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Missionary work - what do you do?


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#1 Father David Moser

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 10:47 PM

in the villages and towns all around me there are still NO Eastern Orthodox who are sharing the faith. There are no tents being erected by Eastern Orthodox to preach life in Christ. Most people in my own county have never met an Eastern Orthodox Christian. If the only map is that provided by Eastern Orthodoxy then why are Eastern Orthodox not out every day seeking to save those who have no hope of salvation because they are not members of the visible Eastern Orthodox communion? If it is only Eastern Orthodoxy that has the map then why is it not being shared in my part of the world?


These words of Peter's provoke some thought in me. I am, both a mission and missionary priest and so the importance of preaching not only Christianity, but Orthodox Christianity to those around me who have not found this Pearl of Great Price to be exceedingly great. To that I am initiating a new discussion thread so that we can share with each other about our missionary efforts.

Fr David Moser

#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 10:54 PM

As a beginning to this thread, I would like to suggest that here we do not talk about the "theory" of missions, but rather about the "tactics" or "strategy" of missions. The words of Peter Farrington, quoted above, point out the absolute necessity of being missionaries. Thus by sharing what it is we do to actually present Orthodox Christianity to our communities, to our friends and neighbors, to the people that we encounter, perhaps we can help each other in this vital and important task.

I will be posting a little later (I have to begin services soon) about some of the things I am doing or have done - but please, don't wait for me to start. Tell us what you are doing?

Fr David Moser

#3 Paul Cowan

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 02:24 AM

Father Bless,

I am no theologian nor missionary. I live the life I live. If people notice something different about me, they ask. I have many people asking me questions lately and at different times. I work in a faith based organization. People see icons on my cubicle and on my desktop. They assume I am RC. When any topic turns to this, I correct them and they are surprised I am EO. They have never heard of this before. Door wide open. When time runs out I ask if they want to hear more later. They always say yes.

This happens with colleagues and volunteers I work with. The most noticable one of late was during Great Lent. My senior volunteer is Mormon. We all sat down to eat lunch and he asked rather shortly why I was not eating meat. I simply told him it was a religious thing as it was not really a talking venue. He said really, tell me more. Door wide open.

Our actions speak volumes. If we walk the walk the Holy Spirit will give us the ability to talk the talk. I am a sinner! But God has opened doors for me and put people in front of me I would normally never talk to. People are hungry for what we Orthodox have. I get into some very GOOD conversations with them.

Matthew: Thanks tremendously to this forum, I have more answers than I would have had on my own to refute mostly protestants, but even some RC (they are the hardest to talk to). I sincerely appreciate all the posters on Monachos. You all help me witness. I am amazed with the number of my parish members that do not know of this site. I do tell them all to check it out.

Paul

PS (I think I will start using my name again. My initials are too impersonal. You all will just have to keep Paul F and Paul C separate in your own minds. :)

#4 Paul Fowler

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 08:23 AM

My pennyworth

We started a small group in a small town in the East Midlands called Newark.

It started because the Nottingham Parish had an episcopal visit from +Hilarion, at that time an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Sourozh. He asked the same question that Peter has asked-why are there so few Orthodox Churches, he challenged us to find places where there were Orthodox living but with no Parish and do something. Previous to this I had noticed that we had a lot of Parishoners living quite close to the town of Newark. Putting the two together, I approached my priest to talk about the possibility of doing something in the Newark area. He gave his blesssing and the result was a regular discussion group and occasional liturgies.

Over the past three years, we have a had a number of people come to us-some have stayed and some just visited, but eventually we decided to have the Liturgy served on a regular basis. We had tremendous support from other confessions and eventually rented a side chapel in the Anglican Church in the town centre. Having arranged this we were delighted to find in the stained glass above what we use as the altar were a number of British Saints, including St Aidan and St Chad, to whom the mother church in Nottingham is dedicated. In an even smaller side chapel off the one we use we found an icon of a Russian Bishop (as yet unidentified).

The Liturgy is served monthly, with occasional mid week meetings, with a core group of about fourteen. We are supported by the mother church in Nottingham, whose priest serves the Liturgy. Our status is a 'Eucharistic Community'-I suspect something found only in the Diocese of Sourozh-which is a Community which does not have the status of a full parish. The Community is dedicated to St Paulinus of York, who preached the gospel in this area in the 7th century

Paul F

#5 John Charmley

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 09:58 AM

Dear Paul,

That is excellent, and I look forward to being told more, over time, of how that excellent work is doing.

I am not writing to express what I do (why start answering questions now, when I've spent so much time asking them?), but to say something about an example of which I can bear witness.

This man, known to me and many others, has a full-time secular job which is pretty demanding; he has a wife and three children. He has played a major role in founding two Orthodox Churches, and is active in helping found at least three more; in the past year alone he has published thirteen volumes of writings of the Fathers; he has founded and edited a magazine for those interested in Orthodoxy; he has exchanged hundreds of messages with enquirers and in at least one case known to me, his long and patient work with one man resulted in nothing more than a cascade of insults and invective, to which our man simply responded with humility and charity. He is a sub-deacon in his own Church, which has grown steadily, not least through his tireless efforts. I have not known him be anything but patient and kind to those who enquire, and he gives of time he cannot possibly have.

He acts on me as a beacon. My own feeble efforts to start an Orthodox community locally receive enormous help from this man, who has goodness knows how many more people like me he is helping. Thanks, in main part to him, we now have an Orthodox community planted in North Suffolk, which, in His good time, will grow and bear witness. But without my own version of a man with the energies of St. Paul, I would not have got to first base, so to say.

I am not going to embarrass this humble Christian man by naming him - but in this, of all threads, I wanted to pay a public tribute to this anonymous person who makes a positive difference to all the lives he touches in his tireless work of mission for the Lord. The funny thing is, if he ever reads this, he won't recognise himself and would criticise me for my encomium; that's just another reason for making it.

With more like him - who knows?

In Christ,

John

#6 Paul Fowler

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 04:21 PM

Dear John,

If my account sounded if I was drawing attention to myself then please forgive me, it certainly was not my intention. I am personally in awe of what God is doing in our town and it is down to God alone and the Prayers of the Mother of God and St Paulinus that anything has developed. You have been privileged to be drawn alongside someone so humble and sensative to God, may God raise up more men like him. I can only give glory to God for what He has doing in our town, He began it, and He will complete it.

In XC


Paul F

#7 John

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 04:33 PM

Some things the Russian Orthodox Church in England has done lately:

-- Translated large numbers of the services into English.
-- Organized summer camps for youth to experience Church life in a different way
-- Founded two new parishes in the last year, with plans for more this year
-- Given good and faithful presentation of Orthodox life to the world that it lives in
-- Supported Orthodox youth events and conferences
-- Appointed a bishop who's mission oriented

#8 John Charmley

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 05:31 PM

Dear John,

If my account sounded if I was drawing attention to myself then please forgive me, it certainly was not my intention. I am personally in awe of what God is doing in our town and it is down to God alone and the Prayers of the Mother of God and St Paulinus that anything has developed. You have been privileged to be drawn alongside someone so humble and sensative to God, may God raise up more men like him. I can only give glory to God for what He has doing in our town, He began it, and He will complete it.

In XC


Paul F


My dear Paul,

Far from it, I was genuinely impressed and pleased at what you said - it is so difficult at times to make anything that one might consider worthy of Him whom we serve.

I am, as you say, fortunate, and I think blessed, to know someone like the friend I describe; and he says, constantly, he does not do enough - and believes it. If I did not know my own unworthiness, it would heap coals of fire on me; but since I do, it inspires me to keep getting up every time I fall down - as do your own posts. We all stumble - the difference is whether we get up and keep going, even though we know we will stumble again.

In Christ,

John

#9 Andrew

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 09:49 PM

I know the conditions in England are much different, but you English folks interested in a missionary oriented Orthodox Church might want to contact Archbishop Dmitri of the South (OCA). He pretty much created an entire diocese, one that is exploding with growth. A lot of this has to do with population dynamics, but still, maybe you could go to him with some strategies. In thirty years the DOS has established many missions, full on parishes, etc. This Pascha over 100 people were received into the Church. My own parish in Texas has experienced rapid growth too, by the workings of the Theotokos and the fervent prayers of our priest.

#10 Trudy

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 11:12 PM

Tell us what you are doing?


I am not sure what consitutes missionary work Fr. David. I am not one who goes knocking on doors to tell people about God. I have never been part of a missionary church plant. God has wired me as one who will answer a question when asked, speak as God gives me the words, and work very hard to live in such a manner that is glorifying to God.

I recall one time standing in the grocery line and someone did not have cash to pay for their groceries and was willing to write a check but the store did not accept checks. It was over $15. I paid the bill in cash and the individual wrote me a check. Yes, it could have bounced, but I didn't care.

When the women left the store, the clerk said, "That was very nice of you to do that." I replied, "That is what God asks us to do. Perhaps a time will come when that woman will be able to help another person because someone helped her." I completed my purchase and left.

I did nothing special. I was reimbursed. But the point is, it provided an opportunity to "teach" the clerk about God and that we are our brother's keeper.

I am blessed to teach Sunday school. Today's lesson was discussion of the following passages: Luke 8:16-18 The Parable of the Revealed Light and Luke 8:26-29 the story of The Demon Possessed Man.

In the parable we talked about not hiding the Light of Christ, living the life of Christ no matter our age, and the importance of hearing. I asked the kids to focus on how they listen and to what, especially during Liturgy. It was interesting to receive their responses that they should be listening during the sermon and during the Gospel and Epistle readings. When asked, "When else do you listen during Liturgy?" they could not come up with another time. I asked them, "What about through out the entire Liturgy?"

"Listen to what, Mrs. Trudy?!"

"To the prayers you are participating in! Is there some word that seems to catch your thought while you are praying? Perhaps God is speaking to your heart, asking you to hear."

The expression on a couple faces was..."Oh yea! I didn't think of that." :)

We then moved into the story of the demon possessed man, especially focusing on the end of the story. After being healed, the man asks to accompany Jesus but Jesus says, "Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you."

I pointed out that the man heard God and obeyed Him after he was healed and even the demons listen to God. The man went and did as God asked him, telling everyone in his whole city what Jesus had done for him.

Not only does Jesus teach us that we should hear, but also go home to our city (we discussed what that was for each of them), and tell about Jesus; with our voices, with our actions, with all that we are.

It is small but it is the only thing I know to do.

In Christ,
Athanasia (Trudy)

#11 Paul Fowler

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 02:40 PM

I know the conditions in England are much different, but you English folks interested in a missionary oriented Orthodox Church might want to contact Archbishop Dmitri of the South (OCA). He pretty much created an entire diocese, one that is exploding with growth. A lot of this has to do with population dynamics, but still, maybe you could go to him with some strategies. In thirty years the DOS has established many missions, full on parishes, etc. This Pascha over 100 people were received into the Church. My own parish in Texas has experienced rapid growth too, by the workings of the Theotokos and the fervent prayers of our priest.



Has His Grace published anything? I certainly would be interested in understanding how Orthodoxy has grown in non-Orthodox cultures. We have been blessed in the Russian Diocese in Britain with a new Archbishop and a new Bishop. Archbishop Innokenty is known as "The Builder Bishop" because every diocese he has been appointed to has grown dramatically.

In XC


Paul F

#12 Father David Moser

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 04:02 PM

Now that my "busy season" (that is Sat and Sun) is over, perhaps I can offer some of my own thoughts on Missionary Work. In one sense, I think the essence of missionary work is what Paul said right off, "I live the life I live." This is the basis for everything else for me. Missionary work cannot be something external to my life - something special that I do to be a missionary; rather I am a missionary because it is intrinsic to my life. As a missionary, one of the first priorities I find is to raise the awareness of Orthodoxy among the people of my community. One of the time honored traditions in North America that accomplishes this is the Greek/Russian/other ethnic festival. Every Greek parish seems to have a Greek festival and more and more Russian parishes are doing the same thing. We have a "Russian food festival" in our parish which brings people in the door by droves. We make a little money, but gradually the people of the community are beginning to realize that there is a Russian Orthodox Church here and what it is. During the festival we do "tours" of the Church for those who are curious which gives another venue for interest. Our festival has also had an interesting side effect of involving people who were formerly "fringe" members more consistently in the Church. Also, there is the effect of involving non-Orthodox spouses in the Church which then leads them to catechism and baptism. Our parish has also hosted various community projects - for example a project to rake leaves in the fall used our Church as a "base" when the volunteers would come in, register and pick up their bags and assignments. This also raises our visibility.

I take advantage of every opportunity to do public speaking on the beliefs or practices of the Orthodox Church. When our local art museum had an icon exhibit, I was able to give a talk on the history of Orthodoxy in America and I also was able to bring in an iconographer to talk about the icons. I give an annual lecture to chaplaincy interns at the local hospital on Orthodox belief and custom.

Where ever I go I wear my "clerical" clothes - podriasnik and riassa and cross - and that too has an impact. It produces opportunities for conversations which otherwise would not occur. When I was a chaplain intern at the hospital myself, I would wear my cassock (podriasnik) on my rounds and it really opened a lot of doors. When I walked in a room, everyone knew who I was and why I was there and that did away with all the preliminaries and allowed us to get right to spiritual matters. Even on my daily "constitutional" in the park, people will stop and talk about spiritual things because the way I am dressed opens the door to them.

I also have parishioners in the outlying rural areas of Idaho and as we go and hold services for them, this becomes and outreach to the whole community - many of which probably never thought about Orthodoxy as a local thing.

These are the kinds of things we do to bring people in the door - or even just to make the doors of the Church visible and accessible to our community.

Fr David Moser

#13 Nina

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 12:57 PM

Yes, I think that every second of our life is an opportunity for missionary work. Most of it, non-verbal. I fail in both (verbal and non).

#14 Anna Brenneis

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 03:02 PM

XB!!!

You are so right, Nina! Saint Seraphim of Sarov has told us to save ourselves, and we will save thousands around us.

The late Brother Jose, steward of the Myrrh-Streaming Iveron Icon a few years ago and a true modern missionary, had the following motto: "Faith, Love, Charity!" It is easy to understand the mission of someone like Father David because he can dress as a cleric and be trusted (or not!) because of his obvious role as a Priest. But what about us more common sinners? I try to remember Brother Jose when I feel especially worthless in my mission. He simply went where he was called and lived his motto. It seems to me that we are to "bloom" where we are "planted" and trust God for the rest. That is all part of our Faith life.

There are some wonderful young adults in my parish who have been creating their own outreach to the community, to both believers and nonbelievers, by revitalizing efforts at regular Liturgies in English (we are a Russian Cathedral, so Slavonic predominates), forming a wonderful men's choir that does public concerts, and organizing a recent Lenten retreat that was a huge success. They have also been collecting donations for a specific group of orphans in Russia and are looking for other outreach projects. Our parish has long been involved with such things as Russian food and culture festivals, but what impresses me about our young people is that their outreach is specifically spiritual. Our older parishioners have worked very hard over the years to preserve Russian Orthodoxy through the building of our beautiful Cathedral and running an afternoon/Saturday Russian school (www.gymnazia.org), and now our young adults appear to be taking the next step. For the last 13 years, we have also had an Orthodox day school (www.stjohnsacademysf.org). So, in my parish, we have many, many opportunities to become involved in our Orthodox community's mission.

Anyone who says that Orthodox Christians are not involved in missionary activities simply have not opened their eyes. We don't pound on Bibles and go door-to-door (thank God!), but we are definitely out there!

#15 Antony Solomon

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 03:40 PM

I think Anna hits the nail on the head. The best form of evangelism is a vibrant spiritual Christ centred parish life. Too often the Protestant church suffers from para-church bodies doing the evangelism - knocking on doors, sending out leaflets, holding tent meetings, etc - and this is not connected with the local churches. And sad to say, even when it is the local church doing these things, what they bring people into isn't a wonderful thing - physician heal thyself!

What was said about the early church? Two things:

They took note that they had been with Jesus, and, see how they love one another.

#16 Nina

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 04:27 PM

XB!!!

The late Brother Jose, steward of the Myrrh-Streaming Iveron Icon a few years ago and a true modern missionary, had the following motto: "Faith, Love, Charity!" It is easy to understand the mission of someone like Father David because he can dress as a cleric and be trusted (or not!) because of his obvious role as a Priest. But what about us more common sinners? I try to remember Brother Jose when I feel especially worthless in my mission. He simply went where he was called and lived his motto. It seems to me that we are to "bloom" where we are "planted" and trust God for the rest. That is all part of our Faith life.

There are some wonderful young adults in my parish who have been creating their own outreach to the community, to both believers and nonbelievers, by revitalizing efforts at regular Liturgies in English (we are a Russian Cathedral, so Slavonic predominates), forming a wonderful men's choir that does public concerts, and organizing a recent Lenten retreat that was a huge success. They have also been collecting donations for a specific group of orphans in Russia and are looking for other outreach projects. Our parish has long been involved with such things as Russian food and culture festivals, but what impresses me about our young people is that their outreach is specifically spiritual. Our older parishioners have worked very hard over the years to preserve Russian Orthodoxy through the building of our beautiful Cathedral and running an afternoon/Saturday Russian school (www.gymnazia.org), and now our young adults appear to be taking the next step. For the last 13 years, we have also had an Orthodox day school (www.stjohnsacademysf.org). So, in my parish, we have many, many opportunities to become involved in our Orthodox community's mission.

Anyone who says that Orthodox Christians are not involved in missionary activities simply have not opened their eyes. We don't pound on Bibles and go door-to-door (thank God!), but we are definitely out there!


Trulu He is Risen!

Dear Anna,

Wow! What you share about the missions in your parish is amazing and a great observation in regard to the different missions that the generations had. Thank you for sharing it! And for the motto "Faith, Love, Charity!"

As you say we are very common sinners and tied to the world and its things. This is what I struggle with because indeed every second of our existence is an opportunity to bear witness for Christ. Let's say I decide to wear a necklace that matches my dress for an event, and it is not my cross, because of my vanity I think that the colors of the cross and my dress do not match together. By not having the cross on my neck at the event I fail somehow (not completely) to bear witness. I take much pride that I look so great with all the vain combinations, but I feel an empty spot because I gave up my cross for the love of worldly things. However God does not fail us even if we do fail ourselves and Him and others. He still presents the opportunity at that event to behave in a Christian manner by words, deeds, or simply being there: and this is missions.

I remember reading the life of a Saint (Theodora?-sorry that I forgot who-maybe someone knows her name and can post it here) who previously was a prostitute and a female of renowned beauty. All men were yearning to catch a glimpse of her beauty. She noticed a young priest (monk?) that passed by her and who was completely indifferent to her (and her beauty). She, used to see all men almost passing out when seeing her exceptional beauty, was very touched in her pride when the priest seemed so unaffected. The next day she adorned herself even more and stayed in the place where the priest used to go by. When he came by, the same thing happened. He walked by unaffected and so indifferent like he was looking air and not the famous beauty for whom many men traveled on purpose to look at. She was so perplexed and astonished that she inquired about him (they told her he was a Christian priest and if I remember it well he catechized and baptized her) and not only met Christ and became Christian, but also became a Saint. It is a beautiful life and I recommend it highly (I will post the name of the Saint if I locate it), because there are many lessons to be drawn from it.

That priest with his Christian behavior, without a single word, encounter, or deed in the beginning made her change from street to the Way. Same, as the beautiful saying of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, that you quote, urges. Actually, thinking of it that is why some Saints stayed silent for some time. Even through it they could bear witness for Christ. Not to mention that in the world we have body language, actions, eyes, blushing, etc.

#17 Olga

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Posted 11 May 2007 - 07:40 AM

....In an even smaller side chapel off the one we use we found an icon of a Russian Bishop (as yet unidentified). ...
Paul F


Any chance you could post a photograph of this icon? I may be able to help identify him.

#18 Paul Fowler

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Posted 11 May 2007 - 09:16 AM

Any chance you could post a photograph of this icon? I may be able to help identify him.


Thank you Olga, that is so kind, someone else here has also offered to do the same. At our next Liturgy at the Church-Pentecost Sunday-I will take a photo and upload it. It would be wonderful to identify this saint who has waited for us for so many years to celebrate the Liturgy in his presence.

In XC


Paul

#19 David Menchu

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 06:49 AM

I would like to ask... what can I do? I'm living far from my country, Guatemala, and I would like to find a way to share with them the Orthodoxy. I know there's a monastery of nuns in my country, a little chapel in the city... but, even if I saw the great work that the nuns are making in there, even with an orphanage, there are no priests and they need to wait many weeks until is coming one for staying some days. Some days ago, talking about this subject with a monk of a monastery in this moldavian region of Romania, he suggested to me "David, why don't you become a priest? You would be a very good one and you could help a lot your country, your people, making mission". From that moment, I felt stronger the idea that sometimes passed through my mind. The thing is, can I do it? I mean, was the deeper call of God when He showed me the Orthodoxy and allowed me to be part of it?

Since two years ago, when I became a part of the Orthodox Church, I have spent a lot of time reading, learning, asking... I have the interest of knowning as much as possible and not being a non-informed believer. This also made me to appear strange in the eyes of many persons in this specific area of Romania, because, as I notice, in here you're more appreciated as less questions you do and as more external signs of your faith you show. And, later, when I ask to some persons, believers, "What means this, what means that...?", they don't know, or they scold me "How you dare to ask? just... just believe!" And I need to know! Because I am also teaching to my family, I am translating texts, prayers!

The question, thus, is: What can I do, how can I do mission for my people?

Doamne ajuta! (in romanian) May God help us!

David

#20 Father David Moser

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 05:12 PM

I would like to ask... what can I do? I'm living far from my country, Guatemala, and I would like to find a way to share with them the Orthodoxy. I know there's a monastery of nuns in my country, a little chapel in the city... but, even if I saw the great work that the nuns are making in there, even with an orphanage, there are no priests and they need to wait many weeks until is coming one for staying some days. Some days ago, talking about this subject with a monk of a monastery in this moldavian region of Romania, he suggested to me "David, why don't you become a priest?
...
The question, thus, is: What can I do, how can I do mission for my people?


David, I would suggest to you that if you are willing to accept the priesthood if it should be God's will that you tell the nun with whom you spoke that you would be willing but it would be best if she would approach the abbess about this who could in turn approach their bishop. At that point the bishop, by the grace of the Holy Spirit given him in his ordination be in a place to discern how to proceed.

As for the more general question about how to do missionary work, I would suggest that you work with the convent asking them for direction about how to help them in their work to spread the Gospel. Continue with your translation work, it will be very helpful no matter what. Learn to chant the daily services from the nuns so that you can go out to other places and have the services there (a good way to give the people there a chance to be exposed to the Church). You should also continue to read and learn about your faith so that you can talk intelligently to those who wish to converse with you about spiritual topics.

Fr David Moser




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