The long way to Orthodoxy

It would not be an exaggeration to say that a continuous miracle is taking place in our Church. Many problems and contingencies as well as difficulties arise every now and then. Nothing is done without pain and effort. After all, we know it from the ancient Greeks: “There is no success without hard work” (that is to say, “no pain, no gain”).

These and many other things cross our mind every day and make us want to take on our responsibilities towards God and the people God has entrusted to us. We see each person as a soul for whom Christ died. With these thoughts in mind, we are not intimidated by any difficulty or temptation that we encounter in order to save even one soul. With the help of God, we are making superhuman efforts to reach even the most remote villages in order to catechize those interested, listen to their problems and definitely help them.

One day, three people arrived at the Mission Center, among them a woman. They came for the first time and wanted to talk with us. After the usual greeting, they told us how they found us and got here. My blessed predecessor late Bishop Nektarios had published a pamphlet called “What is Orthodoxy”. This pamphlet was found at the door of the Anglican Church. Some of the villagers were Anglicans and they had built a church as they imagined it. Since then, these people had been looking for the Orthodox Church to learn the truth.

The pamphlet must have been released between the years 2000 and 2004, when the accident with the helicopter happened. All these years, they had been trying to find out where that Orthodox Church was. In 2022 the daughter of the aforementioned lady was now grown up and studying at university. She had rented a room to stay near the orphanage. Very often she heard the church bell ringing, but she did not pay much attention because there are many churches in the vicinity.

One day though, as she was passing by, she read that there was an Orthodox church there. She got more information and when she went on holiday to her village, she reported all this to her mother. Not long after that, her mother along with two other persons came to our Mission Center and told us the whole story. By delving into the very meaning of all these incidents, one can easily understand how Christ acts when the right time comes for each case. The Holy Spirit goes ahead and leads us when the soil is suitable for cultivation.

After all this, we agreed on a fixed date for visiting the village for the first time. The road, the most difficult part of our visits to the villages, was not much different from those we had to cross when we went to other places. It was narrow with lots of mud in many places, so narrow that even the jeep could not pass, so we had to bypass it by going through the fields.

After an experiential adventure, we finally arrived at their village. Several people had come out to meet us 200-300 meters outside the village. Their joy was indescribable. They welcomed us with traditional songs and dances as is customary. They all gathered in the supposedly Orthodox church. We started with prayer, and after introducing ourselves better and conveying the wishes and blessings of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodore II, we began the catechism. We ended our visit with prayer and scheduled our next meeting. Praising God for this blessing, we made our way back!

† Ignatios of Northern Madagascar

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