2017 – The Year in Review

 

The previous year was indeed a year of miracles, advances and pain – in fact this last year has been so full of blessings that one cannot even begin to articulate all that God has done for this mission through the hands of faithful donors such as yourself. Nevertheless, please accept this small review of the work that you have helped us perform. And, as always, please remember us in your prayers.

  • In February 2017, between the donors of Saint Irene’s Mission and Orthodox Africa, we were finally able to purchase a van for Saint Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center. It now enables Father Constantinos to provide safe transportation for the kids between church, school and other appointments.
  • In late April Father Silouan was blessed to speak to the faithful of Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church in Cumming, Georgia about the Mission of Orthodox Africa.
  • In May Father Silouan went on a whirlwind fundraising tour that saw him running up and down the East Coast of the United States presenting the work of Orthodox Africa in many parishes. The East Coast summer fundraising tour capped out with a joint presentation with His Grace Bishop Athanasius of Kisumu and Western Kenya at Saint John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington DC.
  • In June our Executive Director Father Silouan once again joined our brothers and sisters in Kenya and Uganda. While the many events that took place are too numerous to mention here, some of the highlights included the baptism of over 20 new Orthodox warriors and the presentation of Holy Relics to our missions including the relics of Saint Catherine of Sinai.
  • We were also able to raise enough money to pour concrete floors for the children of Saint Innocents Academy, thereby allowing them to concentrate on their studies without having to worry about jiggers and other earthbound insects biting and burrowing into their feet.
  • At the end of June Orthodox Africa had the pleasure of finally welcoming Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church on Bukasa Island, Uganda to our mission. Father Silouan spent ten (10) days with Father Christopher, his wife Matushka Maria, children and the faithful of this Parish community discussing with them the purpose of Orthodox Africa and setting up plans for how we can help them become self-sustaining.
  • In July Orthodox Africa was able to fund the purchase of one (1) acre of land for Saint Innocents Academy so that they can cultivate black tea. This purchase brings this mission much closer to becoming self-sustaining.
  • Father Silouan also did several presentations about the work of Orthodox Africa in Ukraine and Russia before finally returning to the United States in late August.
  • Finally, in December we were able to help fund a down payment on a very beautiful, new property for Saint Barnabas. This also brings them much closer to accomplishing the dream of self-sustainability.

In closing, I would like to present to you a very poignant article that Board Member, Andrea Hollander, wrote about the orphans, that together, we are helping. This article is very much worth reading again and meditating on how, together, we can better serve our brothers and sisters in Africa.

Together in Christ

It’s so cold! You hurry into your home, a plywood, barn-like structure, and sigh with gratitude that the wind is at least cut off even if you still have to wear your hat and coat. At least it is better than sleeping in the cold, garbage‑strewn streets of Kibera slums outside where some of the others have to find what shelter they can, wherever they can so that they do not freeze to death overnight. You might ruefully smile to yourself if you knew that many people do not know that Kenya gets so cold during the winter. Rumbling. Just your stomach.

You are a growing 9‑year‑old boy. There is no money for more food. They feed you what they can. They have so many kids to take care of, but you are glad you have more than you used to, at least. And good friends too. They live with you in the plywood room, sleeping in metal‑framed bunk beds. At least you are together.

“Together” is a word we do not take for granted in the Orthodox Church. In our theology, we recognize the concept of the old Russian saying that we are “Saved together, but damned alone.” Even the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—exist in community undivided! This is an icon and pattern of our own existence. We were never created to be alone, cut off from the community of others – none of us. Taking this concept in hand, Orthodox Africa has partnered with several nascent Orthodox missions near and in Nairobi, Kenya, to assist them in spreading the Gospel of Christ. As we are meant to be the hands and feet of Christ on Earth, we take this responsibility of “together” very seriously. Recently, our own Father Silouan (Brown), a monk in the ROCOR, left for the unknown and followed God’s command to spend a month in Kenya seeing how our Kenyan Orthodox brothers and sisters in these missions live day to day, what their greatest needs are, and how we at Orthodox Africa can be of the greatest service in helping them become self-sustaining groups. One of the greatest delights Father Silouan had not long after his arrival was attending the baptism of eleven people into the Orthodox Church! He was asked to be the godfather of six of the children, including Panteli, the infant son of one of the Kenyan priests!

They are singing a song as you walk around the baptismal font. You like to sing in church about Jesus. This is a song you did not know before: “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ! Alleluia!” You were told that this song is from the Bible: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29, Berean Study Bible).

No matter how far or near we are in distance physically, spiritually, we are all one in Christ. And we are all humans together. There are myriad opportunities to be a part of the community in our parishes, neighborhoods, and families. This is an opportunity to extend the concept of community to those who are geographically removed in utterly destitute circumstances. This can be through prayer,  or financial contributions when team missions are ready (more about that in the near future), sharing the information on your social media and telling your friends, family, and parishes about the work Orthodox Africa is doing in support of these missions. Please remember, we are all in it together!

With love and gratitude in Christ’s service,  The Team at Orthodox Africa +

In Christ,  Father Silouan (Brown) – Executive Director

Land!

Every child in the world has a dream, a secret wish – to have something special, maybe a pony or a race car. Perhaps a child dreams of going to see the ocean or the desert. Many children dream of having a permanent home where food is readily available on a daily basis, where they are dry and warm, where there is someone to kiss them goodnight as they tuck them into bed. Even adults have dreams – to be successful, to be free of pain or hurt, to have no debt or to give their child their secret wish. This week a dream came true for Father Methodios, the Director of Saint Barnabas Orphanage and Education Center.

He has long dreamed of a permanent home for the orphans of Saint Barnabas. A piece of property large enough to house the orphans, one with water and electricity, enough land so the children have room to run and play, a place to build more dormitories and classrooms to house and teach more children.

This week that dream came true. Because of the generosity of Orthodox Africa donors, Father Methodios put a down payment on one (1) acre of land with one-half acre also available immediately. It has everything he dreamed of; buildings that are included in the purchase (but are temporary). The condition is not bad in comparison with the current living conditions. Minor repairs are required. A major drainage trench needs to be dug. A borehole (well)

for water (cost: $20,000) will need to be drilled before moving the children to the property.

Please continue to donate to Orthodox Africa in support of Saint Barnabas Orphanage and School. Click here.   Let us help them to meet their monthly lease-to-purchase payment and get that water borehole done!

Holy Ground of Orthodox Africa

How difficult is it to be a missionary? Can you imagine how hard it is for one man, Father Christopher Walusimbi, to have labored for 34 years to build his Temple to the Annunciation? Alone, cold, hot, tired, hungry—often what we would consider a strict fast is what Orthodox Christians in Africa ordinarily would call a full meal.

How hard is it for a 70 year old priest to walk up a 300 foot hill with a 40 horsepower engine on his shoulder?

“I am tired,” he told me. “I am so grateful for your prayers.”

He is having major leaking problems with the dome of the Church and on it goes. “We need a lot to repair the Cupola!”

Recently, through the generosity of Orthodox Africa, Father Christopher received a new 40 horsepower engine. Because one of the passengers was transporting a smaller than regulation size fish, the soldiers took his engine for which he had to pay a substantial bribe and then stole his propellers. Father slept on the ground!!!

It might be hard for us to understand, but two props are worth about $200.00 which is double a yearly income for an impoverished fisherman.

Are you a builder? Could you turn a 20-foot steel container into a guest house?  Are you wealthy? Could you buy and ship a small portable house from China to Bukasa Island? This would allow Father’s parish to be pretty much self-sustaining.

At the very minimum, we can all pray; but surely being just weeks away from Holy Nativity, we might think of that Godly Priest sleeping on the ground, the Holy Ground of Orthodox Africa.

To support Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church in Uganda, Africa you can find donation information here .

Encouragement, Engagement, Outcome: St. John Maximovitch Secondary School

One of the long term goals of Orthodox Africa is to foster engagement in our missions, their children, families and staff so they are inspired and encouraged to get involved in the building up Our most Holy Orthodox Faith and develop a hope for a future beyond even Our own lifetimes.

To the end the priests of the Nairboi Board of Directors are not solely interested in seeing individual missions developed, but to build mission programs that will have a larger impact on the Diocese and the country. The goal for Orthodox Africa is to instruct the missions to become self-sustaining. How do we see this unfolding? By establishing the St. John Maximovitch Secondary School so they will begin to establish their self-sufficiency.

In his June 2, 2015 article Education in Kenya Nick Clark, Editor, of World Education News & Reviews said,

In 2008, the government of Kenya instituted a free secondary education for all programs. Between 2003 and 2012, the secondary gross enrollment ratio increased from 43 percent to 67 percent, as graduates from the new free primary program moved their way through the system.

Nonetheless, much progress in educational quality and access remains to be made in Kenya. In 2010, one million children were still out of school, and while this was almost half the number in 1999, it is still the ninth highest of any country in the world.

Orthodox primary schools for children from age 3 to 11 establishes a good foundation of learning for a child. The child learns to read, write and do arithmetic; as well as, learns self-discipline, how to work hard towards a goal and to manage their time. They are also given the opportunity to learn about the Orthodox Christian Faith, again, establishing a foundation on which they can stand as they encounter what the winds of life bring them. St. Barnabas Orphanage and Education Center and St. Irene Mission Center provides this foundational education.

As adolescents, children will encounter messages that are opposite of the Orthodox Faith, messages that seek to draw them away from the One True Church. Building up their most Holy Faith is very important. The nurturing of the St. John Maximovitch Secondary School will continue to solidify the foundation on which they stand and will give them a firm footing to resist that which will try to pull them away. This secondary school will give the children ages 12 to 18 from St. Barnabas, St. Irene and other children, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox from all over the Diocese and Kenya, more educational knowledge to further encourage them in life.

We can give to many worthy things in life.  As we endeavor to build up Orthodox Africa by establishing the St. John Maximovitch Secondary School in Kenya, we ask you to consider this worthy project with your support.  Please donate to Orthodox Africa by clicking here and mark your donation “St. John Maximovitch Secondary School.”

St. Irene Orthodox Mission Centre – Kenya “helps families to stand on their own.”

Listen to the video and learn of the plight of this family.  Learn also of their courage and faith and how they have turned to the Orthodox Church for help. Nine year old John goes to school at St Irene’s and hopes to be a Priest one day. He and his older brother Kariuki, are suffering and have difficulty standing because of their disability. Kariuki is 20 years and cannot stand at all on his own. John has trouble walking and gets discouraged. Having barely enough to eat, the weakness in their bodies is made manifest in their legs.

Recently Father Constantinos went to visit this disadvantaged family who was abandoned by their own father after he lost hope in being able to care for his family. This past year has been one of the worst droughts in the history of Kenya. This rather large family, with six children, has a hopeful Mother who goes out to gather firewood every day for other families to provide food for her own family. She hopes for Kariuki to be able to help also by learning some craft, while he sits hoping to overcome this helplessness and despair.

Several of the children, John, George and Kamau, all attend St. Irene’s School and know their help is in the LORD Jesus Christ. John, although very restless, has an infectious smile and loves to help make other people happy. His restlessness seems to come from his not being able to do what he needs to do. There are two other younger children who are too young for school now. St Irene’s Orthodox Mission School serves 110 children with meals and educational instruction, and learning about the original faith of the Apostles.

Fr. Constantinos and his team, who have the blessing of Orthodox Archbishop Makarios, will be visiting the family by the end of this month to offer food, clothing, blankets, shoes, basins, some good beds, a better wheel chair and medical care. Please walk with Fr. Constantinos on this journey of philanthropy by helping him to help these young children and know they are only one of about 25 other families that suffer similar difficulties. Our hope and prayer with Orthodox Africa is that at least 25 families will help another family from Kenya with a gift of any amount. It requires more than $250 a month to provide help for a family like this but with $7,500 we could help most all of the 25 families who are suffering as well.

Matthew 25:40 says: The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Please GIVE to St. Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center here.

If you cannot donate online and need a tax-deductible receipt from our 501(c)3  you can send a check to:

Orthodox Africa
5874 Orchard Hill Court.
Clifton, VA 20124 USA

On Helping a Mission

People ask, “how can we help Father Christopher on Bukasa Island?” The easy answer is to send money so that the great work he started can be completed. But that is not the only way. Do you have skills in building? Carpentry? Icon painting? Anything which can be used to finish the external work of the Annunciation Orthodox Church. Can you volunteer? Set aside a few weeks and after having made contact with Father Christopher, go and visit him. When you stand there in front of the temple he has been building since 1984, your heart will soften, tears will come to you, and you will pray so deeply.


Hold a fundraiser, show photographs from Orthodox Africa and TearsontheEquator.com. Look at your own luxury and pray that Father and his Holy flock have the basics of life. Everything is needed—especially prayer. Ask yourself what can I sacrifice for my brothers in Africa?
“Father, I don’t know how to build walls,” then Christopher told me in 1984. I answered, “but God knows and He will show you.” In obedience and Faith he began to build walls, and arches, and make blocks out of termite poo—yes termite poo. You can learn more about how you can step out in faith just as Father Christopher did many years ago and yourself become an integral part of the Orthodox Mission in Uganda.

A Letter From A Student At Saint Innocents Academy 08/05/2017

This month, Orthodox Africa is proud to present a look at Saint Innocent’s Academy written by one of the primary school students that directly benefits from your continual support. Now with very little grammatical editing we present to you….. Note: All Edits will appear in (brackets)

A Letter From A Student:

St Innocents Chajo Academy 08/05/2017

I love st innocent so much. Because our teachers teach us very good. Then we do their work that teachers gives us and we do in hardworking and we are very displeen (disciplined)

In st innocent the environment is very clean and there is a small field that pupils go to play there games. The school chajo was start in 2011. In 2011 the school was very far because you cross a small stream. We learn that school up to 2012 we came to house of our director: That house was two rooms only. The old director build one room only then the school has three classes it was baby, middle and pre-unit.

After one year our director built standard one then pupils work very hard. Then in end of term one we do zonal (finals). Then our results came we were number four out of twenty-six schools. Then after one year director built standard two then a visitor from America came to our school he bring us pictures of Jesus. I thank Father Johna (Jonah) because he brought has frome small school to big school of hardworking pupils and improve as frome one room to many rooms that is more than five rooms. I thank my teacher who is called Miss Nelly. She is a good teacher. Because she teaches me from top class to standard four. I love that teacher very  much. We shall never forget her. Another teacher teache as from standard two up to now. He is a games teacher because he teach as then we go up to Serem. Our pupils run from Chepkuny to Serem. They fail in Serem. We love our school because (our) teachers teach us very good and in our classes everybody sit very comfortable and every class have blackboard and desks.

In teaching teachers teach pupils very hardwork and when it is zonals (finals) we are number four and lazy pupils in school teaches us to pull up our socks. I thank our teachers because they call our neighbor to cook some food at school. I want to say one idea it about breakfast. My school wants breakfast in ten oclock we want to drink tea and bread everyday. I want to tell father silvanoes (Father Silouan) to give us some money to buy milk, sugar and bread.

You can help us make this child’s wish come true, with your help we can buy some milk sugar and bread so that the kids do not have to go hungry during their school day. By going to this page www.orthodoxafrica.org /st-innocent-academy/ you will learn more about Saint Innocents Academy and will be able to make a donation that will got directly to nurturing these children both physically and spiritually.

Robinson Cheruiyot , is a 10 year old Orphan and is exceedingly bright in academics.

4 Chains, 12 Bells – What Is It?

Father Constantinos and Presbytera Triza are working towards St. Irene Orthodox Mission Center being self-reliant and self-sustaining; all with the purpose of following Jesus’ command in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, where He said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these. When He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there.  Orphaned and poor children are vulnerable to the evils in the world.  The first step of introducing these children to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is to feed and clothe them, provide them with clean drinking water and warmth, not just of body but of soul.

 

Education is one of the most important ways to raise a person out of poverty and hunger.  St. Irene Mission Center provides a well-rounded education to these vulnerable children infected and affected by HIV/AIDs who are under their care.  Raising them to be strong in the Lord gives the children the tools to be strong in their lives, no matter what happens to them.  In the following video, Fr. Constantinos teaches the children about the censer; its purpose and its symbolism.  Do you know what the four chains symbolize?  Listen and learn with the students.

Being strong in body is just as important as being strong in mind and heart.  In the following video, the children learn song and dance.  Join them in their physical education!

His Eminence, Archbishop Makarios, Metropolitan of Kenya, visited the orphanage and education center.  The joy and love of Christ he brings with him blesses us all.  In his message he spoke about the lack of rain and the food shortage in the area being a great concern of the Director, Father Constantinos.  Further, he commended the good work being done in educating the children not only with regular classes but, more so, with the spiritual teachings and food given by the Grace of God.  His Eminence made a special request to all supporters to please share in the work by speaking with friends and neighbors and continuing with their regular donations.

His Eminence took time to speak to all of the children about God and His Love for them.

Consider being a partner with Father Constantinos and Presbytera Triza, helping them achieve the goals of St. Irene Mission Center by being a regular monthly donor?  Donate Now!

To subscribe to Orthodox Africa’s monthly newsletter, go here!

 

Back in the Boat on Bukasa Island

Fr. Christopher Walusimbi, Rector of Annunciation Orthodox Church operates a boating transportation service from Bukasa Island, Lake Victoria to the mainland city of Kampala.  This service is a main source of income and provides some economic stability for his family and mission.  For the last several months, the boat engine has been inoperable.  Repairing it was impossible.

We are very happy to share the joyous news that Fr. Christopher was able to purchase a new engine for the boat.  Along with new wood to do additional repairs, he anticipates having a water-worthy vessel shortly.

Because of your generous support, he was able to buy the engine and wood.

Please continue your generous support of Annunciation Orthodox Church, Orthodox Africa and all our missions.  Donate Now!

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