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

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.

Every Penny Counts

When I see a child whose pants don’t cover thin legs & ankles, whose toes have worn through their shoes, or whose skin is chapped and dry from the cold, my heart aches. My mind turns towards a way to help.

There are many charitable organizations to which a person can donate. A good question to ask is “How much of my donation goes to administrative costs?”  It is said less than 25% spent on administrative costs is a good goal.

How much of your dollar donated to St. Barnabas Orphanage & Education Center goes towards providing for the need of a child?

Director, Father Methodius Kariuki, assures his donors that more than 94 percent of every dollar raised fully benefits the child.

  • 94% – Food, clothing, educational resourcess and salaries for caretakers
  • 6% – PayPal & Bank transaction fees

As much as they are able, local community services help with maintenance or construction needs.  Their local neighbors help where they can, sharing food stuffs, fuel, wood, etc.

Father Methodios assures every donor, “We do not have any irrelevant costs. We have no hidden agenda. We are Orthodox Christians and are fully Pro-Life.” Transparency and honesty are of utmost importance. This builds trust in our relationship with, not only our donors, but with our caretakers and teachers. It models the Christian virtues for our children.

What more can a donor ask for in an age that does not value these things? Donate now to St. Barnabas Orphanage and Education Center. Every penny really does count.

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.

Bishop Athanasius (Akunda) and Father Silouan visit Bishop Athanasius Secondary School

On June 8th, in a whirlwind visit, Fr. Silouan and His Grace Bishop Athanasius visited the students and teachers of the Bishop Athanasius Secondary School of Mugen, located in the Nandi Region of Western Kenya. Teachers and students welcomed His Grace and Father with traditional African songs and dances, communicating their commitment to educating their people. As Julius Kiprotich, seminarian and Teacher shared, “Education is the key to our success.”

The teachers and students were delighted to take His Grace and Father around the school compound and to show them their classrooms, as well as the water tank that was recently gifted to the school by Orthodox Africa and their generous donors. This water tank allows them to collect and store rainwater for domestic use, including drinking water and water for cooking.

This resource allows them to manage when they experience African dry spells.

Later, Father Silouan sat with the students and teachers, encouraging them in their studies and in their faith. Julius Kiprotich, reported that since Father’s visit the school has had an increase in enrollment. When asked what it was that was so inspiring to students, Julius shared, “It’s rare here to see a white person with whiskers.”  Perhaps it was his “whiskers” and smile, or maybe it was his inspiring words.  However, by the Grace of God, the school is in need of additional classrooms including a science and computer lab, in order to accommodate the increase in students and the educational aspirations of this beautiful community.

How Can You Be A Missionary?

Have you ever wondered how you can help the poor and the needy, even when you are so busy with everyday life?
At Orthodox Africa we have answered this question by identifying Orthodox Missions in Africa that are even today serving some of the poorest of the poor people in the world. In July our director, Father Silouan, had the privilege of visiting all of the missions that are now featured on our website. We have independently verified the good work that they are doing, and today we are inviting you to help us help build the Church in Kenya. The donation that you make today will go directly to fulfilling Christ’s command to “clothe the naked, feed the hungry and visit widows”. – Matthew 25:31-46