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OCMC News - What Love Looks Like: St. Thomas House in Bali, Indonesia

by Michelle DeAngelis (Posted 8/25/2010)

St. Thomas House is an Orthodox boarding house located in the old Dutch colonial capital of Singaraja, Bali. While many of the charms of this historic and picturesque town remain, poverty and hardship are an inescapable reality; thanks to the St. Thomas House, though, 29 children have a place that they can call home.

The Indonesian archipelago comprises more than 17,000 islands – 6,000 of which are inhabited. It is generally believed that the earliest inhabitants of Indonesia came from India or Burma. The islands fell to the Portuguese in 1511. Following centuries of colonial rule, and a period of Japanese occupation during WWII, Indonesia independence was recognized in 1949. Though Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, with a population of nearly 250 million people (almost 90% of them Muslim), Bali is predominantly Hindu.

Orthodoxy came to the people of Indonesia when a young Indonesian man was studying at a Protestant Theological Seminary in Korea and came across the book The Orthodox Church by Bishop Kallistos Ware. This man converted to the Orthodox Church and, with help from the OCMC he received a theological education. He was eventually ordained to the priesthood and returned to his homeland to undertake the immense job of bringing Orthodoxy to Indonesia.

With the support of a grant from the Orthodox Christian Mission Center’s (OCMC) Agape Canister Program, the St. Thomas House is assisting children with shelter, food, and clothing, as well as scholarships to local schools. Led by Fr. Stephanos Boik Nino, St. Thomas House provides for the spiritual needs of the children as well. He says, “Our hope is that these children will become living witnesses to the people of Bali.”

Kyriaki Abi, a student at St. Thomas House writes, “This is my second year at St. Thomas Orphanage. I am very happy because I can go to school and continue my studies. I want to be a teacher. Since living at St. Thomas House I’ve learned to live a disciplined life and I also know about and have been baptized into the Orthodox Church.”

Thanks to the support of the Agape Canister Program and Agape Partners across the U.S., Fr. Stephanos is able to provide these children with a place to call home and the opportunity to receive an education. Currently, Agape funds are supporting eight projects in six countries. If you would like to find out how to become an Agape Partner and help as we continue to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of those around the world, send an email to agape@ocmc.org or call us at 1-877-GO-FORTH.

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Prayer for Missions

God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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