To the Ends of the Earth

Orthodox Christian Missions

Archive for June 2010

Hiatus

with 2 comments

Dear Readers,

I am afraid I will be taking an indefinite break from blogging. I will be doing a fair bit of traveling over the summer, and have decided that I won’t have the time, energy, or internet access to try to keep up.

There is a good chance that I will begin blogging again in the fall, but even that depends on a few factors. If you have any opinions one way or the other, please do let me know, as well as improvements you think could be made, or topics you would like to see covered. It is nice to get feedback.

For myself, these last few months have been a good learning experience, both in terms of Orthodoxy around the world, but also in terms of blogging. I am thankful for this experience, and I hope it has been of some use to you as well.

Yours in Christ,

Stephen

Written by Stephen

June 11, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Personal

Fr. Themi Updates

with 2 comments

If you would like to receive updates about Fr. Themi via e-mail, you can contact PK4A and ask to be put on the mailing list. That would be the quickest way to receive news, and is how I have received these updates.

PK4A Board Report from Fr. Themi

Hi Louis
Greetings in Christ!

As you know I have been very busy since my return from Australia and I did not have time to send some news from Sierra Leone. However it is timer now that I do so, please present this report to the board of Paradise Kids and our supporters.

First I thank God in Jesus Christ for all the wonderful work he is performing for our Mission in Sierra Leone. Furthermore it is also necessary to thank all the people in Australia who assisted in our various fund raisers – especially the various PK4A committees throughout Australia in addition to all the volunteers and helpers and finally to all involved in Paradise Kids Australia on the gold coast.

To all of them I extend a warm and appreciative “thank you”! Without this help we cannot maintain this mission.
Our mission here has various aspects to it. However I will begin with the impact of PK4A on our Mission in Sierra Leone. I will then explain what some of our other projects involve and their sponsors.

Paradise Kids 4 Africa

While several societies and organizations are assisting our work in SL and while they may be donated more funds than PK4A, nevertheless PK4A is unique in the value which it provides to the Mission in the following way – it is the only organization that provides for the day to day running of the mission – salaries, petrol / diesel, electricity bills, car repair bills, spreading the gospel and following the example as written in the book of St Mathew 25.

These are the engine room needs of any Mission in Africa. Without this assistance we would not be able to sustain it and in fact we would not be here
.
Most of our sponsors provide generously – but for specific projects (school buildings, churches, clinics, etc.). Their funds go straight into these building projects.

The mission must therefore rely totally on PK4A to sustain it operations on a day to day level.
For example a major concern the Mission has among its workers is to make sure that each worker gets an adequate salary which is comparable or better to those offered in the same skills area in the rest of the work force in SL.

A few examples will suffice:

The Mission Manager
The former Deputy Mayor of Freetown Mr. Bobson Kamara (now a baptised Orthodox Christian – Maximos Bobson Kamara) gets a monthly slary of Leones 1,000,000 (approx. $ AUD 330). In SL this is considered a very good salary (more than teachers, principals and university lecturers).In addition generous holiday and time off packages are available. For instance Mr. Kamara just recently returned from Beijing on a two week tour with a SL cultural group. We of course continued to pay his salary. In the near past Mr. Kamara was in urgent need of financial assistance due to housing issues the Mission immediately obliged by offering a non – interest loan which assisted him to find suitable accommodation.

The Education Officer
The former Director of Secondary Education in SL is our Missions Education Secretary and heads the Orthodox Education Secretariat of SL. He is the person responsible overall for the education institutions and projects run by the Mission. His salary is also Leones 1,000,000 (approx; $AUD 330). With generous holiday / time off provisions.

The Priests
We have two priests besides myself. The more experienced and more qualified of these two priests is Rev. Silouanos Nkounkou. He is a graduate from the Nairobi Seminary and hails from Congo Brazzaville. In comparison to all other Orthodox priests who have graduated from the Nairobi Seminary of his ecclesiastical rank serving in Africa he is the most highly paid Orthodox priest in Africa. He receives from PK4A Leones 840,000 (approx; $AUD 250) per month for his stipend which also includes food and transport allowances, in addition all electricity bills and rent is paid by PK4A (Leones 550,00 per month) in addition to a monthly stipend of Euro 90 (approx; $AUD 130 by the Church of Greece) which he receives in toto about twice a year). That means Fr. Silouanos is receiving in payment and in kind around Leones 1,400,000 per month. This is nearly the equivalent ot a Vice Chancellor in SL (Ca. $ AUD 400 per month). In addition we supply Rev. Silouanos with a car for his own and missionary usage (a Subaru Forrester) and air tickets (in 2008 we organized for him to visit his parents and wife in the Congo which he met in Nairobi rather than the Congo. We will also seek to provide him with a return ticket to the Congo (ca. $ US 3500) in June this year.

School Teachers Stipend
Some nine out of sixty teachers in our schools are currently not receiving any payments from the government (our school is government assisted) even though they are qualified and work hard. Therefore we offer these teachers a stipend until this oversight is taken care of.

PK4A also pays the salaries of nearly thirty people all employed by our Mission.
We try as much as possible to provide them with good working conditions and provisions (e.g.this at times includes the payment of medical services).

We endeavor to promote western working conditions (not 3rd world conditions)
Furthermore PK4A is also involved in providing funds for charity purposes in feeding the poor, in helping as many disadvantage and disabled as humanly possible as well as funding the construction of our Mission Residence Center (Paradise Kids House). The latter serves to house our missionaries and overseas guests and eliminates the costs of rent.

In summary the Orthodox Missionary Division of Sierra Leone is most grateful to the work of PK4A and the various volunteer hard working committee members in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

The Mission could not survive at the scale in which it is presently operating without its assistance. May God bless them.
I now wish to explain the types of activities which our Mission is involved with here:

1. The Spiritual / Evangelical Dimension

Our primary aim in coming into Sierra Leone is in fulfillment of the Lord Jesus Christ’s final commandment to His Disciples “Go forth to the whole world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them …” So far our outreach has been located mainly in the greater Freetown area though we hope to spreads into the other cities and rural areas once we have consolidated ourselves in the capital city. Over the last year we have have baptised over three hundred people and our total number is reaching 500 . Services are held daily in our main Freetown chapel of St. Eleftherios and the word of God is preached daily. At the same time bible study and prayer meetings are also held regularly in our Waterloo chapel for our disabled community by Fr, Stephasnos while on Sundays either myself or Fr. Silouanos celebrate the vesper service.
At this stage all our worship centers are temporary buildings while we wait for the completion of our three permanent churches
(i) St Eleftherios & St. George our Cathedral. This is nearly completed but it may still be till the end of July before we can start services there.This church is being built by the generosity of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessalonica.
(ii) Sts. Constantine and Helen: this will serve both as our college chapel as well as a parish church. It is located at our spectacular Tower Hill (Freetown) CBD compound (which also houses our Mission Centre / PK House and our University College). It is a large church and should comfortably hold some 250 people. I hope it can be completed by the end of this year. This church is being built through the sponsorship pf the Missionary Alliance “St. Cosmas the Aetolian”in Thessalonica.
(iii) The Church of the Resurrection of Christ and St. Moses the African: We are building a large church on our Waterloo compound. In fact it will accommodate more people than our Cathedral. This church is being built again through the generosity of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessalonica.
Once these churches are completed we will be able to perform our pastoral, liturgical and evangelical functions within a more appealing environment.

2. Philanthropic Dimension

Again in obedience to the words of Christ our mission has created several philanthropic projects and which are presently under way:

(i) St Moses Disabled Village Project – We acquired some 4 – 5 acres of land last year in Waterloo (at the edge of Freetown) where we have built six separate buildings to house the disabled (polio and amputee victims). This particular group of disabled were squatting in an abandoned and dilapidated house in Freetown.
Because they were about to be evicted, the Ministry of Welfare suggested that we come to their assistance. We did and we moved them out to green Waterloo. At first we rented houses and then finally in our compound. We house about 160 disabled and their children (about forty kids). We have established a kindergarten and primary school on this compound which serves the educational needs of the children of the disabled as well as the children of the broader Waterloo community (We are thankful to Light of the World Australia Foundation for the payment of the teachers).In order to provide the disabled with some stipends we have assisted them financially to begin their own income generating projects. By providing the initial capital they can then begin their own type of entrepreneurship e,g, tailoring, radio repairs, shoe repairs etc.). This scheme is already in action. In other words we are trying to wean them off the dependency syndrome into the world of financial autonomy or self reliance.

(ii) Prison School Ministry: Our Mission has established a tailoring school in the national prison which aims at providing women prisoners with dressmaking skills Once they leave the prison they may then start their own dressmaking shop (we provide the released female prisoners with a sewing machine) or seek employment in the private tailoring sector (a former prisoner is not eligible to work within the government sector).

(iii) Free education: our two primary schools provide free education to all its pupils. Furthermore affordable training will be provided by our University College once it starts operating in February 2011. At first we will train teachers in the area of early childhood education both at a certificate and diploma level. We then hope to expand to a degree level teacher training programme as well as initiating other disciplines such as Social Work, Nursing Science and Optometry.

3. Free Health care:

We are on the verge of completing our first medical clinic which is located in Waterloo on the St. Moses Orthodox Village compound. It will provide free medical services to our disabled brothers and sisters as well as the broader Waterloo region – which suffers from the absence of proper medical facilities. This means we will need assistance from Australia in terms of medical supplies.

Prosthesis Clinic: Furthermore we have received the green light from Greece to embark on what is probably our most important and humanitarian medical project – a clinic which will provide artificial legs (prosthesis) to the civil war amputees of Sierra Leone and the neighboring West African nations (Liberia, Guinea, Cote D ‘Ivoire etc.). This will be located in central Freetown and will provide one leg per day.

4. PK4A Mission House

The Paradise Kids House has been under construction for over 18 months, we began the building only months after we arrived and hoped to occupy the building after six months.

But after many trials and tribulations, two rooms will be occupied shortly.

For myself, it has always been an easy decision as to where funds should be spent first. Faith, Food and Education have always come first, and for this reason the mission house has suffered in progress.
Even now, we have put the third floor of the house on hold so that any spare funds may be put towards the Teachers College. Due to the financial problems in Greece, further funding for the college will cease or at least be severely reduced. So this week we have installed a temporary roof on the second floor roof to stop the rains from destroying the second floor.

With Gods help, I will shortly move into a unit on the second floor and Fr Silouanos will move into a 1st floor unit. This alone will save the mission precious funds that we have been spending on rent, (all the goods stored in my old unit have already been moved to the Mission House storage room). Once there the mission should also save in other areas such as transport, petrol and other cost incurred when living in rented premises.

All these savings and left over funds will be diverted to help complete the college.

Over all if we bare in mind that we have only been effectively operating in SL since February 2008; Consequently the rate of our growth and its speed is directly due to the blessings of Almighty God. Of course God uses organizations such as PK4A and it’s people to make His will possible in poor and destroyed nations like Sierra Leone.

Rev Themistocles Adamopoulo
Orthodox Mission to Sierra Leone

Death Threats Against Fr. Themi’s Life

Hi to all our Friends & Supporters

The subject “Death threats against Rev Themi’s Life” is no exaggeration.

Over the past few months at our Waterloo “Mission for the Disabled”, in Sierra Leone, hostility and problems have been brewing.

Even when Rev T was in Australia, simmering dissent was encouraged amongst the disabled.

The short story is, after building accommodation and helping hundreds of disabled, some of the persons demanded the properties reassigned into their names and for them to take control of the mission and its finances. (these persons were once rebel Leaders & Warlords during the War).
They were rallying and stirring the disabled population and causing mischief, even appealing to the local and international media.

Over the past few weeks, the committee members and I have advised Rev T to abandon the
Waterloo Mission and leave it in the hands of the authorities.

But, the link below is a phone conversation (midnight his time) with Rev Themi where he describes that a miracle has happened.

This recording gives a rare insight of what type of man Rev T is; how he can laugh at all adversity, trust God with his life, walk by faith and it also gives us a glimpse of his great compassion for the poor and what he goes through in the natural course of his life as a missionary.

Listen online at pk4asl.VOX.com

After you listen to this, please consider joining our Ezi Donate monthly subscription;

AUSTRALIA online donation page

REST Of THE WORLD online donation page

it might sound weird to us, helping people who threaten to kill our friend, but that’s what Rev Themi wants and thats what sets him apart.

Written by Stephen

June 7, 2010 at 2:31 am

Posted in Africa, Sierra Leone