Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Update from Daphne and James Hargrave

Dear friends and fellow workers,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Greetings from beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I want to start off by thanking you for journeying with James and for your continued participation in our shared and ongoing ministry in Western Tanzania. 
I feel honoured and blessed to be able to join James in Tanzania serving the Archdiocese of Mwanza and Western Tanzania - it is the fulfillment of a hope that was set in motion ten years ago. Having served as a Protestant missionary in North Africa in 2002 & 2003 I returned home to gain knowledge and understanding in order to return to the mission field as a registered nurse. I am returning to missions not only as a nurse but with the added benefit of the Orthodox Christian faith, traveling in the company of the unmercenary (medical) Saints such as Cosmos & Damian and St. Panteleimon, whose feast we celebrate this Friday on July 27. 
There is much to prepare as James and I look to returning to Mwanza this fall, yet there is much excitement as well. Right now we are traveling around Southern BC and Northwest Washington, sharing with Churches and others about the Orthodox Church in Tanzania. Each time we share my excitement grows, not only for our calling but for the calling of the Church in North America - to reach those around us for the Glory of Christ, to love those around us (even the unlovely).  
As for our return to Tanzania, I am very much looking forward to learning language (Kiswahili) and the culture of my new home in Tanzania. As a nurse I know how important it is to understand those we seek to help. St Innocent of Alaska urged St. Nicholas of Japan to learn, learn, learn, to learn the language and the culture for it is the most important goal of a missionary. Daunting, yes, but not impossible, for our sweet Christ says ‘I am with you, even to the very ends of the earth.’ I am also reminded, especially when I am tired and feel overwhelmed with all that lies before us, that it is Christ’s love, Christ’s strength and Christ’s mercy that carries me, guides me, and supports me, through all things. 
I am also reminded, again and again, of Christ’s presence in our life through your continued prayers, encouragement and support. I look forward to hearing from you and getting to know you as we grow in our faith together in Tanzania. Please do continue to pray for us, for the Churches in British Columbia and Northwest Washington, and for my family and friends who are all preparing to join you in sending us back to Tanzania. 
Thank-you again and again, to the Glory of Christ Jesus,
Daphne Hargrave

PS Thank you for your prayers which sustain us, and for your friendship and encouragement as we begin our life together as a missionary family. Thank you also for your financial support. If you would like to make a pledge of support for us, you can do this in several ways. You can make out a check to OCMC with "Hargrave" in the memo line, and send it to: OCMC, 220 Mason Manatee Way, St Augustine FL 32086, USA. You can call (904) 829-5132 and ask for the finance department. Or you can go to http://jhargrave.ocmc.org and click on "Support Missionary."
By your prayers in Christ,
Daphne and James

James Hargrave
Orthodox Church in Tanzania
Holy Archdiocese of Mwanza
PO Box 1113
Mwanza, Tanzania

+255 782 356 817 (Tanzania)


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fr. James' Thoughts on Fr. Peter Gillquist

(Fr. James’ note: the following is a slightly modified excerpt from my book From Baptist to Byzantium.)

After living among the Bosnian Serbs for quite some time, I became painfully aware that our organization had enjoyed very little “success” in persuading people to become Baptists. The Serbs were so stubbornly loyal to the Orthodox Church. I asked myself, “What is it about this faith that inspires such loyalty? Few of the people here ever darken the door of a church, and yet they will not leave their tradition. In fact, many have been willing to fight and die for it!” I decided I needed to study more about Orthodoxy. But I had VERY little material to study!

Then one day I received a phone call from one of my missionary colleagues. She said, “James, I have a book here that you might find interesting. “I had absolutely no idea that this book would totally and irrevocably change my life!

I asked her, “What is the book about?” She replied, “It is about a group of men that used to work for Campus Crusade for Christ but who all converted to Orthodoxy.” I thought to myself, “Why on earth would anyone want to do that?” I had to read the book and find out.

What really caught my attention about this book was the fact that it was not just about Protestants converting to Orthodoxy, or even just about Evangelicals converting. I had heard stories before about both of these types of conversions. What amazed me was that the book was about a group of leaders of Campus Crusade for Christ converting. Campus Crusade is an evangelical organization devoted primarily to evangelizing college students. Nearly all evangelical missionaries, myself included, held Campus Crusade in high esteem; its workers we practically viewed as saints. In our thinking, they ranked right up there with missionaries and martyrs in the evangelical “hall of fame.”

So now I was being told that not only did Orthodoxy inspire great loyalty among the Serbs and other Eastern Europeans, but it had also attracted some of the most dedicated American evangelical Christians in the world. Needless to say, I had to find out what these high ranking leaders of an esteemed evangelical ministry, along with two thousand of their followers, found so persuasive about the ancient faith.

The book that my colleague mentioned is, of course, Becoming Orthodox, by Fr. Peter Gillquist. It is a quick, easy read, and the story it narrates is gripping. I read the book in one day. After I finished it, I remember thinking, “He raises some interesting points, but I’m not sold.” I was not able to reject his arguments outright, but neither could I immediately accept them. So, for a while I put the book aside and tried to forget about what I had read. I tried to just go on with my life and ministry. It didn’t work.

I read more and more books and started attending the Divine Liturgy in one of the local Orthodox parishes. And you probably know the rest. Both I and my wife Jennifer ended up quitting our positions, returning home, and converting to Orthodoxy.

A few months after we returned home from the mission field, I had the privilege of meeting Fr. Peter in person and hearing him speak at an Advent retreat in Houston. Immediately after he finished, I walked up to him and said, “I would like to thank you for ruining my career!” Of course, he was puzzled, and politely asked, “Ruined your career? What do you mean?” I told him our story and how grateful I was that he had written Becoming Orthodox. I wanted him to know that fifteen years after the book first appeared, God is still using it to bring people into his Church.

I heard Fr. Peter speak about four more times over the next few years. It helped that he frequently came to Houston. Gradually, I developed a relationship with him. Late in 2009, after my book was published, I came home from work one day to hear a wonderful surprise. Fr. Peter had personally called to congratulate me about the book. He said he had not been able to put it down. Unfortunately, I was not home when he called, so I had to hear these very kind words from this very busy man on an answering machine. But they made my day…and possibly even my year!

Fr. Peter was a dedicated servant of Christ and his Church who loved nothing more than sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Christ and helping non-Orthodox people understand Orthodoxy. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Protestant convert to Orthodoxy who has not been influenced by Becoming Orthodox and/or one of Fr. Peter’s other books. I can honestly say that if it had not been for Fr. Peter, I probably would not be Orthodox today, much less a priest.

He will be greatly missed. May the Lord grant him a place in his Kingdom. I suspect that He already has.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Clint's Thoughts about Fr. Peter Gillquist

In 2004, I had a major uproar in my life - I found Orthodoxy. Like any good Protestant clergyman, I began reading voraciously. Some of the earliest books that I inhaled were those written by Fr. Peter Gillquist. I read Becoming Orthodox and Coming Home, really finding a common ground with other former Protestant Clergy who were coming to Orthodoxy.

The stories that Fr. Peter told resonated within me. I wasn't alone. Sometimes it felt like it. Those who know me will know that I was in Estonia at the time. We were isolated physically. But God provided encouragement and comfort - often in the form of Fr. Peter's books, which helped me (and others) to navigate uncharted waters (well, uncharted from our perspective anyway).

I met Fr. Peter one time - 2 years ago at the Antiochian House of Studies, where he had come to lecture the St. Stephen's students. He was pretty much exactly what I expected - he loved God, he loved the Orthodox Church, and he loved to help people to find them both. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

Fr. Peter, Memory Eternal!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Memory Eternal - Fr. Peter Gillquist

After a long on-again, off-again battle with cancer, Fr. Peter Gillquist fell asleep in the Lord this evening.  May his memory be eternal, and may God grant him a place in the heavenly kingdom. 

Tomorrow or so, Clint and I will update this post, adding some thoughts about what Fr. Peter meant to us.