Working the Streets
When I was at the previous congregation shortly before my incarceration, the organization made an announcement informing us that now because the country (of Greece) had a more democratic government we could advertise our magazines on the streets. Thus on that same Sunday with the company of two “presbyters,” we passed out seven hundred pamphlets. In Salamina however, we ran into a very [militant] aggressive priest who was causing us severe problems. Every time we stepped foot on the street, in a few minutes we were surrounded by a multitude of Orthodox, which prevented us from doing any work. Several large signs displayed slogans against us and the priest was preaching through a [loud speaker (megaphone) attempting to “uncover” the heretical “Jehovah’s witnesses.” At the time I was very much irritated, but today I understand these actions, as his efforts to protect the flock of the Church. The mistaken these activities however was the overall approach of the problems on the part of our opposition. Instead of looking at us as lost sheep, they looked at us as ravenous wolves. Consequently it appeared as though they were not concerned about our salvation, but only for the salvation of the Orthodox. So these people around the priest would make all kinds of inaccurate remarks such as us being “employed agents of American and the Jews,” that we step on holy icons, that we are antichrists, etc. They tried to lynch us on three separate occasions. All these activities however, made us even more fanatical and we returned the following time even more obstinate.
The majority of those who opposed us were marked by great immaturity shown by the following incident: One day I went out with one of the people I held “scriptural study” with following incident: While advertising our magazines, two people from those who annoyed us appeared. One of them was a council member of a local church. The other one came beside me and began to insult us with very coerce and unethical obscenities, and not only us but even Christ and the Panagia (his mother)! Do you hear what he says? I asked the parish councilman who just came near me …What sort of Christians are you? I didn’t hear anything the councilman replied lying, and his companion continued: --I don’t believe in anything! Then why do you annoy us? I don’t want any of this money to go to the Americans? I want it to go to our priests! He said and they both left. On another occasion, when my wife was pregnant with my first son we went out with two others to “work the street.” We were positioned in opposite sidewalks, and as it often happened, and we were surrounded by our opposition and the priest with the megaphone. At some point, someone from the back rooftop of the high-rise, threw a large soda container full of water which landed next to my wife. If this would have fallen on her head she would be dead. A little later another person lit some kind of firework and tossed it at her feet. On that day she could have been killed or had a miscarriage. And all this from the hands of people who considered themselves Christian! On many occasions our adversaries, would come up to us as we stood, and they would read to us excerpts from anti-chiliast books (apologetics), about the changes the society and made on some of its basic doctrines. We were not too concerned about this however, because we were instructed that this was “new light” and God revealed the truth to his people progressively. They could have been much more effective if they would have shown us some of the thousands of verses in the Scriptures that escaped our attention; this would be more problematic to us.
The reference to the doctrinal changes of the organization are effective when they are revealed to newcomers, to people who have not suffered destruction of their critical thought by the methodologies of the organization and they still use their discernment, or to people who began to think freely again without blinders. “Triple contradictions” are especially effective, where the organization changes some dogma and then regresses to its previous views, which it considered “satanic.” Based on this, the intelligent seeker understands that such a journey cannot be labeled progressive when it goes back and forth showing that its “new light” turned to darkness again! Hopefully he will understand that this overstrained verse about “bright light” is referring to a progressively bright journey of each individual of faith, and not to the dogmatic alchemies and immaturities of a religious organization. I remember, one day, they came with censers and they were censing us with incense while someone else was “showering” us with unspeakable obscenities.
In reality, we did not lack organization. Along with those of use standing on the streets we usually had others following at a distance so in the even of an incident they would serve as eyewitnesses. In fact, many times we ended up pressing charges at the local authorities, complaining of some type of impropriety enacted against us.
Usually, when someone would purchase some magazine from us, those of our opposition would run and take it out of his hands. If this was done with the consent of the man involved it did not present a problem. At times however, when they took it from him without asking him, he would often get angry. We were accusing them that they were afraid that people may learn the real truth and we kept struggling with more zeal. In a certain occasion a “witness” from my previous congregation came and bought a magazine, pretending to be Orthodox just to blow their mind. When they went to take it from him he began to yell at them and chased them away, treating them as pests. Thus in such a confrontational climate of animosity and opposition it was impossible for some “witness” to be helped from some Orthodox.
I often challenged my opposition to a discussion, however they did not seem eager to discuss anything without the presence of the priest, whom I despised and had no desire to speak with because I considered him an ill-disposed enemy of God. In spite of all this, someone accepted my challenge and I set up a meeting with him with much job. When the rest of the “witnesses” found out about the meeting they were trying to convince me to cancel. –He has discussed with us a number of times but he doesn’t want to accept the “truth,” they were telling me. –You never know! Maybe God will help him this time around! I said and went to meet him.