<% Dim strHeader strHeader = "Missionary Support" strOptionalText = "" Call HtmlHeader(strHeader,strOptionalText) Call HTMLLeft()%> The Cross for Kosovo/Metohija continues to be a heavy burden...
+Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes,
President of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund USA

Beloved in Christ our Lord,

May our Gracious God always bless you!

Please see the attached photo of the Cross of our Lord at the new St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade. Note the faithful standing near this cross offering their loving prayers.

Likewise in loving prayer, I now turn to you, dear caring and faithful Christians, and beg you to once again open your hearts and remember that the Serbian Orthodox Christians living in Kosovo/Metohija continue to carry an especially heavy cross.

We here in America, with the recent economic downturn, are only just beginning to experience the real fear and anxiety that insecurity about food, shelter, and employment imposes. But our brothers and sisters in Kosovo/Metohija have been living for years with such anxiety as they struggle just to survive from day to day. They have already known many days of hunger, many freezing nights in unheated homes, many weeks and months and even years of despair over ever finding work that pays a secure, living wage. And in addition, they have suffered the ravages of war with its legacy of a devastated environment and its ever-present threat of new outbreaks of physical violence.

That we ourselves have now tasted a little of this bitter brew should make us all the more compassionate, all the more willing to share what we still have in relative abundance, with those who have suffered and who continue to suffer so much greater hardship.

Recently there have been reports that in Kosovo/Metohija many individuals are experiencing an increase in health problems. Considering the circumstances of their lives, this is hardly surprising. But there are only two hospitals available to Serbians and many people must travel substantial distances by foot to get medical attention. Imagine if your child were ill. Imagine carrying him or her in your arms for miles to see a doctor. Imagine worrying all the way if the doctor will even see you since you have no cash to pay him and no health insurance.

The Decani Monastery Relief Fund currently supports three homeless shelters and four schools in the region. The DMRF also provides food and monetary assistance to the elderly and to needy families throughout the region. Nonetheless, the need remains much greater than the available resources and the monks' tireless efforts can alleviate.

During my last trip to the region in July-August, 2008, I noticed that increased numbers of people simply do not have enough food. In the dozen or so villages I visited, I also saw that many families' homes were not going to be adequately heated when the weather again turned cold. In the darkness of the nights, I realized that some of the towns had no electricity. People there told me that a village might only have its electric power turned on during one hour a day because this is all the people living there can afford to pay for!

Yes, many men, women, and children in Kosovo/Metohija continue to carry a very heavy cross indeed!

As many of you know, I recently helped a high school student, Lazar Popovic, come from Kosovo to America to attend Boise State University. His family resides in Kosovo's Kos region. On arriving here, Lazar expressed utter astonishment at the way we Americans live. After his first day, Lazar exclaimed to his host family, "'I noticed that they do not shut off your lights and your home is so warm! I am truly blessed at this time." Such a basic thing-a heated home! We take it for granted here in America. Can we even imagine how Lazar's family is living back in Kosovo?

Lazar also encountered some surprises in regard to the food he was offered here in America. Since he had had only limited, occasional food at home, he was thin and always hungry. Now that he can have three meals a day, Lazar is putting on some needed weight. He is extremely happy and expresses his thanks to God for helping him through the prayers of the Great Tsar Martyr Stefan!

But what of all the children who remain behind in Kosovo/Metohija? What of their parents and other family members? While we in overweight America pursue our fad diets and cultivate our vanity in many other ways, these less fortunate souls struggle just to find enough milk to keep their babies alive and enough food to prevent their own bodies from wasting away!

If we in rich, fat America are now feeling a little pain over the economic crisis, imagine how any additional crisis of any sort affects those who are already on the jagged edge of survival. Do you still have a job? Do you still have more money coming in than you need to preserve your own and your family's well-being for today and tomorrow? Are you still feeding your savings account? Your investment portfolio? Are you looking at those lists of foreclosed homes and thinking, "Hey, maybe I should buy some places and fix them up to rent or 'flip'"

Remember that everything you still have, you have only by the grace of God. There is nothing wrong with being well off. There is nothing wrong with making money. But God demands that a Christian who has, share what he has with those who do not have. Prosperity is not a sin but greed and selfishness are very great sins. And we Americans commit them often.

Dear beloved in Christ, let us all open up our hearts and our hands in this hour of grievous need for many. Let us help those whose pain is so much greater than our own. We can do this through support of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund. We need your help desperately at this time. Please. look at your own resources and offer whatever assistance you can through our fund. Let's bring the light of genuine Christian love into the darkened lives of those who have not been so blessed as we ourselves have been. This is no less than what Christ has commanded all who would follow Him to do!

Recently the DMRF assisted the Decani Monastery to obtain an Internet domain at DECANI.COM. This will help the Monastery make its work more visible to people around the world and should increase the number of people who will offer assistance. But establishing an Internet presence is costly; the DMRF had just barely enough to pay for this. The fund is now down to having only about $500 in its account. This amount wouldn't cover the cost of feeding an average American dog for a year!

We want to, we MUST, continue our work of helping the destitute people of Kosovo/Metohija. I pray you will continue to be part of this work because you have been so generous to our fund in the past. Please, if you yourself still are doing reasonably well, if you yourself are NOT living in a homeless shelter and eating in a soup kitchen, if you yourself have NOT lost your home or your job or your health, please, after you get down on your knees and thank God for your own estate in life, please then demonstrate your Christian love by helping your brothers and sisters who continue to struggle mightily. Send your prayers for all those who suffer directly to God and your generous donation to:

Decani Monastery Relief Fund
c/o Very Reverend Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702

May our loving God bless your good heart and soul!

Peace to your soul!

Humbly Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ our Lord,

+Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Father Nektarios Serfes
Telephone Parish Office: 208-345-6147

+ His Grace, Bishop Teodosije
Abbot of the Decani Monastery & First Vice President

+ Hieromonk (Father) Sava
Second Vice President

Lois Fletcher

Gioia Maria Frahm

Who all pray for you!