Fr. Ermolaos Iatrou
Orthodox Missionary Fraternity
In Zomba, the old capital of the state, there is a church that was built in honor of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril.
Recently we had another marvelous event there, which strengthened our
faith and made us love, honor and revere more the saints of God, who
are always by our side, and help us in a scandalous way, as a holy man
The Church of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril is situated in a conspicuous position, on the main road, opposite a large hospital.
Indigenous Fr. George, both priest and pastor, spends many hours in
the church dedicating them to prayer, so many passers-by find him on
duty there, diligently performing his ministry, when they seek support
and help from Heaven for anything that troubles them.
That morning a taxi brought a sick Malawian woman -accompanied by her
good-hearted husband- from her village, to the city hospital due to a
health problem that she had. Let’s say how things happened, though.
Devout Fr. George with his family
Mrs. Nefi, is a Malawian woman around the age of 40, married and
mother- of -four. She and her husband are educated. She works in the
hospital while her husband is a head teacher in a local school.
The woman was in her village and she was feeling very sick. The pain
was acute and was coming down to her stomach and to other parts of her
Her condition was getting worse and worse, so she decided to go to
hospital. However, she had the feeling that she could hear a voice that
was telling her: «If you want to be saved, go to the Greek Orthodox
Church, not to hospital.» She said that to her husband, but although he
would always listen to her, that time he said, «No, we will go to
hospital”. They took a taxi to go straight to hospital.» While the taxi
was passing outside the Church of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril though, the
woman heard the same voice say the same words: «If you want to be saved,
go inside this church and do not go to hospital.» Once this happened,
the woman lost her senses and collapsed. She seemed to be nearing death.
Her husband had no other choice but to tell the taxi driver to stop at
the Church. Without wasting time, he carried his almost half dead wife
They got into the Church and found the indigenous priest Fr. George.
The husband explained to the priest what they had lived at home and
outside the Church and begged the Orthodox priest to pray for his slowly
The priest’s first reaction was to say that the woman was not
Orthodox, therefore, he could not possibly pray for her. The husband
continued to beg him to pray in the name of the Orthodox Church. Then
the priest, out of brotherly love for every human being that is
suffering, yielded to his entreaties and said he would pray but he would
not be wearing a stole, neither would he touch the woman with it since
she was not Orthodox, and so he did.
The priest prayed wholeheartedly for long, and suddenly, the woman who was almost dead, stood up completely healed.
Their gratitude was indescribable! They left the Church praising and
glorifying God, but on Sunday morning, they were both in the Church
again. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, they confessed to everyone
present there the miracle they had experienced and said: “From now on,
we belong to the Orthodox Church, and when the priest decides to baptize
us after our catechesis, we will be ready. We firmly believe that here
is the only true Faith, and that the Triune God has called us personally
to it, which makes us be eternally grateful to Him.”
When Fr. George told us all this, we marveled at the infinite love of
God, Who works miraculously on His humble creatures and Who thus draws
them close to Him and helps them become acquainted with His One, Holy,
We also marvel at the attentiveness of the native priest and his
respect for the rules of our Church, which say that we must not pray
with people of other faiths or other denominations, neither must we
administer the Holy Sacraments or put the stole over people who have not
entered the baptismal font of the Orthodox Church. Even if our
brotherly love is big, we still do not betray our Faith, and as Fr.
George has proven with his stance, especially in the hard and confusing
times we live in, we are impressed by his zeal and enthusiasm to keep
the Tradition of the Holy Fathers of our Church to the letter.
In our humble opinion, the attitude of the native priest, whose
encounter with Orthodoxy took place just 8 years ago, is particularly
noteworthy; and yet, he is humble in his work and sets a very good
example to us who were born in Orthodoxy and who sometimes feel “over
confident” about violating the rules established by the Holy Fathers,
the Holy Tradition and the 7 Ecumenical Synods.
Equally remarkable is the virtue of the priest’s humility, which
makes him attribute everything to the Triune God. He confesses
everything to his spiritual father, and is thus covered by temptations
on both the right and the left hand.
Among others, he narrated the following incident. An acquaintance of
his, an orthodox parishioner, lost his cell phone and was deeply sad.
Then he went to the priest and begged him to pray for his cell phone to
be found. Indeed, Fr. George fell on his knees and prayed for this
little matter, since love in God does not differentiate between small
and big matters. God instructed us to always love and help our neighbor.
What happened next made us marvel at God’s prompt responsiveness. A man
very hurriedly went past the house from which the cell phone had been
lost, and with quick moves he pulled the missing phone out of his
pocket, threw it onto the porch and vanished. Someone forced him to do
that. Prayers have a lot of power and can even defeat passions, make
thieves return the things they stole, but the most amazing thing they
can do is to make people believe in the Holy Orthodox faith. Such
experiences are quite common here.
Dear brothers and sisters, our Orthodox Faith is alive, true and
unique! Let us hold it as a treasure to be cherished, as a valuable gift
from Heaven, and be steadfast in it.
Our Saints are scandalously generous with their assistance
The narration below is from the time prior to the ordination of Fr. George to Ρriest.
wondrous event took place at the Parish of Saints Athanasios and
Kyrillos in Zomba, the old capital of the State. In that Parish served
an outstanding catechist named George, married with three children.
George was sent by our Mission for theological studies to the Orthodox
Ecclesiastic School of Kenya, and he returned full of knowledge on
Orthodoxy, and a zeal to offer from the excess of his heart to his
compatriots who thirsted to acquaint themselves to the truth.
lives next to the Church, spending his day offering his services there.
He had asked us to buy him a bicycle, so that he could go to nearby
regions to painstakingly and sacrificially teach at the villages. In
that way, the people who had shown interest - both in the city and in
the surrounding villages - came to learn about Orthodoxy.
first missionary steps took place in that region by George, and it was
not long before he was ordained a Priest by the Grace of God, so that he
could also minister to God's people from the Holy Altar. [Note: He has
now been ordained, and serves in that Parish]. George's zeal in the
matter of catechisms is immense, but equally immense is his love for the
Services and the Prayers. He would often tell us that the prayers of
the Orthodox would bring people to the Church, which is why we
catechists and Priests must be very zealous during the Holy Services, so
that the Holy Spirit can "draw" more faithful to the harbor of
therefore used to pray in the Church mornings and afternoons, serving
Matins and Vespers and Evening Prayers, and at night fulfil his personal
rule in a room of his house, which was next to the Church. Every night,
between 12 and 2 after midnight he would wake up and fulfil his
personal rule, with psalms, prostrations, prayer-rope etc.. It should
be mentioned here that neither the Church nor his house had electricity.
few days ago, a neighbour approached him, who had no knowledge of
Orthodoxy nor was familiar with our Church until then. He came up to
George and with confidence and joy said: "Both myself and my family want
to be baptized in this Church, because the Truth is here, and you have
the true Faith."
Quite surprised, George asked him "How come, so suddenly?" To which the man replied with the following :
am your neighbour and my job is to go on night patrols and check the
watchmen that work in our company, to see if they are at their posts.
Every night, I begin work at 12 midnight, and I actually hear you
praying just before I leave for work. A company car with a driver
comes and picks me up and drives me to the company.
other day around that time when you were praying, both the driver and
myself noticed that the entire Church as well as your house were flooded
in light! It made a huge impression on us, so we stopped the car to
take a better look, since we knew that those two buildings don't have
electricity. That light was so brilliant, so beautiful and natural!
The next evening the same sight was repeated, at exactly the same hour.
Nothing like that has ever happened to me before. I want to become
Orthodox, along with my family."
miraculous event reminded us that several years ago, when that Church
was still under construction, a certain "strange, crazy native" appeared
among the unsuspecting workers; he went and stood in the center of the
Church and began to shout out loud and announce to everyone that "this
is where the Truth is - this is where Salvation is!" He had also
"announced" certain other, unfamiliar details that were to take place,
such as: "Your Bishop will be coming tomorrow, but he won't visit you
here this time", and other, similar "announcements".
wondrous events like these, my brethren, but also with other, similar
ones, the great Saints and Fathers of our Church reveal to us that they
are by our side and they help us during the various problems that we
encounter in this land.
Saints are scandalously generous with their assistance; that is, they
hasten to solve our problems, they shelter us, they protect us, they are
constantly by our side and they mediate to the Triune God for us, while
simultaneously respecting our free will. That is why the only thing we
need to do is to pray to them and ask for their mediations. We should
entrust our children, our family, our homeland, our missions to them, in
order to achieve escape from various impasses. Wondrous events such as
the aforementioned one will always come before us, to show us that
through prayers, humilitation and our proper worship of God, we can
attain whatever we need.
With love in Christ
Fr. Ermolaos Iatrou