Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
January 13, 2010
TO BE READ FROM THE PULPIT
"You who are strong, help the weak. You who are rich, help the poor. You who stand upright, help the fallen and the crushed. You who are joyful, comfort those in sadness. You who enjoy all good fortune, help those who have met with disaster. Give something in thanksgiving to God that you are of those who can give help, and not of those who stand and wait for it." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus)
Beloved in Christ:
We are all aware of the disastrous earthquake which struck the country of Haiti on Tuesday that destroyed many homes and reduced much of their land to rubble and took many innocent lives. Thousands of homes were destroyed and thousands of people are still missing amid the heaps of ruins. Even the center of the city of Port au Prince, was heavily damaged, including the capital that was completely destroyed. With faith in God, these victims of this disaster are trying to restore some order to their shattered lives.
January 14, 2010
IOCC URGENT ACTION APPEAL: Relief for the Beleaguered People of Haiti
For the people of Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest country, life was difficult enough before the massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated the capital of Port-au-Prince on Tuesday.
Since news of the earthquake came to light, IOCC staff have been contacting partners active in Haiti and attempting to reach Orthodox parishes on the island to coordinate our response to the growing need. Like many Haitians who have been struggling to reach their loved ones, IOCC is finding direct communication difficult – symptomatic of the widespread destruction and ruined infrastructure that is now beginning to be revealed.
Given the magnitude of the quake and the poverty that already existed before the disaster, IOCC has mobilized its disaster response team and is preparing to respond to the tremendous needs in close coordination with our Orthodox and ecumenical partners. Listen to Ancient Faith Radio's interview with IOCC Executive Director Constantine Triantafilou here.
Please help the people of Haiti!
- Make an online gift to assist the victims of disasters around the world, like the Haiti Earthquake, by giving to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund, at www.iocc.org.
- Assemble hygiene kits and emergency clean-up buckets to be shipped to places like Haiti – or wherever disasters strike. For information on hygiene kits, go to www.iocc.org/kits.
- Pray for the people of Haiti and those who have lost loved ones in this disaster and for the safety of those who are working to assist them. See: http://www.iocc.org/prayers/
The love that Christ's disciples show for others has served as a living witness to the faith, inspiring countless numbers of people to come into the Body of Christ. For over 20 years, the Agape Canister Program of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), through its support of philanthropic ministries such as orphanages, feeding programs, and healthcare programs, has helped the Church to meet the needs of children, families, and communities in a loving witness to the Orthodox faith in mission countries. The OCMC is excited to announce the ministries that will be receiving support from the Agape Canister Program in 2010.
This year, Agape funds will assist 10 projects in 7 countries: a Youth Camp and the Fellowship of Love Soup Kitchen in Albania; the Protection of the Theotokos Family Center, the St. Dimitrie Program, and a Youth Camp in Romania; the St. Thomas House Orphanage in Indonesia; a feeding ministry in Kenya; Youth Day Camps in Kosovo; medical supplies in Uganda; and a Youth Camp in Guatemala. All of these projects will be administered by OCMC missionaries, mission priests, and mission teams during 2010 with the blessing, and under the guidance, of each country's respective hierarch.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself…” (Luke 10:27)
Who is my neighbor?
It was in answer to this question that Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. With that question still on our minds, SOYO introduces a brand new program: The Good Samaritan Project. Through this new program SOYO chapters are given the opportunity to minister to their neighbor; whether it is a member of their local Church community, someone in a nursing home, a person who is homeless or just about anyone that they meet. It is through these projects that we learn about the love of God through serving our neighbor. The Good Samaritan Project is a great way to learn to live up to the great command and to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
By Todd Madigan
There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores (Luke 16:19-21).
Although his suit is no longer likely to be purple, everything else in this passage depicts a scene that is re-enacted each day throughout our society.
December 15, 2009 – Kansas City, MO
One of the missions of FOCUS North America is to aid existing Orthodox Christian social action ministries Recently, the organization, based in Kansas City, added several new Orthodox partner ministries including Sheltering Tree, Inc.; ReEngage, Inc.; St. Herman House of Hospitality, Martha and Mary House and St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Kid’s Club.
FOCUS North America gave away a total of $15,000 in grant money to these new partner ministries and to its existing partners St. Brigid’s Fellowship, St. Xenia Sisterhood, and Philoxenia House.
And in an effort to further bless Philoxenia House, FOCUS North America raised an additional $10,000 in support for them.
Each organization is grateful for both the partnership and the grant.
Ed Malouf, of the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Kid's Club said, "In these difficult economic times, uniting together to serve is all the more important in order to accomplish our common Gospel mandate to love our neighbor. We are excited to partner with FOCUS North America to extend the ministry of the St Nicholas Kids Club to help even more families in need this year. Because of the tough economy and the number of struggling families, we anticipate an increased demand at our Christmas breakfast and toy give away, but our budget was also limited.
The true meaning of Christmas is a celebration of God’s gift of love to us through Christ. What better way to celebrate Christmas than to give gifts that allow us to share God’s gifts to a world in need. IOCC’s new Christmas Gift Catalog offers distinctive ideas for gifts that will share the love of God throughout the year with people devastated by war, poverty and natural disasters. The Christmas Gift Catalog is available here online.
FOCUS North America announces pilot FOCUS Kansas City Center in partnership with Reconciliation Services - extending hands-on ministry nationally
December 4, 2009 – Kansas City, MO
Through a unique alliance with Reconciliation Services, FOCUS North America has launched FOCUS Kansas City - the first such center of a national initiative to provide more local opportunities for volunteers and Orthodox Christian faithful to participate in hands-on ministry in the spirit of Matthew 25.
Reconciliation Services has not just chosen to be renamed Reconciliation Services – FOCUS Kansas City but has partnered with FOCUS North America for mutual support and encouragement, standing side-by-side in service of the hurting and hungry in Kansas City.
Unlike some umbrella organizations, FOCUS North America is an active, operational ministry. Reconciliation Services-FOCUS Kansas City is a pilot program – a model that FOCUS North America is actively working to replicate in 10 communities in the next five years.
Since 1987 over 1,000 people have offered a living witness to the Orthodox Christian faith through their participation in an Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) Mission Team. These Team members have taught catechism, built churches, schools, and hospitals, offered healthcare, worked with youth, and provided outreach in 27 countries around the world.
There have been exceptions, but for reasons that include liability, the risks and rigor inherent in serving abroad, and the specialized nature of mission work, Team members have traditionally been at least 18 years old. Over the years, OCMC has heard from many sources including past Team members, missionaries, board members, staff, and supporters about the importance of enabling youth participation on OCMC Mission Teams.
With board approval, OCMC has opened up four of its 2010 Mission Teams to youth participation with the condition that Team members would not be under 13 years of age and that they would be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
“The motivation behind this decision was to expose youth to the work of making disciples while giving eligible families the ability to experience service for the Church in a cross cultural setting,” offers OCMC Mission Teams Director Andrew Lekos.
The Teams in 2010 that are open to youth and families have been carefully chosen to allow youth to develop relationships with their Orthodox peers and learn about new cultures. “It is hoped that language barriers melt and horizons are broadened as families put their faith into action and share their Orthodox faith,” adds Mr. Lekos.
FOCUS North America has announced the launch of a new website and video for its youth-based domestic outreach program “Youth Equipped to Serve” (YES). The website can be found at http://www.yesnorthamerica.org/ The video can be found at www.yesnorthamerica.org/yesvideo.
"We are so excited for you to get to know the YES Program through our new website and YES video! Read testimonies from students, view videos that they made and hear firsthand how God is working in the lives of the youth that become His hands and feet in service to the poor," said Katrina Bitar, FOCUS North America YES Program Director.
Feedback from student participants has been enthusiastic.
“The website is fantastic and lively. The new YES video does an excellent job showing the many encounters that happen on a YES trip.” - Peyton Powers
“The website is awesome! The bright colors are great and show how fun these trips are. The video perfectly captured our trip!” - Grace Farha
FOCUS North America believes that engaging all of the faithful, especially our youth, in the Gospel work of serving the poor in our own communities is essential in keeping the youth faithful to Christ and active in the Church for a lifetime. The YES Program has dramatically influenced the spiritual lives of its hundreds of participants. For more information on the YES program or to schedule a trip, visit: www.FOCUSNorthAmerica.org/YES.
FOCUS North America and its programs are committed to serve those in need, support Orthodox Christian social action ministries and supply parishes and others with the education, resources and training to initiate social action ministries in their own communities. In all of this, FOCUS North America continues its work in Restoring Living Icons.