A new beginning, a new hope
I have sometimes written in this blog about the Orthodox children’s home in Atteridgeville, and the parish there (see here, and here). This year the home experienced a setback, as the couple who were running it left. The parish priest of Atteridgeville was transferred to other duties. The main source of funding for the home dried up. Things were looking bleak.
Then this week we had a couple of meetings with some of the leaders of the parish there, which made things look hopeful again.
Angelos (Joel) Mokau spent three years in the Catechetical School in Yeoville, Johannesburg (now closed). But when he finished his course, he was not used in pastoral or evangelistic or any other kind of ministry, and went back to his home parish in Soshanguve. When the parish priest there, Fr Johannes Rakumako, died last year, Angelos helped to lead Readers’ services. Father Athanasius and I asked him how he saw his future ministry, and he said he would like to help the poor, especially old people and children. We suggested him to Fr Elias as a possible person to help run the children’s home in Atteridgeville.
I took him to the two meetings in Atteridgeville, and on the way there, he was much more observant and noticing of things than I was. I had travelled that road many times, but he pointed out things that I had not noticed. “There’s a hospice,” he said. “There’s a skills training centre.” He saw possibilities for ministry everywhere. We passed two young men who waved to us, so we stopped to chat briefly. “Give us work,” they said. As we went on I remarked that perhaps they could benefit from the skills training centre. Angelos said that the people who went to the centre probably came from somewhere else, and the local people would not use it.
Fr Elias had phoned to say he would be late, and so we chatted to two of the local leaders, Artemius Mangena and Demetrius Mahwayi. They were baptised in Mamelodi a few years ago. They have been unemployed for years, but have been involved in various community development projects. They told Angelos about one project that had folded — growing vegetables. It worked quite well for a while, and they provided vegetables for the children’s home, and sold them, but the someone stole their implements, and they suspected some people who were involved in the project, and that’s when it folded. They thought of reporting the theft to the police, but they only had suspicions, no evidence, and they thought it would just cause rifts in the local community. So they have started on another project, a poultry project, and have registered a cooperative, but will be more careful about getting people they can trust. Angelos made several useful suggestions.
Fr Elias still had not arrived, so we said the Third Hour together, led by Artemius and Angelos, and then Fr Elias and Fr Athanasius arrived. It was agreed that Angelos, Artemius and Demetrius would work together with other leaders to build up the parish and the children’s home again, and we would try to find financial support for Angelos to move there and work there full time. The thing that impressed me was how positive they were, and the way they looked at the situation and saw possibilities. It seems to me that Angelos would be a good model of what a deacon should be.
Please pray for them, and for us all as we try to help and advise them.