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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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« 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.
Adelphi (Sister)
« Last Edit: July 18, 2011, 09:37:17 AM by Adelphi » Logged

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sprtslvr1973
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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!

Memory Eternal!

She will be missed!
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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

Paul
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Isaiah 5:20 "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
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