Πέμπτη, 31 Μαρτίου 2016

Father Nicodemus Chilembwe, Orthodox clergyman from Blantyre, Malawi: an indigenous missionary

Father Nicodemus Chilembwe, Orthodox clergyman from Blantyre, Malawi : an indigenous missionary
"7 years ago I was a Protestant in religion and a translator in profession., says father Nikodemus I liked to read and translate texts from English into Chichewa, (the native language of Malawi).
One day, as I was crossing the city, my eyes fell. upon an Orthodox church. I found the spectacle rather strange. In some way it looked like a mosque, but the cross indicated that it was something related to Christianity. Curiosity prompted me to go in and observe its interior. I got confused. Although I was a faithful Protestant, that place was totally unfamiliar to me. A deep sense of awe came over me.
Suddenly, I saw a black figure approaching me from the north side of the church. I wanted to run away, but an Orthodox priest stopped me. It was Fr. Ermolaos Iatrou. “Who are you? What made you come here?” he asked. “I wanted to know some things about this church,” I said and started to ask questions. After some discussion, I asked him to accept me for catechesis.
Some time later, Fr. Ermolaos asked me what I did professionally. Once I told him that I was a translator, he suggested that I should work in the translation and printing office of the Mission. It came as a blessing to me. At the same time, he gave me a stack of books on the Orthodox faith to study at home. Little by little, some of my friends were interested in what I was doing and wanted to come for catechesis themselves. I was baptized one year later. Initially, it was difficult for my family to understand my conversion, but by the grace of God that changed.
On May Day 2009 I was ordained priest. This was a blessing as well as a new opportunity for me to get to know my faith better. In the Orthodox Church we can never learn it all. We always learn something new.



 Then, I was assigned the ministry of catechesis. In time, I came to realize that the doctrines of our Holy Church are very strong because Orthodoxy originated in the Apostolic Age, the age of the Bible. It is not like the other churches that sprang up suddenly out of nowhere, without roots.
In the Orthodox Church, when we pray, we feel the power of the prayer. The protestants know nothing about the Holy Mysteries. Neither do they talk about the Holy Trinity. They perform baptism just by sprinkling with water and not according to the teachings of the Bible. Our pastors were afraid of getting wet with the water. They do not practice the Sacrament of Confession, neither do they have a spiritual father. However, when one wants to meet a President, one has to follow a protocol. Likewise, we should keep the protocol set by God for the remission of our sins.
This is true Faith. And the people who are serious eventually come to realize that, whether they turn to Orthodoxy or not. Unfortunately, Orthodoxy is something new for my country. They constantly ask me, “Where have these people been for so many centuries?” This is a difficult question to answer. My reply is that it was God’s plan.
Today there are 2,000 people who have already been baptized Orthodox and many others who are being monitored and catechized for at least one year.
Our main activity is catechesis. Naturally, this involves a lot of traveling from the city to the villages. Getting around is really difficult. Problems like having no petrol or getting stuck on the road are very common. We have 25 parishes across the country, with the exception of the northernmost part, but so far we have only managed to erect a Sacred Church in 10 of them.



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