Here is good news from the blog of the ECOSOC Innovation Fair, a “Greek Orthodox Archdiocesian Council Success Story,” with some reflections on the Divine “telos,” or ultimate goal, of such efforts:
“In 1987, The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council (GOAC) organized a program called Hope in Action (Helping Other People Everywhere) which assists those in developing countries. . . .
The program was so successful that it evolved into the current Orthodox Mission Team Program. During the summer months, short-term volunteers who are doctors, educators, construction workers, engineers, carpenters and students assist communities with various projects around the world. They travel to Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon Chad, Albania, Poland, Slovakia, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Haiti, Guatemala, and Madagascar where they offer their expertise in establishing medical and dental clinics, construct schools, restore and build churches, help develop agriculture and build water wells. They teach, build, nurture and heal. They work in collaboration with the local governments and United Nations agencies.
In Calcutta, India they assist with medical outreach to needy children and adults and with education at the Orthodox orphanage which houses street children. Homeless children are fed daily and as well as impoverished families, the elderly and disabled people. . . .”
Click here for the entire post: http://amrif.blogspot.com/2007/04/greek-orthodox-archdiocesan-council.html
Of course, wherever we go and whomever we serve, such short-term efforts, except perhaps in the case of disaster relief, must always serve as a preliminary or auxilliary “arm” of a more permanent presence of the Orthodox Church and the eternal Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, for our Lord Jesus said, “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give it to you.” (St. John 15:16b)
For we are indeed our Lord Jesus Christ’s emissaries to “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” as the new song of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders of Revelations 5:9-10 proclaims:
9 And they sang a new song, saying:
You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.
Our collective efforts are surely guided by the Holy Spirit toward this goal, this “telos.”*
*TELOS- our ultimate destiny, which involves our personal and corporate union with the “Theanthropos,” our Lord Jesus Christ; we are to become as “gods,” adopted as sons by the Father, in Him, through the Holy Spirit. “Personhood” is defined by our being open towards loving cooperation and union with our Lord, other persons, and indeed, all creation.
-all of which is the Great Commission (St. Matthew 28:18-20) in the context of the Orthodox Christian understanding of salvation- adoption as sons of God, being conformed to the likeness of Christ as “partakers of the divine nature” (2Peter 1:4)- Theosis or Deification- which God, with our cooperation, is in the process of seeking to accomplish in our very being- so that we may keep focused on washing the inside of the cup.
Yet even as I wash my cup with prayerful tears of mourning for my sins, for the many ways I fall short of Christ’s righteousness in my daily life, I am also called to “Go” and share the most precious Content of that cup, for
I will lift up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord (Psalms 116:13)
. . . My cup overflows. (Psalms 23:5b)
And where shall I begin?
With the next person I meet.
But it is also fitting to remember our Lord’s word concerning the “great supper” for which those invited “all with one accord began to make excuses” so as not to come. (St. Luke 14:16-23)
Who, then, were the first the master directed to be invited?
Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.‘
Only then, when told “still there is room” did the master say “Go out into the highways and the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be full.”
Let us have ears to hear the saving words of the Lord Jesus.