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rwprof
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« on: March 09, 2009, 06:01:47 PM »

my (abbreviated) conversion story: http://centralpennsylvaniaorthodox.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/shaken/.


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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2009, 08:50:07 AM »

Kevin Allen of The Illumined Heart radio show (http://www.the-illumined-heart.com/, http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart) is looking for people who converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church form Islam, Buddhism, Bahai, Scientology and Mormonism. If anyone of you, or someone you know, came out of one of these faith traditions to Eastern Orthodoxy and would like to be interviewed by Kevin in one of his future programs, please, contact him at
illuminedheart  at   ancientfaith  dot   com





Its not a good idea to post email adresses on the net as they can be harvested for spam
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« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 12:52:41 PM by ozgeorge » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2009, 04:40:11 PM »

                               
                                   MY CONVERSION TESTIMONY

My journey of faith with and for Jesus started when I was a little child. My conversion did not happen all of a sudden or smoothly, but contained different steps and painful stations that corresponded to my frailties and defeats. My growth in Christian faith occurred slowly as I was prepared for the right time. The period of my preparation also had some miraculous coincidences. Jesus talked to me in different ways and chose for me the best time for conversion.

In the days prior to my commitment to Jesus, I never considered myself an Atheist or agnostic although sometimes my disappointments caused me to temporarily get angry with God. I had never attended the Islamic communal worship on Fridays due to my shyness, but I recited the Koran often and performed daily worship on a regular basis for a few years. I also observed the Islamic fast in the month of Ramadan. Even when I was a child, religion was the prevalent issue that attracted my attention. I delighted in listening to the tales about the prophets and pious people of Islam. Of all those stories, I liked the ones about Jesus the most with no need to question the reason for this preference of mine. My special interest in the stories about Jesus’ life eventually made me recite the 19th chapter of the Koran almost everyday.

In those days the idea of going to a church never occurred to me, but I mysteriously started to imitate the acts of a priest I had incidentally seen on the Greek TV channel one day. I used to form a cross-like shape with the help of my toys and try to sing at the peak of my voice. At the same time I started to learn about Christianity by asking almost everyone about it. However, I could not get satisfactory answers to my questions because some people (my father, for instance) talked about what Christians did rather than what Christianity taught and some other people (old and respected relatives) said that there was nothing worth learning about Christianity because the only truth was in the Koran.

 The more often I read the Koran, the more questions arose in my mind and bothered me. The two long chapters of the Koran narrated the story of Jesus’ miraculous birth, but almost no verse explained why and how the cross became a significant and indispensable part of Christianity. Some of the movies I had seen depicted Jesus as a crucified person, but the Koran only denied this through a single verse incurring more doubts about the event. A Muslim professor from school whom I consulted had said that the Koran gave a long and detailed account of Prophet Jesus’ miraculous birth because Christians had misinterpreted this miracle as a sign of His divinity. However, the same Koran was almost totally silent on the significance of the cross in Jesus’ life although the cross was the main symbol that represented Jesus in Christianity. This was something weird. Back in those days I did not know that Christians celebrated Christ’s resurrection.

At secondary school I had the opportunity to learn more about Christianity with the help of my religion class. The comparative analysis of religions aimed to convince us that Islam was the first and only religion from above. All messengers and prophets had been sent to preach Islam, and the last messenger Mohammad had established Islam on earth permanently and with no possibility of deviation. When I told my teacher that I had read the Koran and would like to read the other books of God he said that it was impossible because Jewish rabbis and Christian leaders had distorted those revelations prior to Islam. This argument did not at first sound implausible to me, but my teacher’s additional statements made me more curious and doubtful. He said that Christians lost the truth taught by Prophet Jesus after His assumption and many people wrote false copies of the book revealed to Him by God. When the people failed to know which one was the true Injeel as a result of the number of contradicting copies written, Christian priests gathered a council and chose the current four Gospels from a heap of hundred different copies. This story sounded ridiculous to me because I knew it was impossible for a Christian not to know about this council as well as to remain Christian after knowing about it! 

My interest in Christianity increased day by day, and my teacher of religious studies deemed it necessary to advise me not to trust Christianity and its scripture, dedicating himself to showing me some of the loopholes in the Gospels. One day he found the opportunity to talk about Christianity and criticize the textual consistency of the Gospels during a break. He said Christians believed Prophet Jesus to be the Son of God, but their first canonical Gospel denied this doctrine by calling Jesus the son of Joseph even in its introductory chapter. Some of my friends who were present to hear this conversation nodded their heads and grinned to confirm what the teacher said, but my reaction to the teacher’s words surprised everyone. I said, “We need to ask Christians and get their answer on this issue. They must have a good explanation for this problem”.

In the same period one of my cousins requested that I go and help him with his school project.  We met and went to a small shop where second-hand books were sold. On a shelf my eyes caught a very dusty book that was very thin. When I took it into my hand, I saw it was the Gospel according to Mark! I felt like people who are excited and overjoyed because they know that on the next corner they will see their relatives that they have not seen for ages. I thought my feet were about to be off the ground because my impatience was unendurable. I wanted to fly home and read the Gospel of Mark, which was the second Gospel chosen at the Nicene Council according to my teacher and some other Muslims.

I read the Gospel of Mark more than three times on the same day. Frankly, I failed to understand several things in the book no matter how thin it was in comparison to the Koran. I was eager to read and admit the things almost with absolute conviction and no need for comprehension. When I read the first sentence of it to my sister, she objected from the start and said that Jesus cannot be the Son of God, for God cannot be divided. At the time I did not actually know why the Gospel identified Jesus as the Son of God. The footnote comment only said that this title meant a spiritual relation between God and Jesus rather than a physical one connoting sexuality. This distinction sufficed to hush my sister, who said she still did not want to read or hear the Gospel because it was not authentic unlike the Koran.

My examination of the Gospel of Mark focused on its differences from the Islamic scripture with regard to the style of narrative. The Gospel was only about Jesus with a few references to other prophets and messengers. The Koran, on the other hand, contained long accounts and tales about the prophets prior to Mohammad. The second difference was that the Gospel was not concerned with the denial of Judaic tenets whereas the Koran laid emphasis on the mistakes and deviations of the former religious communities and denied the veracity of the basic Christian doctrines. I must confess that the thing which surprised me the most in the Gospel of Mark was that it lacked the narrative of Jesus’ miraculous birth! Although it called Jesus the Son of God on many occasions, it never made an association between this title and Jesus’ birth from a virgin. Nonetheless, it perfectly explained what the cross meant in Jesus’ life and how the cross came to represent Jesus.

Once it was announced in the house that I had bought the Gospel of Mark, my mother blazed her wrath against me. She was a conservative Muslim woman that recited the Koran often although she could not observe the other obligations of Islam due to her health problems. My father was the last family member to realize that I had been examining the Gospel of Mark. To everyone’s surprise, he primarily seemed more curious than indignant or indifferent as he said he also wanted to read the Gospel. He read the Gospel at a weekend and said to me that it was not an impressive book since it depicted Jesus only as a miracle-worker that was similar to a famous magician. He added that he did not consider it a powerful or prevailing ideology.

Since I naively believed that reading a Gospel would make me a Christian, I wanted to give the first signs of my new religious identity by attaching Christian names to my fish. More, I prepared a Christian graveyard for the dead ones. Since these actions sounded humorous to my parents, they did not see anything threatening or serious in them. However, my furtive plans to celebrate my first Christmas would eventually lead my parents to take some precautions against the possibility of my conversion.

When Christmas coincided with a day on which my family came together with the families of my cousins, I suggested my two cousins that they join me in celebrating my first Christmas ever. They liked the idea not because they were interested in Christianity but because they delighted in doing something secretly and experiencing some adventure. Our hidden Christmas party was perfectly organized, and all went right until we discovered that the Christmas Eve was actually the previous night! I had mistakenly presumed that Christmas day was 26th December. Despite my disappointment and my cousins’ derision, I kept celebrating my first feast day with the same joy and excitement. I added some spirit of worship into this secular party when I dipped a piece of bread in a glass of red wine and swallowed it after uttering a few Aramaic phrases I had memorized from the Gospel of Mark. 

The next day I bravely confessed to my parents that I had celebrated my first Christmas and once more proven my Christian identity. This confession unfortunately caused many difficulties that would make me quit my faith in a month. My parents invited a close friend of theirs over and arranged a session of bashing Christianity. Our guest claimed to know a lot about all religions and talked of his particular comprehensive research on Christianity. He contended that Christianity was not a religion from above because God wanted His creation to have one true religion named Islam. While answering my questions about the origin of Christianity, he blamed a certain man called Paul for forging a new religion and destroying the true religion preached by Prophet Jesus. I objected to him by simply reminding him that the Koran did not have any verses to support his assertions. My objection did not only make him speak more loudly and vehemently, but also caused him to change his strategy. He started to describe the life conditions in the Middle Age and recounted how Europeans had not been familiar with the notion of cleanliness. I politely asked him not to confuse cultural peculiarities with a religion’s doctrines. As the last resort, he put the Koran next to the Gospel of Mark on a coffee table and reached the conclusion that the Koran was better because it was far thicker than the Gospel. At that moment I made two fatal mistakes: first, I said that his conclusion was not logical; second, the Koran was naturally thicker because it repeated the same stories over and over.

My defense incurred the hostility of my parents and especially of my father, who attempted to beat me. He was furious because I had become insolent and disrespectful towards an elderly man and criticized the Koran, the only scripture he believed in and venerated. I was asked to choose one of the two options: either forget about Christianity and be a Muslim again or leave the house. I was desperate and scared, being a childish and fragile young man. While tears were rolling down my cheeks, I promised to leave Christianity and stop criticizing Islam. The next day my father asked me to let him burn the Gospel of Mark because he wanted to be sure that I would keep faithful to my promise. My mother insisted that my father not burn the Gospel because it would be a sin burning a text having the name of Jesus. My father reluctantly agreed and ordered me to take the book back to the store where I had bought it from. In order to convince my father that I had left Christianity, I said that the Gospel was a book full of consistencies and pointed at Jesus’ final word on the cross in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus had exclaimed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” although He had always relied on God, who was considered His father. My example worked and cleared all the doubts regarding the sincerity of my return to Islam.

Actually, my return to Islam did not mean the resumption of Islamic practice. I never recited the Koran or performed the daily worship. Since my faith was not replaced with Islam, I gradually started to have spiritual hunger for faith. This instigated me to have a new religion of mine! I would be neither Christian nor Muslim, but the first prophet and follower of a new rivaling religion. I decided to ponder over the peculiarities of my new philosophy and combined various teachings from different religions. I was pretty fast in fabricating religious festivals for my new faith and devising a new scripture. One night my absurd dreams came to an end when my father discovered the pages of my new scripture and threatened to send me to a mental asylum.

A few months later I resumed observing the Islamic fast with my father. However, I could not resist my interest in Christianity. Some nights I dreamed about Jesus descending from the sky on the Day of Judgment. In the first year of my high school I selected the class of comparative religions and volunteered to make a presentation of Christianity. My teacher was amazed by my success and zeal. This presentation increased my curiosity about Christian tenets. I started to read from various encyclopedias even in my relatives’ houses whenever I visited them. Since no one could guess that I was reading only the pages on Christianity, there was no problem. Nonetheless, in a short time I could not conceal my wish to be a Christian again, which made everyone in my family furious. My mother begged me to remain a Muslim, adding that this could be her last wish from me, for she was very sick and almost late for an open-heart operation. The news struck and choked me, but I still wanted to go and see – maybe for the first and last time – how Christians in my hometown worshipped on Sundays. By sacrificing my sleep at a weekend, I went to the nearest Church under heavy rain in both joy and fear and waited for the main gate to be opened. Unfortunately, the gate was not to be opened as I had gone there two hours before the time of the liturgy. The only thing I could do was return home as the rain was getting heavier. It was not meant to be the time of my first visit to a Church.

Until the day my mother finally decided to surrender herself to the doctors for the operation I went through a hard time and walked on the verge of depression. One day a distant relative came to visit my mother and had a few words with me. She was a kind of fortune-teller that had psychic abilities. Her conversation with me was very scary because she blamed my decision to leave Islam for my depressive mood and brought up the possibility of my seizure by Christian jinn! My depression and fear caused me to betray my faith a second time and give in to the opposition. I wept and wailed, asking God to show me the true path.

It was the first week of March when my mother took the operation. Since my sister and father worked, I used to stay with my aunt’s family. The operation went perfectly well and my mother regained her health. She returned home a week later. One of my cousins (with whom I had celebrated my first Christmas party) gave a birthday party on the 15th of March and I went to see him with my other cousin (with whom I had gone to the bookstore and bought the Gospel of Mark). On our way back we were passing by the Church, and my cousin noticed that its gate was open. We both entered and saw the interior thanks to an occasional prayer service. That first step marked my eternal commitment to Jesus in my life! It was the right time and there would be no turning back. The next morning I was sitting in the front row and watching the liturgy very carefully and exchanging a sign of peace with an old woman who called me “the sympathizer of Christ”.

My entrance into a Church interestingly turned out to be one of the many stations of my journey of faith. As a person under the age of 18, I had to get my father’s consent to attend the liturgies. Surprisingly, my father signed a paper and allowed me to go to Church on Sundays (despite my mother’s objections) and said that he was pleased to see me happy in my life. Nevertheless, I was not mature enough to act wisely and gratefully and started to abuse my father’s good will. I mostly failed to control my tendency to bash Islam as well as Muslims, which resulted in arguments and my father’s subsequent aggression. My mother systematically made my father oppose and discipline me, but she argued with my father when he resolved to throw me out of the house. Whenever my father smacked me and cuddled my throat before my mother and sister raced to my aid, I used to open the New Testament and read from the Acts the part recounting the persecution of the apostles by the authorities.

Things started to change for the good when I passed the university exam and went far from my hometown. This enabled my parents to miss me and evaluate their love for me that would prevail despite my conversion. In the first year of my university my success made my parents very happy and caused them to disregard my new religious identity. My father was actually happier than my mother because I was the only male member of his family to get a university degree. This had been his and my grandfather’s aspiration for years.

In the early stage of my conversion right after my baptism I started to question whether I was worthy to follow Jesus. This primarily stemmed from my weaknesses and disappointments. I mistakenly assumed that my conversion would make me a perfect person in the twinkling of an eye as if touched by a magic wand. The way I easily gave in to temptations of the evil one made me feel defeated and humiliated before the Lord. One day I sinned once more although I had been sure that I would never let the same mistake happen in my life. I was so desperate and upset that I did not even want to pray. I left the Bible in my room and went to the other room to turn on the TV. The first thing I heard when I haphazardly tuned in was the sentence “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”! That was a scene from a film about Christianity (I cannot remember the name now, but it talked about Jesus’ cloak and a gladiator’s life) and I interpreted this coincidence as one of the mysterious ways merciful Jesus chose to communicate with me.

This was not the only incident that convinced me about Jesus’ active presence in my life. Once I was very sick and away from my house. Some other problems worsened my situation and I went through a breakdown at a night. I did not know how to deal with the problems in my life and asked Jesus why he had called me although I was such a weak and ungrateful sinner. I was tired of weeping and shouting after begging Jesus to take me out of this world. When I fell asleep, in my dream I saw the door of my bedroom open and a man in a white robe come to my bed and sit at my feet. I could hear him murmur a sentence I had not seen or heard before “Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord”. After saying this sentence, the man touched my feet, and I woke up startling. Later I concluded that the Lord was there as He is always with me to comfort and guide me.

My long journey of faith will continue until Jesus decides to take me away from this body. He is constantly teaching me to do the right things and cope with life no matter how difficult and even impossible things may seem. I am now what I am by Jesus’ grace. Thinking of His presence suffices to comfort and encourage me. Blessed be His name forever. I hope I shall keep growing in faith and becoming worthy of His call.

Amen.
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2009, 08:37:31 PM »

I would like to write a story, but I still feel like I'm converting in a way. I read somewhere that a Christian should be an icon of Christ, but that baptism only creates a sketch of Christ. It is up to the Christian to paint in the sketch through the struggle to live like Christ. So for me, a conversion story would be a story without an ending!
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2009, 09:02:15 PM »

Conversion stories are wonderful and I love to read them. I've been asked to share mine publically, but shy away from that for some reason. I read recently that one should never share one's conversion story until one has been Orthodox for at least 10 years...At first I wondered at that, but now I understand what is meant, to a certain degree. Please do not let this post dampen anyone's desire to share their story though!
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2009, 09:25:49 PM »

Conversion stories are wonderful and I love to read them. I've been asked to share mine publically, but shy away from that for some reason. I read recently that one should never share one's conversion story until one has been Orthodox for at least 10 years...At first I wondered at that, but now I understand what is meant, to a certain degree. Please do not let this post dampen anyone's desire to share their story though!
Yes I feel this is good advice. I don't feel right now that I am ready to give my story. I'm still learning the significance of many things that were not apparent at the time of my baptism.
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2009, 07:56:34 PM »

I'm gonna give what I gave at a conservative protestant christian rap/hiphop forum. I can't give the link because it's against the rules to do so, but it's called "HolyCultureRadio"



I was always a history buff, but never really got into church history until I started arguing with Seventhday Adventists & Oneness Pentecostals (back in 1997). So it all started over doctrinal issues. Over the Sabbath, and the Trinity.

That's how I started really getting into church history, for our arguments over scripture were at a stand still. They had scriptures they used to support what they were saying, and I had scriptures I used to support what I was saying (which mostly came from Hank Hanegraff for I followed him heavily back then.....back in those days) . So one day they both came to me and told me that either the Pope or the Emperor Constantine was the reason for me believing in the doctrine of the Trinity or for going to church on sunday (back then I believed sunday was the christian sabbath).

I told them I couldn't just take their word for it, and for the SDA, I told them I couldn't just accept what their scholars said without double checking for my self. The SDA's were more scholarly,.......they have their own schools and their own scholars.

And this is how it happened. I started reading the works of the christians around the time of the Emperor Constantine as well as before his time (Pre-Nicen/Ante-Nicene & Nicen Christians) Now what I found out, really didn't change them that much..well wait. It did one person, he left PAW and became a Baptist...only to go to a liberal seminary, but that's another story. (although it did put an end to our arguments about the doctrine of the Trinity and the Sabbath.....well almost, we still argued a little about the sabbath because when one scholar didn't work, they found another SDA scholar with a slighty different twist, but eventually the arguments about that topic stopped).

What I found out eventually changed me. I was a Baptist on paper, but I was no longer a Baptist at heart. I tried to Join EO back then 1997/1998 but the Parish didn't return my phone call. I was eventually sidetracked to some form of "continual Anglicanism" when I ran into the website of David Bercot. He is no longer Anglican, he reverted back to a form of Mennonite Anabaptist. I stopped following him in 2003 when his fellowship in Tyler Texas fell apart and when he started to change some of his core beliefs (that drew me in back in 1997/1998). But there was one good thing I kept from that movement, and it was the focus on reading the primary sources for yourself. The Idea that you can't really trust tertianary (3rd) sources, and that sometimes even secondary (2nd) sources can get some stuff wrong.
So you always have to go back and read the primaries if you want to be as accurate as possible. In 2002 I joined an Anglo-Catholic parish in the Pittsburgh diocese of the ECUSA (back then the Pittsburgh Diocese were still in the ECUSA, they recently split from the denomination). I had a choice of joining a charismatic parish or the Anglo Catholic parish. I joine the Anglo-Catholic, but I still visited and helped out (alot) with the charismatic parish. I decided to leave the ECUSA in sempembter of 2006 when I saw the Charismatic Episcopal Church split in many pieces in America. I only joined the ECUSA in pittsburgh because there were no ICCEC or CEEC parishes near by (at least back then).

Bercot(back in the 1990's when I was drawn to his movement), Bishop Thomas, the CEEC, the ICCEC, and the EOC  all came out of a movement called The Convergence Movement or The Convergence of the Streams movement.

It's basically where you try to blend the Evangelical with the Catholic/Sacramental with the Charismatic. and depending on the group, one aspect will always be more dominant than the other, or one aspect will almost be ignored, but the ideal was to have a healthy balance of all three........in practice it was never really like that......but that's the gist of it.......it was basically a conservative form of what would later be known as the "Emergent movement". In the Emergent movement, you can look outside of christianity to find things to suppliment your worship style and lifestyle. In the Convergence movement, you only look at those 3 streams.....the evangelical, the Catholic, and the Charismatic.......and choose from that, what you want in your worship preference and christian lifestyle.

I don't know when the emergent movement began, but the convergence movement began back in the 1970's.

Well, there is more to the story of why I became EO, I wrote about it some two years ago. But when I saw the ICCEC fall apart back in 2006, that's when I called an EO priest I found on a Roman Catholic website where some former ICCEC became Roman Catholic. I called him and he put me in touch with an EO priest in Pittsburgh and I started visiting in December of 2006 and was chrismated on April of 2007.

So it took about 9 or 10 years for me to become EO. I first tried in 1997/1998, got side tracked, and ended up being EO anyway some years later.

And it all was because of an argument I had with SDA's and PAW's back in 1997. Now if I argued with Roman Catholics back then, then maybe I still would be Protestant, if I argued with a different group that wanted me to look at a different historical timeline, then maybe I still would be Baptist or Charismatic(of some stripe).

But it didn't happen that way. I was told that the Emperor Constantine did this and did that, or that the pope of that time did this or did that, and their was pressure put on me to reject what I was raised to believe in as a Baptist, and since the Doctrine of the Trinity is a salvation issue (that's what I said back then, when I was arguing with PAW), I told them that I couldn't just take their word for it. I had to see for my self.


And this is the only reason why I am a church history buff. When I started in 1997 I just couldn't stop. Doctrine and history to me are like a matrix.....like RNA & DNA. They go together because they are always connected in some way.

Now Alexander Cambell started his own church......his own movement. I have no desire to start my own church nor my own movement. Alexander Cambell rejected creeds. I don't. I accept creeds. So yes, you can be into church history and be wrong on doctrinal issues, but you can also be into church history and be right on doctrinal issues as well.

I'm not saying I'm right or wrong......eventhough I personally believe I'm right.....but I also understand that other people feel that I'm wrong......and I don't see a problem with that.

But the truth is, I made personal decisions in my life that lead to what I believe right now.....whether right or wrong. And I own up to my decisions in life. Now maybe if I was in a different environment with different groups arguing with me then maybe I would of turned out differently, but I turned out this way.......with the cards I was dealt. (I believe in the limited freedom of the will, so this is why I am saying what I am saying. There are some things I can control and there are some things I just can't....I have no control over alot of things in life.)

I had to throw in a little bit of Arminianism in there..........please forgive me if you were offended. :wink:









JNORM888

Most of the people on that forum are Calvery Chapel, Calvinists or Reformed of some stripe.....with a sprinkle of Holiness, Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Mennonites here and there.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2009, 08:17:21 PM by jnorm888 » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2009, 09:30:38 PM »

I am not sure I've ever posted my "conversion story" on this forum.

Very briefly:

I was born in December 1957 and raised in a very Atheist, very "Soviet" family - and I consider it a huge blessing. I was never shoved any Bible or any rules of the "good Christian living" down my throat. I hanged out with boys and girls from every possible walk of life, and I learned to appreciate the humanity in all of them, and to love them and not to judge them. I also learned - because I was growing up in a horrible, perverted society - to understand, and appreciate, that human societies are generally bad, strange, weird, perverse, and that you should not "put your faith in princes, the sons of men." This understanding, this belief became even stronger when I moved to the USA in 1990.

Also, I was growing up in a culture that cherished Beauty. Lev Tolstoy was my beloved author since my early adolescence, and I was moved to tears many times, even when I was 12-13-14, by the words of Pierre Bezouchoff, "..if I were not I, but the most beautiful, the most intelligent, and the best of all human beings in the whole world, and if I were free, I would, this very instant, kneel down and beg for your hand and your love." I lived in my parents' apartment on the Honchara (former Chkalova) Street downtown Kiev, and I used to wake up, even in the worst years of the Soviet Communism, in the 1970's and the early 1980's, to the bells of the the St. Volodymyr ("Vladimir") Cathedral on Leontovycha St,. which was just a couple of blocks from my parents' apartment high-rise building. I used to sneak into the St. Volodymyr's so many, many, many times when I was a high school student, and then a University student, silently, tacitly, inconspicuosly, just to listen to the choir, to look at the icons and murals, to sniff the incense, to listen to the heavenly choir and to this unbelievable, otherwordly voice of the priest and of the deacon and of the reader, and to savor this otherwordly BEAUTY-BEAUTY-BEAUTY-BEAURY-BEAUTY-BEAUTY-BEAUTY-BEAURY-BEAUTY-BEAUTY-BEAUTY-BEAURY-BEAUTY-BEAUTY-BEAUTY-BEAURY-... To those of you guys who think that Christianity is something else than this BEAUTY - moral codes, fight against abortions, or gays, or "unbelievers," or Catholics or whoever - defending a certain political, moral, or I don't know what "agenda" - I just have really nothing to say...

And then I came to the US in 1990, and wandered... and finally came home in 2007. That's it...
« Last Edit: April 23, 2009, 09:39:35 PM by Heorhij » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2009, 09:42:19 PM »

What a beautiful conversion story, George! Thanks so much for sharing! I know what you mean about St. Vladimir's Cathedral, and the sheer beauty of it. I too was mainly attracted to Orthodoxy because of her breathtaking beauty-but too often I get side-tracked because of fears and previous indoctrination-on some of the other things you mentioned. When I have those moments, I must try to remember your testimony...
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2009, 02:44:48 PM »

Christianity is a whole package. And thus BEAUTY is a whole package.....there is beauty in a moral and Holy life, there is beauty in Orthodox doctrine, faith and practice......beauty permeates all of Orthodoxy.

We can't pick and choose what we like.......we have to accept it all....even if we don't accept or can't accept what the Fathers teach on some issues,........even if we don't accept or can't accept some of the moral codes.......it's a whole package.

So instead of picking on others.....because you don't understand why some do the things they do or say some of the things they say...or vote the way they vote.......why not focus on yourself on your own holiness and salvation.

This thread is about our conversion stories.......it is not about the beef we have with other Orthodox christians.







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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2009, 05:57:57 PM »

hello all, my name is George, and this is my first post here, but surely not my last, as my questions are infinite. but i thought i would share my acceptance of christ and my journey to orthodoxy first.

also i say acceptance, not conversion, because i've never been a member of any organized religon, nor accepted one as true to the word of god till now.
i was born 1-9-1967, and baptised roman catholic at my grandmothers (moms mom) behest. my parents were divorced before i was 3, and a few years later my mother married a returning viet nam vet from utah who was raised mormon, although he was not practicing. and never took us to church or taught us their religion. nor did my mother take us to church or give us any spiritual input. ok i take that back around 5th grade we did recieve a set of new testament bible books for children. (from who i don't know) which would be my sole introduction to christ for most of my life. now to say i grew up not believing in god would be a lie, i just never gave it much thought through childhood, or most of my adult life for that matter. and as anyone in america can tell you public schooling is really messed up as far as teaching anything other than evolution. which is where i lived most of my life, learning and believing what i was taught in school. in other words christ was on the outside and doubts prevailed in my mind.

both my father, and my stepfather were marijuana smokers, and as fate would have it i became one as well, mostly because they did it, it must be ok right? and also peer pressure which was a big former of my early adult life. follow not lead that was me. as i grew it became who i was and what i lived for, getting high and having fun. now i was different than alot of my friends in that i was the quiet one, not outgoing, always sitting back at the edge and observing, rather than being a major part of any social situations. feeling different, or that i didn't fit in with the cool people for some reason. today i see that as a blessing because it allowed me to look at things differently in my future years. somewhat philosophicaly i guess. always wondering why we do this? why we do that? it's still hard for me to explain in words. as i am just coming to realize things like that through my process of self examination.

sometime during the last 7-8 years i started to be turned off by people, and the world in general. i think mostly because i started seeing them as self serving, greedy, and hateful. mainly because of personal experiences here in mormon country, and the way our government acts opposite of what they say most of the time. when this happened i went into personal exile. avoiding the outside world if at all possible, and when i did have to go out, such as to work or to shop, i would put on what i called my mask, to hide my disdain and enable me to function in that enviroment. the rest of the time i locked myself away in an artificial means of distraction, by smoking pot and playing first person shooter video games for endless hours, forsaking all other personal responsibility for my own self serving needs. (how i see it now) it drove me and my wife apart, though thankfully she didn't give up on me, although she threatened to leave me multiple times, she never did, and i'm thankful for that. i was a lousy father to my daughter, rarely spending time with her, leaving it all to my wife.

sometime last year, i stopped playing games so much and got into the upcoming election, i've never been a member of a political party for some of the same reasons i never was into organized religion. they say one thing and do another, they claim christian morals and ethics, but lie through their teeth to further their agenda. (both parties in my opinion)
after hearing alot of rhetoric about socialism, new world order, and bringing the apocalypse. i went to work researching these subjects and found myself one day sitting here scared to death that it was true. for the first time in my life i picked up the bible, and went straight to revelation, after a few pages something in me said stop, start from the beginning not the end. so i opened to the front and read matthew. i had not noticed till after that my fear was gone, and i felt calm. so i kept reading everyday, the more i read, the more of my doubts in god drifted away. so i turned to god for answers to the way, as it's was first called i've recently learned. now i have always loved to learn, i guess that was one of my good traits. and history has always been a big fascination for me, especially ancient history, such as roman times, and ancient egypt. and i've believed for quite some time that interpreting the bible to fit today is a mistake, even though myself having never really read it till now, i discovered i had learned alot more than i realized from tv. if channel surfing, and there was a show about biblical times i always watched it. i didn't seek it out, but if it was there i paid attention. and always found myself thinking how did you surmise that from what you just read? that dosen't make sense to me. which i think is why when i accepted christ in my life i had to find guidance in a church, but which one?

 my searches led me to the orthodox christian network and needless to say, after reading and researching the history of orthodoxy i found what was missing in my life. TRUTH.
 i found strength in the lord to do what i never was able to do on my own, the right thing. that was a month ago, and everyday i feel more happiness and joy than the last. i've given myself to the lord, and have plunged headlong into learning everything i can as fast as i can. i picked up the orthodox study bible. and a few recommended books by bishop ware, the orthodox church and the orthodox way.
sadly the closest parish is 120 miles from me in las vegas. and i have no local priest for guidance. only internet, so i get most of it from ocn. father chris and father spiro have been a big help to me in the last few weeks. through their bible study classes and all the podcasts on ocn. i viewed my first liturgy last sunday, and was overwhelmed with my lack of knowledge, so my search for the answers continues, but at last i feel i'm on the right path, and no longer in exile.

ok well this got kinda long, and i've left out much to keep it this short, so if anyone has any questions about things i've mentioned, or answers to help me get more knowledge of the orthodox tradition and teachings, they are most welcome.
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2009, 12:45:17 PM »

ok well this got kinda long, and i've left out much to keep it this short, so if anyone has any questions about things i've mentioned, or answers to help me get more knowledge of the orthodox tradition and teachings, they are most welcome.

No, it was not too long, George. I read your story with great interest. Thank you. I am perhaps a lot like you, in that I, too, am not a "social animal," never fit into any clique of "beautiful people" etc., and I, too, love to read. I was never into pot or video games, but I had my share of hiding from things, just using other means - alcohol. I used to drink tons of strong stuff, bourbon etc., up to half-gallon in three days. Stopped in ~mid2004. Now drink wine, but almost never liquor.

May the Lord be with you in your spiritual journey. Best wishes to you. Welcome to the forum, good to have you with us.
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2009, 11:34:05 PM »

It's amazing for me to hear stories like this. Being a cradle Orthodox, I've never had a crisis of faith like so many people I know. The horror stories I've heard from converts in my parish are sometimes hard to believe. I'm glad you've all discovered the True Church though. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2009, 11:45:02 PM »

findingfaith (George),

 That was a really great story and I wanted to thank you for sharing it with us!  And welcome to the forum!  Wink

 Gabriel
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« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2009, 02:42:53 AM »

It's amazing for me to hear stories like this. Being a cradle Orthodox, I've never had a crisis of faith like so many people I know. The horror stories I've heard from converts in my parish are sometimes hard to believe. I'm glad you've all discovered the True Church though. Smiley

Don't get too cozy yet.  You're only 20 years old, and there is still a lot of time for doubts to creep in.  My whole religious world didn't come caving in until about five years ago, which would have been at 21.
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« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2009, 10:55:23 AM »

This is my testimony of conversion. It's a bit lengthy, but it is excerpted from my soon to be published book. I hope it encourages you!

Selam

A FAITH THAT FOUND A HOME
Testimony of Baptism into The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

By

GEBRE MENFES KIDUS

In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God,
-Amen-

"For as lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." 
[St. Matthew 24:27]

   The Lord is mighty, and worthy to be praised. Eyesus Kristos (Jesus Christ) is the Good Shepherd, and He guideth His sheep with mystical purpose, holy power, and divine protection. Throughout this world, many of the Father's sheep wander apart from the flock. They live in fear and confusion, because they are away from home and separated from the security of the Shepherd's guidance. They are lonely, because they lack the companionship and strength that comes from being united with the flock.
So, these scattered sheep exist without proper spiritual nourishment. They love their Shepherd, and in sincere faith they strive to follow Him to the best of their knowledge. They hear the Shepherd's voice, but it is muffled. They feel the Shepherd's presence, but only faintly. They know the Shepherd's love, yet they struggle to find a home where His love is felt in all of its fullness. They know the Shepherd's commands, but they are cut off from the spiritual power that enables them to endure in obedience. More than anything, they desire to worship the Shepherd, but their houses of worship just don't feel like home. 
I was one of these scattered sheep, wandering in search of a home that would satisfy the deepest longings of my Christian faith. I studied the Bible, and I loved my Savior. But the version of Christianity produced by the Western world provided only a taste of what my soul longed to feast upon.
So, this is my testimony. It is the story of how this wandering sheep finally found his home. To God be the glory!
                 
                                 Pursuing Purpose
As a child, my father exposed me to a variety of Christian Churches and denominations. I am very grateful to him for this. The Catholic Church was the first church that made an impression upon me. I felt a sense of awe when I entered the huge Cathedral. There was a solemn reverence and devotion that existed amongst the worshipers. The Stations of the Cross adorned the walls, and holy icons and statues caught my eye. But the Cathedral was a colorless environment, gray and dim. The icons seemed lifeless, and the sound of the Latin liturgy did not resonate with my spirit. [Years later I would learn about the egregious actions that the Catholic Church committed against the Christian nation of Ethiopia, none more atrocious than Pope Pius XI giving his blessing to Mussolini's brutal invasion of that sacred land.] 
I remember my parents occasionally taking me to the Unitarian Church, where I honestly cannot even remember hearing the name of God mentioned. As a child, this was very odd to me. I tried to understand the teachings of the Unitarian "sermons," but the concepts of God and biblical morality were apparently not the foundations of this particular “church.” The simple mind of a child is always searching for the concrete truths of God and morality. And, although my mind did not understand the amorphous concepts expressed in this Unitarian environment, my childhood soul immediately understood one thing very clearly: this Unitarianism was spiritually dark and devoid of any real moral substance. 
In the Methodist and Baptist Churches, I finally learned some of the famous Bible stories. The clear concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, were ideas that corresponded with what I knew deep inside to be true. I heard of Jesus and His death on the Cross. But I still did not really understand what it all meant. I was deeply saddened that Christ was crucified, and I knew that He was crucified for me. Yet I struggled to comprehend the depth and fullness of the Christian message.
At the age of 19, during my first year of college, I finally realized what the message of the Gospel truly was. Through a college ministry organized by an evangelical Presbyterian Church, I came to acknowledge my sins and fully trusted in the redemptive power of Christ and the Cross. After years of searching for answers in a variety of sinful pursuits, my soul was finally awakened. It was then that my spiritual journey truly began.
I immediately developed an interest in the Holy Bible. For many years I had tried in earnest to read the Scriptures, but I couldn't understand what was written. The words were tedious to read, and my mind and spirit never became engaged. But now, it was as if a light switch had been turned on. The words of the Bible finally made sense! It was as if every page was written directly to me and for me. I have loved the Holy Bible ever since. Glory be to God for His divine written revelation to humanity! As Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia said:
 "Today man sees all his hopes and aspirations crumble before him. He is perplexed and knows not whither he is drifting. But he must realize that the solution to his present difficulties and guidance for his future action is the Bible. Unless he accepts with clear conscience the Bible and its great message, he cannot hope for salvation. For myself, I glory in the Bible." (19)

                                 Wandering in The West
With my newborn faith in Christ and my newfound love for the Bible, I began searching for a Church that would provide the fellowship, teachings, and Christian worship that my revived soul desperately craved. I am deeply grateful for the many righteous and God-fearing Christian people and Christian churches that all helped me along the way. I learned things of great value through each of them. I especially enjoyed my years of education in Bible College and my Philosophy studies later on. But my spirit still longed for something richer and deeper.
The Catholicism and Protestantism of Western civilization seemed full of contradiction and confusion. The more I studied theology, the more I became frustrated by how many competing doctrines existed amongst these Western churches and denominations. I also began to recognize how much damage this did to the Christian community. Instead of unity, there was a spirit of division that separated these Christian churches into isolated groups, each one claiming to have a superior theological understanding.
I also noticed that most churches in our Western society fall into one of two basic categories. There are some churches that emphasize spirituality while neglecting the temporal problems of man's social welfare; and then there are other churches that seem to focus solely on temporal needs while dismissing spiritual realities. But, as I read the Holy Bible, I noticed that Christ always preached spiritual truth while simultaneously meeting people's physical needs.
Here in America, there is also the unnatural divide between Church and state. There are true Christians who understand that without governance according to biblical morality, the state will inevitably come to chaos and ruin. And then there are the secularists, those who do not want any mention of God or biblical morality intruding upon their unrestrained desires and vain imaginations. The very fact that we even have this church/state divide and debate is indicative of the spiritual darkness that permeates the Western world.
 After his seventh visit to Jamaica in 1972, Abuna Yesehaq - Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere - addressed these issues when he wrote:
"Mr. Manley (Michael Manley, who was the Prime Minister of Jamaica at that time) said governments in the Western Hemisphere had lost spiritual inspiration because of the separation of the church and state. He observed further that in the Caribbean the Church was focusing attention on the problems of the people, and this was of tremendous significance. The Church was not only concerned with the spiritual salvation of mankind, but also the temporal sufferings of the people, and this was a healthy development. He strongly believed that 'any government which denies itself spiritual advice impoverishes itself by this denial.' He was right. The real significance of the church and state relationship has been lost in many countries, especially those in the Western world. It should be remembered that the pillar which served as the basis for the evolvement of these governments is that of the separation of church and state. The consequence of this has been the great damage that is evident in the lives of many nations where the spirit of the people is neglected for purely carnal pursuits."   [The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church by Archbishop Yesehq, pages 215-216]

                                   Rastafari Light
God works in mystical ways. And He always leads His sheep according to His mighty providence. I have always loved reggae music, especially the spiritual music of Bob Marley and other positive reggae artists. The music of Bob Marley was based on biblical themes, which I loved. Through this music, I was introduced to the Rastafarian worldview. This lifestyle seemed to me to be a better expression of Christian principles than that which was practiced by the Western churches. Rastafarians promote peace, social justice, and true respect for all life. Rastafarians avoid politics and other divisive elements that are so prevalent in Western society. Rastafarians also value and uphold the Judaic roots that most Christian churches in the West seem to ignore. But the most significant aspect of Rastafarian philosophy is the importance of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I (Ras Tafari) and the sacred land of Ethiopia.
I have read about and studied the philosophy of great African leaders and revolutionaries such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, Sekou Toure of Guinea, Julius Nyrere of Tanzania, and Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and Steve Biko of South Africa. But the more I learned about Empereror Haile Selassie I, the more I recognized his uniqueness and importance. To me, he stood apart from all of these other important African leaders. His uncompromising commitment to his country, his continent, and to his Christian faith was exemplary. The more I read Haile Selassie’s words and studied his example, the more I came to appreciate and love this great Christian King.
Haile Selassie was able to defend the Christian Faith without denigrating or mocking other religions. He was able to staunchly articulate the rights of the African continent without crusading against the Western world. His Majesty was able to bring together the various African heads of state, and facilitated peaceful and productive progress by "emphasizing all areas of agreement."
The more I learned about Haile Selassie, the more amazed I was. I came to deeply admire this great Emperor of Ethiopia. As a Christian, I rejoiced to learn about this Ethiopian King that ruled his Christian nation according to biblical principles and Christian law. I learned that the Emperor was a descendent of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. And as I read his words, I saw that he possessed a Solomonic wisdom that set him apart from all other world leaders.
I read the Kebra Nagast ["The glory of Kings"], and was fascinated to discover the full story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and how the Ark of the Covenant came to Ethiopia. Everything I read and learned about Haile Selassie and Ethiopia seemed to provide the pieces to a puzzle that I had been trying to put together for many years. Why had I never known that the Ark of the Covenant and the true Cross of Christ are now in Ethiopia? And for all the theology I had studied, why didn't I know that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was the oldest Christian Church in existence? 
So, I thank God for the Rastafarian movement, because without it I would never have known much about Emperor Haile Selassie I and the Christian nation of Ethiopia. And I thank God for the Rastafarian worldview, because through this path I found a way of life that corresponded more closely to the teachings and example of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour.
But, although I embraced the Rastafarian way, there was one belief to which I could never subscribe as a Christian. Many Rastafarians (but not all) believe that Haile Selassie is Christ Himself, returned to earth in His Second Coming. As a Christian, I did not agree with this. Although I understood why many Rastafarians held this belief, I knew that Haile Selassie himself was a devout follower of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I also knew that Haile Selassie was deeply disturbed by the fact that many people were worshiping him as God.
So, as a Rastafarian and as a Christian, I began to study and emphasize the message and teachings of Emperor Haile Selassie I. And one of the statements he made was this: "I am a man, and man cannot worship man." It is my hope and my prayer that all Rastafarians will eventually come to understand the importance of these words, and that they will in time embrace the true and ancient Christian Faith of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I.

                                    A Glimpse of Zion
  Through the teachings of Haile Selassie and my interest in his nation, I came to learn about the glorious and mystical Church of Ethiopia. My soul stirred whenever I saw pictures of the rock-hewn, cross-shaped Churches of Lalibela. I loved seeing the pictures of Ethiopian Priests carrying magnificent, ornate Crosses. My spirit rejoiced within me, and I began trying to learn whatever I could about this ancient Christian Faith.
What I discovered was a depth and richness of Christian expression that I never imagined existed. I learned that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church had numerous biblical Scriptures that were either unknown or unappreciated here in the West. As someone who loves the Holy Bible, I rejoiced to know that there were more of God's sacred Scriptures available for my edification and enlightenment. When I read the Book of Enoch, for example, I discovered the full story of the origins of angels and demons, something that had always intrigued me.
The more I learned about this ancient Christian Faith, the more my spirit was moved. As I read the teachings and studied the Orthodox doctrines and beliefs, I knew that the answers I had been searching for were being revealed to me. For years, the devil had tried to keep me from this knowledge and truth. But the Shepherd will always lead his sheep to the water!
 I finally made a trip to Atlanta (where I was born and raised) to visit Debre Bisrat St. Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Upon entering the Church, I immediately felt God's holy presence. I did not understand the words of the Liturgy, because it was conducted in the ancient language of Ge'ez. But the sound of this language was sweet to my ears. And although I could not understand the words, it seemed that my mind, my heart, and my soul bathed in the beauty of this mystical sound. I now know why this was the case: This language, Ge'ez, was the very language that was spoken in the Garden of Eden! This was the very speech that Adam and Eve used to converse with the animals and with the Holy Trinity. No wonder that my soul enjoyed the sound of this holy utterance!   
One of the first things that appealed to me about the Church was the fact that all of my senses were immediately engaged. There was the ethereal beauty of the liturgical language, the sound of drums and bells, the sweet aroma of Frankincense, the sight of huge colorful holy icons that adorned the Church from wall to wall, and the taste of holy water that was sipped by the faithful. And, most impressive of all, was the procession of the priests carrying the Tabots (the holy replicas of the tablets of the Ten Commandments) around the Church at the culmination of the Divine Liturgy.
I had never in my life experienced such reverence, holiness, and devotion. And although there was much that I did not understand, it seemed as though I was gazing through a window into the very glory of Zion. I knew immediately that God was leading me home.   

                                      The Devil Defeated
I now realize that the source of denominational church division in the West resulted from the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D., which divided the nature of Our Lord into two. As soon as I learned the meaning of the Ethiopic word "Tewahedo" ("Unity," "Oneness"), I recognized its significance. Satan knew that if he could deceive men into separating and dividing the nature of Our Lord, then the Christian Church would subsequently be separated, divided, and fractured into a thousand pieces.
So, praise be to God for those faithful Church Fathers that refused to consent with the erroneous Council of Chalcedon. God always preserves a faithful remnant. And because of the righteous conviction and uncompromising faith of these ancient Christians, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has been divinely preserved as the purest manifestation of the Christian faith.
 Most of the Western world is still unaware of these beautiful spiritual realities. But glory to God for Emperor Haile Selassie I, who desired that all people should know the true light of the Gospel. And without coercion, manipulation, or force, Haile Selassie ensured that the ancient Orthodox Faith was brought to those of us in the West who thirsted for its richness and depth.
In His Second Coming, Christ will appear from the East. [St. Matthew 24:27] And in a mystical foreshadowing of this event, representatives from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church came from the East to the West in order to establish the ancient Christian religion in this land. Long ago there were Wise Men that came from the East to worship the incarnate God in His infancy. Almost two thousand years later, wise men came from the East to establish the truest and oldest expression of Christianity here in this spiritually dry part of the world.
I am thankful for the Ethiopian World Federation, which provided for the establishment of the Church in the West. What Satan intends for evil, God uses for good. [Genesis 50:20] And although the Italian fascist Benito Mussolini endeavored to destroy the Ethiopian people and the Ethiopian faith, he unintentionally helped to spread the light of the true Christian Church to other parts of the world. It was during the Italian occupation that the Ethiopian World Federation was established. This organization provided for the establishment of the Church here in America, so that Ethiopians in the U.S. could worship according to their own customs and culture. So, I give thanks to God for the righteous vision and the faithful efforts that made the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Faith available to those of us here in the West.
 But I am especially grateful to Archbishop Yesehaq (Abba L. M. Mandefro), who devoted his life to establishing the Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere. I am so thankful that he came to us, and I am especially thankful for his missionary efforts to Rastafarians. Without condescension or judgment, Archbishop Yesehaq took the time to understand the source, development, and the frustrations of the Rastafarian movement. A strong but gentle shepherd, Archbishop Yesehaq proclaimed the message of the Gospel and the teachings of the Orthodox Church with faithfulness and patience. And, his labors were fruitfully rewarded. Today there are countless numbers of Rastafarians who have abandoned the worship of Haile Selassie and embraced the ancient and authentic Orthodox Christian Faith. Among them was the legendary Bob Marley, whose music and message God would use to eventually bring me home to the Church myself.

                          The Perseverance of a People
In learning about Ethiopia, I have seen how this sacred country has persevered through the most difficult of adversities and hardships. But in spite of the evil assaults of colonialism, fascism, Islamic invasions, and communism, God has preserved the land and its people. Mussolini instructed the fascist troops to "Kill everyone carrying the Cross." (20) The Italians therefore sought out the Ethiopian Priests, and subjected them to the cruelest forms of torture and death. But evil acts such as these have not deterred the Ethiopian people from their devotion to the Cross of Christ.
Ethiopia as a nation has taken up her Cross, with all of its suffering and affliction, and followed Christ through the centuries with endurance, faith, and honor. As Our Lord said in the Gospel, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." [St. Luke 9:23]
Ethiopia has never abandoned her Christian faith. She has continued to "stretch forth her hand unto God." [Psalm 68:31] 

                                     A Calling from God
For the past two years, I have felt the deep desire to be baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. I feel like the Ethiopian eunuch who desired to be baptized by St. Philip the apostle. [Acts 8:26-39] This Ethiopian man desired to know the fullness and truth of the God he worshiped according to Judaic tradition. St. Philip found him reading from the book of Isaiah, and the apostle asked him if he understood what he read. The Ethiopian responded, "How can I, except that some man should guide me?" [Acts 8:31] So, St. Philip proceeded to explain the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy through Eyesus Kristos the Lord. And the Ethiopian's immediate response to the Gospel message was: "What doth hinder me to be baptized?" [Acts 8:36]
I have been studying the Bible for 20 years, yet I have lacked the fullness of its comprehension. Now I realize this is because I did not have the Orthodox Church to guide me in understanding its proper meaning. Like the Ethiopian eunuch, I have loved God and loved His scriptures. And similarly, I now have been exposed to the light of greater knowledge and instruction. Therefore, I have asked the same question: "What doth hinder me to be baptized?" And believing with all my heart that Eyesus Kristos is the Son of God, I have graciously been told that I may indeed be baptized. Glory to God in the highest!     
The devil always tries to make us doubt our motives and intentions. But God alone is the Judge of man's heart [Hebrews 4:12-13]. Whenever we desire that which is good for our souls and glorifying to God, then Satan will try to deter us from it. The devil is the accuser of the brethren [Revelation 12:10], and he always challenges our divine calling. But when God gives a calling, then He will fulfill that call in His servant's life. His calling is irrevocable [Romans 11:39], and His will cannot be thwarted. I have felt the call to be baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and in faith I trust that this calling is authentic and divine.   
  Recently I experienced a vivid dream that I will never forget. In this dream, I suddenly found myself in Ethiopia. All around me there was bloodshed and death. Ethiopians were being murdered left and right by some brutal and sadistic force. I could not determine who or what this evil force was, but I knew that it was demonic. Bombs, canons, and machine gun bullets were killing the Ethiopian people who themselves had no weapons of defense.
The Ethiopian Christians were being violently murdered as they peacefully followed their Orthodox priests who were carrying crosses. As these Priests were shot, they dropped their beautiful crosses as they fell to the ground. I wept with grief. What had these righteous people done to deserve this cruel and horrible fate?
But I noticed a very curious thing. In spite of all the violence and death being inflicted upon the Ethiopian people, there was no spirit of fear amongst them. No one ran away in panic and terror. They all marched forward with calm determination, following their priests with their eyes upon the Cross. There was extreme sorrow, but there was no fear. And I was amongst it all, feeling the deepest sadness at what I was witnessing. But it was very strange that nobody was afraid.   
Suddenly, a priest right in front of me was killed. He dropped his cross as his body fell to the earth. I wanted to reach down and pick up this cross, but because only priests are allowed to carry a cross, I did not know what I should do. Then I gazed across the bloody field, and I looked into the eyes of a fallen priest who was struggling with his last breaths. He gazed at me and nodded, indicating that I should indeed pick up the cross and carry it forward. So I did. I reached down and picked up the beautiful cross that lay before me on the ground. And as soon as I picked it up, my dream abruptly ended.
I will never forget this dream, and I am sure that over time I will come to better understand its meaning. But I interpreted this dream as my call from God to be baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. And I know that I desperately need the strength and blessings of baptism to empower me in my spiritual journey. I need the blessings of baptism to help me endure the afflictions that accompany all those who truly follow after Christ.
                     
                                    Coming Home
It would be understandable if this ancient Ethiopian faith and culture closed itself off from any connection to corrupt Western society. It would be natural if the Ethiopian people desired to hide the mysteries of their culture and keep their ancient Christian religion to themselves. But because of the authenticity of their Christian faith, they have a deep desire to share the true light of Christ and the true meaning of the Cross with the rest of the world.
    When I first visited St. Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Atlanta, I was welcomed with warmth and kindness. It did not matter that I was "white." It did not matter that I was unfamiliar with the language or the Liturgy. I felt at peace. I felt at home.
I am deeply grateful to the Priest, Tsebate YemaneBrhan, who graciously took the time to meet with me and consider my interest in the Faith. With the many responsibilities and duties he has to his large Ethiopian parish, it would have been understandable if he didn't have time to deal with someone from Mississippi (where we now live). But in true Christian spirit, he has taken the time over the past two years to answer my questions and encourage my interest in the Church. And now I am very blessed to soon be baptized by Tsebate, and to have him as my Godfather. I want to sincerely express my gratitude and respect to him. Tsebate has truly been sent by God!
I am so thankful that this sacred Christian Faith has been opened up to me. My appreciation cannot be adequately expressed with words. It is difficult to express the love I feel for a country that I have never even visited, and for the Ethiopian people who have given such spiritual light and hope to the world. Ethiopia was located in the land of Eden, as we know from the Holy Bible [Genesis 2:10-13]. So the spiritual connection I feel with this land, its people, and its faith must be because Ethiopia represents the pure and uncorrupted communion that mankind in his pre-fallen state once enjoyed with God. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve, our first parents. And since they were the first Africans, then the African heritage belongs to all human beings, regardless of race, color, or creed.
  As my family and I prepare for our baptism, I feel as if I am coming home from a long, long journey. And yet I know that my journey is really just beginning. My Christian faith has struggled through many ups and downs, and through many trials and tribulations. I have often stumbled and sometimes fallen, but Christ my Shepherd has always picked me up and carried me in His arms when I needed Him the most. And now He is bringing me into the true fold of ancient and authentic Christian fellowship.
Through baptism, I will be renewed and cleansed by the very water that poured from Our Lord's side. Thereafter, I will have the blessing of receiving the very body and very blood of Eyesus Kristos into my mouth and into my body and soul. I will have communion with the Saints and Christian martyrs. I will have the protection of the holy Angels. I will have the blessings of the Holy Virgin Mariyam, to whom I can pray and praise. There will be fasts that will help me to crucify the flesh, and feasts that help us experience the joy of Christ's victory in our lives. I will have my blessed Priest and Godfather, Tsebate YemaneBrhan, to whom I can confess my sins and receive guidance and instruction in the Faith. I will have the sacred Scriptures in all of their fullness. And I will have the Synaxarium, which will give me daily inspiration and encouragement from the exemplary lives of the Saints and Christian martyrs.   
I know that after my baptism the struggles in life will continue. But now I will have the spiritual power and guidance to help me endure with greater vitality than ever before. I will be strengthened and encouraged by the five Mysteries, the seven Sacraments, the lives of the Saints, the protection of the Angels, the blessings of the Holy Virgin, the fellowship and communion with the faithful, the Divine Liturgy, the Prayers and Anaphoras, and the blessings of Holy Icons.
I am approaching my 40th birthday, having been a professing Christian for 20 years. But I feel like a baby. There is so much that I need to learn, and I look forward to the growth process. I am humbled by the faithfulness and commitment of devout Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. My flesh is weak, and the devil tells me that I will not be able to adequately practice this Orthodox Christian Faith. But God reminds me that prayer, fasting, and worship are not burdens. These things are blessings for the soul and liberation for the mind and the spirit. God also reminds me that faith is not a competition. We are all at different stages of development and growth. And the Orthodox Faith provides us with the things we need for our proper spiritual nourishment.
People eat different amounts of food according to their nutritional needs and desires. A child may become full from a small portion, while an adult requires a much larger portion. But both are fed and receive what they need for their growth and development. It should not be the goal of the child to grow up and eat as much as his parents. Instead, the child must eat according to his needs at the various stages of his growth. And over time, he will realize that he is able to eat more and more. And the more nourishment he receives, the stronger his body will grow.
So, this is the grace of Orthodox Christianity. The prayers, fasts, and other observances are for our spiritual nourishment. They are available to us for our own strength and development in the Faith. These things do not exist for our condemnation. Rather, they exist for our edification and encouragement.
I come into the Church as a spiritual infant, eager to grow and develop. Growth is a slow and difficult process, sometimes even painful. But each stage of development will bring new blessings and new spiritual rewards. And although I am entering as a spiritual child, I know that the Church is my Mother, and I will be nurtured well by her. 
So, I am grateful to be entering into this ancient Apostolic Faith of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. It is with humility that I come to my home, seeking to be edified and enlightened in the true Faith. I praise my Lord and my Saviour, Eyesus Kristos, who has graciously brought me to where I now belong. I know that the Church will be a blessing to my marriage and to my children. I have peace in knowing that my children will now be raised up in the authentic Christian Faith. I know that the Church will empower me to be more effective in my various ministries. I know that I will also receive divine anointing upon my creative endeavors. And, I am confident that I will receive God's guidance to proclaim the true Gospel of Christ to my Rastafarian brethren that erroneously worship Haile Selassie as God.
I rejoice that the Lord has brought me to the true Faith. I will never look down upon my Catholic or Protestant Christian brothers. I have many dear friends - both Catholic and Protestant - that love Our Lord. But I realize that I will not be able to contain my joy at having been brought to the Orthodox Church. As I learn and grow in the Faith, I am certain that I will desire to spread this knowledge to others. But in my zeal, I will remember the wisdom of Archbishop Yesehaq, who wrote:
"A Christian Church, being the Kingdom of God, should not and cannot limit itself to one nation. It must go out and preach the Gospel throughout the world, regardless of race, color, or distance, following the commandment of Our Lord: 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the ages.' The Church of Ethiopia has been a spiritual power and an ancient lighthouse for freedom and civilization throughout Africa, before and after Christ. She will not force anyone to break contract with what he or she is attached to, and she is continuously praying for the entire world that God should hasten His purpose and put in the mind of all the desire for that which is good and expedient. If any different culture or form of worship is introduced to a country, it should be considered as a contribution. It should not conflict with the country to which the individual national group legally belongs. [The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church by Archbishop Yesehaq, pages 175-176]
What I have written is a very brief and incomplete account of the spiritual journey that has led me home to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. There is much more that I could say, but I hope that God will take these few words and use them to His glory and for His purpose. Sometimes words cannot adequately express the emotions of the heart and the sentiments of the soul. But I feel the same joy expressed by the many Rastafarians who came to the Church through the missionary efforts of Abuna Yesehaq. There is an old Rastafarian chant that perhaps best expresses my feelings. It goes like this:


Michael going to bring them, bring them
To the Orthodox Church
No matter what they say, no matter what they do
Michael going to bring them to the Orthodox Church

Gabriel going to bring them, bring them
To the Orthodox Church
No matter what they do, no matter what they say
Gabriel going to bring them, bring them to the Orthodox Church

Sorial going to bring them, bring them
To the Orthodox Church
No matter what they do, no matter what they say
Sorial going to bring them, bring them to the Orthodox Church

Raphael going to bring them, bring them
To the Orthodox Church
No matter what they do, no matter what they say
Raphael going to bring them, bring them to the Orthodox Church

Thank God, thank God! The Orthodox Church is here!
Thank God, thank God! The Orthodox Church is here!

It is a Church for each and every one
Who accepts this wonderful Faith

Thank God, Glory Alleluyah! The Orthodox Church is here!


5/27/2008






The Cleansing Water
   On June 15th, 2008, my family and I were baptized into the true and ancient Orthodox Christian Faith at St. Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Atlanta, Georgia. In God's mystical providence, we were baptized on the Day of Pentecost, the Church's celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles as recorded in the Book of Acts, chapter 2. The water that poured from Our Lord's side at His crucifixion was poured over the members of our family three times each. We renounced Satan and all of his evil works, and we received the Holy Spirit through Chrismation, whereby our Priest anointed our heads, our hands, and our faces with Holy Myron (oil) in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God.
I was asked to read aloud the following passage from the New Testament:

Titus 3:3-8
"For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men." 

After which I read:

"The blessing of the Father and the love of the Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit who came down upon the apostles in the upper room of holy Zion in like sort come down and be multiplied upon me and all of you." Amen

The Priest read this passage from the Gospel of St. John 3:1-9

"There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

     We then read the Creed of Nicea (325 A.D.) and Constantinople (381 A.D.) out loud as a family:

"We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (aeons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets. In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen"

With the exception of these words which were read in English, the rest of the baptismal rite was conducted in the holy liturgical language of Ge'ez. Prayers of the exorcism of demons were said, along with other prayers chanted by the Priests and Deacons as they walked around our family and enveloped us in a circle of sacred Frankincense smoke. After our baptism, we received the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the very body and blood of Eyesus Kristos. 
We also received our new Christian names. And, since we were baptized on the Day of Pentecost, Tsebate our Priest gave each of us names that relate to the Holy Spirit. My new Christian name is now "Gebre Menfes Kidus" (Servant of the Holy Spirit); my wife's new name is "Amete Menfes Kidus" (Servant [feminine] of the Holy Spirit); our sons' names are now "Wolde Menfes Kidus" (Son of the Holy Spirit) and "Haile Menfes Kidus" (Power of the Holy Spirit); and our daughter's new Christian name is "Wolete Menfes Kidus" (Daughter of the Holy Spirit). It is our prayer and desire that we will live up to our names, and that as a family and as individuals we will serve, live, rely upon, and manifest the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. I ask for prayers on our behalf.
After our baptism and the receiving of the Eucharist, Tsebate introduced us to the Church and asked me to share my testimony. I was honored to address the community of the faithful, and I am sure that my words failed to express the joy and gratitude that filled my heart. Our family was received into St. Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church with warmth and graciousness, and we pray that God will use us to contribute to the strength and growth of our beautiful new Church community.
There is strength and blessing in the Church. Apart from this mystical body of Christ, this holy institution, a Christian will never fully grow in grace and truth. He will never have the Christian authority, guidance, and accountability that all believers need. The Church not only exists for us, but we exist for the Church. We are to contribute our resources, our gifts, our abilities, our fellowship, our encouragement, and our time to the Church that nurtures and nourishes us in the true apostolic Faith.
I will never forget my baptism. I will remember the grace and power that God granted me through those redeeming waters and the holy myron. Now I pray and seek to be more closely linked with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Baptism is a beautiful beginning, but now there is much Christian work to be done. My family and I are deeply grateful to our Priest and Godfather, Tsebate YemaneBrhan. And we are deeply grateful to the wonderful and generous community of Debre Bisrat St. Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. We are honored and privileged to now call this Church our home. We pray that God will make us faithful and obedient servants of Christ and His Church.

It is my prayer and my hope that others will be drawn to the divine light of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. If you are a Christian that has become discouraged or disillusioned by the erroneous expressions of Western Christendom, then know that the Orthodox Faith offers you its open embrace. If you are a spiritual seeker that has avoided the stagnant representations of most organized religion, then the Ethiopian Orthodox Church invites you to come discover the mystical depth of true Christian belief within our community.
   Satan may prevail over the individual, the state, the society, and even the family; but the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. [St. Matthew 16:18] So whatever thirst that man may have, only the water of Christ can quench it. And it is through the true Church of Christ that ones may come and partake of the redeeming and life-giving waters. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church simply offers:
    "Let him who thirsts come. Whosoever desires, let him take the water of life freely." [Revelation 22:17]


   
"Grace be with all them that love Our Lord Eyesus Kristos in sincerity. Amen."   [Ephesians 6:24]




Besime Ab, weWolde, weMenfesqidus, Ahadu Amlak.
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God
-Amen-







GEBRE MENFES KIDUS

“Servant of the Holy Spirit”

7/3/2008
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« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2009, 09:41:50 PM »

Wow, Genfre, that is a powerful story! I love hearing about the Ethiopian church, and Emperor Selassie (did I spell that right?)!

What are your thoughts on the fututre of Orthodox unity? I love to hear your thoughts as an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian!

I am an inquirer into Holy Orthodoxy. I grew up in an atheist household, and became interested in religion at age 12. After comparing the major religions, I became Bahai. After a while, I read Tim Lahaye's Left Behind series, and joined a nondenom. church. I then read scott Hahn's Rome Sweet Home, and began investigating Catholicism. I was sure I would become Catholic, then I realized I hadn't inmvestigated Orthodoxy. I think God is leading me to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church, but Ive now discovered that I need to decide on Oriental Orthodoxy or eastern Orthodoxy (please God let this be the last decision). Pray for me!
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« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2009, 10:37:17 PM »

Wow, Genfre, that is a powerful story! I love hearing about the Ethiopian church, and Emperor Selassie (did I spell that right?)!

What are your thoughts on the fututre of Orthodox unity? I love to hear your thoughts as an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian!

I am an inquirer into Holy Orthodoxy. I grew up in an atheist household, and became interested in religion at age 12. After comparing the major religions, I became Bahai. After a while, I read Tim Lahaye's Left Behind series, and joined a nondenom. church. I then read scott Hahn's Rome Sweet Home, and began investigating Catholicism. I was sure I would become Catholic, then I realized I hadn't inmvestigated Orthodoxy. I think God is leading me to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church, but Ive now discovered that I need to decide on Oriental Orthodoxy or eastern Orthodoxy (please God let this be the last decision). Pray for me!

Dear Pilgrim,

Thank you for sharing a bit about your spiritual quest. It seems we share some similar experiences. I used to be Protestant, and I also used to study the B'hai faith. The writings of B'ahaullah (I probably spelled that wrong) are very interesting.

I am very new to Orthodoxy, so I hesitate to give you any type of advice in these matters. But I will tell you why I think that the Oriental Orthodox Churches (more properly called Non-Chalcedonian) are the best option. It may seem like theological hair-splitting, but I do believe that it was an error for those at Chalcedon to declare that Our Lord has 2 natures. The previous councils had already declared without ambiguity that Christ is fully God and fully man, without separation or confusion. Sometimes well-intentioned theologians try to say more than what is necessary, and thus serious errors can result. There are great and glorious mysteries in Divine truth; and if we try to make these Holy mysteries conform to our finite logic, then we will ultimately delve into heresies. There is no greater mystery than the Incarnation; and satan will attack this mystery first and foremost, because he knows that if we don't understand Christ then we will never understand the Gospel. So, when the Council of Chalcedon divided Our Lord's one inseparable nature, then they sowed the seeds of subsequent division and schism that would fracture Christendom from that point on. And all we have to do is observe the thousands of denominational sects and cults that call themselves "Christian" today to see that satan's strategy was tragically successful.

Now this brings me to your question of Orthodox unity. First of all, I personally believe that we should embrace and love all of our Christian brothers and sisters, be they Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant. And loving and embracing our Christian brothers does not mean we have to compromise our convictions or compromise Holy truth. And I truly believe that authentic Orthodox unity will only come about when the Christological formulations decreed by the Council of Chalcedon are revisited and corrected. And this should not be difficult. All that is needed is the humility to admit that well-meaning theolgians went a bit too far in trying to describe the nature of Our Lord, and that it would heal all of Christendom if we all returned to affirming the Oneness of the inseparable nature of Our Lord Jesus Christ.   

Now there are experts who have studied this matter far more than I, and I'm sure you can find some threads about this issue somewhere on this discussion board. But I am a simple man, and I tend to err on the side of simplicity. Our Lord is One, God incarnate Who came from heaven to earth to atone for our sins. What more needs to be said?

I love all my Orthodox brethren, be they Eastern or Non-Chalcedonian. Orthodoxy is a beautiful and mystical Faith, and I'm sure that God will lead you to where you need to be. Of course I love my Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and would encourge any Christian seeker to look first to Our most ancient and true Faith. But wherever you end up, as long as it is at the foot of the Cross and in the arms of Our Lord, then you are home!

May Our Lord and Our Lady guide you in your search. I hope you will keep me apprised of your progress along the way.

Selam 
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« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2009, 01:39:54 AM »

Thank you.

Just a question: you say that you think that the Bishops made a bad decision in saying that Christ had two natures, and that may be true to some extent (I'm not saying whether they were right or wrong, that the reader can decide), but even if they did make a bad decision in saying "Christ has two natures but one person" instead of "Christ has a nature both human and Divine", isn't that really saying the same thing in two ways? I mean, neither EO or OO believe Christ was more than one person. And I don't think bad wording by a council necessarily makes a Council invalid.

God Bless. Christ is Risen.
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« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2009, 02:40:35 AM »

Thank you.

Just a question: you say that you think that the Bishops made a bad decision in saying that Christ had two natures, and that may be true to some extent (I'm not saying whether they were right or wrong, that the reader can decide), but even if they did make a bad decision in saying "Christ has two natures but one person" instead of "Christ has a nature both human and Divine", isn't that really saying the same thing in two ways? I mean, neither EO or OO believe Christ was more than one person. And I don't think bad wording by a council necessarily makes a Council invalid.

God Bless. Christ is Risen.

Yes. I agree with you, and I think that is why we see EO and OO moving closer towards true unity. But, like I said, I think that when these questions are debated, we should err on the side of simplicity and mystery. I do not pretend to have studied the Council of Chalcedon in depth. And I'm sure many of the ideas were doctrinally sound and very Orthodox. Chalcedon was neither Nestorian nor Arian, which were the major heresies that these early Councils had to condemn. But I just think more was said than needed to be said - Christologically speaking - and thus a division occurred (even if that division was semantical). All satan needed was the slightest foothold, and he was able to wreak division and havoc thereafter.

But I truly agree with your sentiment, and that is why I do not view my EO brethren as heretics, but rather see them as my Christian brothers. They welcome me to their Church, just as we OO welcome them to ours. But I will always defend our "Tewahedo" Faith, as "Tewahedo" means "unity" and "oneness."

Let us affirm the true oneness of Our Lord, and then we shall experience the true oneness of Christendom.

"What God has brought together, let no man tear asunder!" [St. Mark 10:9]   


Selam
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« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2009, 08:30:45 AM »

A Greek Orthodox priest is said to have once made the profound statement that all Orthodox Christians are converts.
As my own OCA priest said once when I first started attending is that sooner or later we have to make the faith of our fathers our own.
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« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2010, 02:22:32 AM »

Gebre Menfes Kidus ,

Your conversion story is truly interesting.  However I cannot believe what you say about the Italians killing priests and faithful.  My own relatives fought in this war under the great inspiring leadership of IL Duce.  Believe me that Italy never had the subjugation of Ethiopia but only her glorious liberation and integration into the Italian empire.  Haile Selassie may have been a pious man but he unfortunately allowed himself to be used as a tool by the British colonialist who wanted to keep Italy down and forever chain her to subjugation and bondage.  IL Duce said that Italy had to "break the chains which bind her in the Mediterranean, and Africa".  What was she to do but fight this holy war to assert herself and end the tyranny and backwardness which the people of Ethiopia had lived in for centuries because of the leadership of that country.  You will see by historical study that Ethiopia prospered more under the rule of Italy then under all her previous rulers combined.

Aside from that, I really did enjoy your post on conversion.
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« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2010, 03:17:39 AM »

Gebre Menfes Kidus ,

Your conversion story is truly interesting.  However I cannot believe what you say about the Italians killing priests and faithful.  My own relatives fought in this war under the great inspiring leadership of IL Duce.  Believe me that Italy never had the subjugation of Ethiopia but only her glorious liberation and integration into the Italian empire.  Haile Selassie may have been a pious man but he unfortunately allowed himself to be used as a tool by the British colonialist who wanted to keep Italy down and forever chain her to subjugation and bondage.  IL Duce said that Italy had to "break the chains which bind her in the Mediterranean, and Africa".  What was she to do but fight this holy war to assert herself and end the tyranny and backwardness which the people of Ethiopia had lived in for centuries because of the leadership of that country.  You will see by historical study that Ethiopia prospered more under the rule of Italy then under all her previous rulers combined.

Aside from that, I really did enjoy your post on conversion.

Thank you.

The issues you mention are far too controversial for me to discuss here. I know that either way, His Imperial Majesty urged forgiveness and grace towards his enemies. His Majesty also emphasized "all areas of agreement." So, as far as I'm concerned, let us move forward together in promoting Orthodox Christian Truth.

Peace to you.

Selam
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« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2010, 03:58:28 PM »

mine is still in progress as I have yet to complete my owconversion but I will say that overall it has been the churches history that hs convinced me
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« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2010, 06:21:55 PM »

I was raised in a southern baptist church. My family was there every-time the doors were open starting when I was about eight and I was baptized at fourteen. The church had about a hundred members and I was related to most of them. This particular church had a lot of issues. Many pastors and members left over church politics. Sometimes things were stirred over things as simple and trivial as whether or not to play more contemporary songs in church. I went through phases where I was more into my faith than other times. The older I got the more disillusioned I became about religion and the people surrounding me did not help the situation at all. At this point I was really really sick of Catholic bashing. I had heard all my life how horrible Catholics are, always by people that have never stepped foot in a Catholic church. They were just repeating nonsense they heard from someone else who had never stepped foot into a Catholic church. As I learned how wrong these people were about the Catholic church I started to question if they were right about anything. For the most part, no, they were not. I tried a few other churches in the area (because we have one on every corner here) and found they all gave me the same vibe. I left the church in my late teens. Soon after I was officially calling myself an atheist and strengthening my debate skills to argue with Christians and creationist types, and was doing really well.

I met several religious people after that, some of which really changed my ideas I had about religion others where worse than those that aided in my apostasy, if you can imagine that. However, I always considered going back to religion. I told myself "self, if you ever go back to church then you will convert to Catholic". I mean, every religious person from my childhood had nothing but bad things to say about the Catholic church, so I concluded the Catholics were probably good people. The years pressed on and I stayed firm in my atheism. Until about a year and a half ago when something sparked and I decided to try a church. So I juggled the different Catholic churches I might try but never got up and went.

I had been to the Greek festival a few times, mainly for the food. Last year I decided to take a tour of the church. I was impressed with the beauty of it. So I turned to my Catholic g/f at the time and said "so what is this, some kind of Catholic church". She (and the pamphlet) then informed me that it was an Orthodox church. I was like "what is Orthodox". I had never heard of it. So I declared we would attend The Divine Liturgy at this church soon. So I did, and was amazed. this is the first time in my life I had seen a service in which it was about actually worshiping God. As opposed to some guy yelling at me for dressing up for Halloween. I e-mailed the priest and started setting up meetings to learn about Orthodox. I also took this time to attend a few Catholic churches, and I did like them, but not as much as Orthodox. I also found myself agreeing more with Orthodox doctrine. Not that I find any other doctrine wrong or anything.

So, after almost a year and a series of events I never thought would happen I am soon to be officially converted, and could not be happier about it!
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« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2010, 06:43:27 PM »

Quid, thanks for sharing your story. Definitely an interesting one. I like your sarcastic writing style.

Welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2010, 07:27:21 PM »

Quid, thanks for sharing your story. Definitely an interesting one. I like your sarcastic writing style.

Welcome to the forum!

Thank you, I hope is didn't come off as a jerk.  Huh
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« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2010, 07:35:08 PM »

Quid, thanks for sharing your story. Definitely an interesting one. I like your sarcastic writing style.

Welcome to the forum!

Thank you, I hope is didn't come off as a jerk.  Huh

Definitely not. Thanks for your story.
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« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2010, 07:37:13 PM »

\Your conversion story is truly interesting.  However I cannot believe what you say about the Italians killing priests and faithful.  My own relatives fought in this war under the great inspiring leadership of IL Duce.  Believe me that Italy never had the subjugation of Ethiopia but only her glorious liberation and integration into the Italian empire.  Haile Selassie may have been a pious man but he unfortunately allowed himself to be used as a tool by the British colonialist who wanted to keep Italy down and forever chain her to subjugation and bondage.  IL Duce said that Italy had to "break the chains which bind her in the Mediterranean, and Africa".  What was she to do but fight this holy war to assert herself and end the tyranny and backwardness which the people of Ethiopia had lived in for centuries because of the leadership of that country. 

This sounds almost identical to the rhetoric the Japanese Empire was using when they were "liberating" China, Burma, Malaysia, etc....
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« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2010, 08:06:49 PM »

Today, after four years of inquiry and resistance, I bowed my head and submitted to the Holy Spirit and was received as a catechumen in the Holy Orthodox faith.

Only two of those years could be considered serious inquiry. Even though I had friends and acquaintances convert and consider converting, I did not give Orthodoxy much thought except as something to which people more intellectual than I convert. My first serious exposure to Orthodoxy was from a Lebanese guy who would daily come into the coffeeshop I worked in and talk about how much he loved being Orthodox. He pointed me in the right direction, told me where to find some literature and let me absorb what I could. At the time, I still had too much Calvinism and sola scriptura in my veins, and I was mostly interested in Orthodoxy as an aesthetic liturgical oddity, though I did like some of the more "eastern" teachings the Church has.

Eventually, I realized -- without the help of Orthodox apologists -- that the Church as an institution needs holy tradition to support any real theology or philosophy; without apostolic succession, how can you support your interpretations against the guy whose theology is exactly opposite yours? The grammatical-historical hermeneutic only takes you so far...

But I did not want to become Orthodox, because it would require a lot of dedication, long drives to church and constantly getting confused looks when trying to explain what Orthodoxy was to others. So I tried Catholicism. No matter how many Catholic apologetic works I read, though, it never felt right; because I knew Orthodoxy was right.

So finally I started attending services. I had started to intellectually identify as Orthodox, but I found every excuse I could to avoid becoming Orthodox. Unfortunately for me, I was using a prayer book at home, and when you start to pray like the Orthodox, it's hard not to become Orthodox. And the truth is that I learned more about the Orthodox faith from their (our!) prayers than from any literature I got my hands on.

There were a few rough spots early on my wife did not understand how I got to where I got (due completely to my failure to communicate), but we always attended services together and she and our children were also received as catechumen today.

That is my story. It is not flashy or dramatic, but it's honest.

Pray for me, a sinner.
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« Reply #30 on: January 19, 2011, 02:07:38 PM »

Hello My Name is Frank J

I been Russian Orthodox Christian for 10 years now as of Jan. 7 of this year. I start attending ROCOR Church near my home in Massachusetts one year ago. In that same one year I was told about the strict fasting rules on married people. I was never told that we are abstain from sexual with in my old parish?Huh Why do we do this; I not sure why we do this??

I'm very happy and will talk more about my converting to the faith in my next chat with you.

My back ground is Catholic so one could say I seen everything that the RC can dish out to it's rank in file

I  just had it with the RC Church my life and was in the dumps and I was not growing as a Christian. It wasn't until I became Orthodox Christian that my life started to change for the good.

Got to go I chat more later.


GOD bless
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« Reply #31 on: March 21, 2011, 11:31:41 AM »

An Unforgettable Baptism In China. One touching story of a conversion from Fr. Jonah Mourtos. (One has to be registered on this website in order to view the story.) 
http://orthodoxnews.net/index.cfm?CFID=135644674&CFTOKEN=51393793&fuseaction=Features.one&content_id=19236
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« Reply #32 on: March 23, 2011, 04:46:44 PM »

I was chrismated 5 months ago having attended a local church for 5 years, and am the first ever orthodox in my family.  Becoming orthodox is a strange combination of joy and sadness.  Joy at the chance to build an intimate relationship with my beautiful creator, and deep sadness at the implications.  I come from a very large, loving and deeply religious family and feel guilty at what I have done.  Not without reason.  I would like to be able to say that I joined this faith due to an irresistible urge, so I would be somehow less responsible.  But that is not true.  It has been (and continues to be) a free choice made without outer or inner coercion. 
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« Reply #33 on: April 15, 2011, 12:17:13 AM »

Hi ! I'm new here and thought I would share my story. I grew up a Southern Baptist here in Miami, Fla. Fell away from the Baptists because of some of the overt politics I thought was too much for me. Telling me who to vote for and if I didn't I was "a sinner and not a good Christian". And from what I see and hear from friends still in the SBC its gotten progressively worse. In August of 1997, a friend of mine told me about Orthodoxy and said to maybe "give it a try", and I attended one Sunday, and have never gone to another Church. My Chrismation was in June of 1998 and since then my love of the Lord, and His Church has grown and grown every single day !

Right now are some trying times for me personally, an its a blessing to find this board to come and commune and grow spiritually. Thanks for letting me join.
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« Reply #34 on: April 15, 2011, 12:41:28 AM »

Welcome to the board Smiley
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« Reply #35 on: April 15, 2011, 07:16:36 AM »

Welcome to the board Smiley
Thanks, I'm happy to be here !
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« Reply #36 on: April 20, 2011, 09:08:19 AM »

I was chrismated 5 months ago having attended a local church for 5 years, and am the first ever orthodox in my family.  Becoming orthodox is a strange combination of joy and sadness.  Joy at the chance to build an intimate relationship with my beautiful creator, and deep sadness at the implications.  I come from a very large, loving and deeply religious family and feel guilty at what I have done.  Not without reason.  I would like to be able to say that I joined this faith due to an irresistible urge, so I would be somehow less responsible.  But that is not true.  It has been (and continues to be) a free choice made without outer or inner coercion. 

I understand your feelings. Do you feel guilty because you left the religion of your home? I too was the first Orthodox Christian in my family. But in the seven years since I joined the church, my middle sister and her husband have joined (and it saved their marriage) and my mother and elderly grandmother are struggling with why they shouldn't leave the Baptist church they have always known.

My priest told me once to just live your faith. Practice your faith and love your family. That is the best witness for those who are Christians of other varieties, and to those who would not identify as Christians. It is hard though, particularly when some members of your family are hostile toward the changes they see. My youngest sister and her husband are enthusiastic Evangelicals and have become more closed to Orthodoxy as they see the rest of the family headed there. So I pray for them. I light candles for them and I try, with God's grace, to be patient with their journey.

I hope this helps and Welcome Home. Have a blessed Holy Week!
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« Reply #37 on: May 10, 2011, 08:01:23 AM »

Why Charismatics Should Become Orthodox
A topic from A Journey to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #38 on: July 06, 2011, 04:04:55 PM »

  How did I come into the Orthodox Church?

From the time I was quite young, I always felt God was around me and I had some spiritual experiences which were a little awkward for me.  For example, when I was still quite young somewhere between 4 and 6 years old, I was at my local Baptist church wondering around with my sister.  I think it could have possibly been on a Sunday worship service, I am not certain.  Yet I started having a vision that I didn't want to have, there's usually a banner processional sometimes in my worship service.  These banners would have verses from the Bible, or titles of Jesus, such as "The Way" and they would be decorated with embroidery on it.  I started believing that I was seeing my mother's blood on these banners, as if it were telling me what was about to happen.  This obviously spooked me, so I was upstairs and was looking into the gymnasium as I could not find my mother -- and I started seeing a pastor from the church my Dad's parents went to, preaching at my mother's funeral.  However, somehow.. my sister managed to "get me out" of the mindset I was in and I saw that there was nothing in the gymnasium -- I was seeing things!  At this point, as you know.. a child of my age would be crying hysterically and I assure you that I was.    However, it was not long before my mother and my brother came around the corner and I saw that she was okay! 

   Looking back on it, I believed that this "vision" helped me process the divorce that she was going through with my father.  As to what this experience was caused by, I do not know, but I do know it scared me greatly.  From the tender age of 9 or 12, I have also always knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I was baptized at the age of 10 in the Trinitarian fashion, however then I was still incorrectly taught that it was just a symbol and saying the Sinner's Prayer was what would save you.  I have always felt called to witness to the world for Christ, to be a "missionary" of sorts.  That's why at the age of 12, I got online and started looking through a website http://www.religioustolerance.org/

     Because of this inner calling, I began learning about various religions.  I had debates with several individuals over Yahoo's "Religion" chat.  They made me think about what I claimed to believe in a new way, as I started realizing that most of what I thought about God; Heaven; and Hell sounded like something out of a comic book.  Within a couple of years I began to seriously question everything I thought I knew.  I have to say that during this time period my family was going through a custody battle over me, and I was not sure how to deal with kids picking on me at school either.  I was at my wit's end, so I turned to search for answers;  I came across a young Muslim woman in a chat room since I was still learning about Islam at the time.  My mind was very logical during this period, and I could not understand the slightest bit of Platonic philosophy much less the Trinity.  Therefore I saw and understood Islam, and it made the most rational sense to me -- so I chose to call her over the phone, and she and her Dad witnessed my shahadah prayer through it.
 
   I held my Muslim beliefs in private for quite some time, as I talked with individuals -- including a man from Malaysia who would teach me more about Islam; in depth.   Yet I still wasn't sure what to do, I knew my family would never accept me as that especially while I was living under their house.  When September 11 came, I got scared -- and decided I would do anything to keep people from thinking that I was one of "them", one of "the enemy".   So, I bounced around between Baptist-Presbyterian evangelical Christianity and Islam for quite some time.

   I also have to say that during this time period I was also drawn to New Age beliefs, and learned astrology from someone who claimed to be a professional astrologer.  He was also a friend of my mother's, and did not charge much for the lessons.   My mind would gradually become absorbed into the idea of channeling, reincarnation, and more of Eastern philosophy.  I had come to the conclusion that all channeling was, was the Spirit world contacting the human world.  So, therefore in my mind -- that basically made the prophets of the Old Testament to be channelers of what they understood to be God. 

   During July of 2004 my Mother and I finally joined a church which we felt would be more open to our ever expanding beliefs; associated with the Unity School of Christianity started by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.  That church was really interesting, and it was there that I first started learning about the Baha'i Faith which I will mention later. 

   Around July of 2005 after I had been searching for the latest "up to date" messages from the Spirit world, I came across a website called Ask the Real Jesus.  The very title alone was provocative, and perhaps somewhat blasphemous.  On this website a man would answer questions that were e-mailed to him, and claim that these answers were from the real Jesus Christ.  I later learned that this particular man used to be a follower of Elizabeth Prophet (the one who got in trouble in the 90's for the bomb shelters, and illegal ammunition).  He always seemed to think she was a bit of a fanatic, and did not truly attain the "balanced" state of the mind of Christ.  Having learned more about her, I had to agree that she was quite extreme to put it lightly. 

   I visited that website frequently over the next several years,  and had several discussions with his wife and she also claimed to be a "Messenger" where the "Ascended Masters" would speak through her and give people messages pertaining to their situation.  During this time period I would have strange dreams, even where some Spirit would hover over me and pretend to be a nun; or I would wake up and this darkness would be pinning me down (as if my body was still in sleep-mode even though I believed I was awake).   It could be quite scary at times, and they never stressed enough to call for protection to Archangel Michael.  Yet I had to wonder, why would we need this protection as much as they claim -- surely it must be something to do with what we're getting into?

   Eventually I was left being filled with a spiritual void from this website, so I went to hear Ravi Zacharias speak at my sister's church.  He's a well known evangelical apologist who converted from Hinduism when he was still young. I had a very profound experience of my own inner emptiness; and my need for a Savior -- that I could never save myself, but only He could.   I believe it was one night after I got home; I cried out my eyes to Jesus to the REAL Jesus -- and asked him to reveal to me the truth about those websites and what I had gotten myself into.  In my dream, I believed I was taken to a website.. and it had pictures of what this "Ascended Master" was supposed to look like.  His name was Dictatorship; and he looked like one of the Four Horsemen of St. John's Apocalypse. 

   Now I have to say, that dream SCARED me greatly.  Whatever it meant, it had a profound effect on me and I decided to get away from all of this New Age stuff -- especially to get away from those websites. 

   During that time I slowly weaned myself away from that stuff, and started getting more interested in other things.  I decided to join the United States Navy and left for boot camp on November 2009, only to come back a month and a half later around Christmas time.   The Navy didn't work out, I was quite depressed over it, and was searching for meaning.   I began to gather more serious information on the Baha'i Faith, thinking this would satisfy my intellectual and spiritual cravings.

   I saw that they recognized the unity of the world's religions in their promotion of Love and Service; they denied the contradictory interpretations and looked at those only in an allegorical manner.  They claimed that Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, and a few others were all "Manifestations of God" and claimed to carry a revelation that was supposed to progress humanity upwards on its spiritual evolution towards the Godhead.   All of these ideas sounded quite nice at first, enough to make me want to just go ahead and make it official -- by converting.

   In August of 2010 I filled out my declaration card, and declared myself a member of the Baha'i Faith after having a talk with a woman about it over the phone for almost an hour.  I went to their prayer gatherings, or "Feasts" where they would read prayers from one of their books, socialize, and talk about building up the Community.  Such events always came across as spiritually dry to me, although I found the Ruhi Course (a set of booklets designed to catechize the faithful)  to be helpful. 

   I didn't know what to do, I think I had jumped into deep water too quickly.  As much as I intellectually admired the Faith, it told me what I wanted to hear.  I could not support it with much evidence as I began to investigate the claims of Apostolic Christianity, and neither could I find an emotional or spiritual connection to the person of Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri (otherwise known as Baha'u'llah). 

   In February of 2011, I dropped out of the faith -- filling out an official resignation letter and sending it to my Local Spiritual Assembly; along with my Declaration Card back to the Illinois headquarters where the National Assembly was. 

   Again back in time to March of 2010, I made my first visit to a Greek Orthodox Church.  That service was quite beautiful, but yet it was all in Greek.  It was very hard for me to understand what was going on; yet I felt drawn to it in a mystical sense.  I naturally felt lighter and better, much as I did when I would get done praying the Catholic Rosary.   My Mother had already been investigating Catholicism, as she felt that it was one religion where she did not have to feel like she was such a miserable sinner; and was going to Hell if she did not make a public confession of faith in Jesus every Sunday.

   So I investigated alongside her, and in January of this year had been having talks with a Greek Orthodox priest closer into town (since there were more English-speakers there, and English was used more in the liturgy).  He told me he usually sat down with people in groups or on an individual basis covering their catechesis in 3 sessions.   I had learned most of what he was telling me online, so this information was not new to me; yet it was refreshing to hear it from another perspective.  I had decided that Eastern Orthodoxy made far more accurate claims when it came to being Apostolic.  I learned about the concept of 'doctrinal development' within Roman Catholicism and had decided that, when you change the wording and language of certain key traditions and beliefs of the Church -- you lose people in the meaning.   When you overly define a certain dogma, you almost create another dogma entirely. 

   So, I had been building a good relationship with my priest and on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son had to decided to see if the one person I knew in the Church would be my godmother.  She was the only one who talked to me, and I got to know at first -- so I thought I would ask her before I asked others.  She teared up over it, I had no idea of the implications that it was such an honor to be asked.  Yet I figured she was as good of a person as any, and therefore might as well ask her. 

   The Liturgy was always beautiful and I literally felt closer to God, and still do -- in a way that transcends ethnic barriers, and language barriers.  The priest uses more English than the other church did, but regardless -- I still feel that God is present; every time we hold a liturgy.  This was not the same feeling I would get in a Protestant church where I would quite often be bored with the sermon; or the laity would never participate fully in the "worship songs" and I felt like I was one of the few people actually singing. 

   On April 10, 2011 I was received into the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America through the economia of chrismation, since they recognized my previous baptism in a Baptist Church as being legitimate.  I have to say that I have never felt happier, and I have never felt more at home in my entire life.    My birth name was Andrew, so I chose to keep that -- and the Apostle Andrew as my patron saint; hence my avatar.  God bless you if you have read this long story of mine!
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« Reply #39 on: July 18, 2011, 09:35:34 AM »

This post originated by way of response to the topic on Faith Issues: What was your previous religious background?
Baptised Roman Catholic into a Anglican/Catholic home, I went to Catholic elementary and high school, and was deeply involved in Church life and ministry, as Catechist, Parish Admin (Council), Church Reader, Music, secular member and leader of a Religious Order etc.
As a child I always remember wanting to be a nun and I had told a friend of my mother's so. Years later when I had become an Orthodox nun she reminded me of it But was it God's will? The Catholic Orders refused me.
In the 1970's a Franciscan priest had given me a set of 100 prayer beads (not the rosary) with instructions on how to say the Jesus Prayer. This I did faithfully daily for many years.
In the meantime I dabbled (whilst remaining a devout Church-going Catholic) in Hinduism and Buddhism, TM and Christian Feminism. Women priests, the whole bit...
Also I'd become familiar with Orthodox Iconography and had many Icons in my home before which I tried to pray in the Catholic way.
Studied the Bachelor's degree in the '80's; the post grad. dip. ed. in the '90's; introduced to the internet.
Here is where it gets interesting.
One correspondent on a list I was co-moderating was Orthodox and we corresponded about Orthodoxy.
To cut the story shorter, I began attending the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in my city and, like Vladimir's emissaries, I was hooked.
The priest at this little Church in my city became (and still is) my Spiritual Father.
I was baptised and chrismated in the Jordan River and joined the community of a large convent in the Holy Land in 1997.
I am a traditionalist Orthodox, and as you see by my signature, have found the perfect Truth, and am not willing to part with it.
Although I had to leave the Holy Land for various serious reasons, I am still struggling in monastic life back in my native land with my Spiritual Father's blessing.
In my city I attend a Russian Church on Sundays and Feasts, and a Greek Church closer to me on weekdays, and occasionally a Serbian Church when they have a Slava or something.
What irks me, though, is the dogged ethnicity and language bias of these Churches, although our Russian Church does some of the service in English, thank God.
Having been Orthodox for over 15 years, I have yet to attend a full service cycle (Vespers, Matins, Liturgy) totally in English. Nevertheless, I can stumble my way around Slavonic and am learning to read and understand Church Greek little by little. I am not prepared to forfeit the perfect Truth, however, for services in English. At home I read and sing them to my heart's content!
Well, there, I've done it.
Lord have mercy on me, a sinner; I ask your holy prayers for my salvation.
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« Reply #40 on: July 28, 2011, 07:36:07 AM »

Please forgive me if this has been said.
I do not have time to read all of what I am sure are fine posts. My two cents is this: all Orthodox Christians are converts, including those who are raised in the Faith. Sooner or later we have to convert from Self to Christ. What's more is that all of the biographies of how we went from Methodist or Presbyterian to Orthodox Christian is a little like the 'Catholic to Christ' commentaries that we see in in some evangelical churches. The result is that our brethren in other churches wrongly, or perhaps rightly, come to see us as arrogant and chauvinistic.
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« Reply #41 on: July 28, 2011, 02:56:01 PM »

I found the Orthodox Church through my uncle when I was 15. In 2009 I decided to join the Orthodox Church. I had read lot's of the Church Fathers and found that their Church still existed and was the Orthodox Church. Baptism for remission of sins and the real presence of communion are found in the earliest fathers. I started visiting my local Orthodox Church and learned from my priest and my own personal studies and decided to convert. I joined the Orthodox Church August 23, 2009.
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« Reply #42 on: October 28, 2011, 04:38:19 AM »

As we know, many people come to faith by different cases. Everyone have his own roads to God. In my opinion many people come to faith because of their troubles and problems.
In such a case we have to be thankful to Merciful God for every help in our sorrows.
The most important that we must cognize ourselves and recognize our infirmity and sinfulness. Because of Jesus Chris came to save “confessed sinners” but not “hypocritical saints”
 We have to apply to God for communion and be humble and meek before Him.
Simple visiting of garage doesn’t make people driver, so also simple visiting of church doesn’t make people Christian.
Internal modification is more important than external traditions and customs.   
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« Reply #43 on: October 28, 2011, 08:45:43 PM »

Conversion stories are wonderful and I love to read them. I've been asked to share mine publically, but shy away from that for some reason. I read recently that one should never share one's conversion story until one has been Orthodox for at least 10 years...At first I wondered at that, but now I understand what is meant, to a certain degree. Please do not let this post dampen anyone's desire to share their story though!

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« Reply #44 on: February 06, 2012, 04:18:54 PM »

Thanks be to God, I was baptized on Janunary 2nd, 2012.  I am 37 years old.  I believed in Jesus Christ when I was 24 years old, was baptized an married in the Baptist church, began studying the Bible and history, moved toward the RC church but didn't go all the way because my wife's family are hard-core Baptists, went to an Episcopal church, wasn't happy with the liberalism, went to a nearby Methodist church, still liberal but had a little better theology, joined a traditional Anglican church while living in the south, moved back up north and joined a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, but for YEARS had desired to be Orthodox because I believed it was the truth.  When the time was right, and my wife was ready, we became Orthodox.  I'm still high.   laugh

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« Reply #45 on: February 07, 2012, 02:26:10 AM »

Thanks be to God, I was baptized on Janunary 2nd, 2012.  I am 37 years old.  I believed in Jesus Christ when I was 24 years old, was baptized an married in the Baptist church, began studying the Bible and history, moved toward the RC church but didn't go all the way because my wife's family are hard-core Baptists, went to an Episcopal church, wasn't happy with the liberalism, went to a nearby Methodist church, still liberal but had a little better theology, joined a traditional Anglican church while living in the south, moved back up north and joined a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, but for YEARS had desired to be Orthodox because I believed it was the truth.  When the time was right, and my wife was ready, we became Orthodox.  I'm still high.   laugh

Paul

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« Reply #46 on: February 07, 2012, 03:01:20 AM »

Thanks be to God, I was baptized on Janunary 2nd, 2012.  I am 37 years old.  I believed in Jesus Christ when I was 24 years old, was baptized an married in the Baptist church, began studying the Bible and history, moved toward the RC church but didn't go all the way because my wife's family are hard-core Baptists, went to an Episcopal church, wasn't happy with the liberalism, went to a nearby Methodist church, still liberal but had a little better theology, joined a traditional Anglican church while living in the south, moved back up north and joined a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, but for YEARS had desired to be Orthodox because I believed it was the truth.  When the time was right, and my wife was ready, we became Orthodox.  I'm still high.   laugh

Paul

Your heart is home!!!  Glory to God!   Smiley
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« Reply #47 on: February 07, 2012, 08:55:00 AM »

All Christians, Orthodox or otherwise, whether they were raised in the Faith or not, are converts.
One of the first sermons I heard by my priest Father Jacob Myers was to tell people that they had to embrace their Christian Faith for themselves
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« Reply #48 on: February 10, 2012, 06:38:43 PM »

Christ is Risen!  Hi, my name is Jason.  I'm currently attending catechumen classes and, God willing, plan to be baptized this winter Pascha.  I used to be a Southern Baptist, and many of my friends are Southern Baptists.  I feel particularly responsible for forging the hardcore "sola Scriptura" mindset of one friend in particular.  He and I spent 4 years discussing the faith daily.  He is now a missionary in an orthodox country.  The other day, I posted a note on my social networking site google plus.  I was sharing my celebration about finally finding a new church.  He responded and we had a bit of a friendly discussion.  He asked a lot of questions.  I hope I'm explaining things accurately to him.

One of my concerns is where I said, "The church had to determine the canon of Scripture... similar efforts were undertaken to establish true Apostolic tradition, and I think that is mainly expressed in the orthodox services like the divine liturgy and the creeds that are part of those services. I'm not sure about that though. I'm new to orthodoxy."  

How does that sound?  

If you're interested in reading or commenting on any other parts of the discussion, it is below.  I'm not asking anyone to read it by any means.

cheers,

----------------

Jason wrote -

I had a growing interest in orthodoxy back home, but I could never understand the services.  When I moved here to my new home, little did I know I would end up just a 5 minute bike ride away from my new church, finally an orthodox church that has services in English!  I'm really enjoying it. I'm so blessed. God is good.  It's so nice to finally have that feel like I have a church home again, to be able to stop wandering. For about the last three or four years I've been trying to find a friendly church where Sunday consists of little more than scripture, songs, the body and blood, some prayer, and hopefully a shared meal. I felt like I was constantly getting "preached at" and rarely found myself agreeing with what was being preached at me. For the life of me, I just couldn't find a church I was comfortable in. It was hard on me.

I had almost given up when I stumbled onto this place. Here, the entire service basically consists of the clergy and the congregation singing Scripture passages and prayers back and forth to each other in really beautiful four part harmonies and chants. They share the Eucharist, and then they share a friendly meal after. The "sermons" are just a couple of minutes long and for the most, from what I can tell, just allow the Word of God to speak for Himself. It is just exactly what was looking for. It must leave a lot to be desired for most people because it is really small. However, the people I've met there identify with my search and with the feeling I had when I found the place... so it is very... "homey" to us all.

Southern Baptist Missionary wrote -

Hey Bro, grats on your new church. "Open minded" and "counter-cultural" are absolutely nothing to worried about; as long as they are well supported with Scripture. I will stand behind you on the Word against anyone who teaches without Biblical proof. I hope you hear the Word of God preached and held to in your new church more than the churches you come from. Like you said, and I FULLY agree: The last thing you want is a church holding beliefs and teaching doctrines that are not supported by Scripture. As Jesus said in regard to all this:

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:14-19 ESV)

So you see “counter-culture” and “Biblically based.” Praying for your growth in the faith!

Hey, just realized I missed your post before mine saying something similar. Yes, cold-preaching is not what you see in Scripture. You see fellowship around the Word with other believers, building each other up in the faith according to the Word. Yes, there are definite times of preaching, but that is not all and just preaching is not healthy. Our Sunday time together here in Macedonia has preaching, singing, prayer and then a lot of fellowship. Your post made me think of these two verses:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14 ESV)

And

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17 ESV)

Jason wrote -

Brother! Christ is Risen! It's been way too long. Thanks so much for the encouragement and for sharing your thoughts. Great to hear from you. I hope all is well in Macedonia.

There was sometimes lack of biblical proof at my former churches concerning some topics. However, that can happen at any church since Scripture can be used to prove many different things depending on how it is twisted. So to be honest that wasn't even the main problem. My conscience just disagreed with much of what was said and done. For one example, one big problem for me was the that the words of the preachers' sermons by far outnumbered the words of Holy Scripture proclaimed in the services. My conscience was hinting that should not be the case for the service on the Lord's Day. I can't put my finger on exactly why. I just knew that deep down I wanted to find a church that primarily read, prayed, and sang through the Scriptures on Sunday with only a relatively short "sermon." A few Scripture passages in the New Testament lent me some support. However, like so much in Scripture, they are far from absolute proof. (they were 1 Timothy 4:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:27, and Colossians 4:16-17 if you're interested)

Every church that has human pastors and teachers will teach without biblical proof at times. Human pastors will even teach without divine truth at times. They're human like you and I. A sermon could someday be given at my new church that wanders from the truth. However, at least it will only last for like five percent of the service there (instead of sixty percent). The rest of the time will surely be filled with prayers, songs, readings from Scripture, and the testimony of ancient Christian art hanging all over the temple, testifying to the Word also. If I want more of the priest's or deacon's teaching, then I can just get it after the service.

You said, "The last thing you want is a church holding beliefs and teaching doctrines that are not supported by Scripture." To be honest, that's actually not the last thing I would want. I used to think a church needed support in Holy Scripture for all of its beliefs. Then I asked myself: since when? Like literally: "since what year?"

The early Christian churches, without complete Scriptures and sometimes without any Scriptures at all, still taught the Word’s Resurrection, His Divinity, the Trinity, the holy Apostles’ teachings, and many critical Christian theological truths. This went on for many years, sometimes many hundreds of years, before the Bible was finalized and became more widespread. Had you and I gathered with them, we would have seen churches that proclaimed the Word just fine without Scriptural support; they had no Scripture! This was possible because the holy Apostles taught followers of the Way to hold to the traditions they had taught them, whether by word of mouth or by written word (2 Thess 2:15, 1 Cor 11:2). The right churches had the right teachings, some by way of the holy traditions and others by way of the holy Scriptures. One job of the church was to to guard those right teachings, both the right traditions and the right written words.

So, to be honest, if a doctrine doesn't have tremendous support in Scripture that isn't the end of the world for me. Truth exists outside Scripture; He exists in a sun beam and in the early church traditions too. The last thing I would actually want is a church that relies *only* on Scripture or even *primarily* on Scripture. Scripture is notoriously hard to understand at certain parts, as the many divisions in Protestantism show. The holy Apostle Peter also warned us about this in 2 Peter 3:16. He noted that Scripture can be twisted easily at many points and can become incredibly destructive. Therefore, I want a church based on the Word's Resurrection primarily, then on the holy Scriptures and the early holy traditions together.

Thanks for sending me those wonderful passages. John 17:14-19 does show counter-culture. Not so much "biblically based" though. It shows "word-based," which means "God-based" since the Word is God. That's how I'm beginning to see the situation, at least.

I'm always grateful for your prayers. I will continue to pray for our growth in the Word together and for our salvation. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Southern Baptist Missionary wrote -

Okay, in order to understand this better and to form a response, I only want to ask one question: What is truth? In order to express that question better: What would you say about passages like Acts 17:11-12, 1 Timothy 3:not just 16, but 17, 2 Timothy 2:15, 1 John 4:1, I too like 2 Peter 1:16-21? Scripture also speaks about carrying out the tradition given to you. How can you determine if something/tradition/a teaching is from God or of man? What is John 17:17 mean? And as a side note, if Scripture is not the basis of truth then why all the fuss over abstinence? Do you not know that that too comes from church fathers? I know you so I know this is not true, but I sounds like you are saying there are multiple sources of truth or even versions? The reason for different denominations is because it is so important to seek the one truth. After all, the Catholic and Orthodox churches split because of that.

Jason wrote -

Truth is a person; Jesus Christ. "I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." God is Truth. We actually can't fully know all of the truth because God is infinite and we were created finite. That being said, we can learn and know some true things about God. We can practice his Life and become more like Him.

Regarding Acts 17:11-12, the Bereans are praised there for receiving God's Word eagerly. They examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true. Remember that for the Bereans 'the Scriptures' were the Old Testament. That is what they had. Therefore, this probably means they looked to see if the passages Paul cited to show that Christ is the Messiah were really in the Scriptures. Keep in mind that certain parts of the message Paul brought were not in the Scriptures they had, for instance the new practice of the Eucharist (or Lord's supper). So if we want to be like the Bereans, this passage is not saying we must examine the Scriptures to make sure every single thing that is taught to us is also in the Bible. It simply praises those who read and know the Scriptures, those who use them as an aid while they are guided by the Spirit and Apostolic teaching. The passage certainly doesn't teach the sole sufficiency of Scripture.

Regarding 2 Timothy 3:16,17, the first thing to note again is that Paul is referring to the Old Testament primarily. That is primarily what Timothy had. The New Testament had not been completed at the time this was written, its letters were not very widespread yet, and it would not be completed, canonized, and spread throughout all the churches for hundreds of years. Many Protestants use this passage to claim the sole sufficiency of the Scriptures. However, it then follows that Paul was basically saying the Old Testament alone is sufficient, perhaps with a couple of his own letters. In this passage, Paul is mainly affirming the usefulness and authority of the old testament to Timothy. By extension we can also apply it, now, to the New Testament. However, it is certainly not saying Scripture is the sole authority in Christianity as many different Protestant groups have claimed for the last 500 years or so. It says Scripture is useful for teaching and training the man of God. The result of teaching and training is that the man of God may be prepared for every good work. However, Scripture is not the only tool to be used to teach and train the man of God. The Spirit, for instance guides and trains. Also, the oral traditions Paul encouraged people like Timothy to remember in addition to his letters will guide and train.

Regarding 2 Timothy 2:15, Timothy is encouraged to "rightly divide the word of truth." I take this to mean "teach the Word of God correctly." (Or you could say, to teach according to orthodoxy since "orthodox" is actually just an old world that means "correct" or "right.") This is actually one of the verses orthodox Christians have been praying every Sunday as part of the divine liturgy for at least 1600 years, and probably much longer. They pray that God would grant their Bishops and Priests the continuing ability to rightly divide the word of truth.

Regarding 1 John 4:1, Christians must test the spirits. I think this refers to demons, angels, and people. Just as we may encounter angels and not even know it (Hebrews 13:2) I believe we also we may encounter demons. Evil forces often masquerade as good (see 2 Cor. 11:14). We should test every teacher and spiritual being that attempts to teach us to see if they really are of God, are evil, or are deceived. A test John suggests immediately is found in verses 2 and 3... ask if they acknowledge Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Early on one heresy Christianity faced was the denial of Jesus' incarnation. Certainly there are many other deceptions that evil and deceived teachers have attempted to fool us into believing since then. We always must test what we are taught and compare it to what Christ taught. In my case, for the reasons I mentioned a couple posts above, I think we should use Scripture and holy apostolic tradition to do that test as reliably as possible.

I think the point of 2 Peter 1:16-21 is that Scripture originated with God. The prophets of old spoke and wrote the words of God. The writings and traditions the Apostles passed down originated from sitting at the feet of Christ.

"How can you determine if something/tradition/a teaching is from God or of man?" It is a process of learning and study. The church had to determine the canon of Scripture, for instance. It took a great deal of time and effort to finalize and agree on the New Testament throughout all the churches. Similar efforts were undertaken to establish true Apostolic tradition, and I think that is mainly expressed in the orthodox services like the divine liturgy and the creeds that are part of those services. I'm not sure about that though. I'm new to orthodoxy. I personally study the scriptures and the early church fathers to test the origin of teachings. The later church fathers start to get messy, in my opinion, and many start to veer off on their own personal tangents, in this direction or that, from the central tenants of early Christianity.

"And as a side note, if Scripture is not the basis of truth then why all the fuss over abstinence? Do you not know that that too comes from church fathers? " [NOTE:  Here he is referring to an inside fact.  He knows that one of the things that led me away from Baptist-ism was their frequent repetition of the teaching that sex, and even kissing passionately, is a sin.  Due to problems that teaching caused in my first marriage I started to seriously question everything the Baptists had taught me.  I read the Scriptures and prayed for a couple years without going to a church.  Eventually, that led me to have a very "orthodox-y" theology.. which I joyfully then discovered in the orthodox church.]

The teaching that sex before marriage is a sin comes neither from Scripture nor from the early church fathers as far as I can tell. I haven't been able to find a single early Father that ever taught that it is sin. They certainly said to avoid "sexual immorality." However, as we've discussed before (I think) there is no biblical reason to think premarital sex is immoral (at least not in the context of courtship). So I don't think the Fathers were referring to sex during courtship when they said to avoid sexual immorality. Some priests may disagree with me. All will probably tell you it isn't the core of Christianity. For them, the core is expressed in Scripture, the creeds, and the services. Premarital sex isn't mentioned in any of those three places. I've recently re-written the article I once wrote on that subject, by the way. It can be found at http://www.unc.edu/~jasondm/sex.html in case you're interested.

There are definitely multiple sources of truth. Even the Spirit of God is a source of Truth; He can and does reveal himself to people without anyone's help. The Apostles passed along traditions as well as writings (Scriptures), two sources of truth. There is tremendous unity in the orthodox church regarding both of those sources. As far as why the Catholic and Orthodox churches split, I can't really speak to that. In the brief time I've looked into the issue I've concluded it came down to power politics and the pride of one Bishop (of Rome) who wanted to claim he had more authority than all the other Bishops throughout the orthodox cities and lands to make some changes to certain practices and creeds.

I don't know much. I'm no orthodox priest by any means. I could be wrong about some of this stuff. A book I found helpful is The Way: What Every Protestant Should Know About the Orthodox Church by Clark Carlton. He attended Southeastern Baptist Seminary as well. If you will send me your address I'd be glad to mail you a copy.
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« Reply #49 on: February 10, 2012, 11:56:40 PM »

I am really proud of you for converting, Glory be to God! I always have a special sense of sympathy for Protestant converts. I too converted from Protestantism, right now I am a fifteen year old catechumen from a Protestant family. I can assure you that the journey is going to be hard and you are going to face much opposition from your old Protestant associates who usually misunderstand everything there is about Orthodoxy and sometimes even say or advocate things that are heretical or really offensive, even if they do not know. There are two things you are going to need to learn; first, to be able to defend your beliefs in front of them. However, judging from that conversation, you already know how and I commend you for it. The second thing you need to learn is how to be understanding and forgiving.

Like I said, there are going to be many times where your Protestant friends are going to say or ask things that can be extremely offensive to Orthodoxy; and the thing is, many times they will not even be trying to offend you or oppose Orthodoxy. In fact, sometimes they are trying to be polite but it comes out wrong! For example, after I converted, one of my old Protestant friends invited me to her 'Non-Denominational' Protestant Church, which is actually the one I attended before my conversion, and I had to tell her that I converted and that I no longer had any interest in attending that Church because I was now an Orthodox Christian, and her response was 'It is non-denominational! Don't worry, you can come!' I found this really offensive because it was like she was labeling Orthodoxy as a denomination even though we are pre-denominational; we are the oldest, true and original Church.

Denomination implies change or alteration from the original. But Orthodoxy is the original so by calling it a denomination you are offending it! I became really offended by her comment and almost lost my temper, Lord have Mercy, but I was able to control it and I had to remember that she simply did not know and was not trying to offend me but was actually trying to be polite. The point is, you have to keep this in mind because I guarantee you that your Protestant associates are going to do things like this that will offend you. But, we have to have patience and be underestanding.

In conclusion, however, nearly everything you said in your post was true, however, your view on sexuality is really heretical and you should talk to a Priest about that. What you need to understand is the Orthodox view of what sex is and its purpose. Sex is a union both physically and spiritually given as a blessing from God unto two people who have been joined together by the Sacrament of marriage both to communicate their feelings towards each other and come closer, and also to bless them with children.
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« Reply #50 on: February 11, 2012, 12:15:40 AM »

Actually, you might have no problems at all from your friends, family and associates. The problems adjusting are more likely to come from you. At least, that has been my case. No one is upset or tries to change my mind, but conversion something that can be very hard to do.
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« Reply #51 on: February 12, 2012, 12:22:18 AM »

James, Jason.  Thank you both.
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« Reply #52 on: February 14, 2012, 04:57:13 PM »

PS James, thanks for the advice about the sexuality issue specifically.  However, I'm actually doing a little experiment.  I'm waiting to see if I ever hear my priest say or even imply that sex before marriage is sinful.  I want to compare the prevalence of that doctrine as preached in orthodoxy with the frequency it was shoved into my ears as a conservative Baptist.  Many things attracted me to orthodoxy, including their view of salvation, baptism, the Body and the Blood, the Resurrection, justification, etc.  However, one of them was also the fact that even while many orthodox do believe and teach that sex before marriage is a sin it just isn't emphasized with much frequency.  That attracted me, because I think it is a sign that orthodoxy tends to focus on the Truth.  Baptists really pounded the premarital sex thing hard, sometimes every Sunday.  That was a sign of distance from the Truth to me, given that neither Christ, the Apostles, nor anyone in Scripture ever prohibited sex before marriage.

So long story short, if my conscience bothered me I would certainly talk to my priest.  However, my conscience is clear.  That doesn't make me innocent before God necessarily.  However, I'm going to wait and see if the priest ever brings it up.  Besides, I have more important things to ask him about and my time with him is limited.  If he never brings it up, perhaps someday way down the road I will bring it up with him.

For fear of getting this topic off track, let's not discuss the sex issue any further here.  There are a couple of other ongoing discussions if you're interested.   See
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,40403.html
or
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,35214.405.html
... your view on sexuality is really heretical and you should talk to a Priest about that. What you need to understand is the Orthodox view of what sex is and its purpose. Sex is a union both physically and spiritually given as a blessing from God unto two people who have been joined together by the Sacrament of marriage both to communicate their feelings towards each other and come closer, and also to bless them with children.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 04:58:58 PM by acts420 » Logged

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« Reply #53 on: June 27, 2012, 09:31:50 PM »

Are there any converts from Seventh-day Adventism to Orthodoxy? I would love to hear your story. I was born and raised SDA, but am looking very hard at Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #54 on: June 27, 2012, 09:47:21 PM »

Are there any converts from Seventh-day Adventism to Orthodoxy? I would love to hear your story. I was born and raised SDA, but am looking very hard at Orthodoxy.

Not sure, but I have another question all together. How is it that an American church became popular in Australia (SDA)?
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« Reply #55 on: June 27, 2012, 10:02:48 PM »

SDAs, like other churches that came out of the "burned over district" in the 19th century, have real missionary zeal. They are big in the Pacific Islands (Fiji, PNG, Samoa etc). They are not "popular" in Australia. The Church is very small and most people haven't heard of SDAs.
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« Reply #56 on: August 12, 2012, 09:03:23 PM »

I was raised and baptized as a Southern Baptist.  I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday and to every church function in between.  Despite my parents good intentions of bringing me up in church, nothing seemed to stick.  I believed in God but I just never felt right about church.  After I got out of high school I went in to the military and never went to church.  In fact, I started going to bars and partying all the time.  After I got out I continued partying and got a job bar tending.  I did that work for about eight years.  All this time I was so miserable.  It was probably the darkest time of my life.  After I finally had enough of living in the world and being miserable, I decided that I'd give church another shot.  I ended up meeting an old friend I was in high school with and we fell in love and got married.  My wife was in church and played a big part in getting me back in church.

So, I'm married and back in church now.  After about fifteen years of marriage we had been members of Baptist, Pentecostal, non-denominational and Nazarene churches.  If it could be said that you can "play the field" in churches then that's exactly what we did.  The last protestant church I was in was a Church of the Nazarene.  I even took ordination classes and became a Nazarene minister.  No matter what church I was in I always felt like something was missing.  It felt as though there was another level or something in my walk with God and yet I couldn't get there.  Not only that but that seemed to be a similar sentiment with other members as out church membership was like a revolving door.  Just like when I was a kid in a Southern Baptist church, nothing seemed to be sticking with me and maybe some others.

I got tired of that feeling of having a void in my life no matter what I did.  It didn't matter how much I prayed, how hard I studied the Bible or anything else that void just wouldn't go away.  So I began to research the scriptures for myself.  I began to research to find real truth without an outside influence.  I researched how the ancient church was formed and how the services in heaven were done.  I researched the sacraments and the truth that surrounds them.  Even though I wasn't looking for Orthodoxy, everywhere I turned I kept seeing it.  Since it kept coming up I began researching Orthodoxy.  I spent months researching the church, speaking to Orthodox members and comparing what I read with the scriptures.  I read the book "Becoming Orthodox" my Peter Gilquist which played a big role in answering my questions and leading me to my conversion.  Anyway, I found a local Orthodox church and began email correspondence with the priest.  I eventually made my first visit to St Luke Orthodox Church in Anniston, Alabama.  I knew the first time I visited that I had found what I been looking for.  Thought it was extremely different from what i grew up knowing, it just felt right.  

Though I've lost some of my friends and family and have had many issue's with my wife, my primary focus in life is to serve God.  Despite the stress of persecution from family and friends, I have an incredible since of peace and that long empty void has finally been filled.
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« Reply #57 on: October 14, 2012, 07:58:58 PM »

Fantastic conversion stories here so I'll keep things short and sweet. Like the previous poster, I spent the first 18 years of my life as a Southern Baptist. However, I spent the next 14 as an atheist - and for a long part of that time, a very dedicated and serious one.

By the grace of God, I am now a catechumen in the Greek Orthodox Church here in Des Moines after a six-month struggle between choosing whether or not to come into Rome (my wife, all of her family, and most of my family are Roman Catholic). I ask everyday for SS. Peter and Paul, the Holy Chinese Martyrs, and St. Peter the Aleute to pray for the reunification of all the ancient Churches currently split from Orthodoxy.

I hope to share the story of my emerging from atheism to those nonbelievers who are questioning their faith ( Wink) and to those Christians who are doubting in the face of popular modern empiricism. Perusing this board, I am a little theologically liberal compared to others, so please forgive any intrusion, especially within theological and Patristic areas with which I am not well-versed. I am here to learn, not argue!

EDIT: Also, my patron saint and intended Chrismated name is going to be Thomas, in honor of Thomas, the doubter, and to a lesser extent a tribute to the great Thomas Aquinas, whose theology led me out of atheism (but who was eventually trumped by Palamas IMHO). Thomas also just so happens to be my middle name Wink
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« Reply #58 on: January 04, 2013, 12:53:09 AM »

Greetings and blessings to all, brethren,

I’m pleased to recently discover Orthodoxy and eager to meet like-minded people. This is my Story, which will continue along with my Song in future threads. I’m here by no accident and all honor and praise goes to our Father in Heaven, the Creator of Mother Earth. I’m new to this particular Forum and have no former knowledge of Orthodoxy. I have a great deal to tell but it can’t be said in one thread, even.

Our Father of the Universe has led me to Orthodoxy through the Law of Nature, just as Paul proclaims in the first chapter of Romans; this day, after a recent discovery and an Spirit-led investigation, things began to spark up when I received a dream in the 7th month of 2007 and receiving numerous visions, following; the visions are amazing, frequent and are still on going. I converse with Father, ask Him questions and He is always faithful to answer because He is the One giving me these things to investigate and He wants me to seek the answers from Him, and it pleases Him. He answers in His time and it’s usually in patterns of “two” such as 2 hours or 2 days, as examples; I noticed this pattern with Him.

The dream has driven me into an incredible investigation that only God could have sparked and directed the entire way. The dream and my experience are profound and lengthy, yet, the dream occurred in an estimated 20-seconds, and that’s another story that I hope to share once I figure out which Forums to post in because I have many subjects to address and many that are not commonly discussed because it crosses between religion and science, this said, I have information for the Creationists and Evolutionists that will leave them both like Romans without excuse.

I was raised in a somewhat Catholic (Roman- Italian- "gentile") family (pagan/secular); my grandparents sailed to America in the 1900’s and first settled in Long Island, NY before moving to So Cal, where I currently live. I attended secular schools except for two 5th grade semesters in Catholic school, they failed me. I was Baptized Catholic and did the communion and confirmation vows, as I recall. I hardly knew much about the faith then and still don’t. As I grew older I drifted from one Christian faith to another, and while never feeling thoroughly fed and not finding the answer to my confusion about religion.

Then, after the Lord led me to the Seventh-day Adventist Church before 2002; I examined them very closely for better than 8-years and then left them in 2010. I had the dream two months after my fourth marriage; I had second thoughts about it but married anyway. This marriage was later proven to be a part of my lesson in training.

Imagine having one truth that the world could not dispute, every human would then be like Romans without excuse. The Apostle Paul speaks of this in Romans ch 1, and if we could show scientists how God’s Law is clearly seen in Nature then you could win them over, or blow them over. The problem is that the simplicity of it actually dumbfounds the scholars and scientists. It’s  easier for a simple mind to understand, one that hasn't been corrupted with secular knowledge as opposed to the unbeliever as it blinds them from the truth. I will be discussing the topic of Mind Control, as well as other things.  that no man has considered before, this I know because I haven’t found it anywhere else in this world. I will tell you things that no human mind has ever considered before.

Starting on the second day of the second month of 2012, I began receiving another vision, it lasted about 6 weeks. It started on a Sabbath morning (7th day- Saturday) when I was inspired to gather my KJV Bible, a writing tablet and a writing pen, and to sit down at the dining room table. It was a beautiful sunny morning; I sat down and randomly opened the Bible, then I randomly glanced at the left page and immediately went into a vision. Two days before this I received a brief and powerful vision of the numbers 666 in an image, I quickly asked Father what it was for, I then knew that I was to sleep on it for a few days; His behavioral patterns have become obvious to me. Sure enough, a repeat of that same Image came to me on the Sabbath day, February 4, two days later.

Once in vision, all things around me are present but yet, absent in mind. All that I see is what is transpiring in the vision. It’s as if I’m in a classroom with the Master Professor. I began writing down numeric equations and reasoning with them as I observed what I was writing, asking many questions during the lesson. After the first two pages of what seemed gibberish, albeit, I understood it so I asked Father if this was Algebra, and He told me to look it up in the Dictionary that I had recently bought, the one that He had inspired me to buy shortly before then, when I bought the writing supplies. He knew that it would be used later even when I didn't. Amazingly, the definition of “Algebra” perfectly fit what I was being taught. I never studied Algebra in school nor was I a good student; I skated through school by chance, averaging a low C grade.

This is very lengthy so I’ll cut it short and close with the punch line…
Through the dream and all of the visions and the teachings that I received from God the Father, I have come to discover Eastern Orthodoxy. Whether it be Greek or Russian it makes no difference to me at this time until I learn more of the differences. This means that I’ll be measuring and weighing the various doctrines to see if they are Rightly Divided, and I’ll be doing this with the authentic “Genesis Code” that has been mocked to brainwash the world about the true Genesis Code that is now here by Divine inspiration. You’ll have to follow my postings if you want to see these things that I tell you.

Our Lord has revealed to me that simple magnets can perfectly illustrate His Perfect Law for the entire Universe, and His Perfect Will for all humankind, and Nature, too! This said, I will be teaching how you can prove that God is real and that His Law exists in Magnetism and how it defines the perfect Marriage between Man and Woman. All of Nature is obedient to the same law as Magnetism, except for humans. This would then leave the world without excuse to marry the same sex, providing that the majority would rule on that law, and that law is God’s Law, revealed in Magnetism. Imagine an Attorney using two simple bar magnets in the Courtroom to prove that the Law of God says that same sex marriage is a violation to God's Law. The reason that they don’t is because they can’t. Spiritual things are nonsense to the natural mind therefore, the natural mind can’t even judge the prophet, whom isn’t even accepted in his own country, go figure! When will people wake up?

Just recently I realized that the dream & visions are of Orthodox origin (from God). My dream is a parallel to Ezekiel ch 40>>> and John's dream in Rev ch 11, and chapter 10 spiritually describes my experience in life with God. I've been given a special knowledge that I attribute to a "Golden rod" because I found myself measuring the transgressions of the Protestant churches using the Genesis Code. I started with my own Church at that time of the beginning. I’m anxious to share this information with the Orthodox Churches and I would like to ask many questions about the 77 canons Bible, the reason being is that I have received a vision concerning the 77 canons Bible verses the 66 canons Bible. I never knew that a 77 canons Bible even existed, this led me to the search for it and here I find that some Eastern Orthodox Churches still use it and amazingly, I have been reading and associating with the Apocryphal Gospels and how they are exactly what I’ve been taught in the visions. I also have determined that the authentic Genesis Code can prove that Orthodoxy is the true religion.

Please be patient with me as this is a lengthy issue of great concern, and it’s coming to you from a old man that has little education and a limited vocabulary, this is not to discount the wisdom and intelligence that our Father has gifted me with. These things that I tell you may sound crazy but give it time and follow my postings before judging the book by the cover.

I hope to make many friends here and feel as if I’m finally home. I’m tired of being beat up by Protestants although I was once one, myself. The only thing is that I now must learn about Eastern Orthodoxy and compare.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and may our Father bless those who understand and respect me.

 Smiley
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« Reply #59 on: January 04, 2013, 05:19:18 AM »

Welcome to the forum  Smiley

If I may give you an advice, try and attend the Divine Liturgy, Orthodoxy needs to be experienced. If you can get to talk to a priest, that would be good too.

Good luck.
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« Reply #60 on: January 23, 2013, 09:01:29 PM »

This is my conversion story.
It is so absurd that after few years I have difficulties in accepting it happened really like that!
Me and my wife wrote the story in a blog to make her family know what happened. They are Mormons.
It is written in French and English so if you wouléd like to reed it just be carefull to click from chapter 1 and the English version of each chapter.
May the Lord bless you all.

www.maxetcharline.blogspot.com
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« Reply #61 on: January 25, 2013, 07:17:35 AM »

This is my conversion story.
It is so absurd that after few years I have difficulties in accepting it happened really like that!
Me and my wife wrote the story in a blog to make her family know what happened. They are Mormons.
It is written in French and English so if you wouléd like to reed it just be carefull to click from chapter 1 and the English version of each chapter.
May the Lord bless you all.

www.maxetcharline.blogspot.com
That is an interesting story. How did you discover Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #62 on: January 27, 2013, 01:31:40 PM »

hello Ansgar,

how did I discover Orthodoxy...
first of all if I had to have choosen for my cultural backround I should have become Roman Catholic. Why?
I am Italian. My grandmother was roman catholic, my mother is roman catholic.
But since the begining of my story conversion in my brain there was often, while walking, while taking a shower, an image of somebody that was dressed and looked like an Orthodox. Why and who was him I cannot tell you.
And then why an orthodox man or monk or watever the immage was of?
In my native culture there is nobody dressed that way or that look like that.
An not too old man with a mid long white beard covered with a long dark robe with something on his chest that I don't know what it was.
So my conversion was from nothing to Christianity, but I knew I had to become Orthodox. From the beginning. I don't know how and why.
With my wife we start attending Protestant, but I knew was not that. I did it for my wife since Protestant was a good transition point from Mormonism. Then little by little that she wanted more we were in the need of more Chrsitianity and we went to a Church close by our house where Orthodox Romanian share, or better they rent their space to Old Catholic that own the place.  
The first time we went there the wife of the Priest told us we made a mistake going there, that we should go to the Roman Catholic Church nearby. We were a little bit shocked by her saying.
But we went back there again and again since we were allowed to talk to the priest, her husband and he wanted to be sure we were not been influenced in our choice by any priest or whatever. Hearing this for my wife was a surprice. An ex mormon missionary has been trained to influence other choices!
Then little by little we realizes that our feeling were already close to orthodoxie, and little by little with orthodoxie we realize we can live more like christians then just making a rational choice.
The only regret I have is that sometimes I missed what I had.
You feel...you are there but not there, you are yourself but not only yourself...it is hard to explain.
But emmediately after that period I was just I I always has been, but with a strong message inside.
Now I fell I am alone with my faith. Now I have to work, to be perseverent. In that period I was worked over, I had no faith but something else.
That something else now it seams abbandoned me with my responsability for my faith.
I hope you understand.
It is difficult for me to explain more.
For me in a word becoming Christian was become Orthodox.
Or better becoming orthodox made me discover I was orthodox.
It is like you are a duck but you don't know you are one since something else make you discover you are one.
Sorry for my luck of a better explanation.
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« Reply #63 on: January 27, 2013, 02:19:44 PM »

hello Ansgar,

how did I discover Orthodoxy...
first of all if I had to have choosen for my cultural backround I should have become Roman Catholic. Why?
I am Italian. My grandmother was roman catholic, my mother is roman catholic.
But since the begining of my story conversion in my brain there was often, while walking, while taking a shower, an image of somebody that was dressed and looked like an Orthodox. Why and who was him I cannot tell you.
And then why an orthodox man or monk or watever the immage was of?
In my native culture there is nobody dressed that way or that look like that.
An not too old man with a mid long white beard covered with a long dark robe with something on his chest that I don't know what it was.
So my conversion was from nothing to Christianity, but I knew I had to become Orthodox. From the beginning. I don't know how and why.
With my wife we start attending Protestant, but I knew was not that. I did it for my wife since Protestant was a good transition point from Mormonism. Then little by little that she wanted more we were in the need of more Chrsitianity and we went to a Church close by our house where Orthodox Romanian share, or better they rent their space to Old Catholic that own the place.  
The first time we went there the wife of the Priest told us we made a mistake going there, that we should go to the Roman Catholic Church nearby. We were a little bit shocked by her saying.
But we went back there again and again since we were allowed to talk to the priest, her husband and he wanted to be sure we were not been influenced in our choice by any priest or whatever. Hearing this for my wife was a surprice. An ex mormon missionary has been trained to influence other choices!
Then little by little we realizes that our feeling were already close to orthodoxie, and little by little with orthodoxie we realize we can live more like christians then just making a rational choice.
The only regret I have is that sometimes I missed what I had.
You feel...you are there but not there, you are yourself but not only yourself...it is hard to explain.
But emmediately after that period I was just I I always has been, but with a strong message inside.
Now I fell I am alone with my faith. Now I have to work, to be perseverent. In that period I was worked over, I had no faith but something else.
That something else now it seams abbandoned me with my responsability for my faith.
I hope you understand.
It is difficult for me to explain more.
For me in a word becoming Christian was become Orthodox.
Or better becoming orthodox made me discover I was orthodox.
It is like you are a duck but you don't know you are one since something else make you discover you are one.
Sorry for my luck of a better explanation.

That is a very good response.  Smiley

Especially the last part. It reminds me about the ugly duckling.
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« Reply #64 on: February 21, 2013, 07:49:16 AM »

http://andreaskoutsoudis3.com/convert/a-conversion-from-islam-to-orthodox-christianity/

http://andreaskoutsoudis3.com/convert/a-conversion-from-islam-to-orthodox-christianity-part-2/

the 2 links above are articles on a heart warming and joyful conversion from Islam to The Truth that is Orthodox Christianity!!!
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« Reply #65 on: February 21, 2013, 09:27:59 AM »

Hello. I don't know where can we present ourself, so i guess i will do it here. I'm 24 years old, and have been Orthodox for 2 years now.

I'm romanian and was born in France. My Parents didn't believe in God, nor were they religious, even if we had a painting of the virgin Mary and Jesus at Home, and so i was not baptised as a child and was kind of indifferant to God for some time. I started my journey at the age of 19, i already believed God existed, but i didn't know wich religion was true. I was balancing in favor of Christianity, but nothing more. I soon realized that Judaism was false in light of the clear messianic texts that were pointing towards Jesus. And i realized also that Islam had no historical ground to stand on. My main doubt was between Orthodox and Papism. And i must say that Wladimir Guettee's books, that i read in french, were very importand for me, even if it is somehow outdated on some detail points. I also read Hefele's work on history of the Church, as well as 2 books of Meyendorff. And even so Popes of Rome made outrageous claims very early, i guess starting with Pope Victor, i realized that the Church kept fonctioning on a conciliar basis(Eusebius saying Victor was rebuked by the whole Church, Canon 28 of Chalcedone, 2nd oecumenical Council and Succession from St Meletius etc).

So that decided me to become Orthodox, wich was in fact only a come back to my Fathers faith. Protestantism was out of question because of its a-historical nature and anachronism. I must say i had hard time to decide wether join an old-calendarist Church or a "canonical" one, because of Oecumenism and calendar issue. But being unable to see who was right in those debates, i joined a canonical Church. Even so, i still have much doubts about it, and i agree on many points with old calendarists, and i'm not sure if i made the good choice, so i ask God to guide me and to forgive me if i was wrong, since i'm a sinner.

Also, even if it is not about Religion, i'm a supporter of Universitatea Craiova and of our brothers, Napoli, and that explains my nickname and avatar.

I'm happy to be part of this forum, may God forgive us as we forgive to each other our faults and iniquities, and may the Theotokos pray for us.

And sorry for my bad english if i made mystakes.
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« Reply #66 on: February 21, 2013, 11:38:10 AM »

i hope you continue to follow the right path and sincerely be happy in the Orthodox Faith! God Bless you!
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« Reply #67 on: May 08, 2013, 04:54:57 PM »

My story.....

I was raised Catholic, I attended both a Catholic primary school and an all boys Catholic secondary school.
In my young life I had always believed in a God. But when I was 15 years old my grandfather died and my
world changed. I was upset with God for taking the life of my grandfather, a good man, an honest man and my hero. Even though I was angry with God for the death of my grandfather my faith in Jesus/God grew and it became my source of comfort. When I was around 18 years old I lost faith in Jesus/God and I found answers within Judaism. I joined the Jewish community and over time I established myself as a Jew. I became so religious that I learnt basic Ivrit and kept Kosher for a couple of years. At that time I also spent a lot of time in Eretz Yisrael. Then oneday while back in my home country I came across debates online regarding God and No God which rusulted in me losing all my faith in  HaShem of the Torah and God in general. I also dropped my Jewish identity. Later on I started reading and learning about God, Science, Atheism, Philosophy, Buddhism, Hinduism ect
( I am getting tired so here is the short conclusion)
I wanted to learn more about my grandmothers family and faith (she is Russian Orthodox) so  I googled Orthodox Christianity and came across this forum in doing so I came across a post which reccomendation that people should read Mere Christianity by  C.S. Lewis which I did. It has completly changed my views on God and how I view Christianity, God/Jesus. I know totally believe in God and the truth of Jesus !

I have not commited to any Church as yet but I am open to the Idea (but deffinetly NOT The Roman Catholic Church). However I have commited to the Truth of Jesus Smiley
Where I go from here only God knows and my future self :p

Peace & thank you orthodoxchristianity.net Smiley

P.S. I am open to learning more about Orthodoxy.

 Kind Regards alexsonofmatthew
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« Reply #68 on: May 08, 2013, 05:27:54 PM »

Welcome to the forum!

but deffinetly NOT The Roman Catholic Church

Why not?

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Malina
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« Reply #69 on: May 20, 2013, 07:01:16 AM »

Like many of Ukrainians I was baptized when I was a baby. Although it happened long ago my way to Christianity started at 16 years old.
The main reasons for looking God in my life were: death of my farther and my own youth`s faults (sins).
I am an only child in my family . When I was younger, I afforded many enjoyments to myself, at the same time there was a lack of attention from parents. In such circumstances I had growing with selfish character. I am think, I was like a “prodigal son” in some sense. Although I didn`t requested my part of inheritance, and didn`t spend it, but I spent a lot of means earned by my parents. When I was 21 I started to tend  my life to Orthodox way of life.

I am concluding now, it wasn`t right life. I am 31 years old now, I have a daughter and I want to bring up her in love and patience, peace and perseverance in good deals. I think these are the most important features I have to my daughter.
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lovesupreme
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« Reply #70 on: May 20, 2013, 09:24:34 PM »

My story.....

I was raised Catholic, I attended both a Catholic primary school and an all boys Catholic secondary school.
In my young life I had always believed in a God. But when I was 15 years old my grandfather died and my
world changed. I was upset with God for taking the life of my grandfather, a good man, an honest man and my hero. Even though I was angry with God for the death of my grandfather my faith in Jesus/God grew and it became my source of comfort. When I was around 18 years old I lost faith in Jesus/God and I found answers within Judaism. I joined the Jewish community and over time I established myself as a Jew. I became so religious that I learnt basic Ivrit and kept Kosher for a couple of years. At that time I also spent a lot of time in Eretz Yisrael. Then oneday while back in my home country I came across debates online regarding God and No God which rusulted in me losing all my faith in  HaShem of the Torah and God in general. I also dropped my Jewish identity. Later on I started reading and learning about God, Science, Atheism, Philosophy, Buddhism, Hinduism ect
( I am getting tired so here is the short conclusion)
I wanted to learn more about my grandmothers family and faith (she is Russian Orthodox) so  I googled Orthodox Christianity and came across this forum in doing so I came across a post which reccomendation that people should read Mere Christianity by  C.S. Lewis which I did. It has completly changed my views on God and how I view Christianity, God/Jesus. I know totally believe in God and the truth of Jesus !

I have not commited to any Church as yet but I am open to the Idea (but deffinetly NOT The Roman Catholic Church). However I have commited to the Truth of Jesus Smiley
Where I go from here only God knows and my future self :p

Peace & thank you orthodoxchristianity.net Smiley

P.S. I am open to learning more about Orthodoxy.

 Kind Regards alexsonofmatthew

My brother in Christ,

We have very similar backgrounds. I was raised in a secular home but found Orthodox Judaism when I went to Israel. I too completely changed my life--kept kosher, davened regularly, kept Shabbat, was a Torah-observant Jew for 1.5 years. Then all of a sudden I lost my faith completely and pursued science, philosophy for a period before God, in his Infinite mercy, took me back into His arms.

You will be in my prayers!
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Malina
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« Reply #71 on: May 22, 2013, 11:51:17 AM »

I remember when I was in Jerusalem, one pilgrim form our group was baptized in Jordan by Orthodox priest. Before that he was a protestant.  After 1 year I talked with him and he told me that he still can`t direct his life according to Orthodox way. He felt like constrained because of his wife and relatives still insisting on protestant life.  In such situation he had to make a choice between his family and his orthodox life. I don`t know his situation know, but I made the following conclusion.
Internal condition of soul is more important than external life of body.  In such situation this man has to convince his wife in his choice and pray to God for understanding from them. If wife will forbid living a life of Orthodox Christian he must to consult with priest. I know it`s easy to take an advices, but it`s very difficult to resolve such issues.
For body could be many restrictions in prison but many possibilities for soul.
Outside situation could be backward. Body could be free but soul in torment.
People start to choose their future here on earth.
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RehamG
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« Reply #72 on: May 24, 2013, 10:56:48 PM »

I'll try and make this as short as I can. I grew up in the rural Southern part of the States, raised in Catholic family. I was a 'good' Catholic girl, went to a Catholic school for quite a while, spent more time in the Church than almost anyone in my family besides my grandmother. Around age 14 something changed, I still am not really sure what triggered it but I started to become really disheartened with the Catholic church. Looking back, I equated Catholic with being Christian in general. I was young, and probably a little dumb to think there was nothing besides this and being Protestant, but then again I was living in a town of 1,900 people and those were the only options around I knew of. By 15 I had decided I would not be Catholic, especially after taking a required class in World Religions. Admittedly, I liked Islam because at the time it seemed like a perfect continuation of Christianity to me. I spent close to a year studying off and on, in secret, about Islam and attending classes at the mosque in the next county. I became Muslim when I was 17 right after my senior year of high school started and got married almost as soon as I turned the legal age to do so(2004). I'll skip the entire bit about my family being unhappy because they thought I was throwing my life away, but know they were highly displeased for a good while. Their unhappiness went up when I started to become more and more extreme, attending a Salafi masjid and going by an Arabic name. I stayed this way until around 2009, after I had my first son.

In a nutshell, I could never be a good enough Muslim. I was too nice, too tolerant, too open minded and so on. I wore the abaya, hijab and sometimes niqab, prayed and fasted, and lead a women's revert group. I am an ECE teacher and I taught 4 year olds at the mosque about Allah, Muhammed and Islam on the weekends, too, all trying to be the best Muslim I could to please my creator and somehow make up for my 'faults' I mentioned. By this time my marriage had turned abusive and much of this was not taken seriously by the Muslim community, if anything it was justified using Islam. There is no need to give the details of how and why my marriage ended, but in 2011 I had an annulment that made it void and left to rebuild my life. At this point I was Muslim by outer appearance only, I was empty inside, I almost felt like my Arabic named alter-ego had killed who I really was. I had many encounters during the 2011-12 year with Christians, inviting me to churches, trying to talk to me and tell me about what they said was the truth yet I always said "I am Muslim, no thanks." There was always a little nagging desire though to just go back into a church and see, I think I told myself for memory's sake or something. I clung to Islam, the only thing I had known since I was 17 because I now thought I somehow wasn't good enough for anything else, yet I did not want my children to grow up as Muslims. I had this fear that I would go into a church and everyone would know I used to be Christian and left the faith for Islam, and it would be like when Muslims leave the faith. I thought they would think I was some type of apostate who should be at the very least turned away instantly.

I had become friends with a Coptic Egyptian, and we had the best conversations about Islam and Christianity. It was through this person that I really got my information about Orthodoxy, and how so many of the good things in Islam I liked were taken from early Christianity. I knew I had no desire to go back to being Catholic, yet at this point I did not want to be Muslim anymore either. I visited a few Orthodox churches(all of which were really nice) before seeking out the one and only Greek Orthodox church in my city and attending liturgy there. I am beyond happy to say that this is what I have been seeking since I was 15, it feels like I've finally found my home so to speak. For now I am just attending, but spoke to Father a few weeks ago about catechumen and am hopeful about starting that journey sometime this summer. Sorry if there are holes in my story, I tried to clip out unimportant stuff and just give the basics....this is also posted in another thread, so if you're seeing double forgive me  Tongue
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"A humble man who lives a spiritual life, when he reads the Holy Scriptures, will relate all things to himself and not to others.”

– St. Mark the Ascetic, Sermon, 1.6
Dpaula
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« Reply #73 on: May 24, 2013, 11:09:45 PM »

Christ is Risen!

Glory to God for all things!!!

Welcome to the forum, Rebecca! Welcome to Orthodoxy Smiley
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« Reply #74 on: July 01, 2013, 10:41:20 AM »

Greetings!

I enjoyed reading many conversion stories during my journey, so I hope God uses my story to help others.

I was born into a Southern family who was Baptist through and through (most ext family still is).  However, very soon after my birth my parents joined the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) for various reasons.  So I was baptized and raised Presbyterian.  Had a great childhood and was taught the Gospel early and often.  In college I was very active with RUF (PCA's college ministry) and learned to appreciate Calvinism even stronger.  I met a beautiful girl from a strong Presby family and married in college.  1 kid, graduation, another kid, new job, 2 more kids, we're still Presby and lovin' it.  No reason to consider a journey at all.  My only knowledge of Orthodoxy came from growing up in Greenville, SC and knowing a few greeks, and then my brother marrying a greek-american.  St. George's in Greenville was a very beautiful church, but also very mysterious looking and I never bothered to investigate.

The first 'crack' in the armor came from a friend* who introduced me to the Federal Vision wing of the presbyterian community.  This group had a stronger appreciation for sacraments, and even communed infants!  That was shocking but very intriguing, especially since I had 4 little ones at this time.  It didn't become anything more than a curiosity at this time though.

Then we moved about 25 minutes South of our home church (where I am the worship leader/guitarist)  and I start to feel bad about passing another PCA church on our way to church every Sunday.  With much sadness we left our home church of about 4 yrs (which we helped plant and were very involved) to attend a closer church which even had some of my neighbors Smiley  Early in our time here we started to feel a little discouraged with the community at the new church and noticed a Lutheran church right down the street (LCMS).  On a whim, we decided to see what this was like.   Wow....

At the Lutheran church we discovered liturgy, sacraments that mean something, written prayers, vestments, and a very welcoming community.  Over the next few months we fell in love with the doctrine and the local body.  Baby #5 was baptized Lutheran (with Godparents!)  However, a storm was brewing...

After a couple more years of loving church that old crack started to show up again.  Infant communion.  Presbyterians generally allow first communion at the first profession of faith and examination by Elders.  This usually happens around age 7-10.  Lutherans, however, (and not without some dissent amongst some pastors) withhold communion until after confirmation, which doesn't happen before age 13 or 14.    So now that I've absolutely fallen in love with the sacrament of the Eucharist, and with the ever-growing desire to bring my children to the table also, I'm told that they must wait to receive the body of our Lord until 14.  That was very hard.  And it was researching this issue that really made me aware of Orthodoxy.

So at this point I've just left the church of my family, ALL of my wife's family, most of my best friends and acquaintances, and many in my community who i don't even know (not a trivial thing) and become Lutheran.  A church that is not indigenous to the South by any means.  But hey, presbys respected Luther quite alot and sang his hymns often, so we were mostly forgiven, but we did get some odd looks from time to time.  ....And NOW I'm thinking of converting to Eastern Orthodoxy???  Seriously???  There aren't many "Luther" figures from Orthodoxy who my friends/family know of- much less read and respect.  (save the Apostles of course)

During this time I was reading voraciously.  Becoming Orthodox (Gillquist), The Orthodox Church (Ware), We Came, We Saw...(Huneycutt), countless blogs/forums/articles, and many youtube videos.  Probably the most influential video was Franky Schaeffer's interview at the Calvin Forum.  He and I came from the same tradition, so he definitely spoke my language.

My first liturgy was with my brother and sister-in-law at St Georges on Christmas Eve, 2011.  I was blown away.

So eventually I had to make the move.  We began to attend Holy Cross (GOA) in Macon and loved everything about it.  Sometimes the language barrier was hard, but our priest has started to put much of the liturgy into English and we really appreciate that.  The people have been 95% VERY welcoming to our family- and we're very obviously not Greek (blonde/blue, throughout)  After about a year of attending, we became catachumens, and then a few months later we were Chrismated on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, 2013.  Worshipping with Holy Cross has been a blessing to our family in more ways than we expected.  I'm saddened that we only have 1 church within 40 miles, but that's better than many Orthodox Christians in our country.

So to recap, born Baptist, baptized Presbyterian, converted Lutheran, and finally chrismated and communed Orthodox.  God is good.  Now I just have to get started converting the rest of the South Smiley


*only person to cut us off after we converted....very sad.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2013, 10:42:30 AM by EOinDixie » Logged
elephant
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« Reply #75 on: July 01, 2013, 10:52:55 AM »

Dear EOinDixie,

Welcome to the forum.  Orthodoxy is blessedness!  Many years of health and happiness to you and your family.

Love, elephant
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AV
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« Reply #76 on: July 25, 2013, 02:44:11 PM »

Though technically not a member of the Orthodox Church yet, I have found my home. I was raised non-denominational and have attended everything from Baptist Churches to RCC Mass for the balance of my life. I have researched most of the predominate other faiths of the world, and even tried nothing...it was all empty to me, but the Catholic Mass was the best of the bunch. Last year I began a state of inquiry for RCIA and met some Orthodox folks during some training I was doing on a personal interest. Through our conversations and my subsequent lack of fulfillment at the RCIA meetings I gave Orthodoxy a shot. I began at Bible study on Tuesday nights, and began attending services on Sunday...everything was different, and I couldn't explain it...but I knew my search was over.

Simply put, I couldn't stop going.
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« Reply #77 on: August 19, 2013, 01:04:59 PM »

Former Taliban From Afghanistan Baptized at Mount Athos
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I pray Thee, O Merciful Lord, for all the peoples of the earth, that they may come to know Thee by Thy Holy Spirit.

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