I humbly wish the benevolent God bless you all, your families and your missionary work in the new year.
I particularly ask for your prayers, so that I can deal with the numerous and difficult problems which arise daily.
Things are becoming more and more difficult. What saddens me the most, though, is when at the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy orthodox students approach me and ask me to help them continue their studies. Some cannot afford to pay the tuition fees of the University and are obliged to quit. Here there is no such thing as free education; the attendance, the exams, the notes, are all paid. Other students cannot fend for themselves and beg for some food, others are evicted from the houses they have rented because they have no money for the rent. One can see thin faces which are thirsty for learning, though. Gazing at them, I feel really ashamed for not being able to do anything for these young people and help them continue their studies. I even avoid going to my office. I try to avoid accepting the visits of young people because I have nothing to say to them.
What could I tell them? Words of comfort? What can one say really to starving young people or those who are kicked off their Universities for not being able to pay the low rent for their lodging or buy their food? What could I tell them when I could not give them some form of aid to help them continue their studies?
Today, as soon as I got out of the church, I met again with several students who were waiting for me and who started begging me to help them; among them were two Law students who told me in anguish:” We have interrupted our studies since 2010 because we didn’t have enough money. We tried to find the money, we worked, and still, what we have gathered is not enough. We need another 150 dollars. We haven’t got it and we will lose this year, too. Please, help us!” My heart was tight. What am I supposed to do? Where can I find the money to give not only to them but also to other Orthodox young people who have to interrupt their studies due to lack of money?
That is why I was forced to find the courage and resort to your Fraternity in order to entreat you -addressing to your benevolent heart- to grant us 25 scholarships for destitute students, and also help continue their studies the orthodox young people of our Metropolis who are facing this problem. Only then will the Bishop be able to look at them in the eyes.
Therefore, I was very touched to be informed of the decision of the Board of your Orthodox Missionary Fraternity with which you let us know about the approval of the fund:
- 12.000€ for the scholarships of the destitute students of our Metropolis,
- 6.000€ for exceptional financial assistance
- 4.000€ for a surgery and
- 1.350€ for Christenings.
I thank you for taking me out of a daily pastoral deadlock. Now I will be able to help the destitute students continue their studies. I particularly want to thank the donors and I pray that God presents them with the Kingdom of Heaven.
Today, the 19th of January, we had the great blessing by God to baptize 53 of our indigenous brothers. They were taken to the Holy Sacrament of Baptism after catechism. The christening took place at the Holy Church of Saint Mark in Kinshasa and was followed by two weddings.
This group of the neophytes is the fruit of the ministry of Mr Vaios Prantzos, your ex-president, at our Holy Metropolis, who organized the catechetical work, monitored and guided the catechists- students and our new theologians- in their missionary work here in Kinshasa.
I thank you once more wishing every blessing in your God-pleasing work as well as to the members of your Fraternity and their families.
† Nikiforos of Central Africa