A Message of Hope from the Eternally Snow-Capped Mount Kilimanjaro

I always write down my thoughts, my ideas, my concerns and my feelings, not only now with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing rise in global hunger- especially here in Africa.

Surprises come unexpectedly but they almost always give a hopeful message, although nowadays the situations we are going through are difficult and quite often confuse humans.

It is a fact that since the coronavirus outbreak, our Orthodox Church has undertaken a struggle of offering and sacrifice to our suffering fellow human beings, particularly here in Kenya.

Thus, with the prayers of contemporary elders and the blessings of His Beatitude, the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria Theodoros II, all these months I have been able to travel inland from the one end of Kenya to the other, delivering the word of God, conducting the holy sacraments of our Church, especially that of the Holy Eucharist, as well as distributing food for the support and relief of our brothers and sisters regardless of religion and faith Moreover, despite the tough times we are going through, we conducted the dedication service of new church buildings in various areas.

Our Lord, as we have known Him through His life – with His living presence, miracles and divine interventions, despite His Holiness and Divinity, remains a stranger to many people and is so much despised that in the end, it is like putting Him back on the Cross one more time to sacrifice Him. He once again humbles Himself in order to save the human race.

Four Evangelists church, constructed with our Fraternity’s funding

So these days I felt the need, as a part of my spiritual and pastoral duties, to visit our Orthodox brothers who live and move at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro; historic, active and supportive communities, with two majestic church buildings already in operation and another ready to be dedicated and open to the faithful. The journey was long and somewhat difficult and tiring, as on the way to Kilimanjaro there is severe aridity and drought and the landscape is totally barren –unlike here in Central Kenya, where it is constantly raining; however, the feeling of God’s love changes the whole setting.

This love does not remain as dry as nature there but is transfigured, transforms everything and becomes a place of rest and hope. With these feelings, I arrived at the first church, where I met with only five young people waiting for me. I was impressed by their kindness, their maturity but also their nice thoughts. During this serious discussion and acquaintance with them, I could discern the certainty and confidence that these young people nurtured for the presence of the Church in their lives, the positive and living presence of the Kingdom of God as a universal feast, a grand banquet (Luke 13:24).

The most important thing was that we were in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a famous and mysterious place, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, and we could not help thinking how important must be the fact that there are such young people with deep religious consciousness and faith. At that moment I thought that from that very place, we could see God Himself indeed as a stranger and a sojourner, but along with the group of other «strangers», He becomes a friend who gives hope and prepares the Kingdom of God through the pure and innocent creatures of His; the ones who have not yet known evil and sin but already live the «heavenly world», which will eventually lead them and bring eternally into them His anticipated eternal Kingdom.

I am convinced that what I experienced from the very first moments with those «heaven sent» young people, verified one more time that Christ was both true God and true man who came to this world and was incarnated in order to save and give eternal life to mankind with His example (John 10:10). And we repeat that we are in the middle of nowhere and yet, we see how important was the decision of our Lord to leave Heaven and come to dwell upon the earth, to become one with us, humans. The deeper we delve into the details of His divine presence, the more we feel the glory and majesty of theology, that of acceptance, extreme emptiness and condescension, and above all, of His humility. Moreover, it is imperative that we see in practice that the peoples are called here to camp with Him and thus immediately taste His own condescension, His already mentioned acceptance and hospitality (Psalms 23,15).

And we did not stop there. We also had to see the well-equipped orphanage that will soon host all the orphans of the area. Here the message given from time immemorial is that our Lord Himself was a stranger and a sojourner throughout His earthly life. And yet, He gives us this excellent example, which we experienced with those inhabiting the remote mountain of Kilimanjaro where we see Him ready to serve any human being regardless of race and origin, language and morals (Mark 10:45).

And the culmination was revealing, mysterious, mystical: first the conduction of the Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Three Hierarchs and then the sanctification of the waters at the Church of St. John the Forerunner. We saw and marveled at the zeal and faith of our priests first and then of all the faithful people of God, especially of our youth. The efforts and sacrifices of the workers? were not wasted but were fixed and established there on the rock of faith and truth; and now, in our case, on the age-old mountain of Kilimanjaro, which sends us all the message of love, hope and light, emitted by the truth of the Gospel and the Savior of the world Himself that the kingdom of God has every right to be known by all, since that was, is, and will always be the ultimate purpose: the salvation of all mankind.

† Makarios of Nairobi

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