A “Mission Possible” to the Descendants of the Magi: Orthodox Kurds and Other Iranian Peoples

  

Orthodox Kurds could perhaps be called “workers of the eleventh hour”. They came to believe in Jesus Christ only in the third millennium, centuries and millennia later than many other peoples!

Despite the fact that our ancestors the Magi came to worship the God-child Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, and that one finds names of “Persian saints” in Church history, for a long time Christianity could not take root among the Iranian peoples. For centuries, like their great ancestors Cyrus the Great and Darius the Mede, they have only expressed sympathy for, but not complete faith in Biblical revelations, not yet taking the step of receiving Baptism and beginning a new life in Christ.

There is not a single Christian Iranian nation in the world today. However, the descendants of the ancient Magi, who were the first to worship Christ, have now begun to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of history.

One can also see a certain advantage in this “historical delay”—the most important Ecumenical Councils have already been held, the Church Canons have been compiled, the great Liturgical tradition, rites and customs of the Church of Christ have crystallized. All that remains is to translate this rich heritage into the Iranian languages, to create a Kurdish ecclesiastical literature and thereby introduce and join our brethren to the Orthodox Church, enriching our languages and our culture.

However, the Kurdish people and other Iranian peoples and tribes are among those receiving the least attention from the Orthodox mission. At the same time, neo-Protestant denominations are actively preaching amongst the Iranian peoples and have carried out many missionary projects in just half a century. As for the Orthodox Church, unfortunately, there is no permanent or purpose-directed mission amongst the Kurds or other Iranian peoples today.

Unlike the neo-Protestant Kurds, who are content to have only the Bible and some church hymns, the people’s Orthodox representatives have already tasted the great Orthodox ecclesiastical liturgical tradition and works of the Holy Fathers of the Church as a lived experience. And against this background, it is bitter to admit that at the moment there are only a few Orthodox books in the Kurdish language. Due to the awakening interest of the Kurds and all the Iranian peoples in Orthodox Christianity, the need for these books is very great.

Today there are thousands of Christian Kurds and hundreds of Iranians who have converted to Orthodoxy on their own. It was from these new converts that the initiative to establish a mission began. And one of these very converts is the author of these lines.

Photo: greekcitytimes.com Photo: greekcitytimes.com     

An ethnic Kurd-Kurmanj, I was born into a Yezidi family in Georgia. I turned to Jesus Christ at a young age and have been studying theology, classical philology, and Kurdish literature for a decade. I graduated from the University of Athens with highest honors, where I am currently writing my master’s thesis. It is in Athens that I am given a unique opportunity to study church texts in their original language and to make translations from Greek into Kurdish.

Work is currently underway on a Prayer Book, a Book of Hours, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and a Catechism, as well as on F. M. Dostoevsky’s novella, Notes from the Underground.

Our goal is to create a language that will be understandable to the Kurdish reader and at the same time capable of expressing the complexity and beauty of the Christian idiom—a Kurdish Christian language, in all five dialects, that will greatly enrich our culture.

All that remains for us and all representatives of the various Orthodox Christian Iranian peoples is to make the richness of the Orthodox heritage our own, and pass it on to our brethren, “churching” the Iranian languages and baptizing all the Kurdish and Iranian tribes, whose numbers are like are like the stars in heaven.

We are in great need of the prayerful help and support of our elder brothers and sisters in Christ who hold dear the words of our Savior, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations (Matt. 28:19). We call on everyone to take part in this work of God so far as they are able.

Today we face a number of tasks to achieve our two primary goals: mission (preaching among non-believers) and catechesis (teaching converts to Orthodoxy the truths of the Orthodox Faith and strengthening them in church life):

Enlightenment

  • Translation of the Bible, the works of the Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church, and liturgical books into all Iranian languages and dialects;

  • Translation of classical literature by ancient and modern Christian, authors, such as Dostoevsky, Plato, etc.;

  • Creation of a publishing house that will facilitate the publication and distribution this literature;

  • Assistance to missionaries and catechists on their missionary trips.

Digital products

  • Creation of a library application comprised of all translated books, as well as their audio versions;

  • Release of an ecclesiastical calendar;

  • Creation of a large multilingual website and its profiles on all social networks;

  • Creation of a multilingual online dictionary for translators.

Education

  • Feasible assistance to the newly-baptized in admission to theological or other faculties of Orthodox Universities and theological seminaries.

  • The support program will include the writing of articles and translation of video lectures on principles and dogmas, as well as on the ritual side of the Orthodox faith and Orthodox apologetics.

  • Organization of pilgrimage trips for the newly-baptized and catechumens to Orthodox holy places.

Culture

  • Creation of icons, mosaics, liturgical utensils, etc. for future church buildings in all Iranian languages and in the cultural idiom of our peoples;

  • Collection of material and cultural heritage artifacts for a future Kurdish museum (carpets, ethnographic objects, etc.).

  • Collection of books in national languages for a future library (at present we have collected more than 2000 books in the Kurmanji dialect alone, as well and books about Kurds in other languages).

We believe in the future of Orthodox Christianity amongst our peoples, because the Risen Lord has inspired us to follow this path. We hope that by realizing all the listed goals, we will help our peoples come to know and be converted to the Christian faith, establishing a solid foundation for the future local ecclesiastical communities towards which we all strive.

Please consider donating to the this missionary project through: Patreon.

You can also make a one-time donations through this PayPal account: info.kurd.orthodox@gmail.com

Hieromonk Madai (Maamdi), Cleric of the Georgian Orthodox Church

3/15/2024

Comments
Fr Jacob Siemens3/19/2024 6:12 pm
This article is a joy to read. The Kurds have been an inspiration to me, personally, on many levels, and I can hardly think of a missionary field for Orthodox Christianity that interests me more. May the Lord look with kindness on Hieromonk Madai, and bless all his endeavours among these remarkable people.
Mary Kompass3/16/2024 8:23 am
Priest Monk Madai came to visit us once in Pennsylvania. I think he is likely to become a saint. He lives a very God blessed life.
Here you can leave your comment on the present article, not exceeding 4000 characters. All comments will be read by the editors of OrthoChristian.Com.
Enter through FaceBook
Your name:
Your e-mail:
Enter the digits, seen on picture:

Characters remaining: 4000

Subscribe
to our mailing list

* indicates required
×