- Could you, please, highlight for us some remarkable moments from your missionary activity.

There are several different remarkable moments in the form of miracles that happened during my missionary activities that I wanted to share with the readers here:

1)    It was at the beginning of my mission in Solo City-Central Java Province that this event occurred. A Muslim convert, Mr Sadrach Temon Sularso, lived in a village few kilometers away from the city of Solo.  He was a poor farmer, so that he had to do anything in order to add something into his family income. That day he was trying to dig sands located in the ground  at the backyard of his house from morning to over midday. After a while he felt tired, and had his lunch and took a rest inside the house. He fell a sleep for few minutes. He felt that he saw me in my complete liturgical vestment telling him not to return to digging ground again because the land jutting out above him would fall over his head and he would be buried alive if he entered back into it. When he came back to himself he was surprised for what he saw, and he returned back to the digging ground at his backyard. He waited for few minutes, and sure enough the land mentioned “by me” to him fell in such a way that if he was not reminded by “me” he would have been dead , buried alive under the falling soil. He was amazed what had happened to him, and immediately he took his bicycle and came to my mission office telling me the story. I told him that I did not go anywhere the whole day, I had been working at my office. I said to him that it was possible that my guardian angel appeared to him to warn him of the danger awaited him in order to strengthen him the truth of the faith that had been taught to him.

2)    A female Muslim friend of mine was a public notary. It has been 7 years since I started my mission work in the city of Solo, Central Java. One day during one of my morning prayers, I felt such a strong urge to visit her, without my knowing the reason of such a feeling. I went to her house, her husband who was a medical doctor was away for some business out of town that day. But I did not see anything unusual, so I left her house. The following morning I had the same urge again, and  still I did not understand what the reason for such an urge, I went to her house again, but still nothing happened. And the third morning happened again, and I went to her. This time she sat quietly and looked very sad. She asked me :” Does your Church pray for the sicks?”. I answered in the affirmative, and she began to confess in tears that she had a cancer inside her private part. The doctor told her that she needed a surgery, but she was very afraid of it, she even did not tell her husband about it. So she asked me whether I could pray for her, I said I could, but I challenged her whether she would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, because He is the one who would heal her, she said she would. I left her house to make the necessary preparation and took Fr Alexios Cahyadi with me. I asked her to kneel down on her knees and I covered her head with my epitrachelion (stole) while I was praying over her, and then anointed her with the holy oil. After the prayer I asked her how she felt, and she told me that the fear was gone. I told her that God has started working his miracle on her. The following day I came to her house again to say another prayer, and I asked her again what she felt, and she told me that while I prayed over her, she felt inside the place where the cancer was, like something being cut off into pieces and she felt very painful. I encouraged her to have faith in the help of God. The following day early in the morning I got call from her, she told me that something strange happened to her at night. It was not the time of her “period”, but blood issued profusely issued from her that made her bed sheet was full of blood. I told her to see her doctor, and she went to her doctor. The doctor told her in his amazement that her cancer was gone,  he said “It is impossible, impossible, it must be a miracle”, and indeed miracle it was. At last she voluntarily wanted to become an Orthodox Christian, and until now she is an active member of the Church in Solo, Central Java, with Alexios Cahyadi as her pastor.

Those are the two things that I can share with you on the attendant miracles that followed the mission work, and there are still many other remarkable things that happened that I cannot share all of them in this article due to shortage of space and time. To mention a few of such remarkable happenings I can cite : the miracle of myrrh flowing cement cross on the base of the altar of one of our churches in the year of 2000, several exorcisms upon some people who were possessed by evil spirits done by other priests as well, and some more others.

- What is the state of affairs like in the Orthodox Church in Indonesia today, three decades later?

–Unfortunately, there was a sad episode of Church political upheaval within the mission, that I don’t want to share in this magazine, because it does not edify anyone. However, in spite of all this painful Church political ordeal the mission is still going on, under the loving spiritual protection of Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. in fact it has been spreading almost in all part of Indonesia. We have 17 pastors started from that zero beginning when I began my mission worksa in 1988, and more than twenty different parishes and mission outposts all over Indonesia: in Jakarta the Capital City, in the province of Central Java: in Solo City, Boyolali City iots adjacent villages , in Salatiga City, in the province of East Java: inn Mojokerto City, Surabaya City, Jombang City, Krian City, Malang City, in the province of Bali island, in Jayapura City and its adjacent cities in Papua island, in Pekan Baru City, Riau Province Sumatra island, in Medan City North Sumatra province Sumatra island, in village of Raringis and city of Tomohon, Minahasa province Sulawesi island, etc. Let me explain for the reader in Indonesia there are only five recognized religions: Islam, Roman Catholic, Christianity on general, Hinduism and Buddhism under the care of the State Department of Religion. All religions operate in Indonesia have to be able to be categorized under these five legally recognized religions and they have to give annual reports to the State Department of Religion for their developments and activities. Orthodox Church was recognized as a  legal body in 1991 and is put under the Christian Department that takes care any Christian organizations other than Roman Catholic Church. The Indonesian Orthodox Church (GOI = Gereja Orthodox Indonesia) as a legal entity is a local national organization, and is not belonged to any Church jurisdiction because its responsibility is to the State of Indonesia under the State Department of Religion. The canonical protection of any Bishop to the Orthodox Church is not a legal protection, but a spiritual protection, therefore by law the Bishop is not the one recognized by the State as the heads or the president of this legal entity of the GOI, since no foreign citizen is allowed to be a head of any religious organization. Therefore as required by law Fr Daniel Byantoro is the President and Founder of the GOI to date.

- Now, about Orthodoxy today. On the one hand, it is ostensibly in a sort of an expansion (post-communist countries, for example Russia, Georgia, Macedonia; there is a progress in America, the countries in the New World…), while on the other hand, Orthodoxy faces certain problems, particularly with ethnophyletism, with the Calendar and the fasting, with the Diaspora and the various jurisdictions with various typikons and rules… In your opinion, how do we overcome the problems and divisions?

–The problems and divisions that we have as Orthodox Christians, could be solved only if all of us are willing to recapture the original vision of the Church as the Body of Christ, and not as part of our ethnic culture nor our national tradition. As the body of Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. “ (Galatians 3:28). We have to have a strong conviction that we are “Orthodox” first, and Greek or Russian, Serbian or Macedonian, Romanian or Bulgarian, Japanese or Indonesian, etc, be put on the second level. If our national identity is being elevated higher than our Orthodox conviction then I, as an Indonesian,  would have nothing to do with any other persons of different nationalities who happen to be Orthodox Christians. “Orthodox Consciousness” has to be put higher than any Cultural, National, or Ethnic identities. I became Orthodox not because I want to become Greek or Russian, and also not because I don’t have culture, my culture is too deep rooted and too ancient to be easily disregarded, but because of the Original, Unchanging Apostolic Truth kept intact only by the Orthodox Church. I have my own culture, and I do not need to adopt any other culture. It is enough for me to be Orthodox as an Indonesian and within the context of Indonesian culture. I don’t have to be Greek or Russian in order to be Orthodox. The ancient Greeks did not have to become Jewish in order to embrace the Apostolic Faith preached by the Jewish Apostles of Christ to them, and the Slavs did not have to become Greeks in order to embrace the faith preached to them, by the two Greek brothers : Cyrill and Methodios. When we realize this Biblical teaching and the historical root of faith then this sin of “ethnophyletism” can be rooted out from among our midst as Orthodox people. In regard to different practices such as calendar, the variety of typikon and rules, as well as fasting issues, therefore has to be a general meeting of all the Bishops of the international Orthodox Churches  to discuss the problems and to draw a common guideline for the usage of all Orthodox across the board.

- Finally,   your message for our readers?

–Having said what I have said in this article, I just want to remind the readers that in these days and age of religious competitions in the world,  we cannot afford to keep the narrow view of Orthodox Church in term of our small ethnic enclave, but we have  to recapture the true spirit of Orthodoxy that embraces all people and all nationalities across the globe. Orthodoxy is not the Church of any ethnicity, but it is the “One Holy , Catholic, and Apostolic” Church of Christ. We should not narrow down our understanding of the Church but we should expand our horizon of understanding. In that widening of the horizon, then, we can rejoice when Orthodoxy is being spread far and wide all over the world. Because the spreading of the Gospel of Christ  by making “disciples of all the nations” ( Matthew 28:19-20) is a Great Commission and a Great Commandment that we cannot ignore. That is why I am called to preach Orthodoxy to my own people in Indonesia, where the presence of Orthodoxy was non existence before I started my mission from a zero beginning in the year 0f 1988. As a new Church we have a lot of struggle both financially and otherwise. Therefore I invite all of you the readers to participate in this great work of spreading the Gospel of Christ to the people of Indonesia. If any of you is interested to help us in whatever way you can do, you may contact the address of this magazine, and Fr Gavril will contact me if there is such an offer of help. May God bless all of you, my Orthodox Christian Brothers  and Sisters. Glory to Jesus Christ! Amen.