Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
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.
The summer is an especially busy season for the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), as short-term mission teams are trained and then sent out to minister in other parts of the world. In 2013, teams journeyed to Alaska, Tanzania, Kenya, Guatemala and Albania, and several of the participants shared their stories on the OCMC's Website and Facebook page.
Jamil Samara, director of Internet Ministries for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, served on the Albania Mission Team in the early summer. On Day five of his blog diary, he wrote:
Thursday, May 30, 2013
My head popped off the pillow about 4 am, even before my alarm went off! I intended on waking up early, as today was a big day, and I needed to prepare for it. Andrew Otto and I were tasked with giving a presentation today in front of 100 teenagers in Berat, a nearby city. I'm not used to public speaking, so I like having what I'm going to say clearly written out and rehearsed.
Chapter Sponsorship Kits will include:
1 full-color 2'x4' icon banner with image above
10 "Timeline of Church History" brochures
10 "What on Earth is the Orthodox Church" brochures
10 "The 4 Elements of OCF Life" flyers
20 OCF prayer cards
10 OCF pens
Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, OCF has the means to send out 40 Chapter Sponsorship Kits, in order that the nearly 200 OCF chapters might bring a strong Orthodox presence to their welcome week activities and student activity fairs.
More information on sponsoring a chapter is available on the OCF Website.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — By day, Rasha is known throughout her church community in Amman as the compassionate woman who visits Jordanian families and Syrian refugees in need and brings them relief items such as blankets, food and personal hygiene kits provided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in Jordan. By night, few are aware that Rasha returns to her family and a life of poverty worse than many of those she seeks to help.
Her situation is shared by a growing number of Jordanians whose standard of living has suffered as a result of the Syrian refugee influx. With the flood of refugees who have arrived during the last two years seeking private accommodations over the conditions in the refugee camps, monthly rents are rising faster than wages for Jordanians.
A ministry supported by The Order of St. Ignatius and many individual Antiochian parishes, Project Mexico is in the midst of its busy summer in Tijuana, Mexico. Home building crews have been working each week since May.
Two types of homebuilding groups participate each summer: small groups, and Orthodox Basic Training (OBT) groups. During small group weeks, teams from one, two, or three parishes construct a single home for a needy family and spend the afternoons interacting with the boys of St. Innocent Orphanage. During OBT weeks, larger groups travel to Tijuana to construct between four to seven homes in one week, and evening speakers each evening discuss a variety of Orthodox Christian topics. Two of this year's presenters are Antiochian priests Fr. Michael Nasser from Bowling Green, KY and Fr. John Bethancourt from Santa Fe, NM.
The Russian Orthodox Church's Department for External Relations reported today that with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service is continuing to coordinate a fund-raising campaign to help those affected by the armed conflict in Syria. Noted the Department's Website, "Among those transferring money are dioceses, monasteries, churches and individuals."
"Surely, we have received such a good response thanks to the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill which was very convincing,” explained The Rev. Vladimir Vigiliansky, rector of the Moscow Church of St. Tatiana. On June 25, 2013, His Holiness addressed the faithful in a letter, in which he stated:
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in His Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37) who we should regard as our neighbor: the one who needs help, even if he or she has another views, confesses another faith or lives in another place.