A very high-ranking European man about Protestantism, Roman-Catholicism & Orthodoxy



A very high-ranking European man

about Protestantism, Roman-Catholicism & Orthodoxy

Fr. Athanasios Simonopetritis (from the Monastery of Simonos Petra Monastery, Holy Mount Athos, Greece) says:

Last year came to our monastery a very high-ranking European man. We chatted with cordiality. Eventually, I asked him: “Welcome! Why did you come to us, ordinary monks, you, a famous man, at moment we are not anything great…”.

He replied disarmingly: “Father, you may not be something great, as you say. However, you live in a great space and you have a great treasure, Orthodoxy!”.
I deliberately insisted on the same pace, saying: “What can a so prominent man wait by Orthodoxy?”

In the debate were four or five fathers. He looked into our eyes one by one and said: “Listen Fathers, I will confess you something: Today both ways of expression of Christianity are in intractable, we have been tired with them. Both Roman-Catholicism with legalistic spirit and Protestantism with the hard logic crushed us. We want heart and freedom! These elements are in Orthodoxy. Perhaps you don’t understand. However, we understand very well”




Video – From Glory to Glory: The Journey of Fr. Anthony Salzman, GA, USA





From Glory to Glory:

The Journey of Fr. Anthony Salzman, GA, USA

Video: ᐊᓛᓯᑲ Alaska – Orthodoxy ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ Inuktitut Native American (Canada & Alaska)







ᐊᓛᓯᑲ Alaska – Orthodoxy

ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ Inuktitut Native American (Canada & Alaska)

On Spiritual Deception – Fr. Dcn. Charles Joiner, South Carolina, USA



On Spiritual Deception

by Fr. Dcn. Charles Joiner


Deacon at Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral,

Greenville, South Carolina Area, USA





The author of the Orthodox Way of Life blog, Fr. Dcn. Charles tells it like it is.

Having recently discovered that throughout much of my Christian life I was involved with “spiritual deception,” I find it necessary now to seek ways to fully understand and totally reject this error.

My deception began with a well meaning pastor at the United Methodist Church where I grew up. I asked him,

“Why are there so many different religions? How can we say that the Christian way the the best way?”

His answer was,

“There are many paths to God. Ours is the most direct and easiest path.”

He did not know how to answer this question from a true Christian perspective and advise me of the struggle that I would necessarily face. I now know that what he taught me was a serious deception. It is very clear now that the other paths will not lead to a God-oriented spiritual life and union with God. They only lead one to a life of self-satisfaction and greater pride.

Jesus Christ came after these early attempts to reach God which were inadequate and showed all mankind how to gain union with God. He showed us the need for extreme humility in our relationship with God. He showed us a path that involves purifying ourselves and continually struggling against many things, yet relying on God’s will. I discovered that the path He opened for us is not an easy path.

It is a difficult one along which we are easily deceived by seeking pleasures though various forms of meditation, yoga and others activities, taught by well meaning teachers from other eastern religions who have not discovered for themselves the way of Jesus Christ.

I now know this from experience, having experimented with Vedanta, a Hindu religion, Buddhism, and Eastern forms of meditation. Regrettably, I even led an effort to find the “universal principles” of all religions and then set up a organization (formally organized as a church under IRS rules, no less) to teach this to others. Oh, how easily we are deceived by psychic level religious experiences which only serve to boost our pride and our sense of self-sufficiency.

Through this experience, I learned that it is essential to recognize that we are engaged in spiritual warfare as Saint Paul so clearly tells us. In my youth I was never prepared for this battle by being properly instructed in the spiritual disciplines.

I didn’t appreciate the power of the Sacraments that Christ initiated for us to help us in this battle. Growing up Methodist, communion was symbolic. It was grape juice and a wafer symbolizing the blood and body of Jesus Christ. Powerless when compared to the actual Blood an Body of Jesus Christ that is offered in the Orthodox Church for remission of sins and eternal life in union with Him. I faced many such deceptions along the path. Fortunately, I have a very strong guardian angel that kept me on a path seeking God and who taught me the Jesus Prayer in the midst of these deceptions.

It was this prayer that protected me and led me back to Orthodoxy.

Seraphim Rose saw this attitude I experienced as one that permeates much of Christianity today. He wrote on this sad condition of “Christians” in his book, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future. Here is an excerpt.

“The life of self-centeredness and self-satisfaction lived by most of today’s “Christians” is so all-pervading that it effectively seals them off from any understanding at all of spiritual life; and when such people do undertake “spiritual life,” it is only as another form of self-satisfaction. This can be seen quite clearly in the totally false religious ideal both of the “charismatic” movement and the various forms of “Christian meditation”: all of them promise (and give very quickly) an experience of “contentment” and “peace.” But this is not the Christian ideal at all, which if anything may be summed up as a fierce battle and struggle. The “contentment” and “peace” described in these contemporary “spiritual” movements are quite manifestly the product of spiritual deception, of spiritual self-satisfaction––which is the absolute death of the God-oriented spiritual life. All these forms of “Christian meditation” operate solely on the psychic level and have nothing whatever in common with Christian spirituality. Christian spirituality is formed in the arduous struggle to acquire the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, which fully begins only with the dissolution of this temporal world, and the true Christian struggler never finds repose even in the foretastes of eternal blessedness which might be vouchsafed to him in this life; but the Eastern religions, to which the Kingdom of Heaven has not been revealed, strive only to acquire psychic states which begin and end in this life” (From Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Seraphim Rose, pp 187-188).

Some of my friends will think this is a bit harsh and it is not my intent to condemn those who sincerely seek union with Jesus Christ no matter what their form of Christianity is. But I can say without a doubt, that we can be deceived as I know I was.

For me, I found the fulness of the Truth in the Orthodox Church where the sacramental life is emphasized and practiced with regularity. It was in the context of the Orthodox Church that I found I could surrender and then seek, not my own way, but instead follow the way the Church sets out for all of us.

Finding the Faith of St Joseph of Arimathea: An Interview with Fr. Jonathan Hemmings, England ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* The tradition of faith in Great Britain goes back to the Apostolic era!








Finding the Faith of St Joseph of Arimathea:

An Interview with Fr. Jonathan Hemmings, England


The tradition of faith in Great Britain goes back to the Apostolic era!

by Tudor Petcu





A Romanian writer, Tudor is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest, Romania. He has published a number of articles related to philosophy and theology in different cultural and academic journals. His work focuses on the evolution of Orthodox spirituality in Western societies as well and he is going to publish a book of interviews with Westerners converted to Orthodoxy. In this article, he interviews Fr. Jonathan Hemmings, Orthodox theologian, who is the priest of the Holy Life-Giving Cross Orthodox Church in Lancaster, UK, talks about faith and love in Christ.


1.) Before discussing your conversion to Orthodoxy, I would appreciate it a lot if you could talk about your main spiritual experiences and journies untill you have discovered the Orthodox Church.

First of all, we need to be sure of what we mean when we use the term convert or “conversion.” We all need to be converted – both those who come from different traditions and confessions and those from traditionally Orthodox countries who are referred to as “cradle Orthodox”. Christianity is not a Philosophy, it is a relationship with the All Holy Trinity. We are converted to Christ and we are received into the (Orthodox) Church through Baptism and/or Chrismation. Sometimes this happens in the other order of events. Those who are Baptised Orthodox as babies need to employ the gift of the Holy Spirit given to them; those who are called to the Orthodox Christian faith are prompted by the same All Holy Spirit. As Metropolitan Kallistos said

“We Orthodox know where the Holy Spirit is but we cannot say where He is not.”

As scripture says

“the Holy Spirit moves where He wills.”

One has to experience the Orthodox Church either through her Liturgy or through the “living signposts of the faith” whom God sets before us if we are open to the Truth. By “ living signposts” I mean men and women who possess grace and in whom we see the light of Christ. Christianity in the west tends to be analytical and logical, Eastern Christianity is synthetic and mystical and engages the whole of our being.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind with all your strength, with all your heart and with all your soul.

The fact that we do metanoias (reverences or bows) shows that even prayer is a physical as well as a mental process. I have always believed in God, from a little child. I cannot remember a time when I did not believe in God. I had the right Christ, I just needed the right Church. Of course all this was a preparation for me to discover or rather recover the Orthodox faith.

2.) How would you characterise your own spiritual road to Orthodoxy? According to this question, would it be correct to say that Orthodoxy is able to heal the wounded souls?

I am like the Prodigal son in the parable who returns to his father. The Orthodox faith according to tradition was brought to Britain by St Joseph of Arimathea. An early Archbishop of Canterbury was Greek- St Theodore of Tarsus. St Constantine the Great was made Augustus Emperor here in York when he was in charge of the sixth Legion. So did not choose to find something “foreign” I returned to the Church which was established here in Britain.

The Orthodox Church is Universal as we proclaim on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The Church is the hospital for souls. As Blessed Augustine said

“Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God”

Restlessness of the spirit is a characteristic of this age. So I have not discovered something new, I have recovered something authentic and original.

3.) Considering all what you have experienced over the years from the spiritual point of view, why is Orthodoxy so precious and meaningful to you?

Well, I believe Orthodoxy is not only original, unchanged and authentic but it is the teaching and preaching of Christ’s Apostles (Kerygma and Paradosi). Tradition is not simply historical, it is vital and dynamic. The Orthodox way fulfils the needs of the whole person and makes the broken person whole. It is precious because it is the

“pearl of great price.”

Once you find it, then you must share this treasure with others and not keep it to yourself.

4.) Do you think that Orthodoxy could be considered a burning bush?

I have a stone from Mount Sinai which contains the image of the bush which Moses saw burning and yet which was not consumed. If you want to forge metal, you must first heat it and out it into the fire and then you can shape it to the tool you require. When we are put into the fire of God, the same happens. It is so God can shape us into the person that He has called us to be. When we are alive in God then we become all flame. We are standing on holy ground, so when we approach God we must do so with awe before the majestic power of God.

5.) Now, I would like you to tell me what does the Orthodox monasticism mean for you and what impressed you most in your monastic pilgrimage, if I can call it like that?

Orthodox Monasteries are “LightHouses” for souls. They are often remote and inaccessible because the quietness for the soul requires asceticism . They are full of angels because the angelic life is lived there. When we say in the Lord’s Prayer

“Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”

then this is what monks are doing. The very walls of the Churches are filled with prayer and so one can feel tangibly the peace of God. It is this peace which passes all understanding that one experiences. Again I say that Orthodoxy is Life in the sense that we experience it, we live it. I have been to many Orthodox Monasteries in Romania. The most memorable moments are when I met Pr Ioanichie Balan in Sihastria Monastery and when I served the Holy Liturgy with Pr. Teofil Paraian( the blind Staretz) at Sambata de Sus. These were moments when the veil between heaven and earth was very thin.

6.) What would be the difference between you as a heterodox and you as an Orthodox?

I am complete. When Our Lord died on the Cross he said in St Johns Gospel

“It is finished”

but this also means

“It is completed”

that is, the work of salvation. In this sense “conversion” is an extension of what I once was. As C. S. Lewis ( much respected by Orthodox) once put it

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

As I have said before, I have always loved God but the depths of Orthodoxy provide me with the resources that nourish my soul.

7.) I remember some words which impressed me much while I was discussing with a Swiss writer converted to Orthodoxy. He was saying that he was born to hate but through Orthodoxy reborn to love. How would you characterise these words as a convert to Orthodoxy?

We were all born to love. Christ summarised the Commandments as Loving God and Loving your neighbour. Orthodox Christianity can be summarised in these words. But love is a verb… we must put into action those things which we believe. I am sure the prisons in Romania are full of criminals who would call themselves Orthodox and who have been baptised as such, but sin found a place in their hearts. Glory to God he is merciful and loves mankind! And so we must live out our life in peace and repentance. Being Romanian does not make you Orthodox anymore than being Greek, Russian, Serb or British. There was no ethnic identity in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve’s transgressions. May the love of God embrace us all.


This interview is one of many that will be published in the book “The rediscovery of Orthodox heritage of the West” by Tudor Petcu, containing interviews with different Westerners converted to Orthodoxy. It will be published in two volumes and the first one will appear by the end of this year.

The Greatest Gift in the World – Orthodox Korean Ksenia Kim Talks About Her Path To The Church






Today we are publishing an English translation of Fr. George Maximov’s interview with Ksenia Kim, an Orthodox Korean missionary. She talks about her difficult personal choice of faith, the history of Orthodoxy among the Korean people as well as the life of Korean Orthodox community in Moscow and their hopes and expectations.



The Greatest Gift in the World

Orthodox Korean Ksenia Kim Talks About Her Path To The Church



Fr. George Maksimov: Hello. You are watching My Path To God, a program about people who during their journey to Orthodoxy had to give up many things and re-consider their ways. We will talk to our guests about things that motivate them and give them strength.

Today our guest is Ksenia Kim, a descendant of Korean people who settled in the Russian Empire more than 150 years ago and seamlessly integrated into the family of peoples of our country. Even before the revolution of 1917, hieromartyr John (Vostorgov) wrote that every year many Japanese, Chinese and Korean people settle in the Russian Empire. He noted that Koreans are the most open to converting to Orthodoxy. Surprisingly, the initiative to convert often came from the Koreans themselves rather than from the Russian authorities or Orthodox clergy. This was the wish of their souls, although, of course, not all the newcomers had it. The revolution of 1917 was followed by a challenging period and the Russian Koreans, just like other peoples of our country, lived through the period of atheism that was forcefully imposed upon our society. Tell me what was the situation in your family and how did you start moving toward Orthodox faith.

Ksenia Kim: I was born in a regular Korean family. Koreans have a difficult spiritual legacy—It is a mixture of Buddhism and shamanism. I remember that my grandmother followed certain rituals. For example, she used to prepare special food and go outside to feed the fallen spirits to please them or ask for help. So if I followed in the footsteps of my ancestors, I would have probably gone in the same direction. However, God gives the right of choice to every person and after comparison and analysis we can make the best decision. My journey wasn’t easy. I studied Islam and Eastern religions, even joined Protestants for a short while. I understood that the truth was in Orthodoxy. It was the only faith that truly touched my heart and I really felt the presence of God there.

Fr. George: How did you truly discover Orthodoxy? Obviously, you saw churches earlier and maybe even walked into some of them. Yet at some point, you discovered the profundity of Orthodoxy. How did it happen?

Ksenia Kim: When hieromartyr Daniel Sysoyev was murdered in 2009, many people learned about him and started studying the legacy he left behind. My Orthodox acquaintance was one of such people. She gave me the book Instructions For Immortals, or What To Do If You’re Already Dead. I would recommend everybody to read this book. It is fairly short—one can read it in one day—but it totally changes the way you see the world. This is exactly what happened to me. In this book, Father Daniel discusses the Church’s teaching about what happens to people after death. After reading the book, I understood that my prospects were poor. In other words, I was heading straight to hell. But why should I go there, if there is a way to avoid this? I understood that I had to repent. For a long time, several months, I was preparing for confession. It was difficult to remember everything that was done in my lifetime. My first confession took place before Easter. It was a long confession—I entered the church on Holy Saturday at 9 am and left around 4 pm. I still keep in touch with the priest who heard my confession and he still supports me.

Fr. George: If you went to confession, this means that you were already baptized?

Ksenia Kim: Yes, I was indeed baptized in an Orthodox Church when I was 19, but this wasn’t serious for me then. My friend told me that she was going to be baptized and I decided that I’d do this as well, to keep her company. We memorized the Lord’s Prayer and went to the baptism ceremony. There was no mandatory catechesis at that time and I knew nothing about Orthodoxy, so this did not influence my life in any way. My real conversion happened after reading Father Daniel’s book and after my confession I started leading the church-based way of life. Later, I found the address of the Church of Apostle Thomas on Kantemirovskaya street in this book, so I came to this church and became a parishioner. So Father Daniel Sysoyev through his book influenced my life and my enchurchment. The blood of martyrs is indeed the seed of the Church. My conversion was directly influenced by the death that God bestowed upon Father Daniel. During the years of my enchurchment, I met other people who came to God either after the death of Father Daniel or after listening to or reading this works. Nobody really knows the number of such people, but I’m sure that this number is high.

Fr. George: Yes, I also know such people and I think their number will be growing. How did your relatives react to such change of your life priorities? Were they sympathetic, did they follow your choice?

Ksenia Kim: Their first reaction wasn’t very positive, but now my relatives (about thirty of them in Moscow) are fairly tolerant and even sympathetic to a certain extent. That is why I’m hoping that God will gradually grant them the joy of being Orthodox. My sister who lives in Irkutsk has already been baptized. This was quite a story—we had to fight fallen spirits for her, as they didn’t want to let her go. They tempted and scared her so much, that we had to ask the priests for help. A week before her baptism demons started visiting her, she actually saw them, they seized her by the throat, attacked her in other ways, knocked on the door. She couldn’t’ sleep a wink for a week. We were afraid that she would lose her sanity, so I called some priests I knew and they said that my sister should rejoice. I was very surprised to hear that as it seemed that there was nothing to be happy about, but the priest said:

“She should rejoice, for if God allows her to see them, it logically means that the opposite is true too, in other words that means that there are good spirits too and that God exists too”.

The demons try to make people stop believing in their existence and in the existence of supernatural world altogether, and here their actions were so obvious that they couldn’t be ignored.

Fr. George: Did those attacks of evil spirits stop after the baptism?

Ksenia Kim: Pretty much. They continued for some time after that, but soon stopped completely.

Fr. George: It’s important to emphasize this, because it is not only your sister; I also know about other similar cases that happened when adult people realized that they needed to be baptized. Sometimes evil spirits try to stop them. All of a sudden people don’t feel well, some even faint right before the baptism. Evil spirits try to attack or tempt such people. However, after baptism the evil spirits lose their powers and all the attacks stop, just as happened with your sister.

Ksenia Kim: It is interesting to note that I, as a participant in those events, was also affected. Despite thousands of kilometers between us (I was in Moscow, while she was in Irkutsk), when these events occurred over there, my faith was tested too. Once I came home and saw that my place was swarming with large flies, although when I left all doors and windows were closed and everything was fine. This was very strange. Where would those files come from all of a sudden? It took me several days to get rid of them. When later I mentioned this to my Orthodox friend, he said: “Didn’t you realize what that was? Do you remember that one of Satan’s names is Beelzebub? It is translated as “lord of the flies”. So, this means that he visited my home.

Fr. George: The hagiography of one ancient hermit mentions that to distract him from praying, Satan filled the hermit’s cave with a multitude of insects. But he didn’t succeed. The event you described clearly shows that Satan has very little power over Christians. We know that evil spirits would like to destroy the human race, but because God protects Christians, all the evil one could do was this petty trick in hope to confuse the person. God’s blessing protects Orthodox Christians who lead a church life. Of course, Satan would like to harm us more, but Got won’t let him. Whenever God allows any temptations to happen to us, including those that involve direct contact with evil forces, this is never beyond our strength. Only as much as a person can withstand. And God is always nearby; He is always willing to give His help to those who ask. The experience of every believer proves that.

Ksenia Kim: There was another event with my sister. I sent her Orthodox leaflets and books about baptism, confession and communion for distribution in churches before the Epiphany. When she had to go to the airport to pick up these materials, she felt so sick that she nearly died. They managed somehow to find people who picked the materials up. Later she told me: “Can you imagine, as soon as I delivered those materials to churches, everything was back to normal”. The sickness came out of nowhere and was gone inexplicably.

Fr. George: Thank God! I know that it is not only you and your sister, other Koreans also find their path to Orthodoxy. I even know that we have a Korean Orthodox community here in Moscow and that you are an active member. Could you tell us more about it?

Ksenia Kim: Yes, there is a Korean Orthodox community in Zaikonospassky monastery in Moscow. First attempts to establish this community were made in 2001 when we organized catechesis studies for Koreans. Later we also organized some children programs, field trips and pilgrimages. The activities were on and off. Finally, God’s will was to send us a priest, Father Alexander Son, and now the community has a priest of Korean descent who takes care of us.

Fr. George: Does your community cooperate with other public organizations of Russian Koreans?

Ksenia Kim: Yes, of course. We worked with the Korean Youth Club. There is also a newspaper, Rossiyskiye Koreytsy (Russian Koreans), which has a staff employee designated for interacting with the Orthodox Church. We also actively work with the Russian Association of Koreans. With the help of Zaikonospassky monastery and this association, we organized a big conference, Koreans and Orthodoxy, in the spring of 2014. This event was dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Koreans’ settlement in Russia. We had a round table with the heads of regional branches of the Association of Koreans where we adopted a resolution on starting a project for development of regional missions in Russia. We wrote an application to His Holiness. Our hierocracy supported the project and active work to establish contact between the missionary departments of dioceses of Russian Orthodox Church and regional branches of Association of Koreans is currently under way. Three pilot projects are already in the works in Southern, Central and Far East federal districts.

Fr. George: Are there places in Russia where the Korean population is larger?

Ksenia Kim: Historically, many Koreans live in the Far East, specifically in Khabarovsk and Primorsky Krai. According to statistics, Koreans are the third largest ethnic group there. Naturally, our priority is working in those regions, but we hope that with God’s help we will expand into other cities.

Fr. George: I remember how I felt when I was reading the notes of missionaries and people who lived in Korea more than century ago. They saw that for a long time the Korean people were caught in the middle between China and Japan and were periodically subjected to oppression by their neighbours. Korean people did not benefit from it. I saw that as soon as Korea became an independent country, Korean people made a huge step in their development. It clearly shows that its potential was previously supressed. Korean people were exhausted by their long-time neighbours. At that time the Japanese and Chinese were fighting over the right to rule the Korean people. When the Koreans learned that they had a third neighbour, Russia, they were very happy. That was when the extensive immigration started. It is a known fact that the Korean Queen Min was assassinated because she was leaning toward Russia. King Gojong and royal prince were actually placed under house arrest.

They managed to escape to the Russian consulate and for more than a year the king was ruling the country from there because it was unsafe for him to leave the consulate. Everybody understood what was going on. This, basically, explains the choice the Koreans made about immigration to Russia and why the Koreans, both those who immigrated to Russia and those who stayed in Korea, began converting to Orthodoxy… It was a voluntarily decision of the people. That is why I hope that with God’s help the work that the Korean community is currently doing will be crowned with success. This would be the result of the choice many Koreans made over a hundred years ago, but that process was, one might say, frozen by the period of Soviet atheistic rule. I’d like to ask you your personal opinion: To what extent do contemporary Koreans have a need for Orthodoxy?

Ksenia Kim: Thank you for this historical side note and your question. Our current missionary activities in the region are primarily aimed at counteracting the Protestants who actively preach among the Russian Koreans, presenting Protestantism as the true Korean religion. They misguide our people, saying that it is the Korean religion, while in fact Orthodoxy is our historic legacy and spiritual tradition. When our ancestors received the citizenship of the Russian Empire, they also received baptism. It was a deliberate and voluntary action. That is why it is important to inform the people and do something lest 20 years from now all Russian Koreans are Protestants. I would not like that to happen, but risk of this happening is quite real because the Protestant missionaries are very active. First of all, we need to pray for deliverance of our people from this, dare I say it, sectarian slavery. There are many active sects in the Russian Federation and one of them has three hundred Korean members. Based on that we can estimate the size of those sects.

Fr. George: Of course, people have the right to learn the truth about Orthodoxy. They should know that Orthodoxy is not simply a part of the Russian culture, but that it is the Church founded by Jesus Christ Our Lord himself. That way rather than making their choice based on some unverified information, they can do so knowing where the truth is and where the true Church of Christ is. Naturally, this requires a lot of effort.

Ksenia Kim: Yes, the desire to find the truth is also needed. It is amazing, that despite the small number of Orthodox Koreans, God leads us to himself. Even more amazing is that people in South Korea, where the majority profess Protestantism, are also converting to Orthodoxy. We hope that God would give us a chance to build the church, because even now when we try to oppose Protestants in Moscow, we unfortunately can’t offer an alternative to people who are used to active community life. All Orthodox Koreans go to various churches and only gather in Zaikonospassky monastery for some joint events or studies. I think that for the purposes of missionary work it would be great to have a church that Koreans could visit for quiet prayer. So that there is no misunderstanding among the parishioners. If a hundred Koreans come to one church, this would probably give the Russian old ladies quite a scare (laughs).

Fr. George: By the way, how did the parishioners of Zaikonospassky monastery receive your community?

Ksenia Kim: They got used to us gradually. However we don’t go there in hundreds, usually there are about twenty of us there during the service. It’s not a large percentage of the total number of parishioners. They know that there is Father Alexander who takes care of us, so they are friendly toward us.

Fr. George: I also wanted to ask you if you had any contacts with people from Korea who temporarily or permanently reside in Moscow. Do you have a rapport with them? I once talked to an Orthodox Korean who grew up in the Far East, then moved to South Korea for some time and later came back to Russia. He told me that living in his historical homeland was difficult for him. Everything was strange and unclear. He even had some kind of culture shock. We have very few people from North Korea here, but what is your relationship with people of South Korean descent? If you had any experience, what was your impression?

Ksenia Kim: Yes, I’ve met South Koreans. As a rule, most of them are leaning toward Protestantism. Very few are Orthodox. In general, they adapt here without problems and get on well with the locals. Mostly they are businessmen from South Korea and students. We had an idea to organize Russian language lessons for these Koreans from Korea. The newly passed law requires foreign citizens intending to live in the Russian Federation to speak Russian, know Russian history and culture, and pass a special test. We would like to help people with this. And of course we wouldn’t be helping South Koreans only. For example, we recently received a letter from a priest from Siberia who baptized a North Korean. This North Korean didn’t even speak Russian, so I can’t imagine how this miracle could happen…That man was sick, and as he was in a grave condition, he stayed at a hospice. The priest asked us to send him Orthodox prayers in Korean as soon as possible. So we had to find Korean translations of Lord’s Prayer, “Theotokos and Virgin rejoice…” and Creed.

Fr. George: What else does the Moscow Korean Orthodox community do?

Ksenia Kim: With the help of Zaikonospassky monastery, our community holds theological courses for adult Koreans. The course subjects include liturgics, Church Slavonic language, catechesis, and Gospel according to the Holy Fathers. For missionary purposes, we also organized free Korean language courses in Zaikonospassky monastery. In addition, our community organizes various field trips, pilgrimages and meetings. We are also planning to cooperate with the Korean Youth Committee in social networks and websites.

Fr. George: This is a very valuable experience. I saw similar initiatives from Orthodox people of various ethnic backgrounds, for example Orthodox Kurds or Kazakhs that live in Moscow. They also wanted to get together in a single group in some parish, but unfortunately these attempts did not come to fruition even though it was a grassroots initiative that came directly from the people. Moscow Koreans, thank God, succeeded, so I think that the example of your Korean community could be useful not only for Koreans, but for other ethnic groups as well.

Ksenia Kim: God indeed is very benevolent toward us; we can feel it because we get a lot of help from everywhere. A lot of God’s grace too. Unlike Russians who have numerous saints and many people praying for them, it is very difficult for us. Every third Russian has people who served God somehow, maybe even saints, among his or her relatives. Russian people get tremendous spiritual support from this multitude of people who pray for them. We don’t have that. In many cases, we are descendants of atheists, pagans and shamans. Our people only now are gradually becoming Orthodox, and that is why God bestows us with His special grace. How Russian monks are rejoicing looking at us is particularly amazing. This is great. They are sincerely, almost child-like, happy to see that we, non-Russians, Koreans, are in fact Orthodox. It is very important to know that God is with us, that He doesn’t abandon us and gives us His support. This, of course, gives us a strong motivation to do more. We have many plans and a great desire to promote spiritual education of children, do social activities, work with youth, and many other things. We hope that God will help us and ask you to pray for the salvation of the Korean people. You know, God doesn’t differentiate between nationalities or ranks.

Fr. George: Of course, the truth is for everyone. I believe that God arranges the life of every person. It is not an accident that you and other Koreans are in Russia and that you were raised in a culture with Christian roots. This is God’s loving gift to you. I have another question for you: Can you tell us any stories about conversion of other members of Korean community? How does God lead them to Orthodoxy?

Ksenia Kim: Sure. There is a story of one woman that I remember particularly well. I won’t mention her name. She had a terrible experience—her child fell out of the window of a multi-storied building. This Korean woman was not a very religious person, but she knew about Orthodoxy and Mary the Mother of God. By some miracle, when she saw the open window and realized what happened, she threw herself down on her knees and cried:

“Mother of God, please have mercy on my son!”

When that woman came down, she saw that amazingly her child was safe and sound and didn’t even have a scratch. They called the ambulance, of course. It turned out that the child only had a broken ankle. His spine, head, arms and legs were not harmed. This made such a great impression on her husband and herself that they went to church and started living a church-based life. God moves in mysterious ways. Some people take a long journey seeking the truth, while others are converted through such incredible events.

Personally, I am eternally grateful to God for arranging things so that I was born in Russia, an Orthodox country, and making me an Orthodox Christian. I think this is the greatest gift in the world. I am even more grateful for it than I am grateful for my life. I can honestly tell you, that when I attend a service, my eyes are filled with tears, the tears of gratefulness for allowing me to be a part of this great spiritual legacy of humankind. And I am very sad when I see Russian people, people who have everything—a great number of saints and pious ancestors who pray for them—and yet these people do not participate in the Church life, do not receive Communion and do not go to church. I feel pain and sadness for such people. God led us, non-Russians, to this greatest legacy, this Noah’s Ark, this huge ship, while some people reject all this on their own accord.

Fr. George: I read hieromartyr Grigori’s (Lebedev) explanation of Jesus’s words A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. (Mark, 6:4). He said that this applies not only to Jesus Christ or a saint, but to Christianity in general. It is without honour in the community that has Christian roots and maybe even exists because in the past ancestors of these people became Christian. There is also a negative effect, when people from Orthodox ethnic backgrounds, not only Russians, are satisfied by a very superficial knowledge of Orthodoxy—they pick up holy water, bless an Easter cake, light a candle—and that is it. Even though that is all they know about Christianity, they have a false impression that since Christianity is ours anyway, it is not very interesting. When such a person starts his or her spiritual quest, he or she thinks:

“Well, Christianity is just Easter cakes and candles. This is not interesting. Spiritual things must be somewhere far way, it can’t be nearby”.

So sometimes Russian people have to make a very long journey and wander the darkest corners of the world only to discover with amazement that the Truth they were searching for is where they least expected it to be. Thank you for reminding us about this and for your story. I wish you God’s help in your spiritual journey and the activities of your community.

Ksenia Kim: Thank you.

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos in Greece (+1994) & the young George the Tibetan Buddhist monk







Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994)

July 2


Saint Paisios of Mount Athos in Greece (+1994)

& the young George the Tibetan Buddhist monk





George, a young man of sixteen or seventeen, came to Mount Athos in Greece to go from one monastery to another. Though Greek by blood, he had been raised abroad from early childhood among Tibetan Buddhist monks in their monastery. He had made a great deal of progress in meditation, and he had become an accomplished sorcerer, able to summon any demon he wanted. He was also an expert in the martial arts. Using the power of Satan, he made impressive displays of his abilities: he broke hazelnuts in his palm, and tossed away the shells while the nuts remained attached to his hand. He could read closed books. He struck large rocks with his bare hand, and they shattered like walnuts.

Some monks brought George to Saint Paisios so that he could help him. George asked Saint Paisios what powers he had, what he could do, and the St Paisios answered that he himself didn’t have any power, and that all power is from God.

George, wanting to demonstrate his power, concentrated his gaze on a large rock in the distance, and it shattered. Saint Paisios took a small rock and made the sign of the Cross over it, and told him to destroy it too. He concentrated and performed his magic, but he couldn’t shatter it. Then he started trembling, and the satanic powers―which he thought he controlled―since they weren’t able to break the rock, turned against him and hurled him to the opposite bank of the river. Saint Paisios picked him up in a miserable condition.

“Another time,” recounted St Paisios, “while we were talking, he suddenly stood up, grabbed me by the arms and spun me around backward. ‘Let’s see Hadjiefendis get you lose, if he can,’ he said. I felt it was like blasphemy to say that. I moved my hands a little, like this, and he was jerked away. He jumped up in the air and tried to kick me, but his foot stopped near my face, like it had hit an invisible wall! God protected me.

“At night, I kept him there, and he slept in my cell. The demons dragged him down into the pit and thrashed him for failing. In the morning he was in a bad state, injured and covered in thorns and dirt. He confessed, ‘Satan beat me up because I couldn’t defeat you.’”

St Paisios convinced George to bring him his magical texts, and he burned them. “When he came here”, St Paisios recalled, “he had some sort of charm or amulet with him. I went to take it, but he wouldn’t give it to me. I took a candle and said, “Lift the leg of your pants up a little.” Then I put the lit candle against his leg―he yelled and jumped up. “Well,” I said, “if the flame from a little candle is for you, how are you going to endure the fire of hell that you’re going to end up in because of what you’re doing?”

St Paisios kept the young man close to him for a little while and helped him, so long as he was willing to be obedient. He felt such compassion for him that he said, “I would leave the desert and go out into the world to help this boy.” He made an effort to learn if he had been baptized and even found out the name of the church where his baptism had taken place. Shaken by the power and the grace of the Elder, George wanted to become a monk, but he wasn’t able to.

Saint Paisios would refer to George’s case to show what a delusion it is to think that all religions are the same, that everyone believes in the same God, and that there’s no difference between Tibetan Buddhist and Orthodox monks.

From the Book:

Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

©2012 For the English Language by The Holy Monastery Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian