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Driving on U.S. Route 264

by Anastasios Hudson on August 9th, 2011

U.S. Route 264As regular readers of the blog know, I travel from Raleigh to Greenville, North Carolina three times a month in order to serve Nativity of the Holy Theotokos Orthodox Church. The majority of my time is spent on U.S. Route 264, which begins in Raleigh and continues all the way across Eastern North Carolina.  Almost the entirety of the route is rural, with alternating forests and farms.

Sometimes I travel alone, or my traveling companion(s) rest during the hour-and-a-half trek between the two locations.  During these quiet times, I think about the small communities that I pass: Middlesex, Bailey, Sims, Wilson, Saratoga, and Farmville, among others.  I also see the many unincorporated areas, dotted with farms, living the way that the majority of our ancestors did for the past several thousand years.  A few times, I’ve stopped for gas or taken a back road on purpose to further explore the region.

I know that there are people in these places who would become Orthodox Christians if they knew of our Church.  I know also that God is preparing some people even now to find us and join in our work to help evangelize Eastern Carolina.  I wonder who will contact me, and when.

Makeshift cross memorials dot the highway, memorials for people who have died over the years while driving.  Seeing them causes me to recall how short this life is, and how we must make each moment count.  Knowing that there are millions of people who have never heard of the Church here can drive one crazy; how could one person reach even a small fraction of this number?  Yet God does not call us to save the World—Jesus Christ is in charge of that—but only calls us to serve Him in the places we are called to do so.  If we follow the Lord with all our heart, then as St. Seraphim of Sarov remarked, “thousands around us will be saved.”

Still, practically speaking, this requires prioritization.  I’ve only been a priest for three years, and from time to time I realize that I could have done something better, or a different way.  I must continue to humble myself before God and entreat Him to reveal His plan to me, instead of forging my own.  I must also constantly seek out those to train, apprentices in this work, so that I will not be the single point of failure.  How many Churches have been based off of the charismatic personality of the minister (I am not claiming such for myself, by the way), but crumble upon his death?  The recent debacle surrounding the Crystal Cathedral, founded by Pastor Robert Schuller, is illustrative (his children could not manage to even maintain, let alone expand, the empire that their father created).

Driving along U.S. 264 reminds me of the grave responsibility facing us Orthodox Christians living and serving in Eastern Carolina, but it also fills me with hope and inspiration.

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