March 30th, 2007, marked the beginning of something truly special. It's a little something that Bishop David said "Some people read history in history books, but what you are doing today is that you are makinng history."Sometimes we don't like to reflect on things in fear that we will be dramatic or fall into pride...but God really does deserve to be praised for the work that He has done through this little idea called FTFT! He's done some things that we can taste, see and measure- such as numerous of prisoners and sick children and elderly that were visited, countless hours spent feeding the poor and thousands of slices of pizza being served to those in need. But He's done some things that are way more subtle but are equally important. He's transformed a culture of apathy to a culture of service.
Take a look around you now and think of a church that is resistant to the idea of service or mission in some form or another. That number is few or close to none. That wasn't the case 5 years ago. When a high school kid now is used to going to a dangerous part of NY or NJ to spend time with men and women who are poor, hungry, struggling and in need of a warm heart, a genuine smile, a listening ear, and a spiritual word- that's cool! When middle school children are accustomed to thinking and praying for the poor, that's not to be taken lightly.
It's easy for us to think that things have always been this way. But they really haven't. There was a time when going regularly to visit the sick, the poor and the imprisoned was foreign (unless they were Egyptian.) That time has come and gone! Now, churches all over the country are discovering the joy of finding Christ in the hospital, the soup kitchen and the prison! This, of course, can't all be traced back to the work of FTFT! But, it'd be silly to bypass the work He's done through this idea.
From countless presentations in churches, to numerous emails and phone calls of guidance...these servants helped lead the church back to who she always was- the place where the sick, the broken and afraid find healing and comfort in the person of Christ and in His body.
May God give us the zeal and courage to continue to be faithful to His lovingkindness.
We're excited to invite you to join us at the first annual Orthodox Missions Conference. There will be speakers from the Ethiopian, Coptic, and Indian Orthodox churches! We will spend the day exploring what God is doing on the local mission field in North America and how we can join Him! The lectures and workshops will focus on "Doin' Work: Liturgical Evangelism". You will have an opportunity to get involved in a number of Orthodox Mission and Evangelism opportunities right where you are!
At the end of the conference lectures and workshop, we will actually be heading out for mission together!
Cost: $20 in advance $25 on site
We hope you had a blessed feast of Nayrouz! Good luck with those Coptic New Year's resolutions :)
One beautiful church started the year off in a pretty amazing way, if we do say so ourselves :) St. Mary's Church of Raleigh, North Carolina hosted the servants on FTFT! this past weekend. They allowed us to spend Friday evening sharing with them from the experiences and some of the biblical passages that just rock our world. The church youth group didn't stop there though. They wanted to spend the weekend out on the field serving the poor and the broken hearted. They seemed to have a sneak preview of the Gospel of the Nayrouz feast (Luke 4).
So we spent the day on Saturday in prayer and fellowship in the church to prepare our hearts for the weekend of missionary service. After that, we hit the streets of downtown Raleigh with some pizza and with the love of God. Though there were some initial reservations, you wouldn't know it when you observed the scene in the park that day. It was like an army of 20 expert missionaries were in town to hand-deliver the love of Christ Jesus our Lord, with some extra cheese pizza on the side :) Everywhere you looked there were young Coptic people sitting at the feet of the poor of the community. Some were being prayed for or ministered to and others just had the rare opportunity of an open ear to hear their daily struggles. It was just a heavenly sight. An added contrast was made when a catholic group (God bless them) were also present handing out food. But they left right after giving the food. They missed out on the best part of being able to spend personal time with Jesus in His clever disguise (Matt 25).
The group was probably done by then right? NOPE! After loading up on the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, they decided to hit the nearest campus to share the blessing they received. They interacted with young seekers in NC State and shared with them the "Hope that lies within them" (1 peter 3:15). From Hindus and Agnostics to "former Christians," people were personally touched by the truth of Christ because these dedicated and loving ladies and gentlemen of the Coptic Church, loved the Lord way too much to stay on their couch. May God bless this amazing youth group as they shine like stars and serve as examples to us in "word, conduct, love, faith and purity" (you know this reference :)
As always, we encourage you to..."Go and do likewise" (Luke 10:37)
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
It's an amazing feeling to explore a city for the first time, isn't it? Experiencing a culture and taste it's history through it's architecture and dinning is just great. There's a similar feeling though, of experiencing the work of God in a new city; to taste and see His goodness in the eyes of it's natives. It's one of the key sites that you don't want to miss. It's like seeing New York City, without seeing Time Square, it's hard to believe that you really saw New York City. Your trip just just wouldn't be complete, would it?
Maybe that's what drove the group of visitors from the UK to want to see the fullness of the sights; not just the tall buildings, bright lights and busy streets of this great city but the work of the Living, Breathing, and Resurrecting God in the midst of all of that.
As the UK group boldly and lovingly distributed Easter candy and pamphlets filled with comfort from God's word and His church, they saw the real New York. they saw it in J.L., the man who was just laid off and was need of a gentle voice who would encourage him and pray with him. They met New York in C.C., the man earnestly seeking to know God, but deceived by a cult. As he broke down and told them "this is so scary. I was so confused. Thank you for what you're doing!" they knew they were witnessing something special. They saw, first hand, The Truth manifested. That man walked away with a copy of the true message of love and salvation. Had it not been for these tourists, who knows where this man would be today?
This group knew that there were more God-sightings out there to experience. They spotted Him in Staten Island, NY, as they invaded the church neighborhood with love and hope; Speaking with store owners, home owners and the like. They went off two by two in the Spirit and power of our fathers the apostles. They went to continue the unfinished book of Acts. They distributed beutiful hand-made Easter cards that contained a message of the love of God and an invitation to His Coptic Church. Some were overjoyed at the visits- practically singing Hosanna and welcoming the King in their lives! While others were so beaten down by life that they would not even accept a free card. The sadness and hurt of the past covered their faces. But God surely heard their affliction, and came down to deliver them! (As He always does Ex. 3:7)
The stories are many, but they aren't just 'stories.' they're real lives that were touched and transformed by God and His children for all eternaty.
We invite you this vacation season, to do some Christ-seeing along with your sightseeing. The face of Jesus sure beats any beach, building or boardwalk.
"Spring Break" is the long awaited and practically sacred time in the life of a student. This year a group of young Coptic people, like you...chose to give a part of it away. The group from Tallahassee flew all the way to New York and chose to spend their time washing the feet of the poor and the lonely. They teamed up with FTFT! for a missionary service weekend; the third of it's kind that FTFT! has arranged.
Throughout that weekend, they hit the streets of New York City and Jersey City to feed the poor, to stand beside the broken, to listen to the story of those who have no one to listen to. If you're familiar with the City, you know that a poor person on the street might as well be a part of the pavement. The sight of a barefoot woman sleeping on cardboard has somehow become...part of the scenery- but not for this group. They were here to say with their actions that this is NOT OK. While handing out simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that they made, they took time to speak God's truth into the lives of God's hurting children. They took time to notice NYC's invisible population. They heard enough sermons telling them "Go, and do likewise." (Luke 10:37) So they came...and showed mercy to their neighbor in the example of a familiar Samaritan.