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Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan I Metropolitan

Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan I was born Kadapilaril Punnoose Yohannan in 1950 in the village of Niranam in the state of Kerala, India. Niranam is very significant in Indian church history because this is where the Apostle St. Thomas planted one of his seven churches in 52 A.D. Even today, this village is inhabited by St. Thomas Christians (also called Syrian Christians), who are the descendants of those who were brought to the faith by St. Thomas in the first century. So, Yohannan (the Hebrew form of St. John) was blessed to have devout parents who gave him a strong foundation in the Orthodox faith and raised him to embrace sacramental living as a way of life.

In answer to his mother's prayers, he dedicated his life to serving God after finishing high school. In obedience to the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ, he then spent the next eight years of his life proclaiming the Gospel and doing charitable works in South Asia.

In 1974, he went for theological training in the United States, after which he was ordained into the diaconate. Shortly afterwards, he was ordained as a priest and appointed to serve in a local parish in Dallas, Texas. Four years later, he resigned from his pastorate, feeling called by God to serve the millions of people in Asia who had never heard the Gospel of Christ. That's when he began praying a simple prayer that would change his life: "O Lord, let my heart break for the things that break Your heart!" He then founded a missionary organization, called Gospel For Asia, which would eventually become the largest missionary and church-planting movement in many Asian nations.

On February 6, 2003, he was consecrated and elevated as the Metropolitan of the Believers Eastern Church. In accordance with the Orthodox Christian tradition, he took the name Athanasius Yohan in honor of his beloved patron saints, St. Athanasius, the defender of orthodoxy, and St. John (Yohan) the Apostle and Evangelist. Through the prayers of the saints and the grace of the Holy Spirit, Metropolitan Yohan has continued to serve the church with wholehearted dedication and sacrificial commitment, and his leadership skills and farsighted vision have helped him to nurture the dioceses and faithful under his care. Under his leadership, the church has grown over the last two decades, with more than 12 thousand parishes established in Asia and Africa.

Social Contributions - Out of the Metropolitan’s heart for the needy has flowed numerous initiatives and projects to help the needy. These include 'Hope for Children', a childcare project that helps tens of thousands of impoverished children and their families in Asia and Africa, the St. Johannes and Believers English School families; Sisters of Compassion, an order that serves the destitute and those most neglected by society – the lepers, the widows and orphans. He also personally guided the church’s efforts in ministering to many lepers and providing food and medical aid to them in the colonies where they lived, throughout India. Under his leadership, the church has established many institutions - hospitals, schools, orphanages, all to serve society. In addition to this, during times of calamities and natural disasters, he was instrumental in launching several major fund-raising campaigns and relief efforts to serve those communities who were affected in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

He is also the founding patron of the St. Ignatius Theological Seminary, the Believers Church Residential School, and the Believers Church Medical College & Hospital in Thiruvalla, Kerala. In honor of his decades-long work towards helping the orphans and the fatherless, the Christian Men's Network's Global Fatherhood Initiative awarded him the Reggie White Fatherhood Award in 2016.

Metropolitan Yohan was also a well-known speaker who frequently traveled around the globe, speaking on the importance of missions. His impassioned homilies and messages inspired millions to be intentional in their Christian witness through various radio stations, podcasts, and TV broadcasts. He served on the executive committee of World by Radio from 2004–2012 and as a board member with the National Religious Broadcasters Association (NRB) from 2013–2015. In recognition of his service, the NRB presented Metropolitan with the Individual Achievement in International Broadcasting award in 2003.

Also a prolific author, Metropolitan Yohan wrote more than 250 books that offer practical and spiritual guidance on hundreds of subjects. Many of these books have been translated into dozens of major languages. One of his many books on missions, Revolution in World Missions, is also an international best seller, with more than 4.5 million copies printed in English and several more translated into French, German, Finnish, and Dutch languages.

Metropolitan Yohan was known for his desperate passion to fulfill the Great Commission and his desire to see thousands of churches planted in Asia and Africa where 94% of the world's most unreached and unchurched people live - three billion souls! He believed and maintained that the book of Acts is our divine blueprint for fulfilling the Great Commission in our generation.

Metropolitan Yohan was also a teacher of church history and the patristic tradition. He wrote 24 booklets on the faith and traditions of the Holy Orthodox Church, aimed at passing on the apostolic faith to the new generations of the faithful around the world. Some of these popular titles include 'Our Orthodox Moment', 'Theosis,' 'Holy Tradition: Keeping the Faith Alive,' and 'The Jesus Prayer and Prayer Rope.'

He fell asleep in the Lord on Wednesday, May 08, 2024. Today he is in the embrace of the saints, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. May his memory be eternal!

Click Here to see more of his writings on the orthodox faith and practices of the Holy Church.

To read the extended bio of Athanasius Yohan I Metropolitan, click here:  English  |  Hindi

Video Biography of Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan I Metropolitan

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