To the Ends of the Earth

Orthodox Christian Missions

Interview: We are Going to Live in Paradise

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zair2The following is an excerpt from an interview with Fr. Theotimos Tsalas, conducted by Road to Emmaus, about the Orthodox Church in the Congo. The interview covers some of the history of Christianity in Africa; the life and death of Fr. Cosmas, a Greek missionary to the Congo; the Orthodox approach to such issues as polygamy and magic; and why Africans are becoming Christians in such high numbers. The entire article can be found here.

RTE : What do you feel is least understood about Africa and African Orthodoxy?

FR. THEOTIMOS : What you ask is what I am planning to write a book about. I have it in mind already. It begins with a person, a Greek who was a true missionary: Fr. Athanasios Anthides, who went to Africa in the sixties to teach. Although he didn’t spend long in Africa, he understood its essence. When he returned to Greece, he met Greek missionaries going to Africa: “Where are you going?” “We are going to convert Africans to Christianity.” He laughed and said, “It’s you who are going to become Christian there, because before you even say a word, the African already catches it. The Africans are already Christian. They live Christianity: love, humbleness, obedience. In a few years all of Africa will be Orthodox. I am going to India, where there are Hindus and Muslims and millions of gods.’ So, he left Africa for India and this is where my book begins. This truth is something that Greeks are not flattered to hear. The other thing I want to say is not about Africa, it is about all of us. Whatever we do should be good for Paradise. As a layman I used to serve people very much and didn’t give much attention to my family. I was always running to help other people and my wife was sorry for this. I told her that by helping others, God would help us. When I was ordained, however, a clairvoyant priest came to see me and said, “Love God more and serve Him more.” But I had always loved God. I had the impression that by serving people, I was serving God, but in the end this wasn’t God’s will. God’s will is for us to serve Him above all. So this is why we should always tell God, “Thy Will be done.” Everyone is now talking about globalization, about world unity. Both those who are for it and those who are against it say things that are right and wrong, but neither of them knows the future. As Christians, we have globalization already through the Blood of Christ. The early Christians sold their property to have a common life. That was true unity, but we will never reach that level internationally because we are egotists. Only Christ Himself can change that fundamental orientation in us. Everything must be built on Him. Sometimes Jehovah’s Witnesses say, “Sell your belongings, and let’s gather together like the first Christians because ‘the rapture’ is coming.” This is one form of globalization but it is false. True unity is brotherhood, but it cannot be established through human effort, because we are all different. Only Christ can bring this about. For us Christians, the rulers and governments of the world are not our business; we know that true life is not here, and that it will only begin with the Lord’s coming. Christians, live prophetically. Christ is coming!

Source: Road to Emmaus, issue 18 (summer 2004)
Picture from www.pravmir.com, in their reprinting of this interview. More pictures can be found there as well.

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Written by Stephen

September 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Posted in Africa, Congo, Interview

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