From my heart, I hope the First Day of Christmas began a joyous and abundant celebration for you and your loved ones. My family was invited to the table of a lovely Christian family who, with much love, prepared a beautiful feast to celebrate Christmas Day. The table lacked nothing—set with meats, cheeses, salads, olives, oil, bread, potatoes, wine, coffee, tea, pastries, candies. All the things that make one’s heart happy and fill the belly while expanding the waistband. It was a lavish meal, lovingly prepared by those who love Christ and His church.
Is there anything wrong with setting a table of abundance on a major feast day such as Christmas? No, beloved readers, I don’t think so. It is an imitation of how God sets a banquet for us, lavishly, with all good things. Unfortunately, due to sin in the world a good bit of inequity exists. Some Christians who may have been able to set an abundant holiday table in the past, no longer can. Oppression and/or persecution sees to that. Lands are ravaged, goods are hard to come by. Items which were once affordable become out of reach. Homes are cold and often dark due to Christian persecution. I think the love that resides in the hearts of many Christians becomes pricked when hearing of the hardship of brethren around the world. Sadly we do not always realize that there are ways to encourage and benefit the brethren in time of persecution. There are ways to bring hope and comfort to the oppressed. God makes a way and I will share one with you.
A couple days ago I forwarded a message from Fr. Nektarios Serfes (Boise, Idaho) president of The Decani Monastery Relief Fund. I know Fr. Nektarios, I vouch for his good and generous heart and his love for the people of Kosovo / Metohija (Serbia). When Fr. traveled there back in October, within a week he distributed nearly $12,500 in humanitarian assistance to the sufferers there. Those people are an oppressed population of Orthodox Christians. Some of you shared in that ministry through your donations. Sadly, Fr. returned with yet a heavy heart as he saw that conditions were, in his words, “deplorable,” and needs for assistance increasing. Christian families live in cold homes, children attend cold schools, electricity gets turned off at night by the power company to the Serbian homes in particular, costs of food, fuel and medicine are increasing. If you understand the meaning of genocide, you can connect the dots as to what is underway in Kosovo/Metohija. What will become of the remaining Christian population? The area has been, and is, undergoing a slow crucifixion.
What can be done? Certainly prayer and raising of awareness. But, also, practical help is greatly needed and appreciated.
Right now, the Serbian Orthodox are looking toward celebrating the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity on January 7. Fr. Nektarios has a list of 200 families whose needs are most acute. His goal is to raise enough money to buy each family a single pig (pork) that will feed a family of four for approximately one month. The cost, per pig, is $150. This pig would be the nourishing base of a Christmas holiday meal for each family.
Let me ask you: would you be able to bless one or more Serbian Orthodox families in Kosovo / Metohija this holiday season? Would you be willing, as a messenger of the love of God, to feed others who simply cannot do so on their own? If this is asking too much, could you fund part of a pig for a family? I understand that not everyone can give the max, but most people can give something. I believe it is truth to say we have not experienced the kind of deprivation and persecution these people have and it’s been going on for a number of years already. The suffering of these people is, primarily, due to their confession of the Christian faith.
God has given us an opportunity to be His messengers of relief and love within the Body of Christ. We are one—and we will meet one another someday. Wouldn’t you love to be greeted as someone who had shown a brother or sister you’d never met the love of Christ? How your heart would rejoice to hear, “Your love and care gave me courage at a dark time of life. Your love and care fed me for Christ’s sake—I was hungry and you gave me to eat—just like the Gospel says. You are truly my brother (or sister) in Christ!” Money in the hands of Christians is simply a tool. We handle God’s money and release it for use as His trusted stewards. Think of all the good it can do—think of the refreshment for tired, discouraged souls! Think of such giving as an eternal investment, as it is just that.
If you have been blessed this holiday season, please consider blessing these dear Christian sufferers in Serbia. I believe God is counting on our response because we are the ones who can make resources available. We hold a tool of compassion and relief for others. Be certain that the Decani Monastery Relief Fund will put your gift to good use. It will be used to feed persecuted, needy Christian families & elderly in Kosovo/Metohija on January 7, 2015, the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity. Your practical love will be the cause of their rejoicing!
Please send your loving tax-deduction donation to the following address:
Decani Monastery Relief Fund
c/o Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702
Use this link to reach the Paypal button to benefit the Fund: http://www.thedecanifund.org/
God bless us all and thank you for your compassion,