A Young Missionary

A young man whom I know from our local Orthodox Christian Fellowship at the University of Tennessee is looking to return to Tanzania as part of a mission team this year. It is a joy to see young people giving their lives for the cause of Christ and reaching out at home and across the world to bear witness to the fullness of the faith. If you are interested in following his story and/or support his efforts, he has started a blog on the topic.

Jordan, may God bless your work!


  1. Lisa Gillstrom says

    My thoughts and prayers are with this young man…As the mother of a young man who hopes to attend seminary when he completes his four year degree, and is currently raising funds to go on a Missions Trip this fall to Ukraine to work in orphanages…I know just how courageous this young man is. The courage of his conviction, the expression of his faith and love, and sharing that with others is a glorious, and difficult path. I wish him the best, and my son and I will be praying for him.

  2. Simon Marc says

    Father, this brings back many fond memories. I was part of a Protestant mission in Tanzania during July last year.

    I have a question about Orthodoxy in Sub Saharan Africa and the Ethiopian church in particular. I know that they are part of the Oriental Orthodox communion, which broke away from the Eastern Orthodox in the 5th century. However, I wonder what you think about their liturgy. I’ve seen some footage of this and it seems wonderful with their dances and singing etc. It is rather different from the Coptic liturgy It seems to incorporate their culture. What scope is there for peculiar cultural practises in liturgy for Eastern Orthodox. I do know that the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is the main Liturgy used by all Orthodox. But are there different cultural expressions of this Liturgy accross the various ethnic groups?

  3. says

    Simon Marc,
    There is indeed room for cultural expressions. Were there to be a healing of the schism with the Oriental Orthodox (a distinct possibility), it would not effect the Ethiopian liturgy at all, I would think. Theirs is a very ancient liturgy. I think that it is not so much Chrysostom as St. Basil’s liturgy used – as well as some others.

    The liturgical practice of the Church(es) is set in the Typicon – which is not a document with the force of canon law. It can and is changed for a variety of reasons. In general today, there is the Typicon that is followed in Greek practice, and that which is followed in Russian practice (and many derivations and varieties related to them).

    Many Americans, seeing an Orthodox liturgy here in the U.S., think that what they are seeing is “foreign” and wonder if there could be an “American expression” of Orthodoxy. What they are seeing is an American expression(s) of Orthodoxy. There are any number of things that one sees in the US that you would not see in Europe, etc. Liturgy is sort of like language – it is the Church’s song to God. But like language, dialects and accents are inevitable and natural. Orthodoxy is far less centralized and controlled – far more organic in its expression – than the various systems of Church in the West. Thus there will always be variations. However, liturgy is one language, and there is enough conformity that we can “speak” one another’s language. I’ve served in a variety of Orthodox settings – including in the Middle East. Things are different, but you still know what you’re doing (even if the service is in a different language).

    One of the slower processes in becoming Orthodox is “learning the language of liturgy.” Time and practice are what makes this possible. It’s then that you begin to realize just how “American” our services are – and how inescapably true it is that liturgies will express the culture in which they are found.

  4. Simon Marc says

    That’s very interesting. What is going on at the moment that encourages you about Eastern and Oriental Orthodox reunion?

    I think the Ethiopian Church and many of the really old Churches in the East are an enigma to Western Protestant Christians. They don’t recognize them exist nor do they respect them. I think this is probably because of ignorance. For example, you said that the Ethiopian Liturgy would probably remain the same if a renuion with the Oriental Orthodox took place. Western Protestants missionaries who came to Africa sought to destroy all cultural practises and tried to make the people “civilized” Europeans or North Americans. No dancing, no drums etc, as if these things were evil in and of themselves. This was very clear when I was in Protestant communities in Tanzania. Certain things are taboo like dancing etc. Then you have a very ancient expression of African Christianity in Ethiopia, much older than Protestantism, that has very unique worship that incorporates the culture of the people. It just makes you wonder what it is about We