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 .

“…if You are real, then not much else matters.”

This last line of a poem written by a non-believing young man over 50 years ago is the leaping off point of the book Tears on the Equator: Muzungu.  Written by Gerasimos Kambites, this book chronicles this Greek-Canadian man through his life and eventual time on Bukasa Island, Lake Victoria, Uganda and the establishment of Annunciation Orthodox Church.

As a muzungu (white man) married to a native Bukasa Island woman named Sarah, whom he met while at Brookline Massachusetts’ Hellenic College, Gerasimos began a journey of “discovering the amazing treasure of Orthodoxy, which had always been at [his] very feet” and serving God as a mission priest and medical doctor on the other side of the world.

Each chapter unfolds a story of frustration, joy, anger, laughter, sorrow, gladness, fear, calm, a struggle of faith and the dawn of renewed faith.  A medical clinic was established, a school built, and stone by stone an Orthodox temple grew, all in the midst of the AIDS crisis, civil war and racial intolerance.

Gerasimos’ brother-in-law, Father Christopher Walusimbi, eventually finished building Annunciation Orthodox Church stone by stone; however, not before caring for the many AIDS orphans for 17 years.  The temple exterior is complete with the familiar flame of the Holy Spirit atop the building. The roof leaks.  The interior is incomplete.

Repairs to the boat that Father Christopher uses for his transportation service are nearly done.  Read about that here .   Life vests need to be purchased for the boat for safety.  Most importantly, to continue the mission work at Annunciation Orthodox Church, several young men are thinking about attending Seminary with an eye towards ordination, God willing.

Help him continue this vital mission work by marking your Orthodox Africa donation “Annunciation O.C.”

You can also purchase a copy of Tears on the Equator: Muzungu through Amazon Smile and choose Orthodox Africa as your supported charity.  Not only will 100% of proceeds go to Annunciation Orthodox Church, Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Orthodox Africa!  A double gift!

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.

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!

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

A dream – a working life

What began as a dream to build a school, clinic, and church on Lake Victoria’s Bukasa Island, has turned into a lifetime of hard work for Father Christopher Walusimbi, the builder of the stone Annunciation Orthodox Church.
“My brother,” he told me, three years ago at my youngest daughter’s wedding, “ you have put me in prison,” he said referring to his commitment to build an Orthodox community on the most pagan island in Lake Victoria.
With prayer, his community grows. Yet despite his serious efforts at being self-sustaining by growing oranges and running a small store, as well as operating a transport service which includes emergency trips across forty miles of fierce water to a hospital on Uganda’s mainland, despite all this, he needs our help. The boat needs repairs and the 40 horsepower outboard motor needs replacing with a new one. “Now I am borrowing someone’s engine, but they are not happy with it.”
Only recently with Father Silouan’s trip to Bukasa Island has Father Christopher obtained a smart phone, so now communication will be a lot easier.
In the thirty years since I started that mission, Father Christopher has done a hundred times more work than I ever did—you can read all about this at my website,”tearsontheequator.com”. If you are so moved by the sample chapters, you may purchase an e-book or paper copy of Tears On the Equator.

Orthodox Africa has committed to helping Annunciation Orthodox Church. In addition to reading about it in the book mentioned above, more information can be found here.

Prayer and financial support will allow him to preach the Gospel and continue his works of mercy across the Lake. Keep Father Christopher and Annunciation Bukasa in your serious heartfelt prayers.
Plan a pilgrimage to Bukasa Island. The Church needs skilled workers such as carpenters, masons, and iconographers. Most of all, such a pilgrimage requires humility so that you, the pilgrim, can acquire all the benefits of the spiritual life. You will learn much more by visiting the house which faith has built.
To donate to Annunciation Orthodox Church, visit our Donate Now! page or click here. Clearly mark your donation “Annunciation O.C.”
~Gerasimos Kambites
The video below will give you a first hand view of this beautifully built church and Fr. Christopher.

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Rainforest

“Quick! Bukasa Island! What comes to mind?”

Rain forest

The sound of blessed silence. Monkeys quietly chittering. Parrots cawing somewhere in a far away tree. The wind as it rustles through the trees. Holy silence. This monastic silence was quite welcome.

It gives one a deep joy to float to the middle of Lake Victoria to see, out of seemingly impenetrable rainforest, a Russian onion dome appear over the top of the trees. In this unforgiving land where there are no modern conveniences, for the last 32 years Orthodox faithful have built a church, one rock at a time. Even at times carrying those rocks on their – several kilometers – one rock at a time. This church has truly been built on the Rock of Christ as evidenced by the slow, painful obedience and faith that these Orthodox people and priest have shown as together they raise a great Light to dispell the dark cloud of animistic paganism.

This joy permeated my heart through my fever ridden time due to malaria. Though difficult, it is good to have the pride of body broken. Thanks be to God for the doctor from another island who confirmed everyone’s suspicions and recommend treatment. Thanks be to God for those who helped care for me during the time of illness. By everyone’s prayers I managed my way through Divine Liturgy on Sunday.

My time with Fr. Christopher and Matushka Maria Walusimbi, and the faithful of Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church comes to an end. It has been a blessed time. Fr. Christopher was in tears when I told him of the support and love from all of the faithful supporters of Orthodox Africa.

Let’s join these faithful people, letting them know they are not alone in their prayer and ministry on Bukasa Island, Lake Victoria, Uganda. Join me and put your hands on the lighthouse that shines a spiritual light to many generations of people who have been born under the demonic cloud of pagan darkness.

Read about Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church here. Donate to Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church here.

~Fr. Silouan