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Orthodox Christian Missions

Archive for April 2013

Orthodoxy in Guatemala — New Blog and New Missionaries

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IMG_3404As earlier reported, the Orthodox Church in Guatemala is growing, and not just growing but also needing a lot of help to become established. I recently discovered a new blog and website by two of the principle missionaries to Guatemala, Fr. John and Pres. Sandy Chakos. That can be found here and is well-worth checking out. I will re-post one of their blogs below.

Also, OCMC recently announced that Fr. David and Mat. Rozanne Rucker are transitioning into being missionary specialists in Guatemala, starting September. Fr. David was previously the Associate Director for OCMC. The official announcement can be found here.

PORTRAIT OF A CATECHIST: FOOT SOLDIERS OF CHRIST 
Father John Chakos

The newly emergent Guatemalan Orthodox Church under the omophorion of Metropolitan Athenagoras faces many challenges, not the least of which is the low number of canonically ordained priests–eight to be exact–who serve the spiritual needs of its nearly 300 communities.

They travel over great distances into remote mountainous areas, often along dangerous and at times impassible muddy roads, going from village to village in an attempt to reach people that the world has seemingly forgotten. Because of this glaring shortage, one of the top priorities of Father Andres Giron, Vicar of the Guatemalan Orthodox Church, is the recruitment and training of qualified candidates for the holy priesthood. In the meantime, and certainly well into the future, the pressing spiritual needs of such a vibrant, dynamic and growing church movement require an empowered laity, not only willing to fill the pastoral void, but to promote the church’s greater mission to expand its outreach. Among those who stand in the forefront of this great challenge are the church’s catechists. It is about these men and women of faith that I wish to speak.

Who are the catechists and what role do they play? They are most certainly teachers as the name implies, but also the respected leaders of the church communities. They possess a moral authority that goes well beyond the mere teaching of the faith. They are the voice of Christ to the people and organizers of the spiritual, educational and worship life of the community. They are indeed the backbone of the Orthodox Church in Guatemala and in every sense the foot soldiers of Christ. Without them the church would not have been able to advance as it has over the past twenty-five years.

I have gained a greater appreciation of their unique role in the church by attending the bi-monthly seminars that are held at the Centro Apostólico in Huehuetenango. They often travel from great distances at great expense to themselves to attend the two day seminars. They carry their own bedding and even children with them and sleep on the cement floor of the large lecture hall where the classes are held. They love and live by the Holy Scriptures and speak of Christ and the Church with great conviction. Likewise they lead late night vigils of prayer in their villages and call upon the faithful to fast for specific intentions. In short, they fulfill the calling of the royal priesthood of the believers through prophetic teaching and preaching, self-donating service and virtuous leadership. I greatly admire their commitment and am inspired by their faith. It is amazing what an empowered laity can do to set the church on fire. If Orthodoxy is to grow in Latin America it will need catechists like these to lead the way.

Written by Stephen

April 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

A Miracle of the Holy Cross in Fiji

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fitziBy Metropolitan Amphilochios of New Zealand

One day, on the second biggest Fiji island, Vanua Levu, the person in charge of the Mission for the island , Father Barnaby, along with the hieromonk Savvas visited the hospital at the city of Labasa in order to comfort a patient. As they were talking with the patient, they heard unnatural loud screams coming from the other side of the corridor, and being alarmed by those grisly screams, they moved towards there in order to help.

In an adjoining room there was a girl lying in bed, who was blocking her ears with her hands, was twisting her head left and right and was screaming in a hair-raising way. The nurses were just standing aside, unable to understand what had happened and too scared to do anything.

Father Savvas approached a nurse and told her: “We are from the Greek Orthodox Church. Could we just make the sign of the cross over her?” Then he takes out the cross which had the True Cross inside and started making the sign of the cross on her face. The more he did so, the more she screamed. In the end, the priest put the cross into her mouth and immediately she calmed down. It was obvious she was possessed, and with the power of the True Cross the evil spirit finally left.

This incident reminds us of the words of the hymn of Octoechos “Great is the power of your Cross, o Lord”. Christ came to the world and was crucified for the salvation of all people. That is why the power of the Holy Cross is not only restricted to Christians, but also to any person under the power of Satan.

The cure of this Fijian girl through the touch of the True Cross as well as the faith of the fathers who thought of making the sign of the cross over her, was the best sermon for herself, her own family and everyone else who witnessed this miracle.

When Christ said to his Disciples that he would be with them all along their proclaiming His Gospel, this is exactly what he meant: His living presence witnessed by the signs and wonders that would follow.

Therefore, the Missionary work is done by Christ Himself, who uses as means ordinary people, like the Fijian father Barnaby and the simple monk Savvas. Mission is not a matter of wordly wisdom but a matter of faith “acting through love”.

Source: Orthodox Missionary Fraternity

Hat Tip: Mystagogy

Written by Stephen

April 15, 2013 at 9:36 am

Posted in Fiji, Miracles