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Go forth - Missionary issues

Who practices the work of mission?

The mission of the non missionaries

A one-way street is abolished

The Church prays for its
missionary project

From the missionary theory
Ch. Voulgarakis

The week that culminates on the Sunday of Orthodoxy has been thus allocated by our Church as the period of time during which its members are asked to carefully focus their thoughts on the Missionary project. They are asked to offer material support for this major project, from their savings or their surpluses, in view of its specific and urgent needs. This is another form of a society of love that is converted into spirit. They are however especially requested to support the missionary project with their prayers; that is, with the activity that best expresses the oneness of the Church, since it connects earth to heaven, and the present to the future.

Both these requests that the Church addresses to the faithful are evidence of another oneness, since these traditions can be found as far back as the days of the Apostles.

In these brief thoughts that follow, we shall focus on the prayer for the Missionary Project, putting aside for another opportunity the concentration of material offerings, which in past years were referred to as "logia"

The Acts of the Apostles tell us in Chapter 4, that, when the Congress of the Jews set free the Apostles Peter and John, with threats of punishment if they were to continue preaching, they returned to their brethren and announced all that had taken place. The Church then broke out in prayer, their principal supplication being for God to fortify the Apostles «that they may bravely speak out Your word» (4.29). And this request was granted. Immediately after, the Acts tells us that the place where they prayed began to tremble and «everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke out the word of God with braveness» (4.31).

This live experience of the Church on the power of prayer caused the Apostles to instinctively ask the faithful for their support through prayer, during their Missionary labours. This is what the Apostle Paul implies, when he confides to the faithful in Rome of his plans to preach the word in Spain, and stresses that «they will be the ones to see him off in that direction» (Romans,14.24). He also implies the same, when he asks the various Churches to pray for him (Thess.A, 5.25, Hebrews, 13.18). Even more outright, for us, he says it to the Thessaloniceans, when he says «Therefore, brothers, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread in glorification, as well as towards you» (Thess.Β΄ 3.1). He repeats the same request, in the letters which he wrote while inside the prison in Rome: «...by all means of prayer and supplication, be praying at all times in the Spirit.... and for me, so that I may be given words when opening my mouth», so that I may fearlessly announce «the mystery of the gospel» (Ephesians, 6.18, 19) or, «....at the same time praying for us also, so that God may open the gate of speech for us.....» (Col.,4.3).

The missionary, even if he has been personally called upon by Christ Himself - as was the Apostle Paul - will never act on his own as a unit, as a kind of skirmish soldier; he too is enlisted within the ranks of the Church, which is the body of Christ. Thus, no matter how conspicuous his work may become through great achievements, it is not considered as his own, but is attributed to the Church. The Church which prays for him. The Church which is planted by him. The Church which constantly expands, in order to enfold the entire world in its salvatory embrace, in order to transform it into a Kingdom of Heaven.

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