Ivory Coast or Coast of Orthodoxy?

By the grace of God and with the blessings of His Beatitude, after a long time I was made worthy to visit the neighboring to Ghana country, called Ivory Coast. That name had always aroused my interest and curiosity. Why “Ivory Coast”? Who called it by that name and why?

Living in West Africa and studying the history of the region, I discovered that Ghana as well had other names in the past; it was formerly called “Gold Coast” and sometimes “Slave Coast”, and there I understood that the colonists then named these coasts and later the countries after the products they obtained from these areas.

This realization made me wonder how much we Orthodox people differ from the colonists! They would take the most precious things from these people, whereas we Orthodox people bring to these coasts the most precious thing that we have, Orthodoxy, that’s why we call them “Coasts of Orthodoxy.” Therefore, each one of us ultimately names and characterize these coasts, those by means of abstraction, we by means of addition.

We celebrated this Easter in Abidjan, the capital city of Ivory Coast, and in our parish of the Lord’s Resurrection. Father Jeremiah, the priest and «pillar» of the church, had been ministering alone for many years until this Easter, when he got two new brothers in the priesthood, Fr. Sebastian and Fr. Deacon Albert. It is a great joy and blessing to have two priests and one deacon; together we are called to proclaim and spread the Orthodox faith in this country, where the Orthodox Church enjoys the respect and appreciation not only on the part of the rulers of this country but also of the whole of Africa because the Orthodox Church has always been a force of unity and has (always) had a purely missionary presence without any interference in matters of power, politics or racism.

However, now there is an immediate need for a new church in the nearby town of Agboville, 70 kilometers away from the capital city of Abidjan, where there is a small parish community without a church. They only have a straw hut used as a church building when the Divine Liturgy is performed, but whenever there is heavy rainfall, it crumbles and has to be made again from the beginning. The existence of a church building will give impetus and growth to this community. Fortunately, we have secured the land from a faithful native sponsor, and we pray that God will breathe into the heart of a believer among you who are reading this article and are interested in the Mission in Africa, so that this sacred dream will come true.

The Orthodox Missionary Fraternity has given many samples and examples of sacrificial offering for the creation of new Orthodox Coasts in this world so that people will find a haven, a joyous place, a place of rest and encounter with Christ. I wish and pray that our Lord will bestow every blessing upon you in abundance.

† Narcissus of Accra

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