India, March 5, 2019
Several hundred people were received into the holy Orthodox Church by the Mystery of Baptism in India recently, including 47 Protestant pastors who have been telling their communities about the true faith.
A missionary team, consisting of Fr. Athanasius Kone of the Holy Theotokos of Iveron Russian Orthodox Church in Hawaii, Papa Ephraim, formerly of St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona and currently of St. Nilus Skete in Alaska, Fr. George Maximov of Moscow, Sister Paraskevi of St. Nilus Skete, and Sister Ioanna and Anastasia from Moscow, spent about two weeks in India, preaching and teaching about holy Orthodoxy and baptizing 350 people into Christ.
About 1,000 people had expressed interest in being baptized, but various issues led to only several hundred being baptized during the trip. A detailed description of the entire trip came be found at Papa Ephraim’s Orthodox River blog.
Fr. George Maximov has also published a video about the trip, including footage of the Baptisms and Chrismations:
As Papa Ephraim explains, a book by Fr. Seraphim Bell, Understanding the Rich Heritage of the Orthodox Church, was translated into the local Telugu language in November, and then Fr. Seraphim was able to visit India for two weeks in December and lead intensive catechetical courses for 60 pastors who then preached to their parishioners about Orthodoxy, and thus many were ready to receive Baptism.
Other texts translated or being translated include The Catechism of St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Typica, the Baptismal service, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, 5 small books of Fr. Daniel Sysoev, and elements from The Truth of our Faith by Elder Cleopa.
The Baptisms occurred over the span of the two-week trip, some days with groups of 100 people, some days with only 10 or 12. Most of them were celebrated at an old orphanage owned by Fr. Wesley, who has known Fr. Athanasius for several decades and who was responsible for making most of the arrangements for the trip.
In addition to celebrating Baptisms, the group also preached and taught about repentance, Tradition, monasticism, icons, Church singing, how to bake prosphora, etc, and they served the Liturgy several times. As Papa Ephraim details, language issues made everything a little chaotic, as did resistance, sometimes fierce and almost violent, from local Hindus and also Catholics.
Some of the 1,000 people who had planned to be baptized were deterred by the strong reactions from other Indians, and about 500 of them live in remote villages where a terrorist group has been especially violent lately, taking hostages, often killing them.
As Papa Ephraim writes, the demons of course resist the good work that is being done in India, and their presence is greater there due to the millennia of idolatry there, but, with God’s help, hundreds of souls were brought into the saving enclosure of the Church.
Follow us on Facebook!