I was born in Asmara, Eritrea and lived there till I was four years old. We moved to America and back then, we did not have Tewahedo Orthodox churches. The closest church we had to our faith, was a Greek Orthodox Church. All of my childhood and adolescent years, I grew up learning only about the Greek Orthodox faith. When our Eritrean people (including my parents) decided to start an Eritrean Tewahedo Orthodox church, of course my family and I started attending regularly. However, EVERYTHING was new to me and I had no idea where to begin.
Every time people asked me what my faith was, I was so scared to tell them. Not because I was ashamed, but because I knew a million questions would follow about the Tewahedo Orthodox faith, which I was not prepared to answer. Our priest came straight from Eritrea and he did not know English. We did not have any deacons at our church that I could learn from. We had no resources to help me to better understand my faith. Nothing was available on YouTube at that time. I was in despair and prayed for God to help me, so that I could help the youth at my church.
After a year of praying and hoping, God answered my prayer. I was informed of a Deacon who lived in Canada and was born and raised in the diaspora. Everyone was impressed with this Deacon from Canada, because he spoke English, Geez and Tigrinya fluently. His mission was to help the youth in North America. By God’s grace he was also selected to be the Sunday School Director for the five Eritrean Orthodox Churches (Tentawit Tewahdo/Archaic Faith) in America and Canada. He created a prayer book in English and a Sunday School Youth Handbook. It was amazing!!! God provided me with someone who would change my life forever.
After learning the basics of Tewahedo Orthodox, I was so happy to tell people about my faith and I was truly proud to be a “Tewahedo Orthodox Girl.”
If you are wondering what happened to the Deacon from Canada, stay tuned!
Author Selam Seyoum