“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The Cypriot Metropolitan of Zimbabwe Mr. Georgios has set this gospel mandate as the life objective. With “His Reverence” I have been friendly for a few years, so I did not have much trouble accepting his invitation to go to this distant African country, in the Easter last year. I had already heard too much about Zimbabwe and, judging from the activity of the Metropolitan in Cyprus, I was sure there is a serious missionary work there. And now this unexpected invitation would give me the opportunity to put “my finger where the nails were” (John 20:25)...
Metropolitan George performs a double project. On the one hand, he shepherd the few Greeks living in Zimbabwe and, on the other hand, is engaged in intense missionary activity among the local population. I was witnessing this activity during my visit and some of my rich experiences will be presented later on.
My first contact with the mission was in the Saturday of Lazarus, when I accompanied the Bishop to the Missionary Center of Saint Nektarios, located in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Here the black Orthodox people they welcomed us with dancing and singing. Let us note here that the traditional dances and songs are deeply rooted in the temperament of these people and they reveal it at every opportunity.
In Saint Nektarios, “His Reverence” performed a common baptism of people of all ages. Thereafter, the newly - baptized were anointed with the Holy Myrrh within the Temple. I was particularly impressed by the class and the patience with which everyone - both young and old - was waiting to receive the holy baptism.
On “Great Monday”, we flew to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city. In this city there is the St. Augustine Mission Center. I was once again able to see the unadulterated love and immense respect with which the local Orthodox surrounds their Bishop. After the Doxology that was chanting from all of them, shared to the participants who were present, a pouch who contained "milli - milli" (a kind of corn meal which is the main food of the inhabitants).
On Wednesday after the Easter, we went to Warren Park, a downgraded suburb of Harare. In the absence of a Sacred Church, the gathering took place in the courtyard of the house of the mother-in-law of the African priest. There, we shared on the women's shoes that were sent from Cyprus. Children were given biscuits.
Leaving Warren Park, we walked around the area, looking for a plot suitable for the erection of a Sacred Church and the creation of a new missionary center.
On Saturday after Easter, we went to Saint Nektarios, where the Orthodox teenagers had gathered. After the usual reception, spoke “His Reverence” to them. Then they were guided by their male catechists and female catechists to get some things that the Metropolis had prepared for them, while they stand on line, the one after the other. The boys took a shirt and a pair of pants, and the girls were a pair of shoes and a female bag.
If I was left something with all these unprecedented experiences, it is the self-denial who someone needs, to go to work missionary in an African country. And this self-sacrifice is certainly the main feature of Metropolitan George. Those of us who helping, either morally or materially in the missionary work, be sure that our assistance "it is worth".
By Nikos Andreou
It is an landlocked Country in the south of East Africa.
Population: 14,848,905 inhabitants (official estimate 2018).
Religion: Protestants 75.9%, Roman Catholic 8.4%, Other Christians 8.4%, Other Religion 1.2%, No Religion 6.1%