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 .

“Enlarging the Land” Benefits All*

The benefits of owning land far outweigh the benefits of not.  Currently, St. Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center pays rent for the small portion of land they use.  The structures in which the children learn and live are constructed for temporary usage.  Water must be brought in.

It would allow the Mission Center to put a solid roof on each building rather than the current tin.  When it rains, the sound of it hitting the tin is quite loud.  That kind of atmosphere is not conducive to a good learning environment and is quite distracting.  Teachers must raise their voices to be heard, if they can be heard at all.  Children cannot think clearly for the pounding above their heads.  As Fr. Silouan said, “A solid roof would immensely improve the learning environment.”

Dormitories can be built for the children to live in and a residential area for guests are included in the plans.  A well can be dug to provide water!

Most importantly, it will bring about the sense of permanency, something these children do not have in their lives now.  With joint ownership between the Archdiocese and Orthodox Africa, the parish would remain intact should the priest be transferred to serve another parish.  This ensures the children a permanent home and education center until adulthood.

Donate to this worthy cause and may God multiply your gift.  Mark your donation “St. Irene Enlarging the Land.”

*This article first appeared on Orthodox Africa June 4, 2017

The Sun and the Rain

The Book of Proverbs chapter 22 says, “Rich and poor have this in common: the Lord is the Maker of them all.” The sun shines and rain pours equally on our heads. We breathe the same air. These blessings are freely given to us by god and we share them without really giving much thought to it. However, do we do the same with the things that we do not equally share, such as food, money, clothing, housing and other tangible things?

St. John Chrysostom says, “…if money were common and available to all, there would be no opportunity for generosity on the part of the rich and gratitude on the part of the poor.” One could suggest his thought is based solidly on St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians where he wrote, “Generosity inspires gratitude, and gratitude inspires generosity. God is generous to us and our generosity, as St. Paul tells us, gives proof of our gratitude towards God” (9:11).

Generosity is defined as “liberality in giving or willingness to give.” God created us in His Image, a very generous gift to each person. How have we expressed our gratitude? Have we given of ourselves and of the blessings He has bestowed on us?

Remember Saint Barnabas Orphanage and Education Center. Donate towards their long term goals here, or to their immediate needs on their website. Be generous and teach the virtue of gratitude to another.

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

Joseph

We at Orthodox Africa wanted to take an inside look of the life of one orphan at St Barnabas Orphanage & School. We can only imagine the life of little Joseph before, who is now 6 years old. This young Kenyan native boy is part of a group of children who were either left on the streets or abandoned in one way or another. Families just couldn’t afford to keep them anymore.

Food is over twice as expensive now since one of the worst droughts hit Africa.  There are days where there isn’t enough food because of the high prices of food from the severe drought. Now Joseph has concerned people to watch over him and keep him safe. To also provide for him and show him there are people who love him and care for him. One of the things children need most in these situations is structure with both compassion and love.

Little Joseph’s day includes waking up at 5:00 am in the morning. He then prepares for the day’s activities with all the other orphans.  He likes the consistency of the morning prayers from 5:45 am to 6:45am and also that they are peaceful. They provide a hope in the future for him, especially now that his needs are starting to be met. They pray together every day that the donations continue to come through and when they do this is very reassuring to Joseph and the others.

After prayers he feels the belongingness of sharing a cup of tea and a piece of corn meal with all the other orphans. Remedial classes starts at 7:00 am till 8:00 am and he then joins the other children for normal classes. Joseph is in class 1 with 16 other children and there are a total of 176 in the entire school. At 11:00 am they all get a breakfast which consists of porridge and cakes. Some days they get eggs when the needed resources are there.

After the breakfast they all continue with normal lessons until 1:00 pm when they take their lunch. They usually have a hot meal prepared in their school kitchen.  Afterwards they begin to write questions so they can be answered after school time, at night. Then at 3:00 pm they join with class 2 for reading story time which ends after over an hour. Games time is from 4:15 to 5:20 pm and after this time; those who don’t yet live in the orphanage are taken to their guardians where they spend the night.

Joseph joins the rest of residents of the orphanage for evening prayers after he takes a shower. At 7:00 pm supper is served and they proceed to study time which last up until their 9:00 pm bedtime. Having this care, attention and security creates a simple yet profound sense of hope for Joseph and the others. It is only because of the faithful generosity of their benefactors, for whom they give thanks in their prayers. and they pray that others will join in giving of their abundance, so that the other children can join them at the St Barnabas Orphanage. Please GIVE to St Barnabas Orphanage & School at: OrthodoxAfrica.org/

“…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!

Bishop Athanasius Secondary School is Growing

With a growing student body, and even more new students registered to begin next term, Bishop Athanasius Secondary School continues to grow, feeding the children who are thirsty for knowledge. Such growth is truly a blessing from God, though requires tremendous labor. During the past month, the construction of a new classroom has begun, giving hope to the school that they will have the space to accommodate their students.

This construction project requires commitment and hard work. Tractors transport the concrete, bricks, and sand while donkeys endure the weight. With the materials available, all have been working tirelessly, and are eager to complete the project which is currently half-way there. While the school waits for the replenishment of materials, they give thanks for their progress and pray for the support, love and prayers of their brothers and sisters in Christ in order to carry on. It is through the funds raised by Orthodox Africa that they have been able to take on such a project.

Building this additional classroom will give the students the environment they need in which to learn, an environment that will allow them the flourish in all areas of the curriculum; sciences, humanities, languages and religious studies.

He adds, “The school is a garden and the teacher is a Gardner and a student is a tender plant, therefore the teacher provides manure and water to the tender plant for the plant to does work of growing if the land is already there. The classroom is one of the learning tools as it provides the necessary environment for the learner.”

Julius and the teachers are making such sacrifices, and request your help to ensure that they have a classroom in order for the new students to begin school.

Saint Innocent Academy: Enlightening the Nandi youth with the light of Truth.

Christ the Redeemer, the Lover of mankind, the Giver of Life continues to prevail at Saint Innocent’s Academy.

St. Innocent is clearly with the people and makes his presence known to us through the many blessings our people are experiencing and in particular, the growing number of students attending classes at the Academy. Our dedicated teachers work tirelessly, ensuring that each student is challenged and provided with a rigorous education; one that is competitive with the many surrounding schools in the area.

As we finish the fifth week of the academic school year, students have started exams and continue to show evidence of success in their studies. This success is the promise of a better life, and provides the hope for the many teachers and families making sacrifices on behalf of the students at St. Innocent’s Academy.

The director of the school however, continues to feel the great burden that comes with the responsibility of paying his teachers a salary when there isn’t any money to do so. Due to limited resources and funds, salaries have been delayed several weeks, and teachers are suffering. Such a burden calls us to ask you for your support.

Our teachers cannot be overlooked. Not only do they deserve their wages, but they must receive them in order for them to meet their own basic needs and in order for St. Innocent’s Academy to continue educating the growing student population.

We urge you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to give what you can in order for us to continue this God inspired work and in order to serve the Nandi people. We pray that your prayers and donations will bring many blessings from our Savior.  Donate here.

For the Sake of a Big Mac or Tall Latte

The director of St. Irene Orthodox Mission and Orphanage, Father Constantinos, was the youngest of eight children. By the time he was 12 years old his father had died leaving his widowed mother to raise her eight children alone. She was, and is, a loving Orthodox mother, who did her utmost to raise her children in the One True Faith. These circumstances brought about hardship and poverty. By the Grace of God Father Constantinos completed his secondary and tertiary education, studied at Makarios III Seminary was ordained to the Holy Priesthood. The love and passion Father Constantinos has for the children of St. Irene Orthodox Mission and Orphanage was forged in the fire of his harsh childhood.

The children of St. Irene live a life that is as harsh as Father Constantinos’ was. One quarter of the children are orphans who depend on him for everything.

Currently Father Constantinos is running the One-Dollar-A-Day-Program, which is a way to provide food, medical care, clothing and education for one child for one day. If you gave up one Starbucks Tall Café Latte (cost $3.45) one child would have all needs covered for three days! If you gave up one McDonald’s Big Mac Hamburger (cost $4.67) one child would have all needs covered for four days! The average cell phone bill is $144 per month. Imagine how many children could be cared for with that amount donated to St. Irene’s!

Please consider supporting the One-Dollar-A-Day-Program at St. Irene Orthodox Mission Mission and Orphanage.

This child says “Thank you!”