Recently Marilyn and I went to Boudhnath, just outside the center of Kathmandu. Bouddha is the center of Tibetan monasticism in the Kathmandu valley. Over the decades, more than 50 Buddhist monasteries have been established there. Many families of Tibetan refugees have settled around the monasteries in order to be close to their guru and to one another. It is now a large thriving area; a major place of pilgrimage, a popular tourist attraction, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We went there to meet up with an acquaintance of mine, named Daxon. I first met Daxon on the flight from Seoul to Kathmandu last August. He was sitting behind me and just before take off he introduced himself to me. Very quickly he told me that he was from Kentucky, had been a Buddhist for nearly 30 years now, but had there been an Orthodox Church in his hometown, he would have become Orthodox and (quoting Daxon) “I would probably be an Orthodox priest today.” That was quite an introduction! Later we exchanged email addresses and finally, we met up again at a restaurant in Bodhnath near the great Buddhist stupa (shrine).
When we met on the plane, Daxon was on his way to Kathmandu to study at a Buddhist college in one of the major monasteries in Bodhnath. I had myself once considered doing language studies there. During our recent visit, Daxon shared more of his interest and positive impression of Orthodoxy and expressed his desire to learn more from me while he is here for the next 2 or 3 years.
Our conversation revealed him to be a serious young man, very bright, very informed about the spiritual nature of man, the delusions, superficiality and secularism of the Western world and of Western Christianity, especially Protestantism. It seemed clear to me that Daxon would have made a very good Orthodox priest.
What if there had been an Orthodox church in his hometown? How many hundreds or thousands of others are there like Daxon in America, who but for the want of an Orthodox parish nearby, would have become Orthodox Christians?
It is still true that the fields are white for the harvest, but the laborers are few. There is a great need for missionaries, for church planters, and not simply in “foreign” countries. America is still very much a mission field with very few Orthodox parishes available to the average American.
Pray the Lord of the harvest that He will send laborers into His harvest! – Fr.S.