I am the light of the world (Jn.8:12)


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Tanganyika has always been considered as being more favorable than Uganda and Kenya for those who would want to become Orthodox, for the main reason that more Greek Orthodox people lived there. Nevertheless, until today, no African Orthodox existed in that country. Even those said to have been baptized by the late Archi­mandrite Sarika were nowhere to be found. One might well have said that the Africans of this country were not interested in Orthodoxy.

Despite these facts, however, it appears that the natives of Tanganyika were not devoid of desire for Orthodoxy. This desire lay dormant in the depths of their soul until the dawn of Orthodoxy arrived and the Lord summoned then to a spontaneous awakening. It happened like this. In the village of Kassamua, 65 miles from Muanza, on the way to Geita, there is a wealthy seeding factory built and operated by Africans. In this factory many foreign people are employed, mostly Europeans and Indians. Among the employees there was the Greek Constantine Hadjipanayotou from Cyprus. The kindness and industriousness of this man soon attracted the attention of his African fellow-workers. The young Africans working in the factory were impressed by his readiness to help and teach them, in a kind and loving way, about the various aspects of their work. It was not long before they asked him about the religion of the Greek people � and he proceeded to tell them all he knew about Orthodoxy.

The most attentive of his listeners, Paul Budala, was an unmarried, smart, energetic, honest and willing young African about 25-30 years old, who knew English very well. He did not content himself with the few facts conveyed by Mr. Hadjipanayotou in their first contacts, but continued to visit him very often posing various questions. Mr. Hadjipanayotou had confided to me once that many times Mr. Budala had kept him from his work and quite a few times became annoyed at him for becoming a most astonishing nuisance. Young Budala wanted to know everything about Orthodoxy and many times at the expense of eating or sleeping. Finally, Mr. Budala asked Mr. Hadjipanayotou to at least teach him Greek, so that he can read about Orthodoxy from Orthodox books. After searching all the bookstores for a Greek language text in vain, Hadjipanayotou remembered that there was an Orthodox Church in Kampala, Uganda and told young Budala to write there.

Indeed his first letter was received without delay, despite its insufficient address. The letter was photo typed in Kampala and sent off to many Orthodox bishops and magazines. The astonishment at Mr. Budala's zeal was practically unanimous. From then on, a beautiful regular correspondence started between the Orthodox and Mr. Budala. Each letter from him was warmer than the previous ones, and his zeal steadily increased.

Early last December I had the opportunity to visit Kassamua, and was personally surprised at the enthusiasm of our Lord's new militia there. I arrived in the evening. After a short prayer, I offered them a short introduction to Orthodoxy. I was subsequently literally "bombarded" with questions until early next morning; even then their storehouse of questions was not exhausted.

I stayed with them for two days. Before my departure I gave them the addresses of godly Orthodox Christians as well as Orthodox magazines to write to. Since then, they have received Orthodox books, and many nice letters from several of them. We have to thank the Lord for this spontaneous expression of Christian brotherhood within our Church.

During my stay there they asked me to baptize them without further delay. This I did not do, how­ever, because no other Orthodox was there to be the god-father (Mr. Hadjipanayotou was away then) and secondly because they needed to be more fully aware of their faith, since most of them were adults.

Four months later Mr. Budala wrote to me that there were thirty persons on the list of cate­chumens and that he was the thirty-first. I replied to him that three priests from Kampala would go to Kassamua on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers to baptize them into the Orthodox faith. After completing my itinerary through Tanganyika I finally arrived at Kassamua. Unfortunately the other Orthodox priests could not be present. They were held up by transportation difficulties caused by the flooded rivers. So, I presided at the divine services by myself. All Greeks living in Mwanza were present this time. They arrived in Kassamua Saturday afternoon and brought with them all they thought necessary for a festive occasion.

Early Sunday morning everything was ready: First twenty persons were baptized and chris­mated, together with ten more persons that were only chrismated. After this, I celebrated the Divine Liturgy in a guest house. Subsequently, I joined four couples in holy matrimony who were al­ready married according to law and local customs. The Liturgy was said and sang in Swahili, pro­bably for the first time, because Mr. Budala had already made the translation.

It was April 28, 1963. The Sunday of the Myrrh-bearer women. All the Greeks stayed with the catechumens in the factory guesthouse where Mr. Hadjipanayotou usually stays when he works at the factory. He was kind enough to make all arrangements for this. The food and drinks that the Greeks brought with them were more than enough for the forty-five of us present. The fiesta was wonderful. Mr. Hadjipanayotou also prepared a baptismal font out of a steel barrel.

Fortunately, the guest house had running water which helped things very much. It was 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon when all was over. I was tired but somehow so deeply gratified, that I hardly felt it at all. All of us who have formerly been received into the Orthodox Church glorify Almighty God for this birth in Christ of our brothers in Tanganyika.

This amazing story from Tanganyika should not be looked upon as something entirely solitary. There are many others also, not only in Tanganyika, but also in Kenya and Uganda, that want to receive the True Faith of the Orthodox Christians. Unfortunately, the workers of the Church are few and cannot satisfy all those impatiently waiting for us to visit them and bring Christ to them.

These new Orthodox Christians of Tanganyika have already bought a plot of land where they will build their Church when the money is found. Mr. Hadjipanayotou advised young Budala to go to the Orthodox Seminary in Cyprus and prepare to become a priest. But he refused saying that if he went, the wolves would disperse his sheep. Instead, he gladly recommended another young man from the catechumens to go in his place. Young Budala has already translated the Orthodox catechism into Swahili. It will be printed in two languages as soon as the funds are allocated.

It is said that many Orthodox countries have not yet sent missionaries to East Africa , where a lot of people extremely thirst for Orthodoxy. Nevertheless we hope that they will do so. In the meantime we ask for your prayers as well as for your help for our Church in order that we may be able to maintain Orthodoxy, until your arrival, which we hope, will be quick, as we desire.

"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."

Fr. Theodoros NANKYAMAS
among brothers, the least