Dear friends of the Mission,
Rejoice in the Lord!
We are writing from far-off Malawi in Africa in order to share with you the joys and sorrows of the Mission one more time. Always with the blessings of our Metropolitan, we keep up our humble ministry in praise of oυr Benevolent God, and our Church here is growing slowly but firmly.
Through plenty of difficulties and with your valuable support so far, we have managed to erect a small number of churches and schools, thus meeting some of the neophytes’ needs. Unfortunately, neither our holy churches nor the schools are enough. In almost 10 parishes that have been formed, our orthodox brothers gather in thatched huts. It is there that they pray. It is there that their holy services are conducted. In the rainy season the roofs are often leaky, or the mud bricks collapse.
One of these parishes is the Chiradzulu region, in the mountainous village of Ngwara. In this village, we baptized the first orthodox Christians in the last four years. Their patience and endurance are admirable.They themselves made this thatched hut and gather on Sundays and feast days. One might expect that their interest in faith would decrease and that they would be turned away from our Church. On the contrary! They were not disappointed. Nor did they betray their faith.They often say: ”We were baptized Orthodox Christians, and with that faith we shall die.” They often pray to God with tears in their eyes so that He reveals a devout donor to build them a proper church. That is the only request they have in their hearts: a Holy Church in which they will be able to worship our Triune God decently.
We are deeply touched by their moving interest and sole concern, which is to have a strong, healthy parish. Actually, they have organized their parish very well. They have elected church-wardens. They discuss their problems all together and in groups they visit other Christians who are in greater need. Each one of them gives a few kwachas; This way, they manage to raise a scant amount of money and relieve some afflicted souls. This parish is an enviable model of philanthropy and love. These people give out of the little they have in order to help others who need it more… some elderly, the orphans of the village, the lonely ones, the disabled and the destitute. All these receive the assistance of the parish and have its protection. Our brothers there often ask us which Saint they should dedicate their Holy Church to (that is, the thatched hut they use for a church). We do not answer them because we do not know ourselves, since it is the donor who usually determines where the Holy Church will be dedicated. And they wait patiently. Patience and prayer.
Brothers, let us not keep these good-hearted people waiting, for they are conscious believers who have applied the Bible to their lives. We appeal to your love: if any of you can afford it, let them offer this region a church. The one who builds a Holy Church in the Chiradzulu region, Ngwara village, will be granted a lot of blessings. These people will be deeply and eternally grateful to the one who will offer them a plain Holy Church. Their ardent prayers will be with him/her for ever. Their priest will be commemorating their benefactor and his/her family in the Divine Liturgy continuously.
From that spiritual flock, a new gifted future priest has already stood out. It is the catechist Alexander, who, by the Grace of God, will be sent next year to study at the Theological Seminary of Kenya for three years. It is no wonder that from such parishes like the one of the Ngwara village, only spiritual virtues can come out!
With love in Christ
Fr Ermolaos Iatrou from Malawi