Judging by our life style and what we take for granted, we could never imagine that a plate of hot food could save small children’s lives. Indeed, for us it is inconceivable and exaggerating if we claim that in the 21st century there are children who are thirsty and hungry and do not have direct access to food on a daily basis, like any other human being. I say so because I am on a distant missionary journey in the middle of nowhere, where people, especially children, are looking for some sort of support in order to survive. As much as our human mind struggles to find a way and a means so that we can make these little children understand that they are not alone, they are not abandoned, they are not suffering anymore and they should not worry about tomorrow, we promise them and reassure them that we have them in our hearts and we will not let them feel that they are alone and helpless.
Well, on this missionary journey I had to deal with situations of the past, present and future. You might be wondering why. I keep having this image in front of my eyes and I am troubled and wondering. So I came to see up close what for years our Orthodox Church has cultivated , that is, this spirit of charity, love, mercy, discernment and acceptance, something I have noted many times since it has been part of my life for the more than 4 decades of my humble ministry in the land of Africa. So the children of this orphanage welcomed me with dances and songs so enthusiastically that I thought even the stones would cry out too.
We finished our missionary journey and started moving further inland. I should note that here we also have schools. I do not believe in coincidences, only in the providence and intervention of God, and here’s a shocking thing: the headmaster of the school revealed to me that when he was a small child, he attended our primary school, where of course our education is free and we give the children the opportunity to obtain Orthodox Christian education as well through our daily sacred services. At the same time, here in the same place where the particular teacher was, we offer breakfast and lunch to these children for free, despite our difficulty in finding the funds required. The story does not stop here though. This teacher revealed to me how much he had benefited as a small child from the generosity of our Orthodox Church. He had no reason to thank us simply because the story does not end here. He went on to reveal to me that because of his good academic performance, I had sent him to one of our high schools, where he studied and excelled. Then he came to study and graduated from our Teachers’ Training College. And the story goes on… When I asked him who paid him, he replied that if the little children’s parents brought something, he got it, if not, then he felt it as his own obligation and duty to support those poor children, as he himself was helped.
I wish we were able to give more opportunities so as to have many such results. One may think that I am boasting or want to give exaggerated impressions to those reading this article. These kinds of stories overwhelm us every day and are the ones that support us and give us physical and spiritual strength to carry on our God-pleasing work. Our missionary journey lasted five days, but our work is being continued since in our yard we currently host 311 children who are either orphans or have no access to food and education. This is what we do every day. In these difficult times that the whole of humanity is going through, our Church, by the Grace of God, is trying to stand by these little children and give hope and courage to them, assuring them that we will always be by their side, supporting them all the way, no matter how tired we are. Needless to say, there is an estimated amount of money for their support, education and food, which we can only cover thanks to your support. We neither become complacent, nor rest. We believe that it is our duty to give hope and reassurance to these innocent creatures that we love them and hug them tightly and affectionately as if they were our own.
† Makarios of Nairobi