My name is Evan Kardaras and I’m a husband, father, servant and Sub-Deacon at St. Mary & St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in Bexley, Australia. I was born into a Greek Orthodox family in Sydney Australia, but never had the opportunity to live or practice my faith, as my family were not Church goers. Sadly, my parents didn’t have anyone to encourage them to attend Church, so they lived their lives without a desire to discover or experience the beautiful faith of their forefathers.
During my teen years, after living a life deep in sin and ‘enjoying’ the lusts of the flesh to their fullest, I was blessed to hit rock bottom and start questioning the purpose of life. Was life simply an ongoing ‘merry-go-round’ of finding new lusts, fulfilling my every desire, and then experiencing the resulting emptiness and pain? If this was all that there was to life, then what was the point of living and suffering aimlessly?
In the midst of this chaos, when I was twenty one years old in July 2004, I was blessed to have a profound visitation of grace. I went to my room, got on my knees, and cried my heart out to God. I wept with all my heart, knowing my life was riddled with evil and sin. I was extremely blessed to have some knowledge of God, through discussions with my dear cousin Peter, who didn’t just talk about God, but was also filled with the Holy Spirit through his ardent love for Christ. His example and love touched me in a profound manner.
I was also extremely blessed to have had Gideons International visit my high school when I was thirteen year old, and give me (and all the year seven students) a pocket New Testament. I read this little Book with great zeal and earnestness, but without a Church going family and support to cultivate what I had learnt, I just went back to being a normal thirteen year old teenager. Thankfully though, my cousin Peter and Gideons international, had planted seeds that led to a profound transformation after living a life deep in sin for many years.
After pouring my heart out to God when I was twenty one year of age, my life literally changed overnight. I separated myself from my life of sin, repented, confessed and started going to my local Greek Orthodox Church. My journey had begun; one of striving to become the man that God had called me to be. In the early years of my transformation, I was blessed to be introduced the Coptic Orthodox Church by my cousin Peter. It was extremely refreshing to see a Church filled with youth, especially when all I was used to, was a Greek Church that was primarily filled with people my grandparents age.
I started to attend the Coptic Church but struggled to feel at home, due to it being very culturally different from who I was. I had grown up in a home with a solid Greek-Australian culture, and the Coptic Church was a Church whose goal was to serve the Coptic community, not a Greek Australian. I decided to stay in the Greek Church for many years, but also had short stints in other Churches, always seeking and yearning for a community in which I could have all my spiritual needs met. I yearned for an Orthodox community that prayed in English, had young people to connect with, and that would give me the possibility to serve and practice my faith.
Being that I was an avid reader, I was exposed to the Orthodox monastic tradition quite early, and was enthralled by the stories and feats achieved by these spiritual giants. I started attending Greek Orthodox monasteries here in Australia and experienced the warmth and love of the monks, and the beauty of the monastic services first hand. This kindled a fire in my heart for the monastic life. I discussed this with my spiritual father at the time, but he told me I was not suited for monasticism. I didn’t care, I was a zealous young Orthodox Christian and desired to pursue my interest in monasticism further, without his approval.
After several years I decided to go to Mount Athos in March 2010 and live out my monastic dream. After staying in an Athonite monastery for quite some time as a novice, it became clear this wasn’t the life for me. I wasn’t strong enough to live this life, I was too spiritually immature. My spiritual father (who originally told me this life wasn’t for me) was correct. I learnt there and then, the importance of seeking God’s will and not stubbornly pursing my own.
After coming back to Australia I started attending the Antiochian Orthodox Church, as they had an all English service and an abundance of young people to connect with. But I still faced the challenge of not having a Church dedicated to English ministry and service. On major feats days the services would revert back to Arabic.
During this time I started speaking with my beautiful wife-to-be, Sarah. We were acquaintances from many years earlier, having met through a youth service in the Coptic Church. Eventually I started attending the Coptic Orthodox Church with Sarah, as it was the best possible option for us, if we were to one day get married and start a family. It had (and still has) an abundance of youth ministries and services, and had services that were prayed primarily in English (with a small percentage of Coptic). I knew if we were to raise a family, it would require an Orthodox Church with this sort of environment; one in which a young child would thrive, with friends, youth services and primarily in the English language.
I had already studied the differences between the two families of Orthodoxy (Oriental and Eastern) in substantial depth, so the differences didn’t pose any problems for me. I had already concluded that both Orthodox families had preserved the Apostolic faith in its entirety. All existing differences were and are politically motivated and a matter of semantics. Sadly this caused several Greek Orthodox Christians to consider me “lost”, “a heretic”, and an “outcast”.
They didn’t take the time to study the differences in an objective manner, looking at the perspectives of both Orthodox families, and thus continued to uphold the erroneous view that the Copts are heretics. I don’t care much for their disapproval of my decision. I pray God may bless them and guide them in His truth. For me the Coptic Church, met Sarah’s and my needs, more than any other Orthodox Church. It had a depth of spirituality among its clergy and laity, that I did not see or experience in other Orthodox Churches and also had the fullness of the Apostolic faith intact. So the Coptic Church became my new beloved home.
Sarah and I then heard about a Multicultural Ministry, serving all liturgical services purely in the English language, at St. Mary & St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church. I was extremely excited to hear about this ministry. An Orthodox Church, dedicated to serving the needs of the multicultural community sounded too good to be true! I shared my desire to visit this ministry with Sarah, and she was very supportive and happy to attend. We attended and fell in love with this ministry and community. That was in early 2015 and we have been attending and serving in the multicultural ministry ever since.
Since then my love for the Coptic Orthodox Church and Orthodox Christianity has continued to grow on a very deep level. In the Coptic Church I was given the opportunity to experience the sweetness and beauty of Jesus Christ and develop a loving relationship with Him. Yes, I’m a weak sinner with countless faults like everyone else, but I’ve come to know and taste the sweetness of His love. His love has given me a burning desire, to strive each and every day, to know and love Him more and more, with a yearning to be united with Him forevermore in His kingdom, when He deems fit.
As mentioned earlier I’m an avid reader. When I came to Christ I would read for many hours every day, for many years, with a great desire to know as much as I could about God, Orthodoxy, and anything that would help me to grow as a person. I’ve literally spent hundreds (if not thousands) of hours studying Orthodox Christianity, with my main areas of focus being Orthodoxy Spirituality and Patristics. I’m also currently a student at St Cyril’s Coptic Orthodox College in Sydney, where I am seeking to continue expanding my understanding and appreciation of our Orthodox faith.
Having experienced the sweetness of God’s love and mercy, His tremendous patience and compassion, has given me a great desire and thirst to share the wealth of our Orthodox faith, the sweetness of Jesus Christ, with those who are willing to hear the Good News. I always try to do this, by passing on the same faith delivered to us throughout the ages, through the Orthodox Church and her rich and beautiful Tradition.
I developed this site specifically to collect as many articles as possible on Orthodox Christianity from a Coptic perspective. All the articles are in line with our Patristic tradition, and are thus reliable sources for spiritual growth and edification. I hope and pray you will benefit from this site, and it will help you on your journey of loving union, with our beautiful Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.