Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
In September 2013, the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) North America launched an extensive back-to-school program in 28 cities across the country, providing new shoes, backpacks, and school supplies to 193,000 children from homeless and working poor families. One aspect of this program, "Operation Lace Up," provides shoes for needy kids, and recently San Diego's Channel 6 reported on the NFL San Diego Charger players as they participated in the FOCUS-sponsored program at a local distribution center.
"We are equipping and preparing the poorest children in the country at a time when they are the most vulnerable—on their first day of school," says program manager and FOCUS Orange County Center Director Jacob Lee. "FOCUS' distributions will insure that children have the basic provisions they need to attend and participate in school."
In the meantime, St. Herman's Orthodox House of Hospitality (FOCUS, Cleveland) hosted "An Evening with Fr. Thomas Hopko" on November 4, 2013. One of the highlights of the evening was a video introducing the ministry, featuring Director Paul Finley and several of the men served by the House of Hospitality.
This story was originally published in July 2013 on the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) Website. The Rev. Stephen Powley, a priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese, is the Assistant Director of OCPM. Many other Antiochian Orthodox Christians are involved in OCPM, including Board of Trustees Chairman Kory Warr.
Antiochian priest Fr. Stephen Powley can laugh about it now. At the time, his early encounters with Clark Porter weren't funny. Father Stephen was a prison chaplain; Clark was serving a sentence for robbing a federal post office. "I used to dread walking down Clark's range," Fr. Stephen says, referring to his weekly visits. "I knew he would be livid with me and would cuss me out, I just didn't know why."
Clark admits he was an angry man when Fr. Stephen met him. Though it wasn't yet obvious, he was trying to change, to turn around a young life that had gotten a troubled start. The sixth of seven children, he was raised first by his mother, then his grandmother, and then put into foster care at age eight.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center's 2014 mission team opportunities are now available! All Orthodox Christians seeking to share in a journey of faith and fulfill the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ are invited to participate on teams, which will focus on:
Offer a living witness of Orthodoxy through evangelism, religious education, seminars, Bible studies, and retreats. Share the Orthodox Faith with youth, adults, catechumens, clergy, ministry leaders, and the faithful. Clergy, students, teachers, seminarians, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, and Bible study leaders are urged to apply.
Preach the Gospel of Christ through evangelism in cross-cultural environments, offering the opportunity to hear and embrace the Good News. Live as Orthodox witnesses so others may come to know the saving love of Christ.
A ministry supported by the Order of St. Ignatius and many individual Antiochian parishes, Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage have opened registration for their popular summer Home Building Work Trips. The Website explains, "We host two types of home building groups each summer: small groups and Orthodox Basic Training (OBT) groups. During our small group weeks, teams from one, two, or three parishes construct a single home for a needy family, spend the afternoons interacting with the boys of St. Innocent's, and experience the local culture with a trip into Rosarito. During OBT weeks, we host larger groups who construct between four to seven homes in one week, we have speakers each evening who present on a variety of topics, and on Sunday we have a day of fellowship and fun at St. Innocent's."
On October 14, 2013, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR), in its program "Ancient Faith Presents," released a podcast interview with IOCC Director of Programs Mark Ohanian in which the Director discusses the difficulties faced by Syria's swelling refugee population. IOCC is supporting one of the largest established efforts to provide aid to Syrians torn by civil war, and is one of the only international operations on the ground in Syria, working closely with His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch. There are 1.8 million refugees who now live in the countries surrounding Syria.
"I was in the region about 2 weeks ago," notes Mr. Ohanian in the interview. "The most obvious thing I saw is that the needs are growing and becoming greater. This is a kind of conflict where there is no end in sight, and there's a constant flow of people who are avoiding conflict areas, migrating within Syria to safer areas, or leaving to a neighboring country.
"This humanitarian catastrophe and the need for resources are far, far greater than what we at IOCC have in place," he continues. "It is stretching everyone's capacities and the needs are unimaginable. We have not seen a scale of this kind of need since...arguably, the Second World War. Almost one third of the Syrian population is in need of assistance."
By Dianne O'Regan, Vice President/NAB Project Coordinator, North American Board of the Antiochian Women
This summer at the Archdiocese Convention in Houston, Metropolitan Philip announced the new Antiochian Women Project for 2013-2014 (PDF). He has challenged us with a mission that is beyond bricks and mortar, but goes to the very heart and soul of our faith: “Help the Orphans of War in Syria.” His Eminence has asked the Antiochian Women to raise $200,000 towards this worthwhile Project. All monies raised will be distributed directly to the affected areas.
When asked by His disciples who was the "greatest in the kingdom of heaven," our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ called a little child to Him and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you ... become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:1-5).
On October 5, 2013, St. George Cathedral in Coral Gables will host a Charity Gala to benefit the Al-Kafaat Foundation. Founded in 1957 by Nadim Shwayri, a devout Antiochian Orthodox Christian, Al-Kafaat is a private, nonprofit and nondenominational organization that delivers its education and rehabilitation services across seven different campuses in Lebanon. Since it was first launched, Al-Kafaat has successfully ministered to over 27,000 needy children. In May of 2010, Metropolitan Philip presented Mr. Shwayri with the Antonian Gold Medal for his humanitarian work, and a resolution at the July 2013 51st Antiochian Archdiocese Convention in Houston, TX, commended the work of Al-Kafaat.
The Gala will begin at 7 p.m. at the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral Hall. The evening will feature cocktails, dinner, an auction, and Speaker Ms. Myriam Shwayri, director of Public Relations for the Al-Kafaat Rehabilitation and Skill Center.
The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) are partnering to respond to the humanitarian needs of the thousands of displaced Syrian families seeking food, shelter, and basic necessities.
The humanitarian crisis in the Middle East has reached epic proportions. The IOCC Website explains that since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, "more than 100,000 people have died and over 7 million people have been displaced from their homes—a situation that, according to the UN, is creating refugees at a rate not seen since the Rwandan genocide nearly 20 years ago."
IOCC is one of the few international non-governmental organizations helping the victims of strife from the inside of Syria, and they are ministering to refugees in neighboring Lebanon and Jordan as well. To learn more, contact Rada K. Tierney, IOCC Media Relations, (443) 823–3489, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Throngs of displaced Syrians crowd before the gates of an Orthodox church in the coastal governorate of Tartous, awaiting their turns to register for humanitarian assistance at one of the four offices IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) have established in the governorate to assist with the influx of people needing aid. IOCC is responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs of thousands of displaced families who have sought the relative safety of Tartous from areas of intense conflict in Homs, Aleppo and Idlib.
IOCC/GOPA volunteers work diligently to register the thousands of weary and homeless Syrian people who gather daily seeking food, shelter and basic household items like bedding and blankets. More than 3,300 displaced families have been registered to receive assistance such as housing support, crisis counseling, and remedial classes at a makeshift school for 500 displaced children. In response to the needs of the growing number of Syrian families arriving to Tartous and other governorates, IOCC is working to expand the assistance it is providing.
In the meantime, the IOCC has also helped resettle families displaced from the historic town of Maaloula. Read about these efforts on IOCC's Website.
In August, 2013, over 600 children living in motels with their families were given backpacks filled with school supplies at the West Anaheim Youth Center in Southern California. The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) partnered with 30 other organizations in Orange County to spearhead the effort.
Additionally, FOCUS volunteers have continued to distribute shoes to homeless children who are enrolled in public schools in the FOCUS program Operation Lace Up. This back-to-school program brings much-needed shoes to thousands of children from homeless and working poor families in cities across America. Volunteers gather at a shoe storage location and then help organize and prepare the shoes for delivery to needy children. Contact email@example.com to get involved, or visit the FOCUS Website.