I am with you always, to the end of the age…
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.
†Amphilochios of New Zealand