In Zomba, the old capital of the state, there is a church that was built in honor of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril.
Recently we had another marvelous event there, which strengthened our faith and made us love, honor and revere more the saints of God, who are always by our side, and help us in a scandalous way, as a holy man said.
The Church of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril is situated in a conspicuous position, on the main road, opposite a large hospital.
Indigenous Fr. George, both priest and pastor, spends many hours in the church dedicating them to prayer, so many passers-by find him on duty there, diligently performing his ministry, when they seek support and help from Heaven for anything that troubles them.
That morning a taxi brought a sick Malawian woman -accompanied by her good-hearted husband- from her village, to the city hospital due to a health problem that she had. Let’s say how things happened, though.
Mrs. Nefi, is a Malawian woman around the age of 40, married and mother- of -four. She and her husband are educated. She works in the hospital while her husband is a head teacher in a local school.
The woman was in her village and she was feeling very sick. The pain was acute and was coming down to her stomach and to other parts of her body.
Her condition was getting worse and worse, so she decided to go to hospital. However, she had the feeling that she could hear a voice that was telling her: «If you want to be saved, go to the Greek Orthodox Church, not to hospital.» She said that to her husband, but although he would always listen to her, that time he said, «No, we will go to hospital”. They took a taxi to go straight to hospital.» While the taxi was passing outside the Church of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril though, the woman heard the same voice say the same words: «If you want to be saved, go inside this church and do not go to hospital.» Once this happened, the woman lost her senses and collapsed. She seemed to be nearing death. Her husband had no other choice but to tell the taxi driver to stop at the Church. Without wasting time, he carried his almost half dead wife inside.
They got into the Church and found the indigenous priest Fr. George. The husband explained to the priest what they had lived at home and outside the Church and begged the Orthodox priest to pray for his slowly dying wife.
The priest’s first reaction was to say that the woman was not Orthodox, therefore, he could not possibly pray for her. The husband continued to beg him to pray in the name of the Orthodox Church. Then the priest, out of brotherly love for every human being that is suffering, yielded to his entreaties and said he would pray but he would not be wearing a stole, neither would he touch the woman with it since she was not Orthodox, and so he did.
The priest prayed wholeheartedly for long, and suddenly, the woman who was almost dead, stood up completely healed.
Their gratitude was indescribable! They left the Church praising and glorifying God, but on Sunday morning, they were both in the Church again. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, they confessed to everyone present there the miracle they had experienced and said: “From now on, we belong to the Orthodox Church, and when the priest decides to baptize us after our catechesis, we will be ready. We firmly believe that here is the only true Faith, and that the Triune God has called us personally to it, which makes us be eternally grateful to Him.”
When Fr. George told us all this, we marveled at the infinite love of God, Who works miraculously on His humble creatures and Who thus draws them close to Him and helps them become acquainted with His One, Holy, Apostolic Church.
We also marvel at the attentiveness of the native priest and his respect for the rules of our Church, which say that we must not pray with people of other faiths or other denominations, neither must we administer the Holy Sacraments or put the stole over people who have not entered the baptismal font of the Orthodox Church. Even if our brotherly love is big, we still do not betray our Faith, and as Fr. George has proven with his stance, especially in the hard and confusing times we live in, we are impressed by his zeal and enthusiasm to keep the Tradition of the Holy Fathers of our Church to the letter.
In our humble opinion, the attitude of the native priest, whose encounter with Orthodoxy took place just 8 years ago, is particularly noteworthy; and yet, he is humble in his work and sets a very good example to us who were born in Orthodoxy and who sometimes feel “over confident” about violating the rules established by the Holy Fathers, the Holy Tradition and the 7 Ecumenical Synods.
Equally remarkable is the virtue of the priest’s humility, which makes him attribute everything to the Triune God. He confesses everything to his spiritual father, and is thus covered by temptations on both the right and the left hand.
Among others, he narrated the following incident. An acquaintance of his, an orthodox parishioner, lost his cell phone and was deeply sad. Then he went to the priest and begged him to pray for his cell phone to be found. Indeed, Fr. George fell on his knees and prayed for this little matter, since love in God does not differentiate between small and big matters. God instructed us to always love and help our neighbor. What happened next made us marvel at God’s prompt responsiveness. A man very hurriedly went past the house from which the cell phone had been lost, and with quick moves he pulled the missing phone out of his pocket, threw it onto the porch and vanished. Someone forced him to do that. Prayers have a lot of power and can even defeat passions, make thieves return the things they stole, but the most amazing thing they can do is to make people believe in the Holy Orthodox faith. Such experiences are quite common here.
Dear brothers and sisters, our Orthodox Faith is alive, true and unique! Let us hold it as a treasure to be cherished, as a valuable gift from Heaven, and be steadfast in it.
Fr. Ermolaos Iatrou