We are a mission of the Orthodox Church. Therefore, we have patron saints. Perhaps one would have been sufficient. But since we will cover two small beaches, I figured two saints are justified.
Sarah of the Nile is not some sort of obscure colorized version of a saint. She is one of the few women whose teachings are included in the “Sayings of the Desert Fathers” (Apophthegmata Patrum). To be mentioned among such titans of early Christianity as Anthony the Great, Macarius the Great, Poemen the Shepherd, and Moses the Black shows that she was no lightweight when it came to spiritual living. Abba Isaiah also included her words in his instructions to the Nun Theodora, The Matericon. This ancient writing was translated into Russian by well heralded St. Theophan the Recluse in 1891. This world of females being degraded by men and themselves could use an example of spiritual wisdom to look up to.
As for Moses the Black, His place of honor among Orthodox Christians cannot be denied. He is a beloved example of humility and repentance. This former slave turned gang leader changed into one of the most influential Desert Fathers of fourth century Egypt. John Cassian, who would bring monastic Christianity to France spent time learning from this great dark skinned father whose words are included in his “Conferences” and the first volume of the treasury of Orthodox spirituality, the Philokalia. It is not unusual to find Ignatius Brianchaninov, Nikolai Velimirovich and other revered saints and writers going back to wise lessons from St. Moses.
In this age where Christianity is denounced as “the white man’s religion,” It is very important that we Orthodox embrace and present the fact that many of our beloved saints were Africans. The black church is failing to do any research and presenting these ancient holy men and women to their congregations. Orthodox Christianity was multi-cultural from our very birth in 33 A.D.. We have a calling to bring out that aspect of our faith as we evangelize in this nation and around the world. Indeed, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria remains the oldest Church in Africa and has been steadily growing South of the Sahara since Kenyan and Ugandan Anglican priest converted to the faith soon after World War II. Not to mention, our Coptic and Ethiopian brothers and sisters have kept the faith despite being surrounded and oppressed by Islamic societies.