One night when we were building our church in Magadan, Russia, in 2000, I woke up after a terrible nightmare. I had seen the church finished but it was empty and cold. No people. I woke up in sweats and literally fell to my knees and begged God to not let this happen. I wanted a church full of activity and people of all kinds.
Among Christians, 47 percent claim pornography is a major problem in the home. On one porn site in one year people watched 4,392,486,580 hours of pornography. That is the equivalent of every person on the earth watching 12 porn videos.
Are all religions the same? No. Ask any practicing Jew, Muslim or Christian. Only a secularist would propose this absurdity. It doesn’t mean that religions can’t coexist. They can and have, but only when we acknowledge that they are different. So how is Christianity different from other world religions?
It all started when I read an article about Popes Francis’ initiative to provide showers for the homeless. One homeless person reportedly said, “They treat us like friends.” Here in Magadan, Russia, we don’t have many homeless, but we have some folks with handicaps who need care.
I dedicate this article to Anya, my 14-year-old parishioner who just came to me and said she can’t tell her classmates she goes to church because they will call her stupid. Additionally, I dedicate this article to all teens who struggle to know and share their faith. We are with you and emphatically affirm that Christianity is the best way to be your best self.
It all began the Monday of Holy Week. After my exercises I was literally brought to my knees by a deep pain coming from my left side. I tried to muscle through it for a few hours, but it only grew worse.
Here is what Jesus said according to the Gospel of Saint Luke: “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” How can this seemingly impossible command ever be accomplished? We can assume Jesus knew how hard this would be.
Is it possible to love and pray for those who offend us — even our enemies? Is it possible to suffer and find blessings even in persecution? I know of four people on the way to sainthood in the United States who exude such hope.