Orthodox Thought for the Day


Sunday, September 28, 2014

II Corinthians 8:1-5 and us

Beloved Readers, 

I am guessing that none of you are ignorant of the plight of persecuted Christians in today’s world.  Even the media, with its ability to filter out whatever news it may wish, oftentimes allows us to see the horrors of persecution or oppression being aimed at Christians around the globe.  It may be that we are now living in an age of unprecedented Christian witness and martyrdom which will likely increase over time.  When you see or hear of such things, what is your reaction?  

If you have the flame of the Holy Spirit within, you are no doubt moved in your soul, offering a prayer and thinking, “What can I do to bring comfort or aid to people in such straits?”  Indeed, what can you do?  What can I do?  Will it matter whether or not we do anything at all?  

From the earliest days of the Church, we can read about Christians with means giving to those brethren, equally loved by God, who are in hard straits.  Even more than that, we read about impoverished Macedonian Christians in II Corinthians (8:1-5) who wanted so much to give to those in need that they gave liberally out of poverty.  Why?  Brethren in Palestine had been sorely afflicted by famine.  The Macedonian believers gave liberally, from scant means, to relieve the misery of the Palestinian brethren, their hearts aflame with love for God.  And, their impoverished giving has been recorded in the Bible as commended by God.  All they’d hoped to do was have a small part in relieving the misery of Christian brethren—yet God honored their act in the recording of His Word.  How much value did God set on their gift! 

There is nothing new under the sun, brothers and sisters.  We who live in relative peace and affluence have an opportunity to minister to brethren who live in hardship under routine oppression and/or persecution.  It’s a privilege for me to bring before you a  charity which has my love, support and recommendation—The Decani Monastery Relief Fund.  The founder and president of the Fund, Rev. Fr. Nektarios Serfes, is known to me personally.  He and those who administer this fund have and continue to do a faithful work to relieve oppression of the Christians in Kosovo/Metohija (Serbia). 

The Orthodox Christian population of Kosovo/Metohija have been living under hardship conditions for more than a decade.  Every year becomes more difficult and austere regarding living conditions and provisions for the remaining Christian populace.  Some of you already know of the devastation that was wrought in recent years--destruction of holy and sacred shrines, churches and monasteries (visit www.kosovo.net for more details of acts against the holy places).  Now, there exists an overall oppression of Christians in the area, a persistent attempt to drive them from their ancient homeland, one which dates back to the 14th century and prior.  Many of the destroyed churches are a testament to the ancient Christian heritage of these people.  Sadly, life today is particularly harsh for the Serbian Orthodox of Kosovo/Metohija. 

See photos of ancient churches which were destroyed here:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/monitoring/media_reports/1717349.stm

Our beloved brother in Christ, V. Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, president of the DMRF, will be traveling to the area on October 13.  He will bring humanitarian aid, inasmuch as brethren provide, to relieve the hardship of many families, elderly and children in the area.  Winter is coming and the often brutal cold season always presents greater needs and problems for the Christian populace:  lack of heat, lack of electricity, scanty food and more.  Take a moment and imagine yourself raising children or living as an elderly person in a cold climate without proper heat, unstable utilities, insufficient food while sometimes coping with illness.  This is no small thing, brethren, it is hardship.  And the situation appears to be indefinite in nature.  How long shall these people bear this cross?  The mercy is, you can help relieve the difficulties of these suffering Christians.  The Decani Monastery Relief Fund has been faithfully ministering to genuine needs in the area for the past 16 years.  Visit this link to read about what the Fund routinely provides for the needy:  http://www.thedecanifund.org/ 
I would like to ask everyone who is reading—would you be willing to send a gift to the DMRF?  Many times people shy away from a direct appeal, with a strong sense of--I can’t give much right now.  So many people feel this way, you are not alone.  And, it’s true, you may not be able to give what you’d like.  However, please do not let that stop you from doing something to relieve hardship from the lives of our brethren.     

Doing something rather than nothing is meaningful.  If it means that more food or firewood can be purchased for the benefit of a family or an elderly person or a school, then it IS worth something, especially to the receivers.  And if the gift is given with a heart that is turned to God, wanting to share His love and His comfort with the brethren—then your gift will be more like that of the impoverished Macedonian Christians in II Corinthians whom God commended.  What a beautiful thought!   

So, let me ask you…will you send a love gift of any amount to the DMRF today?  Fr. Nektarios looks forward to distributing that which can be purchased with these means when he arrives in Kosovo/Metohija.  What happiness there will be in bringing gifts which represent your sacrificial love to the brethren.  You may be sure the recipients will bless you with much joy!  
Paypal link for the Decani Monastery Relief Fund found herehttp://www.thedecanifund.org/ 

If you read the recent Orthodox Thought, “Smart Thinking about Almsgiving,” you’ll recognize that one never loses anything by helping those in need—one only gains by it.  Herein lies an opportunity, dear brethren.  I hope and pray with all my heart that you will respond as the Spirit of God leads you. 

With faith & love,
Presbytera Candace 
Prefer to send a check?  

Decani Monastery Relief Fund
c/o V. Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702

The DMRF is Non-profit from Federal Income Tax under section 501© (3)
The Decani Monastery Relief Fund has the blessings of the local bishop His Grace Bishop Teodosije as well as Archimandrite Sava, Abbot of the Decani Monastery.  Also, the blessings of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew and the Synod of Bishops, His Eminence, Metropolitan Isaiah, Presiding Hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver, His Grace Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia (Great Britain) and the Friends of Mt. Athos.

“Kosovo Maiden” (1919) by Uroš Predić. Oil on Canvas 

This extremely famous painting is based on an equally famous
Serbian epic poem, in which a young beauty searches
the battlefield for her betrothed husband and
helps wounded Serbian warriors with water, wine and bread
after the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 between Serbia and
the Ottoman Empire.  Tragically, she discovers
from this soldier that her betrothed has been slain.
So much of the Serbian national story is distilled
in this one canvas.