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OCMC News - Why Missions?

by Fr. Luke Veronis (Posted 8/16/2019)

OCMC News - Why Missions?
Former OCMC Missionary, and current OCMC Board Member, Fr. Luke Veronis with His Grace Bishop Asti of Albania. Fr. Luke has witnessed first hand the importance of the Faith participating in missions. It not only shares the Faith with the world but make the Faith alive in those who work to share it.

One of the greatest dangers in our churches today is parochialism. Parochialism comes in many forms, at an individual level as well as at a communal level. Orthodox churches are often criticized as being parochial from an ethnic point of view, or from a socio-economic level, or at egocentric level. We fight against these temptations when we understand the central call of Jesus Christ is to share His love, His Good News, and the joy of His Resurrection with the entire world. This is what missions, evangelism and outreach of the Church is all about.

Orthodox Christianity is living in union with God through our worship and life. Union with God implies union with our neighbor. Who are our neighbors? Our neighbors are both the people in our own city as well as the people on the other side of the globe. As we grow closer to God, we must be growing closer to all our neighbors.

The opposite of love is the ego,” states Archbishop Anastasios of Albania. Love reaches outward. The ego pulls us inward. This is another way of highlighting the heresy of parochialism individually as well as communally. Fr. Thomas Hopko has written, “If a parish does not have an awareness and consciousness of being sent by God to speak His words, to do His work and to accomplish His will in this world, then it cannot be called an authentic Orthodox parish.”

Since my first mission trip to Africa in 1987, I have spoken in dozens and dozens of churches around the country. When I first started talking about my experiences with missions in Africa decades ago, I would actually meet people who were ignorant of the great missionary tradition in our Orthodox Church. Things have changed quite a bit since then. Now, not too many people will question the mission imperative, and yet, there are still too many people and churches who allow their own egocentric attitudes to limit their understanding to reach out to the world at large.

Some people will still say to me, “Father, don’t you know the old saying ‘charity begins at home?’ We have to take care of our own needs first.” To which I’ll always respond, “Yes. We need to take care of our own, while simultaneously sharing our blessings with our neighbor, and with the world around us. Love knows no limits, and there’s never an ‘either/or.’”

As the Body of Christ, we have the Spirit of God inspiring us to reach beyond ourselves. St. John Chrysostom preached, “I don’t believe in the salvation of anyone who is not concerned with the salvation of the other.” He also critiqued the Church of his day by stating, “There are two types of Christians: those who say ‘my parish is my universe’ and others who say ‘the universe is my parish.’” Obviously, this great Church Father held the latter view. He understood “The leader of the Church ought to care not only for the church that has been entrusted to him by the Spirit, but also for the entire Church existing throughout the world.”

Thus, the mission of the Church is all about the love of God. God’s love knows no limits, and thus our love should have no limits, and our proclamation of His love for the world should know no limits.

NOTE: Fr. Luke Veronis has been actively involved in the Orthodox missionary movement for over 30 years. He has served as long-term OCMC Missionary to Kenya, and, together with his Presbytera Faith, to Albania; and has led Orthodox Mission Teams to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana and Albania.

He has published various books and article on missions. Fr Luke graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission (ThM), Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (MDiv), and Pennsylvania State University (BS in Secondary Education/Mathematics).

Fr Luke is presently pastoring the Sts Constantine and Helen Church in Webster, MA, teaching mission classes at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and serves on the OCMC Board of Directors.?

He and Presbytera Faith have four children.

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Prayer for Missions

God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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