The Orthodox Evangelist by Fr Daoud Lamie

“Some of the devoted servants may enjoy listening to non-orthodox sermons, and may take part in unorthodox services or meetings. They may have develop intimate relations with some people who are not rooted in the church. These may end up acquiring different tastes in worshiping. They may even start seeking different goals like “speaking tongues” and “performing miracles”. This may reach out to ignoring some of the orthodox rituals and church order like fasting, attending Holy Mass and partaking of the Holy Sacraments.

This is a serious challenge that needs careful follow up from all parties.”

The Orthodox Evangelist by Fr Daoud Lamie

Is there any difference in Evangelism between the different churches or denominations?!!

YES, Big difference …

As Christians, we all preach the word of God and the belief in our Lord Jesus Christ as the Incarnated God, the only Savior, and the way to Eternal Life.

Yet, the way we preach and the targets we need to fulfill, are quite different.

For some churches, it is enough for a non-believer to admit and accept our Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior. They may not focus on or may not give a lot of importance to the necessity of repentance. Many denominations accept non-believers to join the Faith without having to receive Sacraments of Baptism or the Holy Myron.

Doctrines play a major role in our life as Orthodox Christians and our worship is totally different because of the great focus we give on the Holy Liturgy, the Sacraments, the Order of the Church, Fasting periods and the Holy Feasts. All this has a great effect on our Evangelism Message.

It is not we are overburdening people, and making the way seem almost impossible for them; it is simply following the teaching of our Lord that …

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide [is] the gate and broad [is] the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Mat 7 : 13).

We are not “Rigid Radicals” as some choose to think of us. The word “Orthodox” does not mean “rigidity”. The word “orthodox” takes its meaning from the Greek words ‘ortho’, meaning ‘right’ and ‘doxa’ meaning ‘belief’. Hence the word “Orthodox” means correct belief or right thinking. It indicates the “straight way”, the “shortest way” and the “right and prefect way”.

We believe that “Orthodoxy” offers the “Right Way” to know God, the “Best Way” to Worship God, and the “Most Accurate and Pleasant Way” to Preach God. “Orthodoxy” is more than a Christian denomination. It is a way of life through which we practice our Christian Faith every moment of our existence, in preparation for our Eternal life with our Lord Jesus Christ.

According to the Orthodox teaching, the Evangelist practices daily repentance and cries out day and night: “My Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon me, I’m a sinner”.

Likewise, the Orthodox Evangelist invites people to the same life of repentance and to the same great name of salvation:

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Act 4 : 12)

The Orthodox Evangelist is used to praying using the Holy Psalms where he finds in them power against the devil and against any evil thoughts.

The Orthodox Evangelist uses Our Lord’s Prayer all the time:

“So He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as [it is] in heaven …” (Luk 11 : 2)

This prayer includes a lot of the Orthodox Creed, as follows:
“Your Kingdom come” … “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mat 3 : 2).

- “Your will be done” … “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Ti 2 : 4).

- “on earth as it is in heaven” … “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Phi 2 : 10).

The Orthodox Evangelist enjoys the company and the intercessions of all the prophets, apostles, saints and martyrs. They are his family. As a member of the Body of Christ, the Orthodox Evangelist is always surrounded by this great cloud of Witnesses. He believes in their support and looks up to them to see Christ glorified in them.

The Orthodox Preacher can’t preach without mentioning the story of the salvation – the Story of Love – starting as of the Creation reaching out to the Fall, the Incarnation, the Cross, the Resurrection, the gift of the Holy Spirit and finally to the continuous struggle to reach the Kingdom of Heaven through Repentance and partaking of the Holy Sacraments.

Furthermore, the Orthodox Evangelist can’t preach without mentioning the work of the Holy Spirit through the seven Sacraments: Baptism, Holy Myron, Confession, Holy Eucharist, Priesthood, Matrimony and Unction of the sick.

The Orthodox Evangelist enjoys the blessed fact of being a member of the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, namely, the Church, in all spiritual practices and especially during the periods of Fasting.

The Orthodox Evangelist longs for the fasting times as they are spiritually charging, being full of beautiful rituals that raise the level of spirituality through shared prayers, distinct hymns and meditations.

The Orthodox Evangelist lives and re-lives our Lord’s Salvation on a daily basis through the seven prayers of the Agpeya: with the early morning prayer (Prime prayer), he enjoys the true light of the Resurrection; with the 3rd hour, he enjoys the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, with the midday prayers (6th hour), he stands before the Cross to fortify his covenant, with the 9th hour he takes the power of the death of the Lord on the Cross, with the last hours of the day (the 11th & 12th), he remembers his last hours before the condemnation. Even during the night, he tries to pray the psalms and may stay alert to watch and wait for the Groom (our Lord Jesus) coming to his bride (the human soul/the church).

The Orthodox Evangelist uses the icons while preaching the incarnation, the redemption, the cross, or the second coming of Christ. He may also use the Coptic songs and hymns that are greatly significant for all the Orthodox doctrines.

The Orthodox Evangelist cannot see the Salvation without continuous repentance, and partaking of the Power of the Altar, i.e. the Body & Blood of Jesus Christ.

The Orthodox Evangelist enjoys the feasts of the Lord and also the feasts of St. Mary and all the Saints.

The Orthodox Evangelist lives partially in Heaven through the beautiful Rituals of the Orthodox Church, and partially on earth through his mission to struggle to save his own soul and to save others through leading them to the True Faith.

Yes …

There is a big difference between the preaching and living the Orthodox faith and any other. We do not want to be offending others; and we are not aiming at taking Christians from their churches. We have indeed tasted the Kingdom of Heaven through our beautiful Church and, out of love to our entire fellow Christians, we want to share with them this Holy taste – to know Christ like we do and to live his life as our dear Church taught us to live it.

The Coptic Orthodox faith has two main components:

1. Coptic: meaning “Egyptian Christian”

2. Orthodox: related to the belief and creed of the original faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and in the role of the Church as the body of Christ.

We are not praising or being prejudiced for the Coptic history, language or the Coptic culture. But we are indeed proud to preach our Lord Jesus Christ through the heritage of over 2000 years of worshipping Him in our land, in our monasteries and in our churches in our beloved Egypt. We are indeed proud to preach our Lord Jesus through our Coptic Orthodox Faith which offered thousands of martyrs who readily gave up their lives to keep our Orthodox Faith and our Orthodox Creed safe and sound for us to inherit and to hand over to all.

However, it has to be clear that we are not trying to make people “Egyptians/Copts” in the national sense of the word; rather, we are aiming at making them saints according to His will, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1Th 4 : 3). We experience this meaning of being sanctified in our Orthodox way which is the only way we believe in.

While the Orthodox Evangelist dreams of a day when the whole world gets to know our Dear Lord Jesus Christ and becomes a member of His Body through partaking of the Holy Sacraments, he also has the blessed dream of the day our Lord unites all Christians in One Faith, One Baptism, and One Body – through the real Christian love.

Characteristics of the Orthodox Preacher/Evangelist:

1- Discipleship:

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned [them,]” (2Ti 3 : 14)

Discipleship is the cornerstone in the process of developing an Orthodox servant. The true Orthodox Christian is well rooted in the faith through the following main sources:

The Holy Bible

The Orthodox Church (Holy tradition)

The teaching of the Early Fathers

The Lives of the Saints

Orthodox Discipleship is based on an understanding of the Holy Bible as it is taught by our Orthodox Church based on the interpretation of its Saintly Fathers as it has been accepted by the Ecumenical councils throughout history.

The Orthodox Disciple is one who has chosen the path of the early church as it has been established by our Lord Jesus Christ, continued by His Apostles, received by the Early Church Fathers and lived by all its Holy Saints to be delivered to each and every one of us.

“Thus says the Lord: Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16)

The Orthodox Evangelist speaks with the spirit of the teaching of the Fathers extending from Athanasius, Cyril, Anthony the Great, Macarius, etc… who lived for the sake of their faith and who passed on their teachings to our forefathers. Guided by the Holy Spirit, these fathers’ teachings serve as the pillars upon which our Orthodox faith have been standing firm and sound as opposed to many diversions and unorthodox teachings that do not necessarily confirm to the original teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some preachers choose to preach and interpret the word of God depending on their own understanding refusing to refer back to the solid interpretations of church or the forefathers. They believe only in their own skills and understandings, claiming that they are guided by the Spirit of God.

But St. John asked us to be careful: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1Jo 4 : 1)

And Before him our Lord Himself said: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Mat 7 : 15)

We are a traditional church and we understand and live the word of God according to the precious tradition of our dear Church. We are proud of our heritage as we realize that we received the knowledge and teachings of our Christian life from the Early Church even before the New Testament was written or known.

2- A Church Person:

In our Orthodox faith, there is no salvation outside of the Church. We believe that “If the Church is not your mother; our Lord can never be your father”.

The Orthodox Evangelist preaches the belief in One Holy Catholic Apostolic Unique Church:

One Church: Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church which is His body composed of all the Saints: those who have departed to the victorious Church and those who are still struggling in the flesh on earth.

Holy Church: where the Holy Spirit dwells and sanctifies her members through the Holy Sacraments.

Catholic (Universal) Church: having the one Holy Mission of calling everyone to the One Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ giving birth to all believers through the womb of the Holy Sacrament of Baptism.

Apostolic Church: Its roots and origin spring from the Apostles.

Unique Church: no other denomination is like it in its true heritage to our Lord desiring that all come to be ONE in the sound orthodox faith. 
“That they may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21)

The Orthodox Evangelist’s whole life is centered around the Holy Altar, with our Lord’s True Body and Blood offered to all making us all one in Him.

3- Humble and obedient:

The orthodox servant is necessarily humble and obedient, following the teachings of the church and the guidance of his spiritual guide and father of confession. He adopts the sincere attitude of being nothing but a humble disciple listening, learning, inquiring and growing in spirit.

Because of this true – not affected – humility, he refers back easily to his father of confession to be guided by his prayers and advices. He is such a simple meek person who finds no difficulty in following the system and the order of the church. He believes that he is just a little member in a huge body, and the Holy Spirit can make use of him only if he stays in love and synergy with the stem and base of his faith, i.e. our Lord Jesus and the Church and all her other members.

He is the one who sees his weaknesses all the time and does all he can to cover up for the weaknesses of others. He considers the saints and the fathers of the church his role model and struggles all the time to try to follow their example

“Imitate me, just as I also [imitate] Christ” (1Co 11 : 1).

He is always living in repentance, struggling against his own weaknesses, realizing that he is here to carry on the will of God not his own. This humble obedient character is mandatory for any Orthodox Evangelist.

4- A Balanced Personality:

The Orthodox Evangelist has a sound mind, heart which results in sound behavior.

He is always busy with the renewal of his mind (Romans 12) in order to reach out to the mind of our Lord Christ through discipleship, meditation, guidance and worship. When the mind is renewed and filled with Holy Thoughts, this is reflected on the feelings and emotions, making his heart sound and stable, overflowing with holy emotions and holy activities and behavior.

The Orthodox Evangelist is a balanced person who neither leaves his intellect to lead him nor his heart to rule over him. His balanced spirituality and total guidance by the Holy Spirit grants him the grace to strike a balance between reason and emotions, making sure that he submits both to the will and guidance of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Orthodox Evangelist’s spirituality is not emotional. It is marked by depth and sincerity, rather than superficial emotionalism. Emotionalism may lead a person to follow his own feelings and to be centered around his own personal will and desire, even if it appears to be spiritual. Spirituality, on the other hand, leads the person to repent and drives him to a state of calm silence, holy fear and hope and struggle for positive change.

“… rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet 3:4)

The Orthodox Evangelist is balanced in his relationships with all people. He cares for his family but never forgets his goal in life. He offers his love and service to people but never breaks his boundaries.

He is Christ-like

“He will not cry out, nor raise [His voice,] Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth” (Isa 42 : 2 – 3)

He believes very much in the grace of God, but never forgets how weak and sinful he is. God may do miracles through him, but he keeps seeing himself as unworthy servant.

“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do” (Luk 17 : 10)

Honesty and faithfulness are main traits of the Orthodox Evangelist which makes of him a true Light in a dark world full of noise, conflict and unnecessary bigotry and pride.

- Challenge of Deviations…

The call is strong, and the voice pushing; the start was great; the grace overwhelming; the success is manifest; people are coming to Christ; miraculously, the church is growing; but, some deviations may take place …

- Deviation in doctrine …

Some of the devoted servants may enjoy listening to non- orthodox sermons, and may take part in unorthodox services or meetings. They may have develop intimate relations with some people who are not rooted in the church. These may end up acquiring different tastes in worshiping. They may even start seeking different goals like “speaking tongues” and “performing miracles”. This may reach out to ignoring some of the orthodox rituals and church order like fasting, attending Holy Mass and partaking of the Holy Sacraments.

This is a serious challenge that needs careful follow up from all parties. That’s why the following precautions are recommended:

1- It is better for any missionary not to stay more than 6 months away from their mother church to avoid such deviations at least for the first three years of the service.

2- It is recommended for any servant to be part of an orthodox team of missionaries; so they can support each other.

3- Finally, follow up of the leaders of the mother church and the care of the father of confession is essential.