January 23, 2010

Russian Orthodoxy in Asia Today

The entire interview with various parish priests throughout Asia can be read here. Below is an excerpt:

What is the future of Orthodoxy in Asia?

Archimandrite Oleg (Cherepanin) (Thailand): We have to work regardless of the prospects. The future is in God's hands. We can only pray God to grow the fruits, which we now are planting. We have no other means to win the hearts of people adhering to different faiths, but the love, the love that manifested itself in the fullness of God, devoting himself to the Passion for the salvation of mankind. And for God nothing is impossible.

Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev (Hong Kong): I think there is every chance that the Orthodox Church will develop, but it is necessary to exert sufficient effort on the part of the Orthodox Church.

Priest Alexis Trubach (Mongolia): I think, of course, there are prospects, and large prospects. As in Mongolia, and Thailand there are many opportunities not used, but with time they should be used. The main issues that stand on that road are the same as were in the XIX century - the problem of funding the mission and the problem of getting staff missionaries from Russia. These problems are open and required solutions. As for the conversion of Asians to Orthodoxy ... we have before our eyes a magnificent example of Indonesia. Here, in Bangkok, I met with Father Ioasaph, who created a magnificent parish in a rather complicated non-Christian environment, he has already more than fifty members, and he is going to continue to develop it. And I think our meeting in Bangkok was important precisely for this opportunity to learn the missionary experience of each other. Indonesian congregations are encouraging optimism in the future development of Orthodoxy in Asia. Their experience is valuable to all of us. I think maybe we're not going to convert people as fast, as Protestants, but this process, which is already in progress will continue.

Hieromonk Ioasaph (Tandibilang) (Indonesia): I find it difficult to talk about the whole of Asia, but I think that Orthodoxy — is a mercy for Indonesia. I see that in other Christian denominations there is not very much change in a person's life for God's sake. But when people become Orthodox, they are changing for the better, and it's obvious to all. Therefore, it is difficult not to say that the Orthodox — are different people, because we all look not so much on who is saying what, but rather on who leads a different life. And people say: why adopt a religion, if it does not change a person's life? And thank God that the Orthodox Church gives person the power to change, and this is God's blessing for Indonesia.

Priest Alexander Dondenko (Singapore): I believe that there are enormous opportunities for development, but much depends on people - both on the pastor, and on the parishioners. As soon as we pray, as soon as we prepare our hearts to accept God's grace, then God will grant it. Of course, despite our unworthiness, the Lord gives us much. We have to approach this task which was entrusted to us very responsibly, and Orthodox Christians must realize that they are missionaries. Not only is the priest a missionary, but every Orthodox Christian, and if he is aware of this and will live according to the commandments and become a vessel of God's grace, this will become the best sermon for our foreign-language neighbors, who do not understand the language and do not know the services are judging our faith, by observing our lives. If they see from our actions that God exists, then it will help them to convert to Orthodoxy. Now the natives are converting one by one, but as soon as we can find the way to their hearts, then they can convert en masse, as we know from Japan's example, where St. Nicholas worked. But, of course, for this a heroic deed is needed.