So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. Luke 2:16-18
Simple in faith, the shepherds in the Gospel of Luke are the first to proclaim the birth of Christ – the Good Shepherd who would ultimately lay down His life for His flock. As the heavenly host declared “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and goodwill toward men!” these shepherds knew that into the world was born a Good Shepherd for the salvation of all people. Please join the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) in sharing the birth of the Lord with the world this Nativity season.
Like the shepherds, the Lord meets each of us where we are at in life and asks that we invite others into the Body of Jesus Christ. This Nativity season, I ask that you prayerfully consider your own gifts, talents, and abilities and how you are able to use these to help make disciples of all nations. We invite you to begin this journey by becoming more engaged in international missions through your prayers for those serving in Christ’s name around our world. Likewise, I ask that you consider your ability to personally serve, and/or make a financial gift, in support of the mission ministries of the Orthodox Church through the OCMC. Last year, these mission ministries inspired you to offer a financial gift to the OCMC in the amount of <<2008 gift>>, and today I ask if you would prayerfully consider renewing, and possibly increasing, this generous support.
The ability to outwardly offer a witness to Christ is a beautiful gift that many of us take for granted. During a recent visit to Pakistan, I traveled alongside Fr. John, a native Pakistani and Orthodox priest who prays and celebrates the Liturgy with a small group of faithful in their homes amidst brutal persecution. Here, outwardly proclaiming Christ usually results in being shunned by family and discriminated against at work. Regularly, hatred toward Christians manifests itself in violent attacks against those who openly profess Christ. In my short time with Fr. John, two Christians were murdered for their faith in a nearby village. However, in the midst of this, Fr. John remains encouraged because of the strength he finds in the Holy Spirit, the certainty that he shares with the shepherds that Christ is Lord, and from the prayers and support he receives from his Orthodox Christian family around the world.
In 2010, the ministries of OCMC will continue to grow and assist servants like Fr. John; and the faithful of North America will continue to have many opportunities to become directly involved in the vital work of making disciples throughout the world including:
• 13 short-term mission teams will serve in 12 countries - evangelizing, teaching, building, and providing medical care;
• 400 mission priests in 19 countries will continue to receive the financial support they need to focus on their ministries and serve some of the world’s most impoverished regions;
• Seminaries and catechetical schools in 7 countries, serving over 250 seminarians and catechists, will be able to grow and increase their capacity to educate due to financial support from North America;
• 20 missionary candidates will begin preparation for their service through intense cross-cultural, theological, and missiological studies at the Missionary Training and Administration Building in St. Augustine.
Thank you in advance for your prayers and financial gifts in support of sharing God’s greatest gift, His son Jesus Christ, with those who thirst for the hope of salvation and eternal life. Like the shepherds, we pray that you would see this Nativity season as an opportunity to bear witness to Christ. Please visit www.ocmc.org for more information on all of these opportunities and keep OCMC, its missionaries, and the work of missions in your prayers. May you and your family have a blessed Nativity season and a very merry Christmas!
Fr. Martin Ritsi