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Help Fr. Antipas Odhiambo, pastor to the poor

This month, as the looming food crisis begins to accelerate across Africa and rent and fuel prices go up, the widows and orphans in his care are struggling more than usual.

By: H. David Sauls

At a time when all the world’s problems seem insurmountable and overwhelming, when we are distracted by war and the resulting global effect, there are problems that were with us before and remain with us now: the poor and oppressed. But the Holy Scriptures and our saints and Church Fathers teach us that they are our own, and what we offer them in charity, the needy return to us as salvation.

And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which [are] within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest (Deut. 14:29).

Fr. Antipas Odhiambo of the Ngando Orthodox Christian School and Community Outreach Centre in Nairobi continues to work under harsh conditions and circumstances to fulfill the role of teacher, shepherd, and pastor in the slums and sub-slums of this impoverished region.

“Share everything with your brother. Do not say, ‘It is private property.’ If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last.”
The Didache 4:8, c. 90 AD


A large part of any Orthodox pastor’s ministry is the poor, afflicted, imprisoned, and oppressed among his flock and his local community. Fr. Antipas in particular confronts this, every day arbitrating with collection agents to keep a widow in her house, or answering the door for someone seeking a sack of flour or rice to feed the children at home.

Christians “love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God.”
St. Aristides the Athenian, Apology 15, early 2nd century

Fr. Antipas never turns anyone away, always finding a way to help, even in these hard economic times. This month, as the looming food crisis begins to accelerate across Africa and rent and fuel prices go up, the widows and orphans in his care are struggling more than usual. Here are some examples:

The plight of Mama Mary and Mama Jonathan this month is dire. Mama Mary, who has taken charge of her four grandchildren after the death of her daughter, has already been locked out once. Fr. Antipas managed to plead with the landlord to let her back in until the rent could be found to help her. She cares for Dorcas, who is mentally and physically disabled. As an elderly woman, it’s difficult to have the full-time job of caring for a mentally and physically dependent child, let alone go out each day to find work to pay for her care and the care of her siblings.

Mama Jonathan was recently kidnapped, and a man attempted to rape her. She resisted, and in the fray, the man severely beat her nearly unconscious, then threw her from a moving motorcycle. She has been unable to work at all because of her injuries, and she and her eight, fatherless children are in need of medicine, rent money, and food.

Fr. Antipas has also been assisting another widow, Ola, who has three children. Her daughter just underwent surgery. She developed a pyogenic granuloma, likely from foul drinking water, and is having a hard time recovering. With Ola committed to her care, she’s unable to keep food in the house regularly.

Those are just three examples. There are more.

In a time when we feel like bystanders with no way to solve the crises that dominate the landscape of our attention, there are places where we can both solve a crisis when it seems we can’t solve any others and practice one of the sacred virtues of the Orthodox Faith: where the poor are.

Please consider supporting the ministry of Fr. Antipas Odhiambo. He’s as poor as any who cross his path, but he turns no one away and represents the true expression of what it means to be an Orthodox pastor in the world. The priesthood in Africa is facing even greater problems due to global consequences right now. Here is an opportunity that works both to solve a crisis and to practice a virtue—charity.

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