Siaya County, Kenya, December 29, 2021
by H. David Sauls
Last spring, through a generous, anonymous donation, nearly 4 acres of land were purchased in western Kenya by the Orthodox priest Fr. Antipas Odhiambo, founder of the Ngando Orthodox Christian School and Community Development Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.
OrthoChristian previously reported the destruction of his original school in Dagoretti, Nairobi, by the Kenya Railway Company in November of 2020. The intention in western Kenya is to develop the land into an Orthodox parish, school, and shelter for women and children. The school and ministry in Nairobi will be moved to western Kenya to a more peaceful setting, far from the dangers, temptations, and vulnerabilities of Nairobi street, sub-slum, and slum life.
The state of the Orthodox faith in Africa is in need of our attention. At a time when Orthodoxy is facing uncertainties as a whole, a look at the uncertainties in faraway places where Orthodoxy persists may be where we find answers to our own divisions and uncertainties. It at least provides us with an inspiring example of our faith, and how that faith endures in unexpected and neglected parts of the Orthodox world.
In the coming months, the effects of the situation in Ukraine will begin to further manifest themselves across Africa. Truly, we all pray for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its primate, Onuphry, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.
The division reaches even to the most remote corners of the Orthodox World. While these priests are busy confronting the normal handicaps they suffer from, the normal disadvantages they endure, the normal state of poverty among their communities and parishioners, they will also have to face this crisis.
But taking a closer look at their patience, faith, hard work, podvig, their struggles on a normal day shows the rest of the Orthodox world how to humbly confront any diabolical machinations that attempt to bring chaos into our Church. We can look to humble, unsophisticated, challenged priests for an answer, perhaps the answer.
As Themistocles said, “I cannot fiddle, but I can make a great state out of a little city.” None of these humble clerics are fiddlers, but in their enduring work, they have been quietly building a “state” from the small villages in which they persist, spreading Orthodoxy across Africa, and defending established Orthodoxy.
To quote one of our great Church Fathers: “A Church pure and untouched by the harshness of our times is not easily found and from now on rarely to be seen—a Church that has preserved the apostolic doctrine unadulterated and inviolate!... Beloved brethren, we are small and humble, but we have not accommodated our faith according to changing events” (St. Basil the Great, Letter to Evaisenians).
We should all look to Africa and what is happening there, and understand the relevance of the words of this great saint in the contemporary context of our present times, not just in our own front yard, but in our backyard, too.
If you would like to help Fr. Antipas in his work establishing a new parish, moving the school, and opening a women and children's shelter, maintaining the school or helping the widows, sick, and prisoners he aids, donations may be made at one of the links of your choice below: