Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
I’ve just come home from the FOCUS North America YES trip to the Fred Jordan Mission on skid row in Los Angeles and am still so excited I want to capture part of what happened, for the benefit of Orthodox Christians.
Our group of 23, included Katrina, five older “counselors” or leaders, the young adults (7th graders through high school students), and myself. We started Friday, February 4 at noon with a two hour briefing and training session at a local Orthodox Church by our truly spiritual, truly uplifting and inspiring YES! Director, Katrina Bitar. What rapport she has with the teens and counselors, what humility, what love for the poor, what a model for our young people. God willing, she is in the process of replicating herself .
We are not only more than doubling the YES program this year but, God willing, will multiple it many times over in the near future. Preparation had been made by the staff the day and week before the YES weekend. The trip was well-planned.
Prior to Super Bowl Sunday, and in anticipation of Great Lent, FOCUS North America has announced that they have joined hands with Troy and Theodora Polamalu to tackle poverty in America. "By joining with us," they urge, "you will help those in need-the poor, the sick and the suffering. Join us also in prayer this Lent for those who have no one to turn to and no one to pray for them." Troy Polamalu holds two Super Bowl rings as a Pittsburgh Steeler, and his wife Theodora is a board member for FOCUS. They are also parents of a young son, Paisios.
In an interview on OCN, the Polamalus discuss the importance of FOCUS' ministry, why they are choosing to become involved in fighting poverty in America, and how the Orthodox Christian approach to charitable outreach differs from other philanthropic groups.
Both the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico, have parishes in Haiti, and all have been impacted in varying degrees, by the devastating earthquake of January 12. V.Rev. Victor Potapov, the Executive Director for the Fund for Assistance of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, reports that the Assistance Fund has collected over $50,000 and disbursed $16,000 of aid to the suffering people of Haiti through trusted clergymen on the ground there. "This is an ongoing fundraising effort," he explains. "We are working towards opening a clinic on the grounds of one of our five parishes in Haiti. Please pray for Fr. Gregoire, Fr. Jean, their long-suffering parishioners and for the members of our delegation, who are doing a magnificent job in Haiti, negotiated with the United Nations, the Red Cross, IOCC and other organizations to get aid to our people."
Deacon Matthew Williams of ROCOR, recently returned from a trip to Haiti, where he summarized in an online report the desperate condition of parishioners there.
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.
Bishop THOMAS writes:
Beloved in Christ,
God bless you. A blessed Feast of the Nativity of our Lord to you.
On December 3rd, I had the great pleasure to visit The King's Jubilee, a ministry that is supported by our Church of St. Philip in Souderton, Pennsylvania and that has been supported by the Archdiocese in the past through Food for Hungry People. Attached, you will find their Christmas 2009 report. It contains a nice summary of my visit with them in December. I support this ministry and encourage you to do the same. Again, a blessed Feast of the Nativity to you and to your families.
From The King's Jubilee Christmas 2009 report:
On Thursday, December 3, as planned, we commemorated St. Nicholas by giving away at least three one dollar coins to each of our “customers”. Some also went to the children who were helping us serve. We were able to give away $300 of your money in praise of the Trinity and in honor of Holy Bishop St. NICHOLAS. May God bless you.
Another bishop visited us that evening. Bishop THOMAS had arranged to be picked up at the Philadelphia Airport by Fr. Noah and delivered directly to where we serve in center city Phila. They arrived just as we were giving out the last of the hot food. We were giving out the blankets and clothes, the last of the coins and the sandwiches.
Bishop THOMAS was so excited to witness this that he got on his cell phone and called a few people that he thought would enjoy being part of it. On the way home, we stopped at Amir’s Sunoco (formerly Sammy’s). It took him a while to get out of the van, because he was busy dictating an e-mail about TKJ to go out to all the priests in the diocese.
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.