frequent group baptisms that are conducted , little by 30

little, Orthodoxy is spreading across the country. Of course, this spread of faith is not easy or unimpeded; on the contrary, it encounters plenty of problems and goes through trials and tribulations, but in the end with God’s intervention, everything is resolved as the wicked devil is not allowed to tease more. Therefore, I could say that what we live is a continuous miracle, thanks to God’s infinite love, but also thanks to your prayers. We have realized, however, that frequent Divine Liturgies are very helpful in whatever we do. The more often we perform or attend one, the more blessings and benefits we will be granted.


After the Divine Liturgy, comes the Paraklesis Service (Supplicatory Canon) to the Most Holy Theotokos, which we have found greatly beneficial. In the Orthodox Church Mission in Malawi it is conducted daily after the Vespers; in fact, it has been translated into chichewa, which is the local dialect. Our Lady often shows us how much she is delighted with it through facts. When, for example, problems are solved, when we feel her protection and affection so close to us, when she stops the temptation that comes on furiously and wants to break everything apart, we understand that our intercessions and supplications work. And with even more zeal and enthusiasm, all our priests in every

corner of Malawi, sing the Paraklesis to the Theotokos with deep faith and love. And if we have Our Lady near us, what could possibly scare us? How important it is to read an intercessory prayer every day can also be understood by this: Once, a saintly man said that St. John the Baptist presented himself to him holding a book with the service of Paraklesis to the Theotokos and showed it to him saying: “Here’s the book you should use. Read the intercessory prayers, especially if you have problems, and they will be solved.” On the one hand, my dear brothers and sisters, the daily Divine Liturgy, on the other, the af-

Group baptism in the countryside

31


ternoon Paraklesis Services, this is how problems can be solved and how God’s blessing can come to us... And this can certainly happen not only within Mission, but also in each one of us individually. My beloved brothers, this is the only solution to the deadlocks of our homeland Greece, which are varied -moral, social, spiritual, financial. With prayer and repentance, in a very short period of time the situation can change and we will be able to move from Crucifixion, which we are going through now, to the Resurrection. We will see our people resurrected, able to help other peoples and disseminate Orthodoxy to the four corners of the earth. But there is something else

32

that we need to be careful about. Especially nowadays that there is a tendency to alter and distort our holy faith and mix it up with other doctrines, we must be on the alert, both clergy and lay people We need to keep our holy Orthodoxy genuine, unaltered, untouchable, and we should not engage in any activity associated with heretical doctrines. On the one hand, we love all humanity, but on the other, we do not want any relation with any other faith they have. As Saint Cosmas of Aetolia said, all religions are fake and false, only one is the true, genuine Church, the Holy Orthodoxy. Here in Malawi we go by these principles: praying and guarding Our Faith. Keeping them has made

Distribution of food supplies, funded by our Fraternity


us worthy to see great blessings, since we have no virtues such as those of the saints, yet, the Most Merciful God is very touched by those who guard our Faith firmly and with fervent spirit and those who regard prayer as their prime and foremost concern. The same spirit, as I said before, characterizes all of our priests in Malawi. Besides, every 2 months, there are 5-day theological seminars held all over the country, and these 5 days, we say and do a lot of useful things. A worth mentioning example is that of Fr. George from the parish of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril in Zomba, Malawi. He is a native priest with plenty of pure, selfless love inside

him. In a very short time his congregation has grown large enough to fill the church, and there are still new people coming to embrace Orthodoxy. In a group baptism that was taking place in his church, during the Holy Mystery, a disabled woman threw away the crutches and immediately became well. Another miraculous event is the following. Every night, between 12 and 2 o’clock am, the time when Fr. George rises in order to pray, that is, make prostrations, read the Lord’s prayer and do his penance, his neighbor, who woke up every night at that time to go to his work as a night-watchman, saw heavenly light bathing the 33


priest’s house while he was doing his penance. Our poor finances made us leave his house without a power supply, so it was clear where that celestial light was coming from. This man asked to be baptized, realizing where the truth is. These are only few of the little miracles we are living in the Mission here in Malawi. We are deeply grateful to our Sweet Jesus and to Our Lady, for though we have no virtues, they are constantly close to us, they are covering us protectively, they act and intervene miraculously and assist and guide us all the time. When, for example, we run out of money, something comes at the last minute, and it is just as much as we

34

need to keep the Mission moving. His Providence does not abandon us. That’s why I said from the beginning that we are living a permanent miracle. The hearts of all our neophytes are overflowing with gratitude, thanksgiving and praise, to Almighty God. How could one not be grateful and not appreciate or understand His infinite donations ... and that is true for all of us. Saint Paisios said, «We should live in a climate of continuous praise and thanksgiving to God». Therefore, praise, thanksgiving and gratitude for everything! Amen. Fr. Ermolaos Iatrou

Orthodox priests on tour


TANZANIA - Dar Es Salaam

Another Orthodox Church is Erected By the Grace of God, His Eminence Metropolitan Demetrius of Irinoupolis laid the foundation stone of another church, that of the Holy Trinity and St. Irene in the city of Mvoumi, Eastern Tanzania. Despite the fact that God blessed these 14 years of missionary work in Central and Eastern Tanzania so that until now 32 church buildings have been erected, the existing needs are still big due to the growing and rich in blessing and fruition Mission, and as a result, more than 18 parish churches are being housed in straw huts. Since early Monday morning, a large number of people had begun to arrive. Among them, there were indigenous priests, readers, faithful, catechumens, a lot of stu-

dents from the surrounding areas as well as Presidents, Mayors and School Chiefs, who had all gathered in order to attend the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the third Orthodox church building in Morogoro region, the heart of Islam in Eastern Africa! Following the service of consecration, His Eminence, speaking in Swahili, praised the efforts of the Ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria in every corner of the African continent for peace, progress, education, health, prosperity and harmonious coexistence, that is, all the values that His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria has been trying to put into practice in the land of Africa. From the Holy Metropolis 35


BURUNDI & RWANDA

Insurmountable difficulties Dear Friends of the Mission, With the help of God and the blessing of His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria, one more missionary journey is coming to an end. Like all our journeys, this one had its difficulties as well. This is so because the populations of the ÂŤBlack ContinentÂť continue to suffer from the new form of economic, political and social uncertainty. In the blood-stained countries of Central Africa, particularly in Burundi and Rwanda, the twenty-year civil war between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes created millions of homeless people who, having lost their ancestral land, were pushed into the cities, where they formed 36

miserable suburbs, slum areas with cheap labor. It was in these social strata that the comforting word of Christ found response. This happened around 1850, when we have the beginning of Christian missionary activity in Central and Eastern Africa. In 1876 the Protestants arrived first in Uganda, and two years later followed the Roman Catholics. Finally, Uganda, Rwanda-Urundi and the Eastern Congo were christianized by the Order of the White Fathers of French origin, while later we had the arrival of Belgian missionaries, who also undertook the education of these peoples. Naturally, the main historical problem of Africa is


the setback it suffered, particularly in countries where civil (tribal) wars broke out: Major cities were totally destroyed, education, traditions and historical continuity were lost, while production relations were set back for centuries. This created the need for African countries to be organized and, as part of that need, there were colonial policies organized on other bases, and waves of European colonists settled in Africa. At the same time, Confessions like the Dutch Reformed Church, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Anglicans, the Adventists, the Chiliasts and other Americans, the French Evangelical Mission, the Roman Catholics of the Order of the White Fathers, and many others, sent their missionaries to the interiors of the

black continent. In the case of Burundi and Rwanda, the Orthodox missionary penetration is relatively recent. My ministry in these countries dates back to 2002. My predecessor, Fr. Savvas, was transferred to another Metropolis, and I replaced him by the will of God and with the blessing of our Patriarch Theodoros II. The difficulties we encountered were, without exaggeration, insurmountable. Our main concern was and still is to help these people, to the extent possible, stand on their feet. However, moving from one country to another was very difficult indeed, and now it has become even harder after a road accident in which our car was completely destroyed. Now we are forced to use public transport, which means a

Bishop Innocentios conducting the Sacrament of Marriage

37


terrible waste of time, while inland the bicycle is extremely useful for our journeys. The country where we encounter many obstacles that are difficult to overcome is Rwanda. In particular, the government has stipulated that all religious confessions should own a large plot of land (at least five acres) and build a church in accordance with the European standards (water, parking, toilets for men and women, floor tiles, and many others‌) and not conduct a divine liturgy in the countryside under the trees. Ten out of the eighteen parish communities that we had have been closed due to the fact that we did not have the plots required and, in general, we did not meet the new standards. Naturally, we are very 38

concerned about the souls we have baptized (5,000 catechumens and baptized + 2,500 on hold), since we cannot have them gathered. We do not want to be pessimistic, and we always believe that our brothers in Greece, despite all the difficulties they have to face, will help us, as they have done so many times in the past, so that we can buy some plots. These in Rwanda are very expensive indeed, especially the ones near a street (about â‚Ź30,00040,000). As for the construction of a small church, that varies from â‚Ź 60,000-100,000. The government also calls on us to support its social work for the help of orphans, widows, and multimember families through our own contribution. Our parishes in Rwanda are served by five priests,


four deacons, two sub-deacons and fifteen readers, who, in the absence of a priest, read the typikon. We are also moving forward with the translation project: Translation of the Divine Liturgies of St. John the Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great, the pre-sanctified liturgy as well as the services of all the Holy Sacraments. In Burundi, things are a bit different. The government grants plots of land to us on the strict condition that we have finished the building construction within a fixed period of time. And since our conviction is that Education saves the man, we started building six rooms in Buramata region, where the “St. Paisios

Middle School” will be housed--an oasis in the desert. We felt it was necessary since all the children who finished Primary School and considered Secondary School study had to walk at least ten kilometers on a daily basis. I will not abuse your love and your patience. I would just like to ask you to pray to God for us and for the success of the missionary work. You are always in our prayers and in our hearts. Thank you for supporting us in our work. Without your moral and material assistance, none of these would have been achieved. † Innocentios of Burundi and Rwanda

Mealtime at our orpahange in Buramata

39


TANZANIA - Arusha

Matthew, a Pious Maasai Every time we return from Greece or from a long journey to our Mission Center in Kidamali, Iringa, crowds of faithful, little children, young and elderly people, come with manifest joy and kindness to welcome us, but also to ask for some financial or material assistance. This phenomenon is common and we are delighted to see it happen because we know that it is not pretentious but genuine and spontaneous. Besides, this region is the poorest and most primitive of Tanzania, and these people are our own people, our beloved family. One day after my return to Arusha, I see at my door a tall, thin lad in the characteristic Maasai dress and with a broad smile on his face. It was Matthew. We baptized him

40

when he was a little kid. Since then, he had attended school, loved our Church and when he came of age, he married a pretty and modest young woman from his village, and now he is a father of two children. Indeed, on our last visit to the Maasai village all of them asked us to ordain Matthew priest for their village. Well, that morning seeing him right in front of me filled me with joy mainly because deep inside of me I have hopes for him that some day by the Grace of God, he may become a good priest of our Church. When he kissed my hand, he said to me, «Caribbou Askofou,» that is, “Welcome Bishop, I have come to take your blessing”. I could not help thinking that he wanted to ask for something, and I was wonder-


ing what that might be. Instead, he repeated that he had heard I had returned, and that he was there to greet me. In the conversation that followed I told him that some of our brothers from Greece had given us some money for borehole drilling in their village. The Maasai villages are isolated from the rest because they have a different cultural background and tradition from the other Africans. They believe they originated from Alexander the Great and do not mix with other tribes. Matthew’s answer to the question left me speechless. Instead of feeling delighted and say that the borehole would save them from walking miles and miles to carry water, he said: “It would be better to do the drilling between our village

and the adjoining African village because the Orthodox Church is the Church of Love and does not discriminate among human beings!” An answer I really did not expect to hear, which shows the nobleness and the manly dignity of these people and proves how deeply the truth of the Gospel touches their pure souls. Before he left, I asked him if he needed anything, and he only asked for a prayer rope. His face light up when I hung it round his neck, and he went away elated. From the depths of my soul, I praised the Triune God, who supports us in our work with such spiritual joys, which make us draw courage and continue. † Agathonikos of Arusha

Bishop Agathonikos with Matthew

41


KENYA - Arusha

The Light of Christ among the Orphans When one is orphaned, poor or widowed, it seems that an endless darkness and despair is waiting for them, to such an extent that many of us would feel with certainty that Christ has left us. For this reason, the Orthodox Church chose to preach the Gospel with deeds to this marginalized group of our society. In the two years since the establishment of our Diocese, we have started a scholarship program to help poor children study. We have also opened the St. Tabitha Orphanage and School, which houses 30 children. We feed and educate them, but we need books and money for the teachers’ salaries. The good news is that we are now building them a permanent home, 42

which is due to be completed by December. We have also opened the St. Basil Orphanage in Kissimmee, where we recently baptized 60 people, among whom 16 orphans. Moreover, we have got several feeding programs, while our priests are touring the various regions to teach the Word of God to our faithful. Our bishopric building and our little church have been completed, and we currently have to provide water to the poor families, to the St. Tabitha Orphanage as well as to the inland villages. We would like to thank you wholeheartedly for helping us make a substantial difference for the vulnerable of life. Remember us in your prayers. †Athanasios of Kisumu


An Unexpected Journey In the Garden of Theotokos There are many reasons people travel in this world. There is a purpose for adventure, leisure, entertainment, while some even travel after being evicted from their homeland. People have been traveling, since the first human existence on earth. Adam moved from the paradise to the land of «thorns and bushes»; Noah went with his family, leaving behind those who perished by the flood; Abraham traveled from Ur of the Chaldees to the Promised Land leaving his beloved father; and even our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, exiled himself to Egypt from the small town of Bethlehem, just as his ancestors, Father Jacob and his 12 children did. And

in the end all of us will travel back to our Creator, to Him who was before all things. Sometimes, the journey is like a labyrinth whose ends are hard to find. However, if the journey is a spiritual one, then the state of feeling seems to lead us to a longing for a place that gives peace to the soul. There is a passion for hurrying to arrive there and feel the fragment of the soul’s authenticity. The journey to the «land of the gods» as Indonesians often call Greece, was a dream come true. When my priestly father, Father Chrysostomos, said that we are going to Mount Athos, a place I could have only imagined from the Or-

43


thodox spiritual readings and some Youtube channels, that spirit and longing gave me the energy to get there soon. The long journey between Jakarta and Greece paid off upon arrival in Athens. From there I headed to Thessaloniki on a 6-hour train ride. As far as the eye could see, the view really amazed me. Churches were everywhere interspersed with olive groves. Arriving in Thessaloniki late in the afternoon, I was picked up by Father Chrysostomos and Mr. Nostis, an old man with a typical Greek face. Next day, as planned, we all departed early for Mount Athos. The journey was thrilling and joy-

44

ful. The welcoming of the seagulls who competed to feed from the pilgrims’ hands, the stretch of azure blue sea and the robustness of the buildings of monasteries on the edge of the rocks translated into an indescribable first welcome. In the afternoon we arrived in Karyes, the capital of Mount Athos. For the first day, we were accommodated by Koutloumousiou monastery, while in the evening we attended the vespers St. Andrew skete in Karyes that was crowded with thousands of pilgrims who came to offer prayers to the holy Apostle. The next morning, we headed to Elder Gabriel’s cell, as


From the ordination of Fr. Prochoros well as to the cell where St. Paisios lived, walking through the olive groves and the dense natural. Meeting Elder Gabriel was a very meaningful moment for me. There was real beauty and peace there. We continued walking down to Iviron monastery. From the top of the olive hill, looking down, there was a huge monastery with a plantation in front of the tranquil blue sea. After praying in front of the Theotokos Portaitissa icon, we were brought to Karakallou monastery. It was a journey through the ridge with a steep slope toward the sea on the left side and, eventually, Karakallou showed up behind the hills. Just like any other monastery, Karakalou looked impressive. The friends of God and servants of The

Theotokos stretched out their welcoming hands in the embrace of brotherly love in Christ. From whatever part of the world we may be, we are Orthodox, we are brothers in Christ Jesus. We spent all night in prayer culminating in the Divine Liturgy and at the end, a common meal was served. There is an indescribable feeling in seeing and experiencing the heavenly activity inside the monastic church. There are chants of hymns, endless prayers accompanied by thousands of requests from pilgrims in attendance. There are movements of the monks kissing the sacred icon, turning on and off the candle. There is a metania of humility and, the kyrie eleison reverberates, while the fragrant incense 45


bursts and soars up as the prayers are offered. Despite the dark covering, the spiritual eyes open wide in the sacred beauty in this temple of God. In the end, the Holy Communion is served. The Body and Blood of Christ become one with us. Then it all ends in a sense of gratitude to Him the Owner of Life. Antidorons are distributed as the light dawns through the air and, getting through the glass holes above the church domes, shines on the sacred faces on the walls. The light has come, yea, Christ Himself and

46

settled within each of those who received it. This experience gives a profound impression of the beauty, majesty and happiness that those who live and work in garden of the Theotokos in ceaseless prayer, serving as a remembrance of the presence of God’s kingdom on earth. There, on the Holy Mountain Athos. When will I go there again? Maybe someday! Listen to my supplication, o Holiest Theotokos, I beg you... The sinner Prochoros

Deacon Prochoros offering prayers at a Divine Liturgy


GDPR and our relationship

For more than 50 years, the “Orthodox Mission” magazine has publicized the names of donors of the previous trimester. Unfortunately, the “Columns of Gratitude” cannot be published anymore. Since 22 May, 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation has come into effect throughout the European Union, enacting very restrictive provisions for the protection of your personal data. A main provision ordains that personal data cannot be processed without previous explicit consent of the person, except when the procession is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation, for the performance of a contract or for purposes of legitimate interests. Because the majority of your donations (more than 85%) are directly deposited in a bank account, we have no possible way to receive your consent to publicize your donation in our magazine. Therefore, henceforward, only anonymous statistics for the designation of the donations received will be published in the last page of each issue. The Orthodox Missionary Fraternity processes your personal data, in order to fulfill its contractual obligations, such as those created by your donations, or to achieve its legitimate interests for the advancement of its associational goals, such as to inform you for the missionary progress or to ensure that your donations are being utilized for the purposes you have designated. During this processing, we adhere to strict accreditation and encrypting techniques and we never disclose your personal data to any third party, unless this is required by law. You can be informed in full about our Privacy Policy on the webpage www. ierapostoles.gr/privacy. Moreover, you may be notified in real time, about the recording and use of your donations, on the page www.ierapostoles.gr/account.

Column of Gratitude

From 1 May to 31 July 2018, you, our precious donors, have given the following amounts for the Orthodox Missions: • • • • • •

General expenses 46.011 € Churches 21.570 € Water projects 13.873 € Humanitarian aid 11.970 € Clinics 7.025 € Baptisms 2.450 €

• • • • •

Soup kitchens 2.378 € Orphanages 2.050 € Educational sponsoring 690 € Bible distribution 500 € Schools 120 €

License

This work is being distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license. Similarly licensed works of the following authors were used in the respective pages:

8 Don Henise 15 Clint Mason 20 khym54 26 cuatrok77 30 Benoit Rivard 47 Frans De Wit

47


Orthodox Mission #25  

News and reports from the Orthodox missionaries in Africa, Asia and America. A quarterly publication of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity....

Orthodox Mission #25  

News and reports from the Orthodox missionaries in Africa, Asia and America. A quarterly publication of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity....

Advertisement