17th May 2023

In Acts 6 we find Paul’s vision of a man saying “Come over to Macedonia and help us”.

In 1991 Anastasios was a 62 year old Orthodox bishop and professor in Athens teaching Ethics of Science and Religion and the communist regime in Albania finally fell. This was the only country where atheism was compulsory. Anastasios was asked to go for a year to assess the situation. He found a few elderly believers and about eight ex-priests who had compromised to save their lives. Within a year he was asked by the remnant to remain as Archbishop.

When we went in 2002, the poverty was obvious. Women were walking their single cow on the roadside to graze as the huge collective fields were unfenced (and suffering major erosion). Housing in the countryside looked mediaeval.

What would you do faced with a whole country where Christianity had been forbidden on pain of death for 40 years?

By 2002 Anastasios had set up, among other things, a Christian radio station, a newspaper reporting news reliably, substantial youthwork and several diagnostic clinics with X-ray and the only scanners in the country.

He had set up a seminary to train priests but had to use non-Albanian staff and Albanian is not an easy language. He had worked to get back churches and monasteries from use as cattle sheds and barns and had reinstated some, at least, of the elderly compromised priests. Churches were open; services were regular.

His name ‘Anastasios’ means resurrection and he is now 93 and still there.

Does this connect to Sam wanting us to look at our mission and evangelism?

Margaret Clements