• VVOC.org

  • ROCOR mission on Bukasa Island, Uganda

15th October 2012

ROCOR mission on Bukasa Island, Uganda

This is a followup to my last posting in the category of Orthodox Missionaries. I highlighted the FFA (Fund for Assistance) operated by ROCOR since 1959. It led me to reading about the Orthodox Church on Bukasa Island, Uganda.

“I have almost come to the end of the wall. I sometimes can’t afford to buy the church wine. This means I have to miss the Holy Liturgy… I trust in the Lord for everything,” wrote Fr Christopher Walusimbi in an email to the FFA. Fr Christopher is the first African priest ordained in ROCOR.

Bukasa Island overlooks Lake Victoria, and is the second largest of the 84 islands in the Sessee archipelago. It is a remote and dangerous place to get to. Poverty is rampant, and there is no health care or electricity. Most people survive by growing and selling produce.

Here, in the midst of Africa, stands a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church, complete with multi-coloured Russian style cupola, built by Fr Christopher, who is not only a priest, but a representative to the District Educational Committee, a Board member at two other school committees, is considered an elder in the community, and is a popular person to consult within any family crisis.

Despite being over 60 years old, Fr Christopher is very active. He is involved with helping children orphaned by AIDS. For the past 25 years he has run an ambulance service from the island to the mainland. Besides serving every Saturday and Sunday, hearing confessions, and taking care of his parish and other duties, Fr Christopher has to take care of his own large family; he has a wife and ten children. The family survives on their own produce and donations from people who know his difficult situation.

Even though the parish comprising of over 100 parishioners has never yet been able to pay him a salary, Fr Christopher feels responsible for their financial as well as spiritual well-being. He continually looks for ways to help the mission’s financial situation. Because in his thinking, when the mission gains strength, so will the members.

Recently the community started planting orange trees with plans to sell juice and wine in order to sustain the mission. They also raise chickens and make charcoal to take to the mainland for sale.

Despite many difficulties, the parish continues to grow. Sometimes whole families convert, sometimes individuals. All of them need help.

Although there are many needs, Fr Christopher considers education as the most urgent, as it helps people to understand their faith. Contrary to most of the Ugandan population who think that women do not need an education, Fr Christopher believes it is especially important to educate girls. “We need to collectively fight this way of thinking if we are to expect developed society”.

“I feel so blessed that we have God’s people coming for us at all times, I thank everybody for all the love not only to us sinners but to our Holy faith” wrote Fr Christopher.

posted in Orthodox Missionaries | Comments Off on ROCOR mission on Bukasa Island, Uganda

29th September 2012

Orthodox Mission in Haiti

ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) has 7 Orthodox parishes across Haiti. The website for Orthodox Mission in Haiti is: http://www.orthodoxhaiti.org/

The Haiti Orthodox Family Relief (HOFR) program enables Orthodox parishes from around the world to provide direct financial support to Haitian Orthodox families.  

General expenses of the HOFR program are paid by the ROCOR Mission in Haiti and the Fund for Assistance (FFA).  This means the HOFR program delivers 100% of the money raised by Parishes and individuals directly and securely to recipients.  Every dollar of Parish support raised through HOFR translates into a dollar of life-saving food, water, shelter or medical care placed directly into the hands of a Haitian Orthodox family.

You can read the September edition of the Haiti Mission Booklet at the following link: http://haitiorthodoxfamilyrelief.com/docs/HOFRNewsletter.pdf 

FFA (Fund for Assistance) has been operated by ROCOR since 1959, and is or has been operational in Chile, Costa-Rica, Haiti, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Uganda, Ukraine and the USA.

FFA’s activities in Haiti began in 2008 in response to three devastating hurricanes that left hundreds of people dead, most of the harvest destroyed and many cities uninhabitable.

Most recently FFA activities have been focused on responding to the needs of the ROCOR mission in Haiti after the earthquake in January 2010, that devastated the country and threw back the mission to its starting point, destroying cities, homes, the mission’s churches, parishioners’ homes, a school in Port-au-Prince and the priests’ only vehicle that allowed them to visit the faithful all over the country.  

Currently the mission is suffering from

  • lack of food, water and shelter
  • lack of church books, vestments and holy vessels
  • absence of church buildings

This ongoing effort has enabled the Fund for Assistance to raise around $160,000 for Haiti.  They are continuing their efforts in order to enable the mission to survive; the goal is to raise $2000 a month for our Haitian brothers and sisters.

posted in Orthodox Missionaries | Comments Off on Orthodox Mission in Haiti

14th August 2012

Gereja Ortodox Indonesia (GOI, the Orthodox Church of Indonesia)

GOI is pan-jurisdictional, incorporating churches from the Patriarchates of both Constantinople and ROCOR. The Church began with the conversion of Fr. Daniel Byantoro, a young Indonesian man of Muslim background, who had been searching for a deeper certainty of God. While studying in Korea in the early 1980’s, and yearning to find the ancient Christianity of the East, he encountered the Orthodox Church in that country, converted to Holy Orthodoxy, and brought the faith back home to Indonesia. After a long struggle, Fr. Daniel obtained the right to legally practice Orthodox Christianity in Indonesia. There continue to be many difficulties in nurturing the Orthodox community in Indonesia, complicated by internal struggles as well as external resistance. Despite these troubles, over thirty Orthodox Parishes and Mission Churches exist in Indonesia, along with a score of indigenous ordained clergy. The fledgling Orthodox Church is very determined to spread the ancient, timeless Orthodox faith to every part of Indonesia, and to all of its hundreds of millions of souls.

Several groups assist the church in Indonesia:

Friends of Indonesia

Friends of Indonesia exists to raise awareness and support for the Indonesian Orthodox Church. The vision of those who support the Indonesian Orthodox Church is to infuse the local Indonesian culture with Orthodoxy.

Friends of Indonesia hold firmly to the Orthodox missionary imperative that the Church grows in each local culture according to the truths those cultures already hold. They workto bring the Gospel of Christ to the Indonesian people in ways that respects and affirms their cultural distinctiveness, and build a Church that will reflect and strengthen the rich cultural heritage they already possess.

Holy Cross Orthodox Mission, Melbourne, Australia

Holy Cross Mission partners with Gereja Ortodox Indonesia . Holy Cross Mission maintains close contact with a number of Indonesian clergy, some of whom have served at the Mission. They operate the “Support an Indonesian Priest” fund, providing a practical and safe channel for Orthodox Christians in Australia to support their brethren in Indonesia.

In 2010 they became aware that some parishes were struggling to even meet the costs of celebrating the Divine Liturgy regularly, and began a three-year plan of targeted giving, focusing on the liturgical requirements of the parishes, and starting with the clergy most in need. The objective is to contribute $A600 per year to each priest, for three years, for the liturgical needs of his parish or mission.

posted in Orthodox Missionaries | Comments Off on Gereja Ortodox Indonesia (GOI, the Orthodox Church of Indonesia)

22nd July 2012

Paradise Kids 4 Africa

This is a new category on our website, aiming to highlight the work of Orthodox missionaries around the world. I am starting with the work of Paradise Kids 4 Africa, as it was my privilege to see this work in action in Sierra Leone when I was there in 2011 (volunteering as a nurse with the charitable organisation Mercy Ships).

Paradise Kids 4 Africa (PK4A) is the Australian support arm of the work of Reverend Themi (Archimandrite Fr Themistocles Adamopoulos), an Egyptian born Greek raised in Melbourne. Back in the 1960’s he was the founding member of Australian rock band “The Flies”, support band to “The Rolling Stones”. Fast forward and he turns to Christianity and goes back to his cultural and spiritual roots, Orthodoxy.  He chose to become a monk, then a priest and then a missionary. Working among the poorest of the poor became his purpose in life. He went to Africa and worked in Kenya and now in Sierra Leone. The people of Sierra Leone are indeed among the poorest of the poor according to the United Nation’s Human Development Index. The HDI is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living, and quality of life for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. Australia is listed as 2nd, while Sierra Leone is 180 out of 187. This puts Australia in the category of Very High Human Development, and Sierra Leone in the bottom category of Low Human Development.

Eleven years of brutal civil war, often fought with child soldiers, has left Sierra Leone in utter devastation, with an almost total absence of infrastructure despite its incredible wealth in natural mining resources. Although the country has been peaceful for the last seven years, the wounds of war dominate the country’s daily life: there are thousands of orphans, amputees, disabled, homeless and unemployed. Life expectancy is around 41 years for men and 44 for women. Many children have no access to schooling, millions live in inhumane conditions, and health care is unaffordable for the poor and substandard at best. For example Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world (i.e. mothers who die in childbirth).

With support from Paradise Kids 4 Africa, Paradise 4 Kids (the US support arm) and supporters in Greece, Rev Themi is working hard to make a difference.

Since 2008 much has been done:

– in Freetown, the nation’s capital: a Mission headquarters known as the “Paradise Kids House”. Surrounding the Mission Headquarters is a small Chapel and a College of higher education teaching Early Childhood, Computer Studies, Communications, Journalism, Media Studies and Teacher Education; At another location in Freetown, primary and secondary school with approximately 2000 children and an adjacent church; At the Women’s Jail a Tailoring School to help rehabilitate women for their future outside of jail; the sponsorship of a small Hospital called the Good Shepherd Clinic.

–  in Waterloo, a town on the outskirts of the capital:  St Moses the African Orthodox Village with housing for the disabled, a school, a guest house, a church, a priest’s house and a Medical clinic.

The focus in Sierra Leone is education and training. But Rev Themi does not stop here. His long-term vision is for a prosthesis clinic to give a new lease of life to the amputees. “We’ll need a lot of money for this, but with God nothing is impossible” he says.

To find out more about the work of Rev Themi and PK4A, have a look at their website: http://pk4a.com

posted in Orthodox Missionaries | Comments Off on Paradise Kids 4 Africa