HEAVEN ON EARTH – ORTHODOXY
A Life Changed By Icons
Vasily Tomachinsky, USA & Germany
JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY
—Please tell us about your background and your journey to the Orthodox Church.
My name is Cliff (Isaac in Orthodox Baptism) Gardner, and this is my background. I was raised in a Protestant Southern Baptist family. We were in the military; my father was in the U.S. Air Force. I have four brothers, a family of five boys, and we moved all over the world. We lived most our lives in America and then in Germany, where I was as a teenager. No matter where my parents moved, they always found a Southern Baptist church, including in Puerto Rico, where I was born, and Germany, where our German pastor was Southern Baptist!
I grew up in Miami, Florida where my mother was from, so we moved back to Miami after my father retired from the Air Force. Miami is where I went to high school. It was when I was in the high school that I felt called to be a missionary. I wanted to be a Protestant missionary/Bible translator in Indonesia. So I went to a Bible school in Chicago called the Moody Bible Institute—a famous Bible school. I studied Bible-Theology/Greek; it was at Moody where I first started to interact with people from the Muslim world. I was very attracted to working with Muslims. I ended up going to the University of Illinois at Chicago where I studied linguistics, Middle East studies and Arabic. This is how I met my wife Marilyn.
She was raised in Pakistan, as her parents were Baptist missionaries for over thirty-five years there. She went to nursing school in Chicago. She was a nurse and I was a linguist, and we met back to back in an Indian restaurant.
“I was amazed by the worship, the liturgy, and the icons.”
We first moved to Pakistan in 1986 where I taught English to Pakistani government employees. Pakistan was Marilyn’s home, and we were involved in a Protestant church there. Then we moved to Egypt in 1989, where we lived for seven years; this is where I first encountered Orthodoxy. I don’t think I ever met anyone who was Orthodox before I moved to Egypt. I had an Egyptian friend in Chicago, so I had met one Oriental Orthodox person before. But when I moved to Egypt, I was an English teacher and I started to meet Coptic Orthodox Christians, who were very amazing and very faithful. One of my colleagues, an English teacher, was Orthodox. She was always fasting and I didn’t understand why. She said that she fasted over two hundred days of theyear. And I was so Continue reading “A Life Changed By Icons – Vasily Tomachinsky, USA & Germany”