Diocese of Burundi & Rwanda
Our main aim was to support bishop Innocentios in his difficult work for sharing of the Gospel and spread of Orthodoxy in this distant African country. During our stay there, visits were made to the villages, games were organized for children, groups of catechumens and faithful were taught, conversations with the inhabitants took place, 27 baptisms and 3 weddings of indigenous people were conducted.
In Buramata, a village that greatly suffered during the Civil War, in the place where the state created a refugee camp and where lies St. Alexios’s church, we organized a daily camp. There, for four days, more than 400 children had the opportunity to taste fruits of Orthodoxy in a full schedule; daily attendance of the Divine Liturgy and partaking of Holy Communion, catechisms and two to three hours of organized games and activities gave the children of Buramata the opportunity to experience things so familiar to Greek children but so unheard and distant to them. One of the most touching moments we lived was giving out the breakfast (warm milk and local sweets) to the children. The children came singing and waited in queue, while their faces looked full with gratitude for what their Greek brothers were offering them.
A distinct part of our visit was our opportunity to participate in the ordination of the principal of Buramata Primary School, father Nectarios. This new priest, aware of the local difficulties, will be a significant help and support for the bishop.
Furthermore, our group also delivered material help, both in kind and in money, to His Eminence Fr. Innocentios; this was thanks to the love of Orthodox Greek people, who didn’t hesitate, in the midst of a financial crisis, to show their support for our African brothers in practice, thus conducing to the implementation of this missionary effort. We pray that God will send them back richly his divine grace, protect and shelter everyone, guiding our deeds always to do good.
Finally, we should not omit to refer to the great benefits this trip had for all its participants. Associating both with catechumens and faithful Orthodox, we realized that in their daily hassles God’s presence is so real, direct and moving. Their relationship with God is alive and they turn to Him waiting in faithfulness for His help at every adversity they have to deal with; which is something the God of love is willing to give generously. In short, we could say that the gift of the African people to Orthodox Greeks is a resounding message of hope: in the difficulty that sometimes seems to be insurmountable, GOD IS ALIVE.