IOANNIS: It's good that many people in China have heard of the Lord Jesus Christ already, but I am sorry that not many people have heard of Orthodox Christianity. Orthodoxy and Jesus Christ are not two separate things. Jesus Christ is Orthodoxy. The word of God, the scripture, is Orthodoxy. I feel that even if someone belongs to a heterodox community, if he deeply believes in Jesus Christ, this belief will bring him to Orthodoxy.

The situation in China for Orthodoxy is hopeful: if we light a piece of charcoal and then fan it, a fire will be kindled. Chinese society is now like a piece of unlit charcoal, dark and cold, but with the spark of Orthodoxy and a little fanning, the fire will burn.

RTE: How do you keep your own faith alive?

IOANNIS: The sacraments, of course, and my own prayer life. Also, I often remember a story about a small child who asked a priest, "Father, you are a missionary to a non-Christian country. Perhaps you can convert one hundred people in a year but there are so many people here that even if you work your whole life, you will only be able to convert a small number of them. Your work will never be a success and when you are old you will feel disappointed." The priest said, "No, I am like a child who walks on the beach. I see fish lying on the sand and I take them and throw them back into the ocean. There are many fish on the beach, and the beach is so long that I just keep walking and save as many as I can. In the ocean, there are billions of fish. If I save one fish it is nothing to the ocean, but to this one fish it is everything. If I save one person, in worldly terms it is nothing, but to this person, I give the whole heavenly kingdom."