Forrest Fallows introduced us to Orthodoxy almost three years ago. He had just come completed a trip through Latin America and back. Besides the crazy stories that came from that adventure, we learned that he was baptized and had become Orthodox in less than two months! While visiting him in Tucson, he invited us to attend Liturgy with him. This would become the start of our journey to Orthodoxy and our baptism (which is just a few days away)!
Over the years our separate journeys have had very similar paths regarding Christianity, and ultimately Orthodoxy, which I believe, has led to a connection that makes us closer than brothers. It is with great joy, that I am able to present the story of Forrest's own journey to Orthodoxy.
|Forrest's Patron Saint Joachim|
(he was baptized during the feast of Joachim and Anna)
Monasterio de San Antonio el Grande
Before I go on, I should probably introduce myself a little: I was raised in a Christian home, a protestant, contemporary, American, Christian home, and I thank God for that. I studied theology for two years at a non-denominational protestant bible school and graduated. I’ve served in churches as a youth leader and a worship leader. At one point I was convinced that I was called to pastor a church… Following that inner prodding, I started a home church in my living room with the help of some friends. This experience gave way to some interesting events that I couldn’t have foreseen, first of all, I was rebuked and was barred from leadership at the church where I was serving (I’m not saying they were wrong). The house church was very alive in many ways but also very cynical and, many times, we chose to focus on what we were not rather than what we could be. Our guidance became shaky and in the end I wondered if the house church did more harm than good. Many people that we considered leaders in the house church have since walked away from church and Christianity and God.
In the waning years of the house church I began to consider monasticism. I started reading Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, and I started visiting a Benedictine monastery in Sothern Arizona. I would stay two or three days, or I would just visit for an afternoon. I was attracted by the surface simplicity while attempting, with the help of God and the brethren, to conquer the complex labyrinth of the inner self. I began to seriously consider my vocation, and wondered if I could join the order. However, the raft of confusing theological dogmas of the Catholic Church held me back, and through conversation with the leadership, I learned that I couldn’t view the abbot as someone who would teach me. In the end I abandoned monasticism as an option, seeing as monasticism is unheard of in the theological community where I grew up and felt comfortable.
The monastery in Mexico was very different. I remember thinking that the lives of the monks were actually the lives Christ intended us to live. For every one of my questions I received a very profound answer. I felt like those who heard Jesus speak must have felt, I was amazed by the knowledge of the Orthodox Church. And then Fr. Abuna proposed that I be baptized. I didn’t even understand what I was doing, or the meaning of many traditions and practices. But, as I told someone at the time, I can learn more about the Orthodox Faith from inside the church than from outside. My heart already knew enough, and I made the decision to be baptized and become Orthodox.