I hope you had a blessed Lenten period and have felt joy on this Palm Sunday Feast. As we accompany Christ during His Passion this week, may we sense His real presence in each service.
My heart is filled with hope as I write to you today. The reason is that I have witnessed, first hand, your commitment to Christ and love for the brethren not so long ago. On somewhat short notice, back in January, you, beloved readers, helped make it possible to send $8,000 to Kosovo to bless the oppressed Christians of that region. A good portion of that amount was raised as a result of your own caring and sincere love. The message that returned to me in response was one of excessive joy and appreciation from the fathers of the Decani Monastery who are Christ’s hands and feet on the ground there. Part of their ministry is to obtain and distribute necessities for life—food, firewood (fuel), medicines and more to the faithful of the region. The one thing they cannot procure without assistance are funds to make this possible. This is where we have opportunity to bless and be blessed.
It is one thing to say, “I love or I care about…” and another thing to demonstrate it. When we meet genuine needs of people who suffer for the sake of their faith, we share their burden and relieve it. We give hope, simply through showing that someone in hardship is not forgotten, that someone cares whether they feel hope, joy or consolation. This is a ministry that is within our reach.
Pascha is less than a week away. The Decani Monastery Relief Fund once again looks to God to bring tangible blessings to the Serbian Orthodox Christians of Kosovo and Metohija. Although we may not hear much about this region in the news, it nevertheless remains an area of extreme hardship. Believers suffer at the hands of authorities who do not share their Christian faith. Theirs is a “rough neighborhood.” Never fully secure from harm, except in Christ. Never fully nourished, except through Christ. Never fully warmed, except through Christ. Did you turn up your thermostat during the recent harsh winter months? I did. The Christians in Kosovo and Metohija did not have that luxury. God has entrusted us with so much material wealth…let us be good stewards of it, and I write this message to myself, first of all.
The Christians of this region are truly poor—not of their own will, but due to circumstances outside of their control. For most, there is no path out of the hardship they live with day to day. There has been war in the area, there is hatred for Christians, the faithful suffer. At this point, it is costly for them to obtain even basic items. This is hardship. It is not something we in the United States are familiar with. We have not walked in their shoes. However, we can lift the burden. God has given us the ability and the choice whether to do so.
As I contemplated this message, this passage from Luke chapter 14 came to mind. Christ is speaking at a dinner hosted by a Pharisee: 12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.
The brethren in Kosovo cannot repay any generosity you extend. However, what a joy to bless someone in adversity—a brother or sister in Christ whom you may never meet in this life. And see what the Scripture above says to us, “…and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Repaid by God Himself. What a promise can be ours-- bless someone in adversity now and be repaid later by God Himself! For a believer, can there be any better offer?
So, now I ask you--will you join me in making this coming Paschal feast a time of joy for the Orthodox Christians of Kosovo? Doing so will be like inviting these dear souls to your own Paschal table—spiritually, they will be there—thanking God, and you, in their hearts! Your gift of any amount will surely brighten their celebration of this most Holy Feast. It is easy to contribute, too. Simply visit the DMRF site and access the Paypal button: http://www.thedecanifund.org/
The DMRF is a non-profit tax-exempt charity. For those who don’t use Paypal, donations via check may be sent c/o Fr. Nektarios Serfes, the Decani Monastery Relief Fund President, below:
Decani Monastery Relief Fund
c/o Rev. Fr. Nektarios Serfes
2618 W. Bannock Street
Boise, ID 83706
Thank you so much, dear brothers & sisters—thank you!
A small blessing for you: a glimpse of the Decani Monastery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0dVGqV9WMg&list=PL00C458C423B2E3C7
Your sister in Christ,