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How Shall we hear without a Preacher

How Shall They Hear Without a Preacher?

OBJECTIVE

Orthodox Christian Missions

OBJECTIVE

To help participants understand Christ's universal call to take action in spreading His message by exploring and supporting current Orthodox Missions, as they develop and implement plans to raise awareness and funds for Orthodox Missions.

PREPARING FOR THE SESSION

Familiarize yourself with Romans 10:14 and Matthew 28:19, and the Church's teaching about Missions. Visit the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese at www.goarch.org and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center at www.OCMC.org, or ask your parish priest for further information.

MATERIALS NEEDED

Downloads

Missions Fact Sheet

OPENING PRAYER (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 us 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, strength, and faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of St. Paul, St. Fotini, Sts. Cyril and Methodios, Kosmas, Innocent, Nicholas of Japan and all the missionary saints, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

Read aloud the following passage:

Romans 10:14

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

Ask the following questions, briefly discussing:

  • Has someone ever helped you out unexpectedly? How did that make you feel?
  • Has anyone surprisingly taught you something interesting about our Faith? How did that change the way you thought about God?

Say: Listen to this story about a visit to a village and the children who live there.

It was a long and bumpy bus ride along dusty roads that brought them to the rural community of Chavogere, Kenya. It was so far away from the city that in 1980 running water was not available. Women and young children would make the daily trek to a creek to fill plastic containers, balance them on their heads, and haul them back home for drinking water, cooking and cleaning. It was so remote that weeks and months could go by without ever seeing a car. Worst of all, the nearest health clinic was over 10 miles away, a distance that would take hours to walk. Some of the most desperate sick or injured people were often put in a wheelbarrow for the dusty ride. Those who had no one to help to make the journey often died unnecessarily.

After witnessing their struggles, it was the vision of the Archbishop of Kenya, His Eminence Anastasios, to make a difference in the lives of the people of Kenya. At his invitation, an OCMC (Orthodox Christian Mission Center) Mission Team went to Kenya to build a clinic seventeen years ago, and the lives of the Kenyans were changed. The changes came when running water was available to the village from the newly laid water pipes for the clinic.

An Orthodox priest who lived miles away was assigned to the clinic. He was approached by curious villagers who wondered why anyone would want to make a difference in their lives. The priest told them about the love of Christ. He shared with them that Christ came to this earth so that all may be saved. Soon, inspired by the priest's love for them, they wanted to study more about the Christian faith, which by his actions had proven God’s love to them.

Some years later, another OCMC Mission Team helped the village build a church. After that, another team was sent to build St. Mark’s Secondary School. And, most recently, in 2005, another team was sent to build a laboratory for the students in Chavogere.

What, you may ask, would inspire so many people to travel to Kenya in east Africa on mission teams? Why would they want to help people they’ve never met?

When Christ was on this earth, He gave the Apostles a command to “…go to all nations, make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19.) In the Epistle to the Romans read at the beginning of our time together, St. Paul writes to the Christians: “how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” This is referring to Christ. If no one is sent, then no one preaches. If no one preaches, then no one is taught.

Most missionaries feel called to respond to these passages from the New Testament. They want to be part of God’s will by putting those words into action. They have a strong desire to “go” and work, teach, preach, pray, raise money, build clinics, and care for people who otherwise may not know God’s love.

As a result, the students at St, Mark’s Secondary School have heard the glad tidings of Christ’s teachings. Many have chosen to become Orthodox, to study the doctrine and the beliefs which Christians have passed along through 2,000 years. They chose to follow the Orthodox way of life, which Christ taught: a life of love, forgiveness and compassion.

Because education is not free in Kenya, they see this as a true blessing knowing that few people in Kenya have the opportunity to study. Textbooks are not provided for many of the classes and the students must painstakingly copy their lectures by hand. In most cases, families often send only one child to be educated with hopes that he/she will be able to get a job and support the family, leaving some students to live in dormitories because their homes can be miles away. These conditions do not hinder their desire to learn more about God.

After school on any day of the week, you will find young people sitting on the hillside next to the school. One group might be rehearsing the hymns of the Divine Liturgy. Another group might be composing a new song to use for a drama, while others are practicing their latest production, a musical drama that tells about great saints or the consequence of sin.

The Kenyan people have embraced the Orthodox Christian faith and express their love for God every chance they get. They “talk the talk” and also “walk the walk.”

Orthodox people from the United States translated belief into action and made a difference in the lives of an entire village. As a result, the students of Chavogere offer us a story of hope and encouragement.

Repeat Romans 10:14

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

BREAK OUT INTO DISCUSSION GROUPS OF 8 OR MORE

Ask these Discussion Questions:

  • What comes to mind when you think about Africa? What do you think it's like? Take turns to share your answers with your group.

Hand out Did You Know statistics, and ask groups to read it. Then ask them to discuss the following questions:

  • After reading Did You Know, has your perception of Africa changed? How?
  • What would you tell young, African people who are your age about your experience in the world as an Orthodox Christian? What are the benefits of being faithful? What are the struggles?
  • Think about how you learned your faith. Imagine if your priest visited your parish only once a month to celebrate all the sacraments (liturgies, baptisms, and weddings) and to teach the Faith. What would be different? Consider whether or not you would respond like the young people of Kenya.
  • Is Christ speaking only to the Apostles when He says, “Go forth…”?
  • How do our lives reflect Christ’s Message to “Go forth…”?
  • You’ve heard the saying, “talk the talk” and “walk the walk.” How do you think others perceive what you say and do?
  • How would people know you were a Christian if you didn’t tell them?
  • What changes can you make in life to help people know that you are on a mission for Christ?
Activities:

Now set focus for the group to look at examples of modern missionaries. Hand a biography of a long-term missionary to each group. Have the groups read a mission story and find interesting facts about the country in which the missionaries work.

Raising Funds and Awareness

Have the groups develop fund raising activities specifically for their assigned long-term missionary. Ask groups to steer away from to usual bake sale, car wash, and raffle, or think of ways to make them more meaningful. Some suggestions and examples to offer if groups have difficulty getting started:

  • Make OCMC Coin Boxes and distribute them.
  • Write letters to Missionaries in order to learn more about their work and how to support them.
  • Host a luncheon featuring foods and music from the country. Centerpieces can be pictures of the missionaries and various tidbits of their mission work, country, or lives.
  • Ask your parish priest for permission to print segments of the missionary's newsletters in your weekly/monthly bulletin. At the end of each month (or every several months), sell icons of missionary saints (St. Paul, St. Fotini, Sts. Cyril and Methodios, Kosmas, Innocent, Nicholas of Japan) for donations to OCMC in the name of the missionaries your group was assigned. (People are more generous when they have a connection to the missionaries. Publishing their stories will help connect the parishioners with the missionaries.)
  • Have an Icon Drive. Collect icon donations from over a period of three weeks or on a specific day (Sunday of Orthodoxy is a good day to run an annual drive). Suggest that parishioners bring them from their homes or purchase them from the parish bookstore. Then, send them to the missionary/country your group was assigned. Try to make this an annual event so that people can prepare and save their paper/mounted icons throughout the year.

When they've exhausted brainstorming efforts, gather the groups to share their ideas with everyone. If the participants are from the same parish, vote for the favorite idea and make an implementation plan for it to be launched in the parish. Also consider scheduling a series of opportunities for people to build their awareness over a longer period of time. Guide them through this process, suggesting that they work with their parish priest, parish council, ministry groups, and entire parish family to help support Missions.

Wrap Up and Challenge:

Say: We have developed some new and interesting ways to raise money and awareness for missionary efforts of OCMC. This is something that will always be needed in the life of the Church. Perhaps when you are a young adult, you will consider joining an OCMC short-term Mission Team to make a difference in someone’s life. How can you begin to prepare to do this from now? (Allow for answers.)

Each one of us is called. God wants us to be part of the process of sharing our faith in Him with others. Maybe we are called to travel to distant countries to teach and preach. Maybe we are called to stay in our own country to teach and preach. Maybe we are called to support others who travel as Missionaries. Regardless of your call, we are ALL called to take some kind of action. Remember ROMANS 10:14, “….how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

Closing Prayer:

Say: Before we pray, take a few, quiet minutes to sit alone and consider how God's message got to you, how grateful you are for having heard it, and what part you will take in spreading His Word to others. Then, we will end the session saying the Prayer for Missions together. (Pass out card to each participant for time to meditate on its words. The, read aloud the following:)

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 us 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, strength, and faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of St. Paul, St. Fotini, Sts. Cyril and Methodios, Kosmas, Innocent, Nicholas of Japan and all the missionary saints, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

About the Author

This OCMC Session has been further developed by Vassi M. Haros, session writer for the Department Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.