We were grateful and blessed this week to receive the following letter from His Grace Metropolitan Bakhomious.
Dear Coptic Orphans Staff,
Peace and grace! We pray that the Lord blesses you.
I am writing to thank you for your love and care for the fatherless children in the diocese. You provide spiritual, church, financial, and social support according to the biblical understanding that aligns with the Church’s methods; and our children who serve in the diocese also serve with you. You also care for developing the mothers and servants, by involving the diocese to monitor your work in all your activities.
We thank you again and pray that the Lord blesses your service, and that we keep our mutual work for the glory of the Lord Jesus, as children of the Coptic Orthodox Church that is the Body of Christ.
May the Lord reward your loving effort and care!
God be with you and bless you!
Metropolitan Bakhomious of Behaira and Associated Region
*The letter (a scan of which is included below) is stamped with the official stamp of the Diocese of Behaira and signed by H. G. Metropolitan Bakhomious of Behaira and Associated Region on March 6, 2017.
It is a great blessing to hear these words of support from His Grace Metropolitan Bakhomious.
I hope they are heard across the United States, Canada, Australia and beyond, by the entire Coptic Orphans family and all of our friends, relatives, and fellow Copts.
It is only by God’s grace, and thanks to your love, prayers, and support, that Coptic Orphans is able to work in partnership with His Grace Metropolitan Bakhomious and 54 other bishops in Egypt, serving the children.
Today is such an important day: The marking of the day our Savior found refuge in Egypt, and blessed our land and people. June 1, when we reflect on the Flight of the Holy Family, is an incredibly meaningful day for all Copts. So I’m excited to share, once again, the reflections of Dr. Joseph Faltas. Dr. Faltas holds a Ph.D in Philosophy from the Faculty of Theology, Athens University in Greece. He also has a postgraduate degree from the same university in Patristic Studies, and he has spent over 30 years conducting highly specialized research on the early Church fathers. Dr. Faltas has worked with the Orthodox Patristic Center; beyond this, he led the Ecumenical Studies Unit of the Coptic Center for Social Studies, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate. I’m very grateful for the Church history and wisdom that Dr. Faltas shares with us on an almost daily basis; it shapes our work for the children.
— Nermien Riad
Fleeing … Escaping
On the fast-approaching date of June 1, our Coptic Orthodox Church throughout the world celebrates one of its seven minor feasts of Christ: the Feast of His Entry into the Land of Egypt, escaping from Herod.
The minor feasts of Christ commemorate events of Our Lord Christ’s life. The Church always sets them before us to enhance our spiritual life and our salvation, so that we live as Jesus did.
The Holy Family sought refuge in Egypt to avoid the evil wrath of Herod, who killed the infants of Bethlehem. However, the advent of Our Lord Christ to the Land of Egypt granted it divine peace and reassurance. Everyone who believes in Him will always live in peace regardless of all circumstances; he’ll be a witness to the living faith of the Mighty God, the Pantocrator.
Christ’s Flight to Egypt
We wonder: If the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt was an escape, was it then an indication of Christ’s passive flight? Certainly not; it was a temporary escape from evil, an initiative of His salvation of humankind and an overwhelming blessing to the entire world. This escape resulted in having a faithful people and Church across the ages — a deep-rooted faith in Egyptians’ hearts, especially among ordinary people. His escape proved to the contemporary world their devotion to Him, who fled for them. Indeed, there is not a trace of doubt associated with His blessed flight.
An Alternative Escape
In stark contrast with Christ’s positive escape, there is a negative kind of escape manifested in rejecting responsibility, cooperation, or even feeling for others. This kind of escape has nothing in common with Christ’s flight to the Land of Egypt. Hence, this type of escape implies a rejection of the blessings of the flight to Egypt, a flight which empowers large numbers of present-day children to avoid the darkness of ignorance. This is the flight that, through faith and the Church, enables girls and young women to stand fast against pressures to drop out of school, lifts up high achievers to pursue success, and supports fatherless families in leading a secure life, instead of escaping into the unknown.
Let’s celebrate Christ’s entrance into the Land of Egypt; let’s flee to the Land of Egypt and share together the rejoicing in His escape — for our sake, and for us in the Land of Egypt.
Looking back at 2015, which had the children’s many academic successes, our meeting with His Holiness, the anniversary gala in Cairo, and a conference of nearly 500 Church-based volunteers, I can only express deep gratitude to God for making everything possible.
As together we step into 2016, I’m reminded of these words I love: “Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.”
We also owe so much to our supporters worldwide for enabling these remarkable steps forward, especially by ensuring access to quality education for thousands of children. We’re deeply grateful to everyone who’s made a commitment to the academic success of these brilliant, heroic kids.
As we close out 2015, Coptic Orphan has reached over 40,000 children in Egypt since 1988. Here are some of the ways your love, prayers, and support made an impact this year:
• Almost 25% of Coptic Orphans youth, who come from some of Egypt’s most poverty-stricken communities, earned senawiyyah 3amma (high school final exam) grades of 85% or higher.
• Children enrolled in Coptic Orphans programs were more than three times more likely to complete their secondary education than their average Egyptian peers.
• For the second year running, 10 Coptic Orphans children beat tremendous odds to win prestigious LOTUS and AMIDEAST scholarships to Egypt’s best universities such as the AUC and the British University.
These academic achievements of Coptic Orphans children would not be possible without the Church. We’re incredibly grateful to the Church for partnering with us in 55 dioceses across Egypt.
We felt especially blessed in 2015, because His Holiness Pope Tawadros II met with the volunteers in our Serve to Learn program on July 25, telling them of the value of their service for the children and for Egypt. We’re thankful beyond words for His Holiness’ inspiration and leadership.
Overall, in 2015, 37 Serve to Learn volunteers from around the world traveled to Egypt for three weeks of serving, teaching, and forming close bonds with children in communities such as Armant, Luxor, and El Barsha, Mallawi.
Another key step forward in 2015 was the conference of nearly 500 Church-based volunteer “Reps,” the backbone of Coptic Orphans’ work with the children. The highlight of the August event in Hurghada was intensive training in how to build rapport with the children served by Coptic Orphans.
Coptic Orphans capped the year on Oct. 11 with a silver anniversary gala celebrating 25 years of serving God and the children. Among the speakers and honored guests at the Cairo event were Deputy Minister of the Cairo Governorate Gihan Abdel Rahman Ahmed, former Minister of Urban Development Dr. Laila Iskander, and Dr. Raouf Ghabbour.
At the event, which was attended by over 150 guests, Coptic Orphans presented its Leading by Example Award to Eng. Hossam El Kabbany, chairman of the Al Orman Association, to honor his tireless work to improve the lives of Egypt’s most vulnerable citizens. The award honors people whose character and achievements make them role models in Egypt and around the world. Past recipients include Dr. Farouk El Baz, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, and Ola Ghabbour, founder of the Children’s Cancer Hospital.
With God’s grace, we’re looking forward to a fantastic 2016 that builds on these achievements and brings better lives to even more children. And as we finish a wonderful 2015, I want to say to everyone in the Coptic Orphans family: “Thank you, and may you have a blessed and Happy New Year!”