The Uniqueness of Serving with an Orthodox Priest

The uniqueness between my teammate and I  is that everyone wants to minister with their own denomination or with like-minded people.  We miss out then on the rich opportunity to minister with like minded people from a different “family background”.  How can christianity look the same from an American set of values and upbringing and the upbringing of an Eastern European whose traditions are steeped in Orthodoxy? One is  grateful when one listened to the Holy Spirit when He said to stop and listen to what your brother just said.  This is the case between Fr. Nicoli and I.   I am a Protestant nurse and missionary.  I was born and raised in a Baptist church.  I attended various churches from Presbyterian to Episcopalian.   Fr. Nicholi is an Orthodox Priest in the Ukrainian Orthodox denomination,he is also founder of Christian Center Logos.   6 years ago I met Fr. Nicholi through a mutual friend and God clearly showed me that I was to stop and listen.  This man has much to say and you can learn much from him.

In Ukraine I attend both Fr. Nicholis’ church and a protestant church across town. I have freedom to share biblical truths in his service, sing in the choir and fellowship with his parishioners.  There is much in common between our beliefs and we capitalize on these similarities as we minister together to the poor and needy.  I bring the perspective of a caregiver,passionate follower of Jesus and Fr. Nicoli brings the depth of his understanding of the scriptures and discipline to walk worthy of your calling. “Faith without works is dead.”  Many from both sides of our “spiritual family” ask how this can happen and work?  How can you serve so closely with someone so different from you in faith?  How?  Easy...listen intently to each other, listen to the Holy Spirit and trust each other and God that He is working in all of us and wants His family,especially in these hard times, to work and encourage each other toward Gods saving grace.

The challenge is that not very many ministers if any, are willing to understands and embarace  this partnership and team approach to ministry for myself or themselves.  There are judgements made from both sides which are not founded on anything but fear and misconceptions.  Praying together brings people closer to God and to each other and the result is that Gods kids grow stronger.  I have often, in recent months heard Fr. Nicoli repeat something I shared with him from my meditations on the scripture, and I too have enjoyed the richness of his prayers, liturgy and insights which I incorporate into my life.  We have bridged the gap for others to learn and be encouraged as they seek God,and we have brought some to faith through our willingness to be open to each others way of expressing that common faith in Jesus Christ.

Recently our partnership was challenged and I faltered in knowing what and how to act. However parishioners of Fr.’s church quickly came alongside and walked the unsure path with me repeating my words of assurance that we are one family and we serve and worship One God.  I’m not asking you embrace a particular denomination for yourself, I’m not asking you to even understand the calling which I have.  I am asking you to trust God as  He  challenges all of us to, listen, listen and then trust, you just might be surprised at what you hear and understand from your brother or sister on the other side of the aisle, gap, or world.

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