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My Journey Back to Orthodoxy
By Chris Banescu - July 24, 2002

I have been a Christian all of my life. I was born in Romania and was baptized into the Orthodox Christian faith as a child. Growing up close to my grandfather and my great-grandfather, both devout priests, blessed my childhood with an invaluable introduction and immersion into the Christian Faith. I came to know Christ as God and Savior from my earliest childhood. My grandfather provided me with an exemplary model of how a true Christian should live a life of faith in full communion with Christ. By always practicing what he preached and always choosing love, humbleness, and forgiveness towards everyone, he's shown me the very essence of Christianity.

Participating in the sacramental life of our Christian community and in the wonderful worship services of the Orthodox Church was, and still is, an incredibly blessed, moving, and marvelous experience. Even as a young child, Christ's love and teachings were all around me and helped me grow spiritually. Sitting in church, immersed in the choir's heavenly hymns, listening to Christ's words, praying the Psalms, and knowing that God was near, helped me experience Christianity and to know Jesus from my earliest days. Experiencing the beauty, holiness, peace, and joy of worshipping Christ nurtured in me a great love and passion for the Orthodox Christian Faith.

My faith was further strengthened approximately ten years ago when I met my wife, Cindy, who was a Mormon at the time. Despite my strong Christian faith I was not sufficiently educated and prepared to clearly defend, explain, and teach many of the Christian doctrines and truths. Right around that same time I had begun to stop trusting God as Lord of all creation and had stopped praying "Thy will be done" in many aspects of my life.

Faced with Cindy's questions and inquiries, I realized that I lacked the necessary education and training to openly proclaim and defend the Christian faith. This realization filled me with a deep sense of shame at my lack of knowledge and motivated me to embark on a journey of learning, discovery, and prayer. That miraculous journey eventually helped me re-discover my Christian faith and roots, helped me answer my wife's questions, and helped her discover true Christianity. It also emboldened me to defend Christianity and proclaim Christ and His Gospel with renewed strength, conviction, and determination.

The journey of re-discovery of my faith began with a book written by Peter Gillquist entitled "Becoming Orthodox." His account of the incredible journey undertaken by a group of evangelical Christians and Protestant ministers in search for the New Testament Church shook me to the very foundations of my soul. Here was a group of devout Christians who loved Jesus Christ, so much that they dedicated their entire lives to finding a closer communion with Christ. In reading their story I realized just how blessed and fortunate I was to have been entrusted with such a valuable treasure, and I was ashamed of how little I knew about it and had done with it.

Inspired by this book I began reading and familiarizing myself with all aspects, doctrines, and truths of God and Christianity by reading books written by Frank Schaeffer, Fr. Thomas Hopko, C.S. Lewis, John E. Braun, Kalistos Ware, Anthony Coniaris and many others. I also began attending Christian spiritual retreats and began reading and re-reading the New Testament, especially the four Gospels. Sadly, until that time I had ignored my grandfather's advice and counsel to read the Bible at every opportunity.

Christ's teachings, love, and timeless wisdom flowed from the pages of the New Testament and began to open my mind and heart to lessons I had known but never truly understood. Here was the true living water of God that was quenching my spiritual thirst. Here was the reality of life that I had ignored for some time. Here was Christ waiting with open arms to return to Him.

I continued in my journey towards a closer communion with Christ for about four years and tried unsuccessfully to convince Cindy about the truths about Christ, God, and other Christian doctrines. While she occasionally admitted that I had a point and that some of the doctrines I mentioned she also believed, she never considered renouncing Mormonism, or fully embracing Christianity, let alone agreeing to be baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We had both reached a serious impasse. Nothing I could say or do was helping us make any progress. I was ready to give up.

It is at this moment in my life, that my dear grandfather's continual advice to pray constantly that God's will be done finally struck a chord. Without any other alternatives, I finally heeded his advice and got down on my knees and asked Christ for help. With fervent supplications and tears I prayed for many months. I recognized that without Him nothing I said or did would accomplish anything worthwhile. I asked that God's will be done. I asked Him to show me His will.

While not aware of it at the time, a miracle began to slowly reveal itself in our lives, as God answered my prayers and answered them mightily. Slowly at first, but gathering momentum by the week Cindy's eyes of faith began to open, her understanding of Christ was enlightened, and her own journey towards Christ began making miraculous progress.

Unnoticeable at first, but subtle and quiet, her faith and love for Christ were strengthened and the eyes of her heart were opened to the truth and wisdom of Christianity. After almost an entire year of many prayers and supplications, Cindy renounced Mormonism, accepted the true Christ, and was baptized into the Orthodox Christian Faith. A year and a half later we were married in the Orthodox Church. Two of the priests at our wedding were my grandfather (Fr. Basil) and Fr. Thomas Hopko whose books Cindy used to study to become a Christian. A miracle indeed!

The words of Christ in the Holy Scriptures truly resonated in our hearts and minds. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" Matthew (7:7-11)

How true indeed! Christ's own words and promises were made real in our lives. How wondrous and mighty indeed! How glorious are Thy works oh Lord in wisdom hast Thou made them all!