Evangelism or witnessing or bearing witness to Orthodox Christianity is the process of bringing Orthodox teachings to people who are outside of the Church, in hopes that they will accept these teachings and decide to become a part of the Church. In Greek, the word witness is μαρτυρια, martyria, from which English derives the word martyr. Martyrs gave their lives as a witness for the Gospel of Christ. In Othodox Christianity, then, witness is primarily a character of one’s life more than a program of proselytism. Still, individual acts of evangelism can result from deliberate missionary work or evolve from a casual discussion about faith between an Orthodox Christian and a person (or people) outside the Orthodox Church.
A witness for Orthodoxy can be any member of the Church, clergy or lay; in any case, they should be worshipping with the Church regularly, and observing all normal practices of the Church as practiced locally and with the guidance of their spiritual father. During discussions about the Orthodox faith, a prepared witness will know Orthodox doctrine and be versed in Orthodox apologetics in order to best answer questions. It can also be helpful if the witness is familiar with various non-Orthodox ideologies.
A witness for Orthodoxy can and should pray for God’s help in his or her task. Evangelism should be conducted out of love, and should be personal.
Orthodoxy teaches that a person must accept faith freely; faith cannot be coerced in any way. Such a conversion would be insincere and invalid.
“The goal of Orthodox witness is placed upon every member of the Church. Orthodox Christians must clearly see that the faith they preserve and confess has a catholic, universal character. The Church is not only called to teach its own children, but to bear witness of the truth to those who have left her.”
” The Orthodox Church is the guardian of the Tradition and the grace-filled gifts of the Early Church . Her primary task, therefore, in her relations with non-Orthodox confessions is to bear continuous and persistent witness which will lead to the truth expressed in this Tradition becoming understandable and acceptable.”
Lives Transformed Impart the Faith
That our Orthodox Church possesses the totality of Apostolic Truth is a given, yet if in our weakness as believers, the obviousness of that Truth is invisible to others, we will have betrayed that Truth. If in our weakness we fail to be an image of Christ, and love and joy appear to be absent to those who are initially drawn to Orthodoxy, visitors to our temples will see only beautiful ritual, but the beauty of the mystical theology of our faith will remain invisible to them.
For Orthodoxy to be seen as different from other faiths, love and joy must be manifested in our lives, and others must know we are of Christ by the transformed lives we are leading. They must see in us the impact this faith has had upon our souls, for a faith that leads not to transformation, but only rests in beautiful temples and forms of worship, will not impart the sublime theology that is rooted in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Love in Christ,