Encyclical on the 25th Anniversary of His Eminence’s Episcopacy on 25th July 2017

Reverend Fathers & Deacons, 

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and Peace from God Almighty!

This is a truly memorable day for me and indeed for the Orthodox Church in Kenya. I say this because I am not only celebrating my 25th anniversary since I became a Bishop, but because I was made a Bishop right here in Kenya and I can humbly say that I have spent most of my life serving here. Since I set foot on Kenyan soil in 1977, my life has been centered here to date. Kenya has become my home.

Even though the beginning was tough, challenging and uncertain, I was always reminded that I could “… do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. (Phil 4:13). This became my pillar, and I really wish to encourage all of you who are facing challenging times in their lives and especially our clergy in their ministry, always remember the words in that verse. In these seemingly simple words, flow a great reality, applicable to both life and ministry. By focusing on Christ as a guide, God Himself has been protecting and guiding me throughout my life and ministry.

Yes, I was once young, yes, I once had dreams of who I wanted to be in life and I even had a perfect picture of where I wanted to end up. Believe me when I say that, that place, was nowhere near Africa! But when the call to serve the Orthodox Church in Africa finally came, I humbly accepted the will of God. I set off into the unknown, with nothing but the full armor of Christ; faith being the chief regalia. When I arrived, I immediately fell in love with a land I knew so little about, with a cultural life so diverse and rich, with terrain so harsh and endangering; with a climate so different but warm and that love has endured to today.

Facing many uncertainties, sickness and many untold hardships, I have always looked upon Christ for refuge. I have come to understand fully the message of Apostle Paul that when you have fully trusted and centered your life and work on Jesus Christ, then you came confidently declare that for you “…to live is Christ and die is gain”.

I am over 70 years now, yet I feel that regardless of all that I have done during my ministry, I still have more to do. Despite my age, I am still strong and of sound mind all to the glory of God. Many people ask me how I do it; how I am able to do all that I do day in day out, with a daily schedule that finds me in office at 4;30 am every morning. The answer is simple; I cultivate in me the presence of the Holy Spirit. All these years have been made possible by the Holy Spirit. It is why I am able to do all that I do. I have faced many challenging health situations; I have been hospitalized and even operated on. During one such operation in Cyprus, my heart stopped for over several minutes and the doctors were sure that the Bishop has left us. Yet, as miracles abide, I woke up, opened my eyes and in my mind I thought that I was in Kenya so I asked the doctor “what are we doing in Kisumu?” Little did I know that I had died just minutes earlier. Those doctors still call me Lazarus to date. Had I not woken up then, still that passage in Philippians 1:21 would still have been true for me. To die is gain.

Yet, the Lord gave me renewed strength and a new purpose; to do more than I had done previously. I usually have a busy daily schedule. Many hours are spent in pastoral work. Sometimes travelling for hours on end, yet, in all these journeys and pastoral work, I have never swallowed an aspirin pill or a panadol pill due to fatigue, unlike many of my young subdeacons who are always crying of fatigue at the end of the day.

So I wish to glorify God for these years of service and also take this opportunity to encourage and also challenge you all, to never give up despite the challenges you face. Be agents of every desirable change needed for our Church. Trust in Him who is the “author and finisher of our faith”. Abide in a life of prayer. Yes, “pray without ceasing my dear beloved children. I am a witness that prayer, deep sincere prayer, can move mountains. At the helm of the Orthodox Church in Kenya and nor in Nairobi Archdiocese, we have often faced hindrances which then seemed unbearable, but through prayer we have always found a way through Christ Jesus. We live by the grace of God.

Abide in love also; it is the chief command of Christ. Love conquers all. I say this during these very volatile times as Kenya is entering into yet another highly competitive election. I say this knowing full well what a little conflict can flare into, remembering the trying times after the elections 10 years ago. So, I say again, dear beloved children in Christ, abide in love. It conquers all. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. See the image of God in your neighbor and you shall dwell in the Peace of our Lord.

As I look forward to many more years of service to God and the Church of Kenya, I ask for your continued prayers and support as you have always given.

May God bless you all and may He bless our Orthodox Church.

In His Service,

Archbishop Makarios

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About aoc-kenya

The African Orthodox Church of Kenya, though not Autonomous, is by far the largest in Africa, having three local jurisdictions.

These three jurisdictions came through the unanimous decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, to divide the ever growing Archdiocese into three jurisdictions. 


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