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Thousands of people have been infected with Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. Pestilence and famine have taken over the country, since food prices are skyrocketing.
Responding to an urgent appeal by the missionary Fr. Themistoklis Adamopoulos, caring people from Greece and abroad financially supported our Fraternity’s efforts for one more shipment of humanitarian aid to Sierra Leone.
25 tonnes of rice, milk, oil, pasta, salt, clothes, toys and ecclesiastical items were bought, gathered and wrapped up at our warehouse in Philyron.
On Sunday, October 19, a notable turnout of young people joined us for loading the container that left for Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone.
We want to thank all of you for the immediate financial, material and spiritual support you provided for our suffering brothers, especially our donors from Florina and Australia who contributed richly.
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On August 2013, three members of our Fraternity visited Sumatra, Indonesia. There they were received by the Indonesian missionary Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu, who showed them around the places of Orthodox missionary and charitable presence.
Enjoy the missionary zeal and the proto-Christian experiences of the Orthodox community of Medan. This Pascha, let’s keep them in our prayers!
Orthodoxy: Holy Faith
True faith of our Christ
Orthodoxy: Sweet Hope
The Only Hope of our age.
His time has come.
All Friends, Disciples of our Jesus
Go to all nations.
It is the imperative of our time.
You are awaited by tribes and languages
with love, joy and anticipation.
Go everywhere and preach
Christ and Orthodoxy.
Forty-four years ago I was humbly ministering by the grace of God to the Orthodox Mission in Zaire, now Congo, in Central Africa. One person from our missionary team sang with the children of the catechetical circle some Christian songs originated from the Roman Catholic site. It is not, I said, correct for us the Orthodox to sing these songs. I asked God for help and I composed this hymn which is short but has deep meanings.
In the first stanza the word “Orthodoxy” is mentioned. This word contains the true faith that Christ gave us through the holy Apostles and the holy Fathers and which we are called as Missionaries to teach and transmit to those who ignore it. It is the true faith that has been established through the decrees and resolutions of the ecumenical councils and local assemblies and the writings of the Holy Fathers. It is the sweet and unique hope in the difficult times of mankind. Christ told His Apostles and tells all of us who follow in their footsteps to go to all nations and invite those who will believe in the baptism of Orthodoxy.
Just one glance at the world makes us believe that the countries are white already to harvest. Many people who ignorantly followed the path of the heresies, are fascinated once they get to know Orthodoxy and come to receive true baptism unreservedly. «Why did you take so late to come?» They tell us. And we answer them that the Turkish yoke was so heavy that the only thing we could do for four hundred years was to fight in order to avoid Islamization and stand on our feet as Orthodox Christians. “Friends disciples of our Christ, you are awaited by tribes and languages with true love and joy and with the firm belief that True Heaven lies with Orthodoxy. White and black, yellow and red-skinned, they are all children of true God and are entitled to salvation in Christ. Therefore, go and disseminate faith in Jesus Christ and Orthodoxy to everyone whose soul thirsts for God. Amen.
After the admirable interventions of the Lord in the Missionary effort in Tonga with the erection of the chapel of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the house of the missionaries and the majestic Sacred Church of Saint George the Trophy-Bearer, whose construction is about to end in a month, came Samoa’s turn.
Samoa is a beautiful island state, bathed in green and adorned with the smiles of its noble and hospitable inhabitants. On our previous visit, we met with the simple-hearted priest Pepe. At our present meeting we saw him sad and helpless, unable to walk due to an unknown disease in his feet. This meant that all our plans for the beginning of Orthodoxy there were doomed to fail. But above Fr. Pepe and every human factor is our Lord, who sent out His Apostles, and now sends His humble workers like us to preach the Gospel by saying, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age… Be sure I shall be close to your every need and difficulty forever. ”
We made the sign of the cross on Pepe’s foot with the piece of the Tree of Life that our brother Savvas from the Holy Mountain has, with the relic of St. Barnabas the Apostle, the icons of the Theotokos, of Saint John the Theologian and Evangelist and of other saints, chanting their troparia. The next day, Pepe came again telling us that he was not in pain anymore and descended the stairs of the courtyard running. It was a miracle that impressed him and brought him closer to true faith, the Orthodox Faith. This was the first intervention of our resurrected Savior in the missionary events of Samoa.
Despite our anxiety for the unknown horizon ahead, our hearts were at peace as this incident gave us faith and courage to look for a suitable piece of land on which to build a church dedicated to the Lord’s Beloved Disciple.
We considered changing hotel so as to be closer to the sea for reasons of wellness and health. There we met with a couple from Australia. The man was Samoan and his wife of Greek origin from her mother’s side. We trusted them with our problem of not having a plot in which to build the church. Being faithful Orthodox Christians and virtuous people, they told us, «We have some savings from the money we have earned over a twenty- year period now in order to buy a plot and build a home whenever we can. Now, once we buy the plot, we will offer it to you in the form of a loan so that you can build the church for us, the Orthodox Christians here. They had a lawyer speak to the owner, who gave them the plot for a hundred and twenty thousand Samoan dollars, an amount that was inaccessible to us. So with the money we have, around fifty thousand, we hope we can build the church.
This is the second clear manifestation of our Lord’s presence; our sweet Lord, Who wants all people to be saved and become part of the flock of His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
Praise be to His glorious name and to the name of His Holy Apostle John the Theologian, who is always close to us. This is something that I realized this time too, as on the first night that we came to Samoa in my dream I was transferred to Patmos, close to Elder Amphilochios, who highly revered and loved the Lord’s Beloved Student.
Mission often has bitter and distressing moments, but it also has such blessings and joys that can only be characterized as celestial. And it is these special moments that give the courage to the Missionaries to persevere and win with the help of the Master of Salvation and Defeater of Death, our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory, honor and adoration forever and ever. Amen.
Dear friends of the Mission,
Rejoice in the Lord always.
Twenty years have passed since the Benevolent God led me to the Mission. 1996 was the year when the late Metropolitan of Kampala and All Uganda Theodore Nankyama came to Greece gravely ill. When I went to see him, he asked me to go down with him to Uganda to help the Overseas Mission. I was really at a loss because the late Metropolitan was everything to me. He had practically collected me from the streets of Kampala, where I was wandering around like a stray dog, and took good care of me. “What should I do now that he is sick?” I thought to myself. “I’ll go for a while and as soon as he gets well, I’ll come back to Greece”.
Unfortunately the late Theodore did not recover, but fell asleep in the Lord. At his funeral I saw something that shocked me. It was the children who the Bishop had gathered close to him, orphaned, poor and stray. They all had one question: “Who will take over us from now on?” Then I heard a voice inside of me saying, “I will” and indeed, it was that day that I decided to stay close to these children.
The same year 1997 His Eminence the new Metropolitan Jonah of Kampala and All Uganda appointed me rector to the historic parish of the Transfiguration in the village of Degeya. Historic parish indeed, because this was the first parish of the local African Orthodox Church. I wrote my first letter to Panagiotis Papadimitrakopoulos –eternal be his memory! In a few days I received a considerable amount of money for the orphanage. Since then, the Fraternity has not left my side.Until today it has repeatedly helped us with programs like the soup kitchens, the reconstruction of two primary schools in the region and educational sponsorship. Two children have studied at University, a health clinic has been built in memory of unforgettable Panagiotis, a mill and a tractor have been acquired, and the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen is being completed. We are deeply grateful to you!
Fifteen children from the orphanage have been ordained priests led by Father Paul Nzalambi, the new vicar of the Metropolis of Kampala and All Uganda, and the priest monk Father Prodromos, abbot of the first Orthodox male monastery in Uganda. Six girls from the orphanage have become priests’ wives. Three girls have become nuns led by Sister Maria, abbess of the first female monastery of Saint Mary. In a few weeks, three other girls are leaving for Rhodes to be tested in a nunnery and get properly prepared for establishing the second female monastery. Many others, male and female, have become professors, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, police wardens and catechists.
We expect your humble contribution so that we can keep these centers of humanitarian offer running as much as possible.
We wish you all of the Lord’s grace and blessings unto you and a good missionary year.
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea, I visited Sierra Leone, a country that has been tested by the deadly Ebola virus. The biggest obstacle was that I had to communicate with the Sierra Leoneans without knowing English. And yet, this was done without any difficulty at all! I remembered my English from school, although I was laughed at by the children. But with the language of love, I could talk to a child as if I were a child, to youth like a young person, to the elderly like an old man. A lot of people ask me how they can become missionaries. The answer is simple. You do not need to be rich to become a missionary, all you need is Will. If you want, you can make it.
During my stay there I was involved in the training of priests, because most come from Islam, the Methodists and the Protestants, and they need to learn about the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church. I also dealt with the youth who, with your help, will be the future members of the Church of Christ. The Mission is trying to relieve the people, by the saying of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. It builds training centers, takes care of the disabled and provides warm meals every Sunday after the Divine Liturgy, not only for the Orthodox, but also for everyone else, regardless of religion.
I was greatly touched by a girl when I asked her to meet her mother. “No, Father, you cannot meet her because she is illiterate and does not know English …”! At that moment tears filled my eyes! I told her: “My mother is illiterate too, and yet, she brought me into this world. I love her and I’m proud to present her without a shred of shame and say: This is my great love. “Her mother came. At the end of our conversation, this woman tells me with a touching voice: “Father, I may be illiterate, but I don’t want my daughter getting pregnant from a boy, I want her to study. Please help her, because both of my other daughters got pregnant and did not have the chance to go to school. “At this moment, these words are coming back again. I promised her that our Mission, which loves youth, would make every possible effort to realize her dream. This is our Africa … Can anyone save her? Only the Orthodox Christian would answer this question.
I saw how the people here- children and adults-would kill one another for a plate of food or for the clothes that they were given, and I could not bear it. This is why I am asking all readers to pray for this people and say “Lord, have mercy on them”. After all, St. Gregory the Theologian says: “What I consider to be the best is the love to the poor and the compassion and sympathy towards our fellow humans. Nothing is more pleasing to God than that sympathy and love. ”
The command of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Holy Apostles and, by extension, to the Church and every single Christian, was clear: “Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28: 19-20). This command is the starting point and the guideline of every missionary effort of the apostolic Church throughout the centuries. It is also clear that the command of Christ relates to a teaching-learning relationship between the evangelical message conveyors (“everything I have commanded you”), and the recipients of this message (“all nations”).
The Church is called to incarnate and teach the great, admittedly, mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16), and the nations are called to become disciples and be initiated into the mystery. The teaching process is laborious, requires suitable and favorable conditions, deposition of blood and spirit on the part of both participants in the teaching-learning process, which can be lifelong, perennial, until it reaches Christocentricity (i.e., Christ-centeredness) and Christoethics, always by the grace of God.
This is therefore the very essence of Mission. The reason, the activities, the visions of the missionary work of the Church should constitute its very existence. Only then will the results be pleasing to God and beneficial to the present and the eternal future of those people of the world who hunger and crave for the Truth and the Light.
In her course the Church preaches, catechizes, admonishes, is evangelized by her word and deed, using forms and terms of this world, to which she gives a whole new dimension and depth. The conditions of the various peoples are considered and exploited in the best possible way in order to become the tools of sowing the seed of God’s Word, i.e., of Christ. This path is the uninterrupted Incarnation of the Son of God in the hearts of His children.
In the case of Africa, and not only, the missionary plough is called to proceed slowly and very carefully, and spend a lot of time and effort preparing the ground which fell to its lot. It first needs to develop culture and then transform it and make it Christ-centered. The road to civilization has always passed through education. Therefore, it would be no exaggeration to say that in the African reality before the Mission builds, organizes and operates a church, it should build, organize and operate a school.
Once again, it is on the school-church pair that we are left to build our missionary visions and orientations.
One Sunday morning in August, we were expecting in our Mission Center a priest from Sierra Leone, who had brought to Ghana his wife (presbytera) for health reasons. She was suffering from the incurable disease in different parts of her body. That morning Father Alexander came alone because his presbytera was in hospital. That clergyman was of short stature and had just been ordained. As he walked, his feet entangled in his robes but his step on the ground seemed light and the humility of his spirit was visible.
Several days went by and after a while, they came and stayed with us at the Mission Center of Accra. Unfortunately, besides a certain disability, his presbytera also had her right arm amputated due to cancer.
I watched them in their daily living with us. I noticed Father Alexander, every other day, washing his own clothes and those of presbytera’s in the tub himself, and her sitting next to him on a concrete block and speaking to him, keeping him company this way so as not to leave him alone. As soon as he finished washing, he carried the clothes to hang them at the other side of the Mission Center. She would follow him with slow steps while he was hanging up the clothes to dry. Her leaning on the crutch made it impossible for her to give her husband a helping hand, but in fact, she helped him with her attitude. In the afternoon, they would sit side by side under the big tree of the Mission Center and he would read her various verses of the Bible. When you saw them talking to each other, there was complete harmony. They spoke and looked in the same direction.
The presence of Father Alexander and his presbytera Elizabeth was a great living example and at the same time a sermon on conjugal love, devotion and faith in God’s will. Their living is a silent sermon, which leaves a deep impact and provides a vivid example of the silent presence of God among us.
Dear Members of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessaloniki,
It is the presence of God in our lives that plays the most important role in our achieving refinement. A living example of this is the two protagonists of our story described above. They are examples to be followed and imitators of the Lord’s life, which can only be described in one word: LOVE.
This love is something you make a reality as well through your kind support of our struggle on the large Mission field of Africa, where we try to sow the seeds of the love of God into wretched but decent human souls.
Dear Friends of the Mission, Rejoice in the Lord always!
So far your love for the Orthodox Mission of Malawi has been immense. We are deeply grateful for that and wholeheartedly pray that God grants you His blessings a hundred fold. For us it is a great responsibility to make good management of the donations coming from the friends of our mission, but is also a great joy, since we take every contribution of yours as a support of the work we do sent from above…
In every project we envision and try to implement for the relief of pain of our Malawian brothers, our heartfelt desire and request in our prayer is that God always blesses and supports our plans provided this is done for the good of His Church. Only in this way, dear brothers, do we continue our humble work, that is, with the certain belief that every single work here in Malawi is a work of God. Based on that, we are often more daring to ask for support for God’s work than we would be if we asked for our own projects, and we are confident that God informs all of you accordingly…
The needs of our Mission here in Malawi are known to you. Pain, poverty, hunger, diseases,Β epidemics, death, lack of proper godly education, exploitation of man by man, unemployment, despair in general and the maintenance of a hopeless unorthodox establishment, are large and deadly for the soul wounds, which afflict the whole Β country. Despite the fact that hope fades easily within the grim reality we experience here daily, we try to stand by our suffering brothers offering sympathy and support to each one personally, without seeing them as another β€caseβ€ or as β€numbersβ€. With the help of God and yours, this is something feasible now in our 35 Orthodox parishes.
The money you offer us for our Mission, dear brothers, becomes daily meals for 300 children in our parishes, assistance for poor or sick families, visits to prison in support of the prisoners, fees for some cases of poor students.
But above all, what is really costly, besides our great effort, care and labor, is our struggle to support all of these parishes with visits, systematic catechisms, baptisms, production and distribution of printed material and much more.
If one estimates the cost of the fuel required in order to reach our parishes which are scattered in the country, one finds out that the maintenance and running costs of our mission are actually very high, and only through the intervention of God, Who acts in the hearts of His instruments, can such large amounts of money be gathered for the smooth continuation and implementation of our activities and projects.
We therefore thank you once again for your support, trust and help so far. May God always bless you abundantly and sanctify you.
The charity work of the Philanthropic Society of the Orthodox Church in India is extremely rich. Our Fraternity always tries to support the Society’s tireless efforts. In 2010, we contributed 100,000 euros to the building of a new boys’ orphanage. Both this and an Orthodox girls’ orphanage houses 150 impoverished orphans, found on the streets of Kolkata, West Bengal. The orphanage provides them with accomodation, nutrition, clothing, education, protection from exploitation and, above all, the right to dream of a good future.
Please, do not forget contributing to our orphans in Kolkata. Without your help, the orphanages will close down and 150 children are in danger of going back to the streets. The needs are immediate and pressing. We are confident in your love.