Friday, March 12, 2004
In the first three months of 2004, OCMC’s Support A Mission Priest
(SAMP) program has added 12 new priests; bringing the number of priests,
deacons and catechists supported by this program to a total of 267. Not
only has SAMP increased the number of priests supported in 2004, but it
has also begun support in a new country - Zimbabwe. The Mission Center
is now responding to the needs of our international Orthodox brothers
and sisters through the support of clergy in 16 different countries.
In places around the world where communities are not able to financially support their priests, Orthodox hierarchs look to the Mission Center’s SAMP program for assistance. His Eminence Theodoros, Archbishop of Zimbabwe, recently wrote, “I have the great pleasure to forward to you the biographies of two African priests. Should you have the financial capabilities, we kindly request that you help them financially. Zimbabwe is going through its worst crisis ever.”
In Zimbabwe, Christianity is a minority and over 75% of the population is non-Christian. Zimbabwe is a landlocked country of twelve million people in southern Africa. Only eight percent of the land is fit for cultivation and the region continually faces recurring droughts. Life is very harsh and the average life expectancy is under 40 years old. A 70% unemployment rate is amplified by the extreme poverty that the majority of the people live in. Since 1980, when independence from the United Kingdom was granted, the people of Zimbabwe have faced a wide variety of economic problems, chaos and violence.
Orthodoxy is being embraced by many communities in Zimbabwe. In three different areas of the country there are close to 1200 people becoming catechumens and recently 38 people were baptized in Harare, the capital city. The Church also operates a medical clinic which dispenses free health care and medicine.
For more information about the Orthodox Christian Mission Center’s SAMP program go to www.ocmc.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.