1. When you learned about IOCC
A few years ago, a former co-worker told me about how he had volunteered to help the IOCC out in an effort to support those in need in Serbia. I thought the whole concept of the IOCC was quite interesting. To me, the IOCC represents how the Orthodox faith should evolve in the 21st century.
2. Why you chose to contact IOCC
I’ve wanted to help out the IOCC for quite some time. I think it’s an organization worth supporting. But a few years ago when I was just learning about the IOCC, my wife and I were so busy with my daughter and newborn son. When my son turned three years old this past fall, I had a little bit of spare time here and there that I contacted the IOCC to volunteer as a parish representative. The priest was thrilled, and the church school directors suggested having a retreat focused on the IOCC.
3. What was discussed at the retreat you had
We focused on the importance of helping others who are in need.
We broke the retreat into three groups.
We also had a session for adults, where a professor of theology spoke about trends with Orthodoxy in the world.
- For the youngest group (grades K-2), we used the example of the good Samaritan.
- For the two other age groups (grades 3-5 and then an older group) we showed one of the IOCC videos that provided a background about the IOCC and then had a discussion about how they can volunteer to help out those in need through the IOCC.
About a month before the retreat I worked with others in the church to promote the creation of health care kits. I went to all of the church school classrooms and I also spoke with one of the church school directors in front of the congregation about the IOCC and the health care kits. We ended up creating more than 100 health care kits.
4. Why you volunteer for IOCC
I think it’s a wonderful organization that enables all of the different ethnic Orthodox churches, (e.g, Greek Orthodox, Ukranian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox) to unite their resources, talents, networks to support charitable work throughout the world. The IOCC is vital to the Orthodox faith surviving and thriving into the 22nd century.
5. Any other information you would like to offer.
In William Wordsworth’s poem, “Intimations of Immortality”, he focuses on the “ember” that dwells in all of us. This “ember” is something that was once a burning flame in our childhood, but as we get older it turns into an “ember” because we lose that innocent view of the world as a child. In a way, that concept relates to the parable that Christ teaches that in order to enter the kingdom of God we must be like children.
In order for all of us to have that unselfish love that I feel God expects of us, we must offer ourselves to help others. By doing that, we rekindle that “ember” as much as possible. In some ways it relates to Christ’s reference of the faith of a mustard seed. If even we can achieve that level of small faith, we can do great things.
The IOCC is a wonderful organization that can help us make the most of the “ember” – the seed – that dwells in each of us.