In Colombia the Orthodox faith is growing. In 2000, we only had one parish community in the whole of Colombia with very few believers coming from different Orthodox countries, and I must say that this parish had the only Orthodox Church and place of worship in the whole country. This parish hosts the current Cathedral of the Dormition of the Theotokos, built by the late Great Benefactor Mr. Christos Arvanitis.
Years have passed since that moment in 1997 when His Eminence Athenagoras of Mexico opened the door of Orthodoxy to us the indigenous people and blessed our own land with the right faith and enriched us with the treasure of Hellenism. Orthodoxy today has a presence in various parts of the wider region, from intense Venezuela to distant San Agustin, Colombia, and coastal areas such as the city of Valledupar and other regions and cities in upper South America. Like a seed that falls on fertile ground, Orthodoxy has gained new members without proselytism and is no longer unknown to the people here; as a result, today even the government and the mass media take it into serious consideration when it comes to important common issues between the two countries.
The Lord’s commandment “Go and make disciples of all nations” is not only for our Holy Apostles, but for every Orthodox Christian, who can help in various ways. One can offer his fervent prayers, another with a special calling and inclination can travel to a distant land to teach Orthodoxy where it is still unknown or where there is a need for the presence of Orthodox brothers in order to teach Orthodoxy correctly. Another form of assistance is the financial support because there are various needs, such as church construction, as well as purchase or printing of priestly and theological books, holy vestments and liturgical equipment. Every time I have the opportunity to visit Greece, I leave the Greek land with three or four suitcases full of whatever liturgical stuff I can collect for our own province, as here we can’t even find incense. As Orthodoxy is growing and increasing in numbers, the missionary journeys that we have to make by means of public transportation or by any means we can find since we have no car, force us to travel from 9 to 26 hours and if it is for Venezuela we are talking about two days continuously.
On the other hand, Latin America is a land where the various sects come with millions of money, thus dividing the people into commercial denominations, which eventually lead people to agnosticism and atheism. This is why those who want to work out their own salvation and find their spiritual life path seek Orthodoxy. Today, this region of the world is fertile ground for the Orthodox faith. I am convinced that in a few years, the Orthodox Church will have in the local clergy good workers of the vineyard of Christ, especially when those who walk on the path of Christ with a special calling are a lot of young people.
About four years have passed since in Bogotá a community of believers of one of the branches of monophysitism asked to enter Orthodoxy. That was a community consisting of more than 600 people. It moved towards the Orthodox road when the monophysites arrived in Colombia declaring that they were the Orthodox Church; on discovering the truth, the faithful along with their priest began to approach us seeking acceptance into the bosom of our Church.
The main reason which urged them to seek true Orthodoxy is that the monophysite bishop did not conform to their traditional Divine Liturgy, but created a ritual very similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church. After they received proper catechesis following the blessing of His Eminence Athenagoras, we accepted them into the Orthodox faith; even to this day, through the Holy Mysteries, they continue entering the embrace of Mother Church. The first ordination that I performed as Assistant Bishop of the region with the blessing of our Venerable Shepherd was that of Father Panteleimon, who has shown dignity and a great missionary character and inclination.
Today, from this parish 370 brothers have already become Orthodox and as many as that are being prepared to enter our Church. The conditions are difficult though because we had to rent a space for them suitable for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and the performance of the Immaculate Mysteries. We need to buy a plot of land to build a church and slowly cover every need they have to become a regular Orthodox parish. Under the Protection of St. Anthony the Great, we praise and glorify the Lord and rejoice that He paves the way for such miracles , which no one would expect.
Ending this article, I convey to you our immense gratitude for your support, since with the help of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity we feel that we are not alone and that the Orthodox family expresses itself with unity of love and action.
With brotherly love and respect,
+ TIMOTHEOS of Assos Assistant Bishop Holy Metropolis of Mexico In Colombia and Venezuela.