Indonesia: Where people’s smile blooms

Indonesia almost balances on the line of Equator in Asia. It is by far one of the most exotic countries worldwide with plenty of attractions. It lies between the Indian and the Pacific Ocean. It comprises more than 17,000 islands, small and big. Its total area is 1,9oo,000 square kilometers and its population numbers 270 million people. Indonesians call their country “ Tanah Air Kita”, which means “our country and the sea”.

Due to heavy rainfall and the hot climate with temperatures annually ranging between 28 ° and 38 °C, the country is characterized by rich biodiversity. 88% of the inhabitants are Muslims, and only 6% belong to Christian denominations.

Visiting the big island of Sumatra was a dream come true. Within the last 13 years, the Orthodox Mission -despite having started from scratch- has developed incredibly having the capital city of Medan for its base.

Guests at fr. Chrysostomos's house
Guests at fr. Chrysostomos’s house

Here in Sumatra, a lot of important work has been achieved thanks to two major conducive factors:

  • The first is the effective moral as well as material support on the part of the Greek friends of the Mission
  • and the second the systematic efforts, reliability and remarkable abilities of the Missionary Fr Chrysostomos Manalu along with his equally worthy wife, Mrs Elizabeth Kumesaki. Both of them did postgraduate studies on Orthodox Theology at the University of Thessaloniki,

Thanks to the varied social work and the personal efforts of Fr Chrysostomos, a great step has been taken: the official recognition of the Orthodox Church from the state of Indonesia.

It is worth mentioning that the present and future of Orthodoxy in the specific country is moulded within a frame of peaceful coexistence between religions.

This laborious vineyard has the following achievements to present:

  • The School of Theology in Medan,
  • the Computer Science School,
  • the “Saint Sophia” Educational Center comprising kindergarten, primary school and high school (junior and senior).
  • A four-storey medical clinic that covers fields like pathology, surgery, pediatrics, microbiology, and provides facilities, such as doctors’ meeting rooms.
  • In addition, a number of newly founded parishes have spread all over the region.
Visiting "Theotokos" hospital
Visiting “Theotokos” hospital

It is easy to understand that such accomplishments presuppose a titanic struggle and continuous vigilance for the maintenance, smooth operation and future prospects of these projects. Behind this creative result though, one can discern the Vision deep inside the Missionary’s soul rising gradually. A vision for the Inconceivable, the Noble, the Ideal, which can only become real and strong with the consent of the Heavens to the earth.

During our stay in this hospitable country, our team was involved in various activities.

  1. Mrs Aggeliki Arnaoutis, professor, gave an excellent talk to the students of the School of Theology, in which she interpreted and clarified theological matters.
  2. Mr Demetris Vrakas, film maker and associate of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity, shot interesting snaps of the activities, the daily life and the incomparably beautiful landscapes. He also covered interviews with important figures of the region.
  3. As an ophthalmic surgeon, I had to deal with relevant incidents by visiting not only the School of Theology but also Sumbul, an area in the jungle located at an altitude of 1,500 m.

We were offered very warm hospitality at the cozy family environment of Fr Chrysostomos and his wife Elizabeth. We had the chance to meet their two sweet daughters as well as their other thirteen “children”, needy children taken in by the family until they have completed their education and have got settled professionally.
So far, approximately sixty children have been brought up thanks to their personal care. These kids have benefited from the educational program and have succeeded in their professional life.

Ophthalmic examination by Dr Alexandrou
Ophthalmic examination by Dr Alexandrou

Indonesians are smiling people, kind, humble, hospitable and benevolent.

Greece has received positive comments and has gained recognition from the Indonesian society thanks to its contribution to the social work. Our Fraternity has greatly conduced to the fulfillment of this program. This is how much Fr Chrysostomos is respected and esteemed by the authorities of the country in his capacity as representative of the Orthodox Church in Indonesia.

As an epilogue, I have kept a message that we took from Indonesia.

“By means of their language, Greeks have spread the light of the Greek culture and Orthodoxy to the peoples in the four corners of the earth. Supposing there were no more Greeks, and as a result, the Greek language were no longer spoken, this would mean deep cultural darkness all over the planet! You should take care of the edifice of Hellenism”.

The peoples believe that Greece accomplishes its supreme mission despite the challenges of history, because its own History is long and profound, dates back to thousands of years and will incessantly be feeding the global network with light!

Catherina Alexandrou
Ophthalmic surgeon
Regular member of the Fraternity

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