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HELLO AMERICA . . . ASIA ON THE LINE
By Metropolitan Nikitas of Hong Kong.
Source: Greek Star Newspaper , October 21st, 2004

I was in India recently to address some of the pressing issues we face. As you must know, Father Ignatios is still not back and this has caused me many sleepless nights. By the grace of God and with the help of Metropolitan Iakovos, Fr. Emmanuel Lillios is now in Calcutta overseeing our work.

Like some others, I have asked myself - "why are we doing all this when we face so many obstacles and challenges? Is it all worth it?"

We have spent so much time, money and effort - and look what happens. And then, my temptations were overcome when I saw the people standing in line for the food distribution program. There were widows, lepers, blind people, those with one leg, others with no legs at all - and I knew that we're serving the least of the brethren - those of whom Christ spoke in the Gospels. No words can describe the poverty and sad situations there And, in this pool of poverty, we are there, ministering, offering, giving, and sharing.

You will tell me of the poverty and situations in America. Yes, I know all about them, since I was a volunteer in a program for homeless youth. But, you have welfare, social security, free clinics and the like. These people have nothing - except the hope that people like Fr. Ignatios and Fr. Emmanuel will reach out to them. As older women came though the line, they came to me and reached down and touched my shoes (feet) as a sign of gratitude and respect. In their faces, I saw my own grandmothers, and I was sad that we could not do more. In the area of true philanthropy, we are far from the mark. In our comfort, we have forgotten the teaching of Christ and the examples of the Saints.

During the visit, I went to one of the remote villages where we have a small church. I went to see Presbytera Anna, who is dying. She cannot be more than 40 and has two children, Panyioti and Ignatio. When I entered the house, she looked up and said, "I knew you would come, I was waiting for you." It was so sad to see her suffer - the pain and misery the cancer have caused are surely known to those who have suffered. It is now a matter of time. It is in situations like this that I believe that the church must address the needs of people like Fr. Fokas (her husband). What will happen to him and his children, since their lives will take many changes.

I believe that all the hierarchs, priests, deacons and even the lay people of the church should come to these areas of the world and see experience what I live. We were fortunate that Fr. Stephen Callos from Ohio and Fr. Andrew Harrison from the St. Luke parish on the South Side of Chicago came this year to serve, work and assist us. You all should come to serve the needy and hold the suffering. I admire the Mormons who sent out their youth as missionaries. We struggle to find a few clergy and lay people to come help us . . . why? For some reason, a few words from the musical "Godspell" come to mind: "When will thou save the people, o God of mercy, when? The people Lord the people, not thrones and crowns but men."

God keep you all well and in his love.

+ Metropolitan Nikitas of Hong Kong

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