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Testimony of servant of God Photios W, USA

December 1997

Father Oleg,
My name is Photios the catechumen from Virginia. I came to the Monastery in what some thought to be my last step of Pilgrimage towards orthodoxy. Quite possible I am just another face with no name. This letter is however not an introduction of myself but more a selfless letter to offer undying thanks to you.

Since my journey towards Orthodoxy began I have heard your name in my Deacons petitions asking for prayers to you and Matushka. One day out of nothing more than curiosity I asked my Fr. Deacon (Paul Kalamarus), who was this Fr. Oleg and why should I be praying specifically. He, Fr. Paul, began to tell me a story much tragedy and sorrow, the kind of story that sounded so horrifying that it couldn't possibly be true.

Yesterday I was having coffee with Fr. Seraphim, and talking about the faith and his trip to what was once the Soviet Union. This brought a question to my mind. I asked Fr. about Fr. Oleg and his wife, and how they were doing since Fr.'s release from prison, by the Grace of God. He, Fr. Seraphim, was quick to inform me that the two of you were doing fine, this brought me a great deal of joy. I then asked if the church was able to get you out of the country, but to my surprise, you were far out of the country and closer than I realized.

Imagine my reaction and feeling in my heart that this truly Gracious priest was in the same monastery I was in. That evening during the Vigil I came to you for a blessing, and I can truly say I have never felt so blessed in my entire life. As a token of my thanks and commemoration to your unceasing faith I have wrote the following letter.

Thank you and may God bless your everyday. Keep my family in your prayers as we will continue to keep yours.

Photios Walker, Hannah (wife), Nectarios (son)

I have been told by my Priest that I am ready to became a true Orthodox and receive the Gift of baptism.

For months I have told him I was not ready and that God would send through my heart a sign when I was truly ready. When I received your blessing, I knew in that moment that the time had arrived and I was finally ready to be an Orthodox Christian. Thank you.

The living Wonderworker

Today I met a Wonderworker. Not on an Icon or in a book, but in life. Some workers of wonder have moved mountains and stones, while others parted seas and dried up lakes. The wonderworker I speak of is not a Saint, but a Man.

This Man has not moved stones or seas by the Power of God. He, the man, has not healed the sick, resurrected the dead, or become on a high mountain peak. So, why is this man I speak of a wonderworker in my eyes? Through the power of his love in Christ our God, and his unchanging faith in Orthodox Christianity, he has moved something far more impressive that water or stones. This man, who has undoubtedly been touched by the hand of God, has moved my heart.

He may never know the true Magnitude of how much he has changed my life, nor the joy he has brought my soul with one simple blessing. I can only pray that his life be as edifying spiritually as mine will be, thanks to him.

Today I met a hero, a true champion of Orthodox Christianity. I will never forget the look in the Wonderworker's eyes, a look of true bravery, yet humbling humility. The Iconists of the Orthodox Church are deprived of what would surly have been a Great Hieromartyr, but, through the grace of God, the world of Orthodox Christians are truly blessed to have such man in this world.

To a man, a priest, a stranger I feel I have known all of my life, I will always had him as a Wonderworker in my heart. I have only thanks to offer this hero, but as a truly humble priest I know that this is more than he could ask.

May God keep in his Grace this true friend of man.

Photios Walker
St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church

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Fr. Oleg Molenko