St. Nicholas Orthodox Church

Dear Mrs. Dukas and all my friends at St. Nicholas, I have put off writing this letter long enough. I really hate to worry y’all or burden you in anyway. I realize that many of you have troubles (financial, health, and family) and I hate to think that I might in any way add to these. Well, here it is: I am, sometime between this week of Feb. 11th and the first week in March, going to have open heart surgery to replace a leaking damaged heart valve. This is all going to be done at UNC Chapel Hill. Usually this would be a routine procedure, but the DPS had allowed, had dragged their feet for four years, allowing my condition to become severe.... Since October of 2017 I have traveled at least 6,000 miles back and forth for tests. I am writing this letter from Hyde, but I may not be here when you receive it. I have already been to Franklin Correctional and I have no idea where I’ll wind up recuperating at. I will write as soon as I am able. God tells us in the scriptures that He will give us new hearts. He has changed me so very much over these past, I guess, 7 years. A change that has been nothing less than miraculous. And y’all dear people have played such a major role in this change, my salvation. Well I guess He is going to give me a new heart. And as He did for King Hezekiah, He’ll be giving me years that I in no way feel I deserve and if He does this thing for me, I dare not to waste a minute of such a precious gift. If this is my last letter to you, I want you to understand the enormous impact, and blessing you have been in my life. You have shone the light of God upon my darkened soul and there is no greater gift than this. Your friend, your brother, your most unworthy servant in Christ, Elijah

PLEASE PRAY FOR ELIJAH! He will be undergoing open heart surgery any day now.

I'm so humbled by the people I meet through this ministry. I've been left speechless by their humility, and earnest search for meaning. I've read several of Elijah's letters in church over the years (the most recent ones are here and here), so many of you know him a little. He had been searching for God, reading the Bible, going to Bible studies; availing himself of every resource available. He knew so much but was still seeking when he found our little ministry. I sent him a picture of a group of monks and we joked how he fit right in with his long hair and beard. Orthodoxy opened a whole new world to him, and made him, a struggling sinner, feel welcome, like part of a family. He would like to be baptized and make it official.

Elijah was introduced to our ministry by Anthony, who met us though Jeremy, who learned about us through his brother Bademus, the first person we baptized in prison. That makes him 4th generation!

The men and women we meet though this work are the ones Christ came to save. They are the sinners, the lost sheep. We are blessed with this opportunity to "turn sinners back to God" just by being a friend, sharing our faith, supporting this prison ministries. In doing so, God humbles us and softens our stony hearts, helps us see Christ in our brothers and sister in prison.

May God give Elijah that new heart he is asking for, many more years on earth and , in the end, a place at His right hand. May God have mercy on us all!

God Bless you for your support and your prayers.