By Andrew Gueruis
Today, I will take you on a journey in the life of one of my favorite saints. This saint was a young man who was filled with the Holy Spirit, faith, and power. His life is very unique and it shows us how we should be as Christians, and how our lives will be filled with joy and peace when we know God. By now you are probably saying to yourselves, “but isn’t this all saints,” well in generalization about saints, yes, however this saint is different. His story is written, even in the Bible and documented in the Book of Acts and the Synaxarium of the Church. Hopefully you know who this saint is, if not, allow me to tell you. The story of St. Stephen takes place when the number of the disciples was multiplying and they chose him to serve. “Then the twelve summoned a multitude of the disciples and told them ‘It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word’” (Acts 6:2-4)
By Jeffrey Wang - Click here to download the audio file
This is the story of how I converted to Coptic Orthodox Christianity. I was baptized on August 11, 2011 by Abouna Abraham in St. Mina’s Coptic Orthodox Church. And I thank God that this happened and that God was kind of enough to reach out and find me, as lost sheep, as someone who was searching for eternity or something greater and beyond this world. I know I look Egyptian but I’m really not. But in God’s eyes I’m another soul like you yearning to be in His bosom. So I am like you or you are like me. And this yearning to be in communion with God was given to us by God. In fact our hearts are broken without the Lord. God put eternity in our hearts and a hole is there that can only be filled by Him.
And in this world you have basically two paths. You can choose to ignore God’s knocking on your heart and live in the world in the day-to-day in the sins that you may not even realize. Like a fish doesn’t know it’s in water, people fill that hole in their heart with food like donuts, partying, television, you name it. But in the end, these are empty calories leaving you as empty as you were before. And this is what the world outside Church or God is, a place held by the sway of the devil, that is filled with the pain of darkness and death.
Or you can open to Him and find out that we have a God who has given us His Only- Begotten Son to us so that we may not die in the second death but be part of the first resurrection and live forever. Nothing in this world lasts, from the clothes you were to the peace in the country. But God’s love for us is unchanging, the same yesterday, today and forever and unconditional. No matter who you are, God is trying to reach out with his love for you to come back to him and to repent. The Holy Spirit is pulling at the hearts of those who don’t know Him. Maybe we can see someone in our lives who God is reaching out to also. Perhaps we can help spread the good news of the Gospel by our actions and our words. God willing my story is just one of many in our beautiful Coptic Orthodox Church. Pray for my weakness.
My Dear Brethren,
The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
As October 31st draws near, I want to make all uninformed Christians in our Diocese aware of certain traditions celebrated in the United States on this day. The "Halloween" celebration pays tribute to Satan. Every act revolving around Halloween is in honor of false gods. False gods are spirits in the Satanic realm.
"We only do this for fun", some say. "We do not actually practice witchcraft", others repeat. I often wonder how one justifies the celebration of Halloween, the day Satanists have set aside as their "holy day". I am told that children "dress up" as witches, goblins, ghosts and little devils. Let me think about this for a moment, a small child dressed to resemble Satan's darkness…Also, I am told of games played at Halloween festivals that promote fear in children as they are ushered through horror houses and rooms decorated with skeletons, black cats, and bats. Does this representation of death and darkness seem like fun? Certainly not to me, I am told that pumpkins designed with faces are "cute ways" to denote the present day meaning of Halloween…the literature purports that pumpkin faces are symbolic of skulls. Also around Halloween I am told of theatre movies which celebrate the cult of death...Somehow I still have not found fun within all of this...Have you? Have your children? To me, this sounds more like fixation with death and mental illness to me...
Many attempt to compromise on the celebrating of Halloween. Many think the meaning behind Halloween has become obscure today. The fact of the matter is, the actual methodology of witchcraft survives until today. When our children are taught it is "alright" to celebrate heathen practices such as "Halloween" it does not give them the repulsion and resistance they need to stand against greater Satanic involvement. When celebrations such as these are taken lightly, it sets a precedence for our children to accept evil rather than resist it.