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In the Footsteps of a Saint

The course of life of a person who cherishes inside of him a deep love for Jesus Christ, the true God and Savior of the world, is indeed a mystery. With these thoughts, I began with Mr. Nikos Aslanides, an experienced journalist, dear friend, Missionary partner and member of our Fraternity, to follow in the footsteps of the pioneer Elder and spirit-driven founder of our Fraternity Father Chrysostomos Papasarantopoulos.

We began our journey with him in secret, for it was in secret that he was given the Grace and power by God for this work. Our purpose was to record step by step the desire of this Saint to convey to the natives of Africa the joyful message of the Resurrection of Christ.

He firmly believed that the time had come for Orthodoxy as divine worship and faith to be proclaimed to the black angels, as he called the natives. Being extremely poor himself like them and suffering due to advanced age and ill and fragile health, he arrived in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, in 1960, and put up his hut among those he loved so dearly, friends and children.

It is up on a beautiful hill in Kampala that he built the first Church of St. Nicholas. This beautiful church that overlooks the whole city, though small, is well-made and graceful, built in a cruciform shape, with a high belfry and windows all around. The late indigenous pioneers, seekers of Orthodoxy and keepers of true faith and worship, are all buried around the church building. Bishop Christopher Mukasa Spartas, Fr. Obadiah Basajakitalo, Fr. Irenaeus Bangimbi, Bishop Theodoros Nankyama and others, devout, faithful, loyal to Mother Church until the end of their lives.

The next day we made our way to Dijiye village, where the first Orthodox Divine Liturgy was celebrated in 1933, by pioneer missionary Archimandrite Nicodemus Sarikas. We went 4 hours deep into the country, passing by endless plantations of corn and sugar beet rooted in the Nile basin. There was so much green everywhere, so much light, so many children playing and going to school! There was a smile on everyone’s face but also two innocent eyes wondering:»what do these muzungu (white people) want in our land with the stuff that they are carrying on them (cameras, stanchions, equipment)?»

The natives are simple-hearted, kind people with a wide smile. They open their arms to embrace you, and you, the “muzungu”, can see straight into their heart, their pure, undefiled soul, the vast world of love, the creation of the Master Artist, the image of God.

This is what the Elder saw as well when he first came here: the selflessness and purity of these people’s souls, the image of God, which is why he walked many kilometers through the jungle. He sent thousands of letters asking for help. «Son, I am writing to you from Africa. Please, come over; I’m here (and I’m) waiting for you. Don’t be long.»

In a dying and shrinking Europe that kills thousands of children through abortions, Africa remains alive and growing. Children walk around the road every day and cover very long distances on foot to get to school, to acquire knowledge, to receive education.

It is for these children that Fr. Chrysostomos made schools, which on Sundays were turned into churches, a place of worship and devout reverence.

We traveled on bad dirt roads for many hours. It would have been impossible to find the way if Fr. Stephen had not sent his son from Nakyaka village to meet us and take us to the Church of the Annunciation.

The church building was large and spacious, covered with sheet metal, like all the churches here. The reception the children gave us was friendly and cordial, with rhythmic songs and drum beats. For years now, the drumbeat of the natives, the rhythm, the body movements along with hand-clapping and singing, have been a way of expressing joy, sadness and gratitude to God.

The next day we covered even more kilometers and reached Nakabale village, with St. Paul’s parish. The school was situated next to the church and the children were all neatly dressed in the same color.

St. Paul’s Church is in need of maintenance but the people are poor and weary, and by no means could they afford to pay for the repair to the church building and its maintenance. Their heart is pure and innocent, and despite all their deprivations, they offered us bananas, beans and rice. They consider it both an honor and an obligation to host you. They gave the bishop a surplus of their love, a few beans, a few bananas and a rooster.

Late in the afternoon, being really exhausted after covering so many kilometers, we returned to Jitsa, the city with the beautiful red brick church on a small plot of land. The parish priest, who was there with his wife, was a prudent, serious, educated person with a European mentality. Bishop Sylvester has confidence in his abilities and great expectations of him. The town is well built, with curbs and beautiful houses. In the evening, we arrived dead-tired at St. Lavrentios Orthodox Cathedral in the city of Gulu, Northern Uganda. A beautiful church indeed, built in the highest part of Gulu, bright, with many windows and doors, a refuge for the Orthodox Christians of the region.

Once again, we set off on our next journey very early in the morning. We had to go through endless forests and dense vegetation to meet a tribe of natives speaking a different language, which even the bishop did not understand. Communication was held with the help of a translator. There, after many hours, we were welcomed by our Orthodox brothers who were waiting for us with singing and dancing, holding branches in their hands. The people here live in a primitive condition, with the water being about 2 hours’ distance from the village. They have lived in this region for thousands of years the say way as their ancestors, and they live on fruit from the trees and produce from farming in its most rudimentary form. They have their mud-huts around in the jungle and amidst them the large church of St. Nectarios. The grace of the saint has come as far as this place; may the Saint intercede with God for them. A large church indeed, with only three icons hung on its built icon screen; even these icons along with the vessels of the Holy Altar are borrowed, brought here by the bishop. We started with the conduction of the Matins Service, went on with the baptism of 70 people and ended up with the Divine Liturgy. Both children and adults with patience, prayer and devout reverence entered into the church of Christ to be baptized and become members of the spiritual body of believers in the big embrace of the Orthodox faith.

After the Holy Eucharist was over, everyone was glowing with happiness and joy because they had all received Holy Communion. They held in their hands a sheet of paper bearing names of Martyrs and Saints of our Church. At the end of the Divine Liturgy food was offered to us under the trees while the children were waiting patiently for their turn to eat. When I asked them why the children were not eating, they told me that according to their law, it is the strong that eat first because they are the ones that will feed the weak. They all show respect for the unwritten laws of the jungle. The chief of the tribe, with his clothes and shoes patched with wire, spoke to us about their needs, the lack of water and the need for a borehole in this area. The children walk all day to get to the nearest school, which is about 10 kilometers away, and receive education. We thanked him and left without giving any promises very late at night.

On the return journey, my mind was running back to reunite with these people, whose daily life is embraced by death, suffering and illness. Mortality rates are high, there are no hospitals and clinics, and life is as it was thousands of years ago.

My eyes grew heavy and my mind weary, sunk in thought, trying to connect the images of the day. I could only see the eyes, the children’s eyes that were following me. I erased my few thoughts in Saint Nectarios’ embrace. “Saint of love and patience, open people’s hearts, illumine their minds and support us in this missionary effort «in the footsteps of a Saint».

We walked in the footsteps of the late Elder and pioneer missionary Fr. Chrysostomos Papasarantopoulos, and we smelled the scent of Holiness. He taught us that whatever is done for Mission, should be done it wholeheartedly, without a single doubt about its rightness, with full confidence in God’s promise «and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.»

We felt the Saint’s anguish and struggle for a better future, a better life, a life grafted in with the power of Orthodox faith in the Black Continent. Elder Chrysostomos whispered to us that holiness wants no signs but evidence of spiritual greatness, sacrificial course, missionary action, and absolute confidence in «May Thy Will Be Done.»

Charalampos Metallidis, Board President

Orthodoxy in Colombia

Dear Mission friends and supporters,

It is with brotherly love that I write to you in order to share with you the story of the conversion of me and my family to Orthodoxy.

In Colombia, Orthodoxy is unknown. Most people are Roman Catholics and are nescient of the existence of the Orthodox Church. In Roman Catholicism, priests are not permitted to get married. My wife and I wanted to devote our lives to the work of God, but we wanted to do so through the vocation of marriage. A Roman Catholic priest with whom we were aqcuainted suggested our seeking Orthodoxy.

By studying the Holy Bible, we came to realize that the true faith is not with the papists, when we read the following: “The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry” (I Timothy 4:1-3). Thus, we understood that this prohibition had been imposed by people and not by God! Glory to God, we found the true faith!

In order to learn about Orthodoxy, we traveled to Venezuela and Argentina. There I met some Serbian Orthodox and I consequently went to Serbia, where I was ordained a deacon. Later on, in Colombia, bishop Athenagoras visited Medellín and invited us to become members of His diocese. Four years ago I was ordained a priest by His Eminence Athenagoras, and we have since striven for the growth of Colombian Orthodoxy.

His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico is a very good man who has greatly labored for Orthodoxy in our region. He is the man who opened the doors of Orthodoxy to our country and has sent many people to Greece so that they can learn about Orthodoxy in depth and communicate this knowledge to their countries. My eldest son is among them and is currently studying Theology in Thessaloniki.

Our parish community lies in Cereté. We celebrate the Divine Liturgy once a month at my parents’ house, because I live in Medellín and the journey to Cereté is 10 hours long by bus. Thankfully, our community has grown a lot and I will now move to Cereté permanently with my wife and our three children. This community, however, is very poor and cannot provide financial support to our parish. Last June we conducted the first Orthodox wedding. In Cereté there are 300 Orthodox faithful, 40 of whom have been baptized and the rest are catechumens. We want to share the true faith with every person who seeks the real Church that preaches God’s love.

Fr. Rafael Padilla

Kenya: a Fruitful Land

If we must specify the firm pillar of propagation and empowerment of the missionary work in the African continent, then undoubtedly we will refer to the Holy Diocese of Nairobi, Kenya.

The man who envisioned and founded this work was the late Makarios III, Archbishop and President of Cyprus.

The facilities of the Holy Diocese of Nairobi were constructed in 1958. In the same year the incumbent bishop of Nairobi, Makarios, received an invitation from the late Archbishop Makarios III to become a teacher and later on undertake the management of the Patriarchal School of Nairobi. He was then still a young layman. Nowadays, Bishop Makarios of Nairobi is a worthy continuator of his predecessors and does great missionary work all over Kenya, which includes: 400 parishes, 350 priests, 30 medical centers, nursery schools, 30 primary schools, 18 secondary schools, orphanages, a College of Education and a Patriarchal Seminary.

Another program of great importance is the food program for orphaned and indigent children, which provides them with breakfast and lunch and also covers the tuition fees for their education with a monthly sponsor contribution of 20 euro.

As Bishop Makarios says, the two main poles for the outreach and propagation of the Orthodox Missions both in Kenya and all across the African continent are the Patriarchal Seminary and the College of Education. The priests and teachers that graduated from these, staff the parishes and schools all over Kenya and other African countries. Nowadays, the Orthodox faithful in Kenya amount to one million.

In August 2019, together with Petros Trikoupis, an undergraduate student of Agriculture, we received the rich and warm hospitality of His Eminence in Nairobi on the premises of the Holy Diocese.

We had the honor and joy to accompany him on his journey all over Western Kenya. Our itinerary included visiting Nakuru, Kisii and Kisumu and the villages nearby. We visited their parishes and we met many people, warm, unassuming, affable and friendly.

Along with Petros, we examined many locals with ophthalmological problems in mudhut-churches, and helped them with portable equipment, eyeglasses and medicinal drugs. After our tour, we also examined people at the Diocesan Medical Center in Riruta.

As regards Bishop Makarios of Kenya, we have come to realize that he has been a very influential person in the field of Orthodox Mission.

He is:

  • an affectionate father to many orphaned and indigent children whom he attends every step of the way: their childhood, their education, their coming of age, their personal happiness, their children’s fruition and generally, all their life development.
  • a tireless prelate who regularly travels all over the country, having close relationships with his parochial priests (who were previously his seminarians) and teachers, as well as the Orthodox faithful. He is highly esteemed, respected and accepted by the people of Kenya.
  • a professor and at the same time the director of the Patriarchal Seminary with great and important bibliography.
  • a cordial host, an unassuming man with a great heart dedicated throughout his long service to ministering to the problems and needs of his people.

When our journey to Kenya came to an end, we felt as if we had been taught a great lesson!

Therefore, after these teachings, one can easily realize that happiness in this world is neither unreachable nor far away from us.

All we have to do is reach out and touch another person’s hand, or simply smile at someone and we get another smile in return. All we need to do is open our arms, and we receive a wide-open embrace.

If we realized that such simple movements could make the whole world vibrate, all misery and war on this bedraggled planet would disappear.

When human vanity peaks in structures such as that of the highest skyscraper in the world, it is because we do not realize that real heights can only be found in the humble and giving hearts of human beings.

These are the heights that please the heavenly world and give cause for a great celebration up there…

Catherine Alexandrou Ophthalmologist, Board member

10th Mission Seminar in Tanzania

Like every August, the 15 -day seminar of catechetical sessions was held this year, focusing not only on simple issues of our faith, which form the foundation and the core of the two thousand -year -old history of the Orthodox Church, but also on the Holy Fathers’ experience. Once again, the seminar was hosted by the parish of the Holy Cappadocian Fathers Arsenios and Paisios (the Church was constructed in 2005 by His Eminence Metropolitan Dimitrios) in the city of Morogoro (which is the seat of our Mission Center), with Fr. Cleopas Bachuda in charge in cooperation with my humbleness).

The seminar started at the beginning of August with the first group consisting of women, and continued from the 14 August on with the men’s group. The faithful came from the Morogoro region. The reason why we had two groups instead of one was no other but lack of accommodation spaces.

Thus, as a matter of fact, we had no other option but to use the church as a classroom for the catechetical sessions as well as the Medical Clinic for our faithful to sleep at night and rest to the extent possible, since you can imagine the living conditions: all the faithful on the cement floor, on plastic mats, women and children. Of course you are going to tell me that these people are accustomed to such conditions since most of them come from the Maasai tribe, who are used to sleeping on the ground.

Therefore, the seminar started on Saturday 10th August, and for the first time there were audiovisual means used for a more efficient consolidation of the things said during the sessions. It was very successful indeed, which was made evident by the large number of questions asked on the part of the participants, their dedication and great interest during the sessions, as well as by their joy and satisfaction, which grew even more when we announced our intention to hold similar seminars at regular intervals, not only to enable them to enrich their knowledge on issues of faith but also to have them get to know each other better and make them feel that we are all members of a big truly Orthodox family.

This is how 15 blessed days passed along with the simple-hearted and destitute Tanzanian brothers, who always have a smile on their faces, which is definitely something missing from the rich and “civilized” contemporary western man. One thing is for sure though: all of us gained something from this seminar. Glory to God for all things. Before closing, I would like to make an earnest appeal to you all. Remember us in your prayers. May God bless your works and families.

Monk Thaddaeus

Devastation in Beira

(Après les inondations. Niamey, le 29 décembre 2012)

Dear Friends of Mission,

It is with great joy and gratitude that I contact you, since I know your charitable heart and great interest in the advancement of the Orthodox Missions.

My brothers, let me ask you, is spiritual fruition in our diocese possible if the roofs of our churches are hole-ridden? Definitely not.

Good-hearted Christian brothers, fellow Cyrenians in the ministry of love, I regret to announce that one historical church of our Patriarchate in Beira, Mozambique – which has been entrusted to my care, built with toil and sacrifices by Orthodox Christians 110 years ago, has suffered great damage from the deadly cyclone that struck the region.

We kindly knock on the door of your hearts and ask in sorrow and pain. Please help us to the extent possible with the restoration of this holy church so that sacred services can be celebrated there seamlessly and souls can be driven into the eternal kingdom of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

We thank you in advance for your prompt, earnest interest and support to our struggle.

† Photios of Malawi

A New Diocese in the East of the Congo

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By the Grace of the Most Holy God, the Holy Diocese of Goma was established in November 2018, and I was appointed as the new Patriarchal Commissioner of the Diocese.

The Holy Diocese of Goma is located in Eastern Congo and consists of two provinces, those of North and South Kivu. With a total area of 24,553 km2 and 12,427,000 inhabitants, Goma is the worst afflicted Congolese region with 25 years of war, illnesses such as the fatal epidemic of Ebola and a very high death toll, a region full of desperate, helpless, hopeless souls. It is in this region that the light of Orthodoxy rose with the foundation of the Diocese in order to bring hope, peace, strength and life to these humble souls. Glory be to God for all things.

With the blessings of His Beatitude the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II, we arrived at our missionary seat, i.e. the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu, the Center of our Diocese. What did we find? Neither a home, nor a church, only the good souls of about thirty-five catechumens, a Greek citizen and many tears of joy and hope from the afflicted souls who had been waiting for us to hear the word of God, to attend a Divine Liturgy so as to keep the flame of their hope lit. On Palm Sunday, we conducted the first Divine Liturgy in a school classroom which was kindly given to us for that day, and we were able to preach the word of God.

We moved around our diocese so as to get a general idea of the whole situation from our partners there and plan our future course. We set off on our journey from the capital of the South Kivu province Bukavu, where we were impatiently awaited by a group of catechumens, to whom we conveyed the blessings of our Patriarch and distributed various books on Orthodoxy.

Next we visited the town of Kamanyola, where we met with Fr. Demetrius Rizikis, priest of the St. Vasilios parish community in Uvira and the faithful of the Annunciation parish in Kamaniola region, where the Divine Liturgy is occasionally conducted by Fr. Demetrius. The parish there consists of nearly 200 faithful and catechumens.

Our next stop was at the city of Uvira, at Fr. Demetrius’ parish. We went to St. Basil’s Church, a big temple with a school building, where we were welcomed by many people thirsty for the word of God. Here we should point out that the buildings were constructed by Fr. Damascenos of Gregoriou during his missionary ministry in the region.

Finally, we went to the Holy Metropolis of Burundi and Rwanda to meet His Eminence Innocentios and be enlightened by his experience, as this region had been under his spiritual jurisdiction for quite some time.

During our inspection tour, with the help of God and the blessings of His Beatitude, apart from the Divine Liturgies that we performed, we preached Orthodoxy and conversed with the faithful and the catechumens wherever we found them, crossing rivers, lakes, forests for the name of our God. We managed to baptize the first Christians, 19 neophytes in Goma, and we performed the sacrament of marriage.

How great our Almighty God is! On the same day when God enlightened us to baptize our first Christians in Goma, we had an episode. Along with our catechumens, we went down to Khufu Lake, where we would perform the baptisms, set up our table, and while we were about to get started, the local people, who had not seen a priest in black before, thought we were sorcerers and called the police. When the police came, they neither did nor asked anything; they were just watching us along with the inhabitants, and they said: they are not sorcerers, they have crosses on; they must be Christians, but not like the others. Despite the big waves of the lake, we did manage to perform the Holy Mystery of Baptism. When we had finished, the inhabitants who had called the police, humbly asked us to baptize them. We told them that catechesis precedes baptism, and God willing, their wish would be eventually realized.

Our diocese has 12 parish communities, two priests, three church buildings, and one school. There is a lot of work to be done, particularly in this heavily afflicted area, but we believe that with the help of God, the blessings of His Beatitude and the support of warm-hearted people we will make it. May God bless you all.

Fr. Chariton Musungayi Patriarchal Commissioner of Goma

Missionary Journey to Sierra Leone

On Thursday, May 16th and after many delays on the few flights to West Africa, I arrived in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. The name “Freetown” has been given to the city since the time of the slave trade. European slavers loaded the boats with African slaves into the city port under such miserable conditions that the human mind could not possibly capture, and headed for Brazil and America.

In 1807, when the English were forced to stop slave trade after the international community’s disapproval, the ships that had already set off for the new continent returned back and freed the captive slaves, who had now gained their freedom. The first free slaves landed in Sierra Leone, and for this reason the capital of the country was named Freetown, which means the city that gave freedom to the enslaved Africans.

Among other things, Sierra Leone’s colonists made sure that the country’s airport was remote and inaccessible to protect it from any possible revolutionary attacks. So in order to get to the city after a difficult and long journey (at best with two connecting flights) one has to board a high-speed boat or a ferry and cross the sea bay that separates the airport from the city. One is very lucky if the sea is calm without strong winds or the tropical storms of the Equator.

Once again, by the grace of God, the protection of Our Most Holy Lady and the blessings of our Patriarch, I arrived at the port of Freetown safe and sound. There I was received by Fr. Themistocles Adamopoulos and the holy clergy of Sierra Leone. Due to the delays and the local conditions, time had already passed, so we headed straight to our lodging.

Friday rolled along smoothly overseeing school complexes, the Academy, and having contact with teachers, youth and volunteers. In the afternoon we conducted the Vespers service at the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen.

On Saturday, May 18, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Church of St. Moses the Black. During the service, we had two ordinations: one of Deacon Athanasius Sesay as an Elder and another of the teacher David Tholey to the Diaconate. Addressing the young clergy, I emphasized the importance of humility, prayer, obedience, reaching out to others for Christ and giving out of selfless love.

After the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence distributed sweets to young children and then visited all the areas of the Mission Center including orphanages and nursing homes, talked with all the teachers as well as with the foster mothers who take care of the orphans. What followed was a festive event in the large event hall.

On Sunday, His Eminence conducted the Divine Liturgy and preached the Word of God at the Church of St. Eleftherios. After the dismissal, he blessed the food that was offered to more than a thousand people. In the afternoon he performed the Blessing service at the newly built Orphanage within the premises of the Saints Constantine and Helen Mission Center. After that, he was shown around the orphanage, which will soon begin operating under the care and supervision of Ms. Mary Adams, an Australian volunteer teacher. In the orphanage courtyard the youth organized a very beautiful and successful festive event. The heavy tropical rain that broke out so unexpectedly made the festivities stop, but after about 60 minutes they were continued with gaiety and enthusiasm. Then a dinner of love was offered to all the young men and women of our Church in Sierra Leone.

On Monday morning, May 20, His Eminence visited the Orthodox Schools, and talked with both students and teachers. Next he met with the holy clergy of the country and gave proper counsels and instructions.

In the afternoon he officiated in the festive Vespers Service at the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen.

On the feast day of the Equal-to- the- Apostles, Kings and Emperors Constantine and Helen, His Eminence celebrated the Divine Liturgy and preached the Word of God at the namesake celebrating church. During the Divine Liturgy he ordained as Elder Deacon Soterios and as Deacon Teacher Emmanuel Tonkie. In his address, His Eminence referred to the great figures of the celebrated Saints, to the historic Decree of Independence issued by Emperor Constantine which ended, among others, the long and catastrophic persecution of Christians, and to the great contribution of his Mother Helen, including her finding the Holy Cross of our Lord. Finally, he exhorted the new clergy to have the celebrated Saints and all the Saints of our Church as bright examples in their lives and to be the best example for their flock themselves. After the Divine Liturgy, a meal of love was offered to the whole congregation.

† George of Guinea

The Nkayi Orthodox Brothers are Grateful

Dear Friends of Mission,

By the mercy of Almighty God we communicate with you from distant Congo-Brazzaville, the country that is bisected by the equator and wetted by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, where the newly established Holy Metropolitan of Brazzaville and Gabon is headquartered, in order to express the sincere gratitude of the local Church and our littleness to all of you, the honorable brothers, for your valuable practical assistance through the well-known Orthodox Missionary Fraternity to the laborious missionary work that is carried out in this corner of the African land.

We never forget that the foundation, statutory principle and purpose of Mission always remain the Lord’s Commandment-legacy: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.»(Matt. 28: 19-20). This meeting with our Savior and Redeemer Lord, which is not symbolic but real, takes place in the Holy Chalice, in the Thanksgiving gathering. Consequently, through the Divine Liturgy all of us, the heavenly Orthodox faithful, become without exception partakers of the Life of Christ, while by receiving His Body and Blood we are inextricably united among us, members of the One, Holy, Undivided, Catholic Orthodox Church.

The predominant place for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist was and still is/has always been the church; the church, which is at the same time heaven, while it sanctifies and unites people under a common faith. This miracle occurred in Nkayi, the fourth-largest city in Congo-Brazzaville, where the Church of the Holy Transfiguration of the Saviour and St. Cosmas of Aetolia is located, which was completed just a few days ago. And this miracle was achieved thanks to your generous heart, which through our Fraternity offered the money required for its completion.

The aforementioned church building had remained unfinished since 2010 for lack of funding. It was founded in 2007 by the late blessed Metropolitan Ignatius (Madenlides) of Pentapolis. Work began on Monday, June 3, 2019 and lasted three months. Given the distance of Nkayi from Pointe-Noire (about 250 km) which raises prices in goods in the town where the erected church is located, the most expensive building materials, such as floor tiles, glue for their installation, wall-painting supplies, electrical stuff, were purchased from Pointe Noire to save money. 5,000 bricks, sand, gravel and cement were purchased locally.

Holy Transiguration Church in Nkayi, sponsored by our Fraternity

On Sunday, June 9, 2019, we celebrated the Divine Liturgy in blessings of the construction work that was just beginning. The gratitude and joy of the parishioners was indescribable, since they would have their own beauteous church , to which we have also added a bell tower which was not planned, as well as men’s and women’s toilet facilities and a parish priest’s office. This joy culminated on September 29, 2019, the day on which the sacred inauguration service took place.

Honorable brothers,

The Orthodox Mission needs the creation of churches, since the number of the Congolese who discover Orthodoxy «which has grace and power» – as they say when they first appear before us – is growing, so they need houses of prayer to worship true God, be taught the immaculate Orthodox faith and become candles of light themselves for their fellow countrymen.

In Congo-Brazzaville, with struggle and pain, with prayer and patience, with effort and labor, churches were made to glorify the name of the Triune God and convey the message of the Resurrection to this beautiful people. The Lord blessed us to establish seven parish communities with corresponding churches, three of which were unfinished for lack of resources, upon our establishment in the country (February 2013) as the First Shepherd of the neophyte local church of Brazzaville, while in the north the faithful, most of whom belong to the most ancient tribe of Pygmies, gathered in a rented house to pray.

But «the Lord God of hosts is alive»! (3 Kings 17: 1)! During the past six years (2013-2019), the Impfondo Church of St. John the Forerunner was erected from the ground up and was inaugurated on February 5, 2017), while two more magnificent church buildings have been completed and inaugurated in Pointe Noire, one dedicated to St. Photini (May 6, 2018) and another to St. Demetrius. The latter is the beauteous Cathedral, which was inaugurated on February 17, 2019 by His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodore II).

According to the words of our Lord and Savior, the purpose of the Church is man’s sanctification. Consequently, no one can claim to have been saved by Christ, to have lived his personal resurrection, while turning his back on those whom the God-man Jesus called His brothers, namely the least. Beloved brothers in Christ, help to complete and build more churches in Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon, to hear more orthodox bells ring in Africa, the continent of the future, disperse the darkness of demons, and let the Light of Christ shine “before men, so that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in heaven. Amen!

† Panteleimon of Brazzaville& Gabon

Youth Gathering in Larteh

Another activity of the Holy Metropolis of Accra is that of the youth gathering, which, by the grace of God and the blessing of the Primate of the Alexandrian Church Pope and Patriarch Theodore II, was held at the premises of St. Peter’s School in Larteh, Ghana, from 1 to 13/8/2019.

The young men and women who frame the activities of the H. Metropolis and staff the parishes with their qualifications, had the opportunity to experience moments of relaxation and enrich their spiritual knowledge by studying the Bible and the Holy Fathers’ teaching, dedicating time from their vacations and their activities.

In a pleasant Christ-centered environment, focused on daily worship and liturgical assemblies, with lectures and discussions with the bishop, the priests, and the participation of a group of volunteers from the United States of America, experienced theologians and teachers, the young men and women got answers to issues that concern them, which in their turn will impart to their ministry areas themselves as catechists.

As we know, the institution of camp is a way and place of socialization and coexistence of different individuals, where each one has their own character and way of thinking, creating a miniature of an organized large society. What unites the members is their common faith, the common chalice, possibly the same interests, the same desires, and the cultivation of the Orthodox spirit.

Campers are given the opportunity to develop their skills, personality dynamics, leadership skills, while learning to live far from the safety of their family environments.

Contact with nature, which is truly a paradise, brings them closer to the Creator God and teaches them to respect it, listen to it, protect it, recognize the species of the plant and animal kingdom, manage it and only take what they need in order to improve their lives without destroying it.

Crafts and games, whenever they need to relax, unwind and work off the daily tension, are a way to showcase their talents and promote cooperation, team solidarity and mutual help.

This period under the auspices of the Holy Metropolis, was truly a spiritual refuge for the beautiful company of the young attendees, as they experienced the meaning of love of Christian life and learned a lot of things about essential catechism and Mission.

Some people argue that Orthodoxy cannot offer solutions to building a proper society, thinking that it is simply a religion, which is wrong. Orthodoxy is a communication of persons relying on the real fact of man’s search from God Himself and not on man’s attempt to create a god. A God who approaches us to heal our passions, without us attributing human weaknesses to Him. A God who comes to settle even earthly affairs without restricting Himself solely to spiritual life.

Just as we cannot confine God, so we cannot confine Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is not individual and selfishness does not fit within it because Orthodoxy is steered by our God and Savior Himself with His Gospel and deals with the whole of human existence. It does not separate the unity of spirit, soul and body. Everything contributes to perfection and union with the Divine. This fact of Orthodoxy is something that we Missionaries live in our ministry. We deal with the human being as a whole. We try to offer him everything, just as God offers us everything. We strive to create a society not of activists limited to ideologies, events and groups, but a real society without discrimination, conflict, opposition and trampling on the equality of persons.

All this and many more are things that we lived during our stay at the Camp. We proved that by simple means and things we can create a society of persons without opportunism and interests, mine and yours. We proved that we can coexist in peace by uniting our powers and our prayers as Orthodox Christians, praying:

«O Lord Jesus Christ our God, the one who said, “Let the little children come unto me”, bless them and make them earthly angels in this place / camp, which is like a heavenly Paradise. Bestow the transcendental virtues upon them, embellishing them with innocence and purity.

Grant to the Pope and Patriarch Theodore II, role model of our Heavenly Father, health and longevity, so that we can find in His loving heart the rest we have been longing for.

Bestow Your heavenly power upon our laboring brothers, working staff and volunteers, so that they can carry out the ministry of this hospitality, and grant that with one voice and one heart we may glorify and praise Your most honorable and majestic name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen”.

† Narcissus of Accra

Travel to Nowhere

We are in the middle of nowhere! One must have a vivid imagination, or be endowed with the gift of writing poetry or painting to be able to depict on this lifeless paper the feelings and thoughts that dominate one’s entire existence when visiting such a place.

her main priority the project that exists in these forgotten – remote areas, education, along with what is called a “food program”. It is practically impossible- even for little children who are still innocent and pure- not to understand that they cannot be educated unless they first put something in their stomach to keep them alive. Only then will they be able to capture the messages of knowledge and education, despite harsh conditions.

A simple meal, even if it consists of two slices of bread with some butter or jam- or even without it, will relieve the empty stomachs of those little children, who have every right to have access to some food in order to survive. After all, we live in the 21st century! Is that so difficult? What we, civilized people, take for granted, is a distant dream for them. Is it really right for us to indulge in all kinds of food, fill our stomachs and rest without thinking of those innocent little children who are starving to death? We will not give out of what little we have, since deep inside we know very well that we have too much of a surplus for our own survival, or rather our well-being and enjoyment. Let us realize that it is our own duty to save innocent souls who trust us and beg us to offer them what we so richly enjoy: their lives…

Touring around the countryside parishes

I’m starting to get concerned as traveling to nowhere takes me to places that really leave me speechless. There, in those places of my pastoral exile, I reached the most forgotten poor and unprotected little children who lived in anticipation of a word and a little smile. I met them. And what do you think I saw in front of me? A structure – supposedly their school- where they attend classes daily and get educated. A construction made of wild wood and earth, which eventually collapsed and because of that all sorts of insects came in, and of course, the cold. What could I possibly say to them in that situation that I found them? Naturally, they were starving. What were they supposed to eat and where? The whole nature is dead and the soil has covered their faces, since they had no other choice but to play outside. These children are alive with the little means they have but they definitely need love and affection, a tender embrace, a good word and something to warm their innocent heart. Further comments are superfluous.

† Makarios of Nairobi