In November 2012, with the blessings of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos and His Eminence Metropolitan Konstantinos of Singapore, eight men from the Greek Orthodox Christian Society travelled to Medan, Indonesia, at the request of Fr Chrysostomos Manalu, an Orthodox priest of Indonesian background. This is the fourth of a series of articles outlining aspects of this missionary visit.
As young members of this mission group we had a number of blessed encounters with the youth at St Paul’s Theological College, who welcomed us warmly and with great enthusiasm.
During the first seminars that we presented at St Paul’s, we came across young students who showed a deep eagerness to learn, and possessed a genuine thirst for the word of God. With Bibles open and at the ready, they didn’t hesitate to ask us questions regarding the Sacraments, Holy Tradition and Icons, and the satisfaction was evident on their faces with even the simplest answers we gave them.
After the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, we had the unique opportunity to attend the Orthodox fellowship at St Paul’s. Some members were in the process of being catechised, but most of them were Orthodox and had been baptised by Fr Chrysostomos.
Amongst animated discussion on topics including Orthodoxy, the Church, differences between our way of life and their’s, one young lady was very candid with us when she asked us for guidance about how to go about becoming Orthodox, and how to know if it was the right thing to do. Another very special moment was when Themistocles, a newly baptised Orthodox Christian, spoke to us from his personal experience: “As an Orthodox Christian, I feel that God’s Grace is mine. I am Orthodox and I am sure that with the Orthodox way of life I will gain salvation”.
Afterwards, we were invited to play indoor soccer with members of the Orthodox youth. Although it was night time, it was extremely humid and 30 ºC. We were completely exhausted, but at the same time in awe at the display of pure Christian brotherhood among the youth on the soccer field.
Chanting together with the Orthodox youth in Medan also left a deep impression on us. When we held an introductory lesson to Byzantine chanting with the youth, we were again impressed by their great eagerness, speed of learning and most of all the deep sense of prayer that accompanied their chanting.
Although almost all our encounters with the youth involved communicating with an interpreter, the barrier of language was transcended by the deep Christian brotherhood and friendship that we shared. We felt that we had become a part of a living community that left us with the sensation that we had somehow been transported to the very first Christian Church.